Biggest stories of 2015

As we ring in a new year, we also look back on the year that was. We asked you to vote for the top school news, local news, sports, feature, and opinion stories we published during our inaugural year, and you responded in droves. We thank all of you for voting, and now, without further adieu, the results:

Photos by Sophia Buscay, Maya Pieters, Benjamin Pontz, Lifetouch, and the Shank family

Biggest School News Story

With a whopping 60% of the vote that outpaced the runner up by 40 percentage points, readers were quite emphatic that the biggest school news story of the year pertained to the threats made against our school in September, which caused widespread absences and concern, but also a "Pioneer Strong" vibe that bound our community together. West Lampeter Police Chief Brian Wiczkowski released a video thanking the community for its support after the alleged perpetrator was arrested.

Read our article "Inside L-S: L-S overcomes threats", written by editor-in-chief Benjamin Pontz.

Biggest Sports Story

When it was announced all the way back in May that Bear Shank -- the athletic face of the Pioneer community -- had a brain tumor, there was an outpouring of support. On October 16, his 18th birthday, he took the field for arguably the biggest game of the season against Manheim Central, and led the Pioneers to victory. We chronicled his story in an article that published that day, and readers gave that the nod as our biggest sports story of the year, beating out a column about the Solanco football game.

Read our article "From battling cancer to battling defenses: The Bear Shank story", co-written by football reporter Kevin Reed and editor-in-chief Benjamin Pontz.

Biggest Local News Story

L-S students Benjamin Eidemiller and Alyssa Van Lenten coordinated a spaghetti dinner that raised about $12,000 to help offset the medical expenses of Mr. Ken Harnish, the father of classmate Kelly Harnish, another senior at L-S. The success prompted Van Lenten to aptly comment, "God knew what he was doing." Our readers thought this was the biggest local story of the year, and who can blame them -- empathy is a unique quality, and one several L-S students went above and beyond to share with another member of the Pioneer family.

Read our article "Community comes together to 'make a difference' for Harnish family", written by editor-in-chief Benjamin Pontz.

Most Important In Depth Story

Our first Inside L-S series explored the mental health climate at Lampeter-Strasburg. Unbeknownst to the rest of the editorial staff when he volunteered to lead the series, David Johnson has struggled with mental health in the past, and courageously shared his story with the community. To date, it is one of our most-viewed articles, and readers confirmed the importance of mental health awareness when they voted this the most important in depth story of the year, edging articles about camera usage and the ALICE protocol.

Read our article "Mental health awareness is crucial", written by co-director of photography David Johnson.

Most Interesting Feature Story

We probably shouldn't be surprised that a taste test was voted the most interesting feature story of the year. When the cafeteria staff invited LSNews.org to sample some new food items, we could not resist. Our staff conducted an on camera taste test and interview with the cafeteria staff that also was our editorial that week, affirming the Herculean efforts of the food services department. A feature story on avid hunter Mason Hess was close behind, but our readers were enraptured by the video bonanza on cafeteria delicacies.

Read our article "Cafeteria taste test proves staff does a great job at its Herculean task"; Joey Shiffer was our videographer and photographer, local editor Alyssa Van Lenten and columnist Pierson Castor were our panelists, and editor-in-chief Benjamin Pontz anchored the coverage and wrote the article -- it was a team effort!

Most Interesting Opinion Piece

Many remember the controversy surrounding a football game in September between L-S and neighboring Solanco. After the dust had settled, LSNews.org published an editorial urging peace and cohesion in the face of conflict and derision. Readers voted this the most interesting opinion piece of the year, defeating other strong candidates like Alyssa Van Lenten's outstanding editorial in support of Ms. Kann and Elke Arnesen's series of columns entitled "Our Hot Mess" in which she ardently advocates for the environment.

Read our article "Hey L-S: Solanco is not the enemy; Hey Solanco: Neither is L-S", written by editor-in-chief Benjamin Pontz.

Here's to another great year in 2016

One (partial) year of LSNews.org is in the books, and we hope you are as excited as we are to dive into 2016 with the same journalistic pursuit of the stories that matter to our community. Happy New Year!

Editor's Note: The stories featured above were selected by a four-day vote from 67 of our readers on social media. The candidates in each category were selected after discussion amongst the LSNews.org editorial board.

--Benjamin Pontz, LSNews.org Editor-In-Chief

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