I attended the Oklahoma Press Association Convention and awards this weekend with one of our designers and it’s made me reflect on the stories we’ve told in the last year, the team we have and the support we’ve received from the community.

I’m privileged to be able to meet and interview the people in the Sand Springs community that I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet. I like to say that being a journalist is about as close to being a professional student as you get in the real world because it gives me an opportunity to be curious, ask questions and learn from everyone I meet.

Some of the stories that got recognized this year with first-place awards in our division include a feature story about a Charles Page High School graduate who helped in the effort to rescue a youth soccer team from a cave in Thailand and a news story about our new State Senator, Allison Ikley-Freeman, D-Tulsa, when she was sworn in.

Steve Miller, a CPHS graduate who works for Weather Decision Technologies, was part of a staff with his company asked to help with the rescue effort in Thailand by producing a precise weather forecast model for the area of the cave. I’m proud we were able to find this story to localize a national issue.

I also enjoyed interviewing Ikley-Freeman, who was a mental health therapist before she was elected to the state senate, as the first Democrat elected to her seat in some time with an interesting story.

Former Managing Editor Kirk McCracken also won first and second place awards for sports stories and first place for a column at the OPA convention.

One thing I’ve learned from my five years in covering this community, especially the last couple of weeks as floods inundated the town and so many gathered to help rebuild, is you can usually find a Sandite where there are opportunities to help.

I’m also very proud of the designers who make the paper look good! Melanie Allen and Steve Reckinger won second and third place awards for front page designs for our paper!

I’m proud to cover this community and to see the support for our work here. I look forward to seeing what the next year will bring!

Rachel Snyder 918-581-8315

rachel.snyder@sandspringsleader.com