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CSPA mourns passing of instructor Gil Chesterton


A memorial service will be held June 24 in honor of Gil Chesterton, the legendary journalism adviser and longtime member of the California Scholastic Press Association, who died May 18.

Chesterton’s friends and former students are invited to attend the service, which will be held at 10:30 a.m. at Santa Teresa Hills Presbyterian Church (5370 Snell Ave. in San Jose).

Chesterton, a dedicated family man, also loved journalism. He worked as an editor for a weekly newspaper in Bell Gardens and advised the newspaper at Whittier High, but made his name during a 33-year run at Beverly Hills High.

Not only did Chesterton oversee the school’s weekly, award-winning newspaper, but he also guided students’ work on the yearbook and on a weekly newscast.

Last year, the Journalism Education Association chose Chesterton as one of 10 recipients of its Lifetime Achievement Award. The JEA award is given to longtime advisers “for lifetime dedication to journalism education,” and that certainly described Chesterton.

During his youth, Chesterton participated in Ralph Alexander’s Scholastic Sports Association program, then remained active when the SSA transitioned into the California Scholastic Press Association.

Every summer, Chesterton volunteered his time, and formally became one of CSPA’s primary leaders after Alexander’s death in 1981. As part of his work, Chesterton advised workshop students as they produced the CSPA Reporter newspaper, which chronicled each workshop, and also taught page design and critiqued student publications.

Chesterton, elected to the CSPA Hall of Fame in 2008, chose to retire from teaching at the workshop in 2014 but remained a valued member of CSPA’s board of directions.

Chesterton’s family, including his wife, Nancy, and their daughter, Carey, have requested that donations in Gil’s name should be made to CSPA, which will use the money to assist future workshop students. Donations can be made at

Apply now for the 66th-annual CSPA Workshop

Update: Applications for the 2017 workshop have now closed. Students interested in the 2018 workshop can apply starting in January 2018.

The California Scholastic Press Association will hold its 66th-annual high school journalism workshop on the campus of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, from July 9-21, 2017.

Tuition, which includes 13 days of instruction, all meals, an on-campus dorm room and transportation to all workshop activities, is $1,475. Need-based financial aid is available, and no money is due until acceptance to the workshop. The application deadline is April 15.

The CSPA Workshop is the longest-running and most successful high school journalism workshop in the country. Our graduates have gone on to work for the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, Forbes, The Associated Press, ESPN, CBS, Fox and other nationally recognized media outlets.

Each summer, 25 students are selected to receive hands-on instruction in the areas of print, broadcast, online and photo journalism, plus classes in ethics, public records and more. They will tour the local newspaper office and television station and enjoy an afternoon at the beach.

Our students work under intense deadlines but also thrive and improve under the direction of our all-volunteer staff of instructors, and they get a taste of college life and make lifelong friends.

The application is now available at

Want to know more about the workshop? Click here for a rundown of our curriculum and some of our notable classes and instructors.

26 students graduate from 65th CSPA Workshop

26 students graduate from 65th CSPA Workshop

The 65th-annual California Scholastic Press Association Journalism Workshop ended July 22, when all 26 students participated in the graduation ceremonies at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and celebrated 13 days of work and fun.

Karan Nevatia of Aragon High School in San Mateo, Calif., received the Ralph Alexander Award while Daisy Bolin of Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kan., received the Millie Alexander Award and Whitney Wachtel of Dana Hills High School in Dana Point, Calif., received the Stan Kelton Award. The awards, voted on by workshop instructors and counselors, annually honor top all-around students.

Olivia Olander of San Dieguito High School accumulated the most points, as she and her classmates completed approximately 35 workshop assignments. Julia Qiao, Karan Nevatia, Meghan Bobrowsky and Whitney Wachtel also were in the top five in total points.

During the workshop, students took classes in news writing, editorial writing, sportswriting, reviews, column writing and other aspects of print journalism. They learned about public relations and how to access public records. They shot photos, produced a four-page newspaper, taped a television broadcast and did extensive social-media reporting. They took trips to the local television station and newspaper office and enjoyed an afternoon at the beach.

Most importantly, the students learned skills that will benefit them for decades to come, and made lifelong friends.

CSPA’s Harmonson named senior editor at OC Register

Todd Harmonson, CSPA vice president and member of the Board of Directors, has been named senior editor of the Orange County Register.

Harmonson, previously the paper’s assistant managing editor and sports editor, will be responsible for “newsgathering across all platforms including websites, mobile, apps, daily and community newspapers, and monthly magazines,’’ according to the Register’s news release.

“Todd is a natural leader and top-notch journalist who has already made major contributions to the Register newsroom,’’ Frank Pine, executive editor of the Register, said in the release. “In his new role, Todd will ensure we maintain a local focus and high standard of quality for readers, and guide us into a future that includes enhancing how we package our print and digital content.’’

A native of Hacienda Heights, Harmonson attended the CSPA Workshop in 1985. For the past 26 years, has served the organization as an instructor and board member, and has volunteered his time on a year-round basis to serve CSPA, which is preparing for its 65th-annual workshop.

Harmonson, a Cal State Fullerton graduate, started his award-winning writing career at the Daily Breeze, then moved to the Register, where since 1998 he has worked as a writer, editor and a member of the newspaper’s management team.

Harmonson will be part of the editorial management team for Southern California News Group, which operates 11 daily newspapers in the region, including the Register and the Los Angeles Daily News.

“I am honored to lead a talented, dedicated team of reporters, editors, photographers and designers who pride themselves in serving our communities,’’ Harmonson said in the release. “I am committed to strengthening the Register’s position as the leading source of local news and information.’’

CSPA will hold its 65th-annual high school journalism workshop on the campus of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, from July 10-22.