Press Release: City Schools Close-Up Newsletter Wins Top NSPRA Award for Second Time

Press release by Hope Gibbs
Director of Communications
City of Fairfax Schools


City of Fairfax, VA, July 2007 —School Board Chairman Janice Miller got the good news on June 18 that, for the second time, the City Schools Close-Up newsletter has won an Award of Excellence from the National Schools Public Relations Association (

There were 1121 entries in this year’s contest, and only 125 publications from school districts around the country received this prestigious honor, Miller explains.
The issues submitted for consideration included the May-June 2006 cover story featuring Fairfax High’s graduation speaker Colin Powell, as well as four cover stories that were part of a series entitled “Building Blocks: Insights Into Education K-12.”

“We knew we had a great story to tell when General Powell spoke at graduation last year, but I believe the reason we on this award is due to the Building Blocks series that we published from November 2006 to June 2007,” Miller explains. “Our editor, Hope Gibbs, interviewed more than a dozen teachers, and in the articles they explained to our readers exactly what kids need to know by the end of each grade.”

Parents were thrilled to get this kind of information because few resources are available that explain what is expected of students, believes Superintendent George Stepp, who inspired the Building Blocks series with his Roadmap to Academic Success, a document that school officials are currently using to help students map out their classes K-12.

“My advice to parents is to begin at the end,” says Stepp, who retired from his post as Superintendent June 30. “That means they need to think about what classes they want their children to take in the 12th grade, and then as early as kindergarten start planning and preparing to ensure their students are on the right path.”

Miller agrees, and is proud to have the Close-Up newsletter as a vehicle to get the word out about what is going on inside the four City Schools.

“Winning this award from the NSPRA is just icing on the cake,” Miller notes. “What is really important is that we are able to show what is happening inside our fine City Schools to the 14,000 families and businesses in the City of Fairfax. I look forward to many more issues of Close-Up.”

Publications that received Awards of Excellence were on display this summer at NSPRA’s National Seminar held in Colorado. Close-Up received its first Award of Excellence in 2004.