NBC 6 anchor Jawan Strader described it best: “We’re sitting in a cafeteria that looks like the Delano.”
The all-boys Christopher Columbus High cafeteria was transformed April 16 for an Emmy-like awards show, the school’s third annual Media Excellence Awards hosted by the Columbus High TV network, CCNN Live.
Local media celebrities were nominated by students from CCNN Live and voted on by students from Columbus and its sister school, Our Lady of Lourdes Academy.
The evening began with opening remarks from CCNN Live’s moderators, teachers Omar Delgado and Christina Hidalgo.
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The event continued with a prayer by Columbus President Marist Brother Kevin Handibode and a brief history of the Media Excellence Awards by Mick Maspons, an alumnus who helped create the award show along with Jorge Ortega.
“We thought it was a great way to have a fundraiser that also helps these kids in our program talk to the people who inspire them, get face-to-face time with those people and also honor them as their inspiration. So we created this award show,” Hidalgo said.
Columbus junior Danyel DeVilliers, 16, vice president of CCNN Live, called the Media Excellence Awards “an incredible experience.”
“It gives you the opportunity as student journalists to be able to honor your favorite TV or radio personalities,” Danyel said.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Columbus alum and Pulitzer Prize-winning Miami Herald photojournalist Patrick Farrell. His longtime friend, retired Herald photo editor Roman Lyskowski, gave the award to Farrell, who won the 2009 Pulitzer for his coverage of a disastrous hurricane season in Haiti.
Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr., another Pulitzer winner, received the award for Best Print Writer.
CBS4 morning news anchor and weekday reporter Marybel Rodriguez emceed the event. Throughout the evening, she commended the work CCNN Live has done.
Best friends and local media members Strader and Donovan Campbell of WSVN 7 lauded the event.
“The fact that we have students that nominate us means the world because these are people that look up to us. It shows that they respect us and they believe in us,” Strader said. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Campbell added: “They’re looking at us. There are so many people in this industry, but they nominated a few. When I was their age, I wasn’t watching the news.”
Thanks to CCNN, Columbus High this year became the first school to win back-to-back Student Television Network “Crazy 8” Broadcast national championships.
Senior David Perez, 17, president of CCNN Live, said the network’s many accolades are the result of “a huge team effort.” David, who aspires to be a sports reporter, next year will attend the University of Miami.
Omar Delgado wants CCNN Live to keep excelling and has big plans.
“If I told you that it exceeded expectations, I’d be lying,” he said. “I still think we haven’t peaked. I want to be known as the No. 1 high school broadcast journalism program in the nation. I know that nobody works harder than us at perfecting our craft. I want to have the perfect year.”
▪ Sports Reporter: Donovan Campbell, WSVN 7
▪ General Assignment Reporter: Ana Cuervo, Telemundo 51
▪ Entertainment Reporter: Lisa Petrillo, CBS4
▪ Weather Personality: Lissette Gonzalez, CBS4
▪ Best Traffic Reporter: Jenise Fernandez, ABC Local 10
▪ On Air Radio Personality: Stichiz, 103.5 The Beat
▪ Best Print Writer: Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald
▪ News Anchor: Jawan Strader, NBC 6
▪ Local News Station of the Year (English): NBC 6
▪ Local News Station of the Year (Spanish): Telemundo 51