The Almanac took home eight honors, including two first place finishes, in the California News Publishers Association's (CNPA) 2021 California Journalism Awards, according to results announced last week.
Magali Gauthier, the chief visual journalist, won first place for news photo, "In ballgowns and sneakers, tuxes and masks, Menlo-Atherton high school seniors gather for a pandemic prom," capturing the excitement of the first school dance since the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020. She also won first place for feature photo, "Taking a whack out of COVID" which took a unique angle on a nurse's pandemic stress-reliever that turned into a small business -- handmade coronavirus-shaped piñatas.
"The tough-to-get angle and great composition immediately draw you in, only to be surprised by the creative representation of serious and important subject matter," a contest judge said of the coronavirus piñata photo.
Gauthier also took second place in feature photos with "Menlo Park goldsmith Sharona Wolff makes ancient jewelry with a modern twist."
"The closeness, the focus and the hint of light on her face, opposite the fire on the other end of the shot, make this a memorable image," a judge commented.
She won third place for news photos with "Tears, hugs and masks as children go back to school," an image of kindergartners lined up to get hand sanitizer from their teacher at Los Robles-Ronald McNair Academy in East Palo Alto.
Judges awarded Gauthier second place for her photo story illustrating the cautious return of everyday social activities in July, "Signs of life," which captured everything from a memorial service to friends gathering for drinks at the Pioneer Saloon in Woodside, a rehearsal of masked ballerinas to families gathered for a concert in the park.
In the digital division for news websites, Gauthier took fourth place for her feature photo, "Proms without dancing or high heels," showing a Menlo-Atherton senior modeling her ensemble for an outdoor prom held on the school soccer field: a yellow satin ball gown and matching mask, with her sneaker-clad foot peeking out from under her skirt.
Reporter Angela Swartz took fifth place for her coverage of local government with her story, "Woodside, Portola Valley brace for wildfire season."
Former Almanac reporter Kate Bradshaw got a fifth-place nod for her three-part enterprise series, "Figuring out how to feed kids when they're not in school," "From farms to families" and "When hazards collide," which looked at how the pandemic upended the way food reaches vulnerable residents.
In its competition, the CNPA separates daily and weekly newspapers. It also pits dailies and weeklies against each other in several circulation divisions. The Almanac competed in the 11,001 to 25,000 circulation division, which included sister publication the Pleasanton Weekly. In the digital competition there are just three divisions statewide, designated by the site's number of monthly unique visitors.