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Elko Daily honored for excellence by state press association

ELKO – The Elko Daily Free Press was honored Saturday with more than two dozen awards from the Nevada Press Association, including first place in General Excellence.

“This paper serves the community well with local news and good choices of wire copy,” said the judges in a statement. “I loved the Pigskin Picks for high school sports.”

The awards were presented at the association’s annual banquet at the Carson Nugget.

The Elko Daily won first, second and third places for its breaking news coverage in the intermediate division. Former staffer Marianne Kobak McKown won first for her article on the February 2017 flood; editor Jeffry Mullins and former reporter Cynthia Delaney took second for their article on the fatal crash of a medical transport plane; and former reporter Fallon Godwin-Butler won third for her coverage of the hit-and-run death of a bank executive.

“Solid writing in all entries,” said the judges. “Well done.”

First-place awards went to sports editor Anthony Mori for sports feature writing, Mullins for editorial writing and McKown for best entertainment writing. Nancy Streets, Kassidy Arbillaga, Betti Magney and Lizz Todd won first place for best advertising innovation. Todd also won first place for best print ad, and “Nature Notes” columnist Larry Hyslop won first place for best local nonstaff column.

The newspaper also won first place for Best Website.

The Elko Daily took second place in the First Amendment category for its coverage and editorial on a controversy over Elko County’s process of hiring a public defender, and third place in Community Service for its Elko 100 series of centennial biographies.

Other awards included McKown, third place in feature writing; Adella Harding, third place for best nonstaff story; Godwin-Butler, second and third place for news feature story; Mori, second and third place for sports news story; and former sports writer Hasani Grayson, third place in sports feature writing.

The Elko Daily news team also took third place in investigative reporting for its coverage of Nevada’s recreational marijuana ballot initiative. Mullins won third place in headline writing and in graphic design. Arbillaga took third in print advertising.

Todd, Arbillaga, Streets, Magney, Seana Chapman and Carol Mott took third place in General Excellence and in the niche magazine category for Mining Quarterly.

The paper also placed third for its editorial page and its page one design.

Everyone gets into the act: science theater comes to Elko area schools

ELKO – Some elementary school children are getting introduced to geology this fall in a unique way.

Instead of using workbooks and pop quizzes as learning materials, students are learning basic geology through acting exercises and fun skits as part of Get in the Act, a hands-on, dramatization workshop created by Gary and Diane Handzel.

Since 2013, the Handzels have visited elementary schools in Elko, Spring Creek, Battle Mountain and Winnemucca, teaching second- and fourth-graders basic geology.

Diane Handzel, the lead teacher, warms up the students by practicing accents and exercises before directing small groups in stories that were lessons in rocks, minerals or soil.

Tuesday morning, children in Mary Hines’ second-grade class participated in skits that acted out mountain climbing and walking on hot sand to a lake. After each skit, the students were asked by Diane to identify the various rocks mentioned in the story.

Using a fairy tale theme, the second-graders identified different textures of rock. After a prehistoric skit, Diane taught about minerals found in everyday items such as salt and copper.

The lessons are coordinated with Nevada Department of Education standards and Next Generation science standards, program manager Gary Handzel said.

Get in the Act started their workshops at Grammar No. 2 last week, and are visiting Southside Elementary School this week. In the next two weeks, they will visit Mountain View and Sage Elementary schools.

Because schools typically don’t spend as much time with science and the performing arts, putting the two together is an effective teaching method, said Diane.

“By combining the two, we are giving the teachers and the students an opportunity to learn in a different manner,” she said.

However, it is bringing the performance arts to rural communities that make the Get in the Act trips to Northern Nevada special to Diane.

“It’s a wonderful experience for me to see how excited and exuberant these kids are in performing,” she said. “Then they realize how much they learned.”

“Theater has been around since mankind, and is a strong and creative way to use it as a tool to teach and learn other subjects,” Gary said.

Diane added that the fourth-graders she’s teaching this year remember “our experience in the second grade, our stories and content. It does have a lasting effect on them.”

“Teachers and educators have told us that when their students have such a memorable experience acting out a scene with their peers, they retain that content,” Gary said.

The Handzels developed their program in 2009 as a way to connect the performing arts with other science workshops including weather, plant life, energy, magnets, force and motion and the solar system.

Gary and Diane thanked their sponsors for making their annual visits to the schools possible.

This year, the program was sponsored by Newmont Mining Corp., Barrick Gold Corp., Joy Global Foundation, Silver Standard Resources, Klondex Mines and the Nevada Arts Council.

“We’ve had really good support,” Diane said. “The schools don’t have funds for workshops like this.”

“They’re very generous and kind to our organization,” Gary said. “We feel it’s a win for everyone involved. The mining companies are doing great things for the community.”