A pair of student journalists at Stillwater Area High School have continued the run of excellence for the school's Pony Express newspaper.

Jessica Thomas, who is editor-in-chief, and Ahnika Kroll, broadcast managing editor, earned honorable mentions recently in the competition for 2015 Student Journalist of the Year in Minnesota.

The state honor is presented by the Journalism Education Association.

The recognition comes a year after Paul Hudachek, the paper's editor-in-chief in 2014, won the honor. The 2013-14 Pony Express staff also took eighth place a year ago in the National Scholastic Press Association Best of Show.

Rachel Steil, a language arts teacher who serves as the newspaper's adviser, said it was an "incredible honor to rank in the Top 10 print newspapers in the country in such a competitive category."

For this year's Journalist of the Year competition, Thomas and Kroll had to assemble portfolios of their published work and write original pieces showing an understanding of educational philosophy and press law, the district said.

"I am so proud of their efforts," Steil said in a school district news release. "They both turned in high quality portfolios and I am thrilled they placed among the top four journalism editors in the state."

Steil, too, is a candidate for state honors, having recently been named one of 10 finalists for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year. The winner is to be named on May 3.

District 833

Principal appointed to fill board vacancy

Joseph Slavin, a middle school principal in the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District, will serve as a school board member in the neighboring South Washington County district.

At a special meeting April 1, he was chosen by the board to fill the remainder of Laurie Johnson's two-year term, which is set to expire on Dec. 31.

Johnson announced last month she was stepping down to move to Arizona.

Slavin, who lives in Woodbury, was a candidate to fill the vacancy created a year ago by the resignation of former South Washington County Board Member Jim Gelbmann — an appointment that went to Michelle Witte.

The board decided to name Slavin to the Johnson seat "in the interest of efficiency because it recently vetted potential candidates and through that process found that Joseph Slavin was highly qualified," a district news release said.

He now serves as principal of Skyview Middle School in Oakdale and has three school-aged children in the South Washington County district.

"I believe that my passion and commitment to our district and the communities that it serves, my desire to volunteer and give back, along with my extensive and varied experience working in public education, make me an ideal candidate for this unique community service opportunity," Slavin was quoted as saying.

He took his oath of office on April 1.

Cottage Grove

Park High benefits from cadets' cleanup

Air Force Junior ROTC cadets at Park High organized a trash cleanup recently targeting "one of the worst places," post-winter-thaw, at the school: a ditch running the length of the student parking lot, a South Washington County School District news release said.

For more than two hours, the Wolfpack Cadet Corps picked up enough trash to fill about a dozen 40-gallon garbage bags.

"Although a dirty job, cadets were proud of their contribution to their school and community," said Kathryn Roby, a Park High ROTC instructor. "One of the core values of the Air Force is service before self."

Anthony Lonetree