Springfield High School Students Win National Award for Outdoor Magazine

Jun 6, 2019

For the last five years, students at Springfield High School have had a unique learning experience creating an outdoor magazine. Their hard work and dedication earned them a Pacemaker award from the National Scholastic Press Association this spring. 

On the last day of class students write what they learned while creating this year’s edition of Backcountry Review.

Backcountry Review teacher Ivan Miller with his students after the last class. L-R: Elijah Dapkus, Emelia Sherman and Rebecca Durbin.
Credit Aubrey Bulkeley

Editor-in-chief Emelia Sherman shares why she thinks they were able to earn the award.

“When you work for your passion, then you’re going to be creating the best thing that you possibly can. And I think that that’s what our magazine really represents.”

Essence Roy says she didn’t believe the news when she heard they won a national award.

“I was sort of shell shocked. It was so crazy. I had a smile on my face for a pretty long time.”

Their teacher Ivan Miller, or Miller as most kids call him, says each year creates a new bar for the kids to surpass.

“I’ve learned that the kids can do the most amazing things. There isn’t a single thing out there that students cannot accomplish.”

Gabriel Cooper says Miller is a big reason why they’re able to succeed.

“He’s kind of like a dad, honestly. He can get stern with us, he can get playful with us and that’s how he kind of leads the class. He doesn’t lead it as an authoritarian. He lets you know that you have the freedom.”

On the left is the newest edition of student-produced Backcountry Review. The middle is another of the magazines Ivan Miller produces with Springfield High School students. On the right is last year's edition of Backcountry Review which just earned the Pacemaker award from the National Scholastic Press Association.
Credit Aubrey Bulkeley

This could be why the kids have adopted the term “dirt bag family” for themselves. The program combines classroom learning and outdoor experience.

Ian Kerr says he got to have cool adventures.

“Last year we found this pilot and he flew us to the Oregon Caves. I’ve had the privilege to interview Adam Andre who is by far the best rock climber in the world.”

Cooper summarizes many of the students’ sentiments, especially the seniors leaving to new experiences.

“I really did make memories that I’m never going to forget. I mean, I literally have scars from this class. It’s really nice to know that I’ll have memorable experiences from my high school career.”