Journalism students advance to State

The journalism program has been working avidly throughout the year in preparation for the IHSA Journalism Sectionals and State Competition.
On Saturday, April 13, the members of the student newspaper, yearbook and broadcasting classes competed at Stevenson High School for Sectionals. Senior Ian Doyle placed second in news writing and headline writing. Senior Ellen Stojak placed first in editorial writing. Junior Rhiannon Swanson placed fourth in editorial cartooning. Junior Nadia Hernandez placed fifth in advertising. Junior Brooke Meadowcroft placed thrid in broadcast news, and junior Emma Cowart placed sixth in photography.
“I competed in editorial writing and copy editing. I went to State for copy editing last year. I also signed up for editorial writing because I’ve been writing the editorials for the paper this year, and it’s something I really enjoy. I like arguing, and that’s almost what editorial writing is. I got first place in editorial writing,” said executive editor Ellen Stojak.
The students did multiple activities while waiting for awards to be announced.
“My favorite part about competing was being with the rest of all my journalism friends and exploring Stevenson, hanging out, playing games with the yearbook students and spending the day with Mrs. Smith,” Stojak said.
Despite the exciting memories being made, there were also some difficulties to face. The self-doubt and nerve wracking moments leading up to awards filled each student. Through these difficulties, though, there were persevering moments.
“The most challenging part was trying to get into the mindset that I will do the best I can because obviously when you’re in a room with all of your competitors you kind of feel this overall sense of judgment, and I was trying not to psych myself out. So I would say staying focused was the most challenging part for me,” said features editor Nadia Hernandez.
Those that didn’t move onto the State competition were able to reflect on their past year in journalism slightly earlier than others. Even those that aren’t graduating are able to understand the joy and grit their class has brought them.
“I have loved the freedom we have in journalism because I feel like even though we are a high school based newspaper, we have some restrictions, but this year we’ve been able to write what we’re passionate about and what we thought was important. I also love the community. I really love who I work with and all of our relationships together,” Hernandez said.
However, for seniors, this will be their last year in the journalism program at the high school level. The seniors were also able to look back on their years on staff as they prepare for their lives after high school.
“My favorite part about journalism is the time we spend in class together. We spend a lot of time talking to each other and having fun, but it’s also a lot of work. It’s so worth it to see your voice and hard work being spread throughout the school and the voice of all your friends as well. It feels like you’re making a difference and what you’re doing really matters,” said managing editor Ian Doyle.
Nonetheless, the experience of being in journalism has led some students to pursue a career in it. The time spent with Mrs. Smith in the journalism room inspires some students to carry on their legacy throughout college and more.
“I currently don’t know what I want to major in, but I am interested in the journalism field. I think I would like to see where it would take me. Maybe one day I’ll find myself writing stories for the newspaper again, but I’ll just have to wait and see where life takes me,” Doyle said.
Following Sectionals, junior Brooke Meadowcroft qualified to compete at State where she placed third. While at State, she faced a couple of challenges but persevered.
“The biggest problem while competing was getting my broadcast to be under the 75-second mark that was required of me to fit into because I had so much that I wanted to do with the clips that I was given,” Meadowcroft said. “Other than that, it was hard for me to not get distracted because the day of State fell on my birthday, so my phone was blowing up with texts and messages from friends and family.”
Despite the adversity, State was a experience that won’t be forgotten.
“My favorite part of competing was being in a creative State. I thought that it was super fun to be all alone and have the opportunity to do a really great job at the State level,” Meadowcroft said. “I also really enjoyed creating my own angle and doing what I could to the best of my ability with the content that I was given.”

Brenda Smith
Seniors Ellen Stojak, Ian Doyle, junior Brooke Meadowcroft, and sponsor Brenda Smith at State.