“Be a good citizen”

Up in the Panhandle, about 30 minutes north of Tallahassee, the small town of Havana boasts an unusual accolade for a community of its size: an award-winning high school newspaper.

The Gadsden County Gazette took first place in the annual competition of the American Scholastic Press Association. “Out of 330 possible points,” says faculty advisor John Nogowski, “we earned all 330. Plus, we got an additional 50 points for creativity.”

Stories such as “Physics and Santa” and “Was Hamlet Bipolar?” helped propel the Gazette to the front of the race. As a former career journalist himself, Nogo (as Gadsden County High School students call him) made sure that his student reporters covered anything and everything that was on their minds.

“The number one thing is to be a good citizen. And you can’t be a good citizen if you don’t know what’s going on.”

Nogo retires this year, after 12 years teaching literature and writing in Gadsden County, and he leaves behind a legacy of tough love and unflagging support. He pushes every student to read and write as much as they can, because education doesn’t end with graduation, and the “easy” teachers aren’t doing them any favors.

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