Newspaper and yearbook staff win prestigious awards

Preston Rolls, Staff writer

CONCENTRATING COMPETITORS: Senior Lauryn Lomas looks at a yearbook. The JEA convention focuses on all journalistic aspects. PHOTO BY Preston Rolls

Sessions were attended, competitions held, awards won, and friendships strengthened at the JEA/ NSPA (Journalism Education Association/National Scholastic Press Association) convention the Bowie publication department attended this past Thanksgiving break.

On Nov. 16-19, both the Bowie newspaper and yearbook staff joined over 5,000 other students at Dallas for the bi-annual event. Newspaper staff won Fourth Best in Show out of approximately 150 other broadsheet newspapers, and both publications won a number of individual awards.

“Winning the Fourth Place Best in Show was incredible, because we all work so hard on the paper and put in so much time and effort,” senior Victoria Newell said. “It’s really nice to have someone pat you on the back for your work.”

Furthermore, both the yearbook and newspaper were awarded a CSPA (Columbia Scholastic Press Association) Crown Award earlier this year. The two editorial teams will be in New York City in March to collect their national awards.

“The national convention was a great opportunity for students to elevate and challenge themselves and compete against other staffs of their caliber from all across the country,” yearbook advisor Lindsey Shirack said.

According to the CSPA website, approximately 1,100 newspapers, magazines, yearbooks, and digital publications created during the 2016-2017 school year were submitted to the CSPA to be graded for a Crown. Only 47 print newspaper Crown Awards were given, as well as just 45 yearbook Crowns.

“It feels really great to know that we’re putting out a product that is getting national recognition as a good paper; that is just awesome beyond words,” Newell said. “It’s very encouraging for the future, because I think this year’s paper is really strong and we have such an incredible staff.”

All journalism students who attended the Dallas convention were signed up to compete in contests varying from writing, design, and photography.

“I entered the Newswriting contest. It was really nerve wracking,” senior Justine Lockhart said. “As I was waiting for the doors to open I was trying to calm myself down, and it worked for a while, but the moment the speaker started talking I started freaking out again. After the contest was over I was shaking, but then hearing my name called for the award made all the nerves worth it.”

Along with awards handed out to the publications, students who participated in write-off competitions received individual awards in ratings such as honorable mention, superior, and excellence. Students also received feedback from judges who critique their photos or writing.

“I ended up getting an honorable mention for my story about orchestra so I was really happy about that,” sophomore Logan Dorsey said. “The judges gave me suggestions on how to start new paragraphs and they gave me really good feedback on my transitions so I hope to apply that to future stories.”

At the convention, students were expected to attend multiple sessions each day to improve their journalism knowledge and skill-set, from the basics to the advanced. The convention held many sessions which covered a variety of concepts such as photography, design, writing and more.

“I went to a lot of sessions that were made for on-line writers and editors. I learned a lot of new things about the way I approach my writing,” sophomore Ellie Coulston said. “I definitely think this helped me and I think I have improved my writing a lot because of these sessions.”

Attending the convention with thousands of other students was a new experience for many of the Bowie students, because they got to interact with completely new people in their same field of interest.

“I think the best part about the trip though was just meeting new people with different perspectives on how to document their school,” sophomore Emma Wake said.

Bowie journalism students were able to gain a lot of knowledge to enhance their skills from attending numerous sessions, meeting fellow journalism kids, and receiving feedback on their contests.

“The feedback from the critiques not only gave me perspective as to how journalism is different across the country, but it gave me new insight as to how I can apply that to my own writing,” junior Jocelyn Brooks said. “While I may not be a perfect writer, I think some of what I learned from the convention could maybe help me get there one day.”

AWARD WINNERS: Members of the Dispatch/Newspaper staff pose with Fourth Place Best in Show award. The award was won at the JEA/NSPA 2017 Dallas Convention. PHOTO BY Michael Reeves