GHS’s Paintbrush named state’s top 1A/2A yearbook

Nathan Oster

Greybull High School is celebrating a state championship this week after its journalism students returned from the recent Wyoming Student Media Convention in Laramie with a Golden Pony, which is given to the staff that produced the top yearbook in the 1A/2A division.
It’s the seventh state title since 2012 for the Paintbrush and the GHS journalism program under the direction of Lynn Forcella.  The run is even more remarkable when you consider that the contest wasn’t held in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 and a shakeup in the board of the Wyoming High School Student Press Association, which has since been rebranded as the Wyoming Student Media Association.  
So, in effect, it’s seven titles in 10 years for GHS, with the first coming in 2012 and five straight between 2015 and 2019.
Staff members included Catcher Russell, Emerald Jordan, Selena Munoz, Kelsie McColloch, Josselyn Jara, Grainger Russell, Aleksey McColloch, Fatima Chavez, Julie Lopez, Lucia Garcia, Isaac Vigil, Carlos Rodriguez, Sarah Murph, Kaeden McDaniel and Elena Campos.
Here’s a rundown of the individual awards:
• Grainger Russell - Golden Pony - All-State Champion - Photography Portfolio
• Kelsie McColloch - Silver Star - All-State Runner-Up - Photography Portfolio
• Lucia Garcia - Bronze Star - Photography Portfolio
• Aleksey McColloch - Golden Pony - All-State Champion - Yearbook Portfolio
• Grainger Russell - Silver Star - All-State Runner-Up - Yearbook Portfolio
• Kelsie McColloch - Bronze Star - Yearbook Portfolio
• Isaac Vigil - Bronze Star - Yearbook Portfolio
• Josselyn Jara - Bronze Star - Yearbook Portfolio
• Julie Lopez- Bronze Star - Yearbook Portfolio
• Lucia Garcia - Bronze Star - Yearbook Portfolio
• Fatima Chavez - Bronze Star - Yearbook Portfolio
• Lucia Garcia - Golden Pony - All-State Champion - Journalism Writing Portfolio
Forcella said her staff could not meet with the judges in person and has not received written feedback, but one WSMA board member told her the Paintbrush “really stood out to him” and was “up there with the 4A books.”
She used the word “special” to describe the 2022-23 staff. “However, I say that almost every year because the caliber of students I get to work with is outstanding.  Each group is different, and each group has its own set of strengths and weaknesses,” she said. “However, what I will say about last year is that I pretty much let them run the show.  During the first semester, I gave instructions on ‘how,’ but after that they ran with it. 
“Also, since I had several returning staff members, they hit the ground running and I let them take complete ownership of the book from design and layout to content.  I acted as the gatekeeper to ensure we stayed ‘in-line’ and I cooked a lot of food for their ‘Wednesday Worknights’ but they were so driven that the hardest part was reigning them in when we started to have a little project creep - you know, when you keep coming up with bigger and better ideas but at some point, you have to stop!”
Forcella credited last year’s editor, Catcher Russell, for having “the vision and skill set to take everybody along on the journey from beginning to end.  I had students with specialties, like Emerald Jordan in photography, Kelsie McColloch as the business manager, Grainger Russell in creative design, and Josselyn Jara who was the quintessential teammate. Together, they brought along the new staff members Fatima Chavez, Julie Lopez, Selena Munoz, Carlos Rodriguez, Kaeden McDaniel, Aleksey McColloch, Lucia Garcia, Isaac Vigil and Elena Campos and made them part of the team.”
GHS has begun building the 2023-24 yearbook and is “off to a strong start,” according to Forcella, with Dakoby Bentley and Camila Acuna joining the now seasoned and celebrated returning staffers Kelsie and Aleksey McColloch, Grainger Russell, Jara, Chavez, Lopez, Garcia and Vigil.