Turning a spotlight on the seven Langley heroes in education has garnered attention at the provincial level.
Late last fall, the team at the Langley Advance Times sought to recognize a handful of people involved in education in Langley – teachers, administrators, education assistants, Aboriginal support workers, coaches, club leaders, custodial staff, bus drivers – who has made a big difference, and continually go above and beyond.
After engaging the community in a nomination process, a panel was tasked with whittling dozens and dozens of worthy candidates down to seven who were then featured in a special section published in early December.
Well, that Heroes in Education inaugural special feature sparked great community reaction, and is now drawing industry accolades and attention through the B.C. & Yukon Community News Media Association, which hands out the Ma Murray Awards.
The team at the Langley Advance Times is shortlisted for a total of four Ma Murray Awards next month, one of those is for the team’s work on the Heroes edition, boasted a “very proud” publisher, Lisa Farquharson.
She shared the credit with all members of the Advance Times, noting that “absolutely everyone” lent a hand in creating the special community feature. But Farquharson gave extra kudos to reporter Matthew Claxton – the mastermind behind the idea.
“Matthew came to us with an outstanding idea, and together we created a feature that truly honours the educational heroes in our community. The stories lifted everyone in the community and gave honour to those who always go that extra mile in everything they do in our local schools,” she said, noting “Heroes” is expected to become an annual project.
“It was a true collaboration and we’re thrilled to be recognized. I’m so incredibly proud,” Farquharson shared.
In addition to being a finalist in the special sections category of the industry awards, the Advance Times is once again a contender for overall newspaper excellence.
Going up against media outlets from throughout the province, this community’s long-standing news outlet (serving Langley since 1931) is one of three publications shortlisted for excellence accolades.
“We’re thrilled to receive this nomination during what’s been a very challenging year, and we see it as an true honour to be chosen among our colleagues for the work that we’ve producing as a team,” Farquharson said.
In addition to those awards categories, the Advance Times is in contention for an arts & culture writing and best columnist honours.
Matthew Claxton’s contributions through his biweekly Painful Truth column earned him a place among the best columnists in the province. In past, Claxton has won numerous provincial and national writing and reporting awards.
“Matthew’s genuine, honest approach to his craft shines through in his column, the Painful Truth,” Farquharson said. “Sometimes his message is subtle and sometimes he hits us between the eyes. He’s a very a gifted writer, and I’m extremely proud of him – he deserves recognition.”
Similarly, former Advance Times reporter (now Aldergrove Star editor) Ryan Uytdewilligen, is being acknowledged for his work at the Langley Advance Times, highlighting local musicians during the early months of COVID-19.
“As live gigs were getting cancelled and virtual entertainment was just becoming popular at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, Ryan felt there was an opportunity to bring joy to our readers and social media followers by highlighting the talents of local musicians,” said editor Roxanne Hooper.
Uytdewilligen reached out to as many local performers as possible and asked them to be part of a Langley Advance Times Friday Afternoon Tunes project. Over a span of several months the project highlighted multiple talented artists and profiled a number of different music genres, Hooper explained.
“The response was great… The Langley Advance Times saw hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people checking in and listening,” Farquharson added.
She commended Uytdewilligen and the others on her team for their ongoing passion and commitment to its readers – specifically lauding their creativity and drive during the ongoing difficulties of the pandemic.
“I’m really impressed with Ryan… It was a great idea,” Farquharson said. “I’m overwhelmed by the efforts of our entire team. They’ve pivoted and persevered, and in some cases flourished as individuals during challenging times – discovering new inner strength, resilience, and abilities amid the adversities. Thank you for all you do for your community.”
While the shortlist of finalists was released late last week, the winners will not be known until a virtual gala set for April 29.
The Ma Murray Awards, hosted for almost a century, recognize the achievements of the association’s 93 member newspapers and digital sites in British Columbia and Yukon, which includes a number of Black Press Media outlets such as the Langley Advance Times.
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