The Shelton High School student newspaper, Gael Winds, has won a First Place with Special Merit award from the American Scholastic Press Association.

The newspaper’s advisor, SHS teacher Carolyn Finley, said Gael Winds was the only paper from Connecticut in its category (1,500 students or more) to receive the honor.

Gael Winds also received a Best High School Publication award from the national association, one of four given across the country.

In addition, the newspaper and individual staff member won numerous awards during a recent New England Scholastic Press Association (NESPA) conference in Boston.

School board recognizes the staff

The Shelton Board of Education recognized the newspaper’s staff members and advisor during a recent meeting.

“I am extremely proud of my students," Finley said. “They continue to strive for excellence.”

She told BOE members that Gael Winds staffers spend “countless hours” working on the publication, which has won national and regional awards in the past as well.

School Supt. Freeman Burr said he always looks forward to reading Gael Winds cover to cover, closing his office door when eating lunch to do so on the day it comes out.

Online edition now available

Gael Winds also offers an online edition ( Finley thanked co-Editors-in Chief Kristen Grabarz and Colette Harley, and other staff members, for their role in “bringing Gael Winds into the age of technology.”

“This year's addition of an online version of Gael Winds is in line with the district's technology and career pathways initiatives,” Finley said.

Regional awards

During the NESPA conference at Boston University, Gael Winds was one of only four high school newspapers asked to present a session. The co-editors in chief, Kristen Grabarz and Colette Harley, and Finley presented a session on effective advertisement selling for funding a school paper.

NESPA awards went to:

— Special Achievement for Editorial Cartoon to senior Olivia Marciano for a 2012 election editorial cartoon.

— Special Achievement for New Page Design to senior editors Maeve Holler, Stavros Koumbaros, Kelly Messemer and Sydney Spadinger for the front page of the Dec. 21, 2012 issue.

— Special Achievement to junior staff reporters Henry Feroce and Melissa Simons for a Shelton Seahawks advertisement.

— Highest Achievement Award to Gael Winds for scholastic writing and publishing in a print and online school newspaper.

Finley said students involved in Gael Winds “should be applauded for their hard work and dedication. In addition, we are appreciative of the continued support of the Board of Education.”