The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

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The Trend Breaks New Ground with Eight Awards!

“It means everything!”
Elyanne Kenney
After the Oklahoma Press Association, The Trend’s staff gathered to show off their numerous awards.

The Trend entered into the Oklahoma Press Association’s (OPA) annual Better Newspaper Contest for the first time and walked away with eight awards. The OPA is a group that serves and advocates for 180 newspapers in the state of Oklahoma. The annual awards convention was held Saturday, June 8, where journalists from across the state come to talk with others about the world of journalism. During this event, an awards banquet is held to recognize the journalists who made outstanding contributions to the field.

The evening opened with a networking reception, where The Trend’s staff mingled with journalists across the state, including Conner Choate from the Marietta Monitor and Jason Collington from the Tulsa World. Free professional headshots were available, and large posters showcased all of the first-place pieces for people to admire.

The Trend took nine writers, including Editor-in-Chief Emily Loughridge and Managing Editor Gary Jackson; senior writers Matthew Yokum, Gabi Merchen, and Harry Cracknell; photographer Laura Barrios Bardi, contributing artist Thomas Buchanan; and contributing writers Elyanne Kenney and Cassie Srock.

“These guys represent USAO so well and what they do on a daily basis makes us all proud! This is the first time we have competed in the Oklahoma Press Association’s journalism contest, and I’m thrilled by what we accomplished,” Dr. J.C. Casey, The Trend’s faculty advisor, said.

Walking into the ballroom for the awards, there was a red carpet, delectable food, and swag bags. Each awards category had nine different divisions, dividing up the newspapers by the populations they served. They also had a College News Media division, where The Trend scored their awards.

The event began with individual awards. The first award for The Trend was in the Column Writing category, as Merchen, a fifth-year senior writer, won 3rd place for her three witty movie reviews: “Barbie,” “Oppenheimer,” and “The Little Mermaid.”

Barrios Bardi, a fourth-year contributing photographer, was awarded 2nd place in the Sports Photography category.

Loughridge, editor-in-chief and fourth-year student, won 1st place in the Photo Essay/Picture Page category. Her photo essay titled: “Hale Yeah” Shouts Freshman Orientation,” scored her a first-place plaque. In that same category, Loughridge was awarded 2nd place for another one of her photo essays titled “Droverstock 2024!”

“These awards mean everything for The Trend! We decided to challenge ourselves this year and enter into the Oklahoma Press Association (OPA), because it forced us to compete against colleges much bigger than USAO. The Trend went up against the OU Daily and the O’Colly and beat them in certain categories. That is a monstrous achievement for our staff, our publication, and our university. These awards were a much-needed pat on the back for our staff, and a way to light a fire to be better and to keep pushing ourselves in the future,” Loughridge said on what these awards mean for The Trend. “We can now proudly boast that we have a staff of award-winning college journalists. The OPA awards are prestigious in Oklahoma journalism, and for our students to have the opportunity to graduate with at least one OPA award under their belt is astonishing.”

The next group of awards were based on publications as a whole, meaning multiple writers’ work was judged together on behalf of the newspaper. In the Digital Media category, The Trend scored 1st place. The plaque was given to Loughridge for her maintaining of The Trend’s website and social media pages.

In the Editorial Writing category, three of The Trend writers, including Merchen, Cracknell, and Srock, earned 3rd place award. In the overall Photograph category, The Trend won 2nd place due to photos by former Managing Editor Paul Tointigh, Loughridge, and Barrios Bardi. Lastly, in the overall Sports Coverage category, The Trend took home 2nd place thanks to the writings of senior writer Preston Palm, contributing writer Hunter Dewall, Yokum, and Loughridge.

All of the publication awards had a point value attached and the newspaper with the highest number takes home the Sequoyah Award, which is extremely prestigious. Among the 13 college newspapers, including Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma, who entered, The Trend placed 3rd overall.

Jackson, managing editor and fourth-year student, attended the OPA awards with the Marietta Monitor, where he interned in the summer of 2023. Two of his articles from his internship won awards in Division 7. In the Sports Story category, Jackson was honored with a 1st-place plaque for his article titled “Indians have a new voice: Culwell returns as game day announcer.” In the Feature Story category, he won 3rd place.


Elyanne Kenney is a third-year psychology major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

Ray Thomas-Lapham
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About the Contributor
Elyanne Kenney
Elyanne Kenney, Contributing Writer
Elyanne is a third-year psychology major from Moore. She has a dog named Luna, and she really enjoys Taylor Swift and reading books. Elyanne can normally be found sitting in her apartment listening to music and hanging out with Luna.   Experience with The Trend: Contributing Writer: Aug. 2023 - present