Over 130 Palo Alto High School journalists attended the 2018 Spring National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco last Friday, joining several thousand other delegates from across the country in the largest gathering of student journalists in the country.
The convention, co-sponsored by the Journalism Education Association (JEA) and the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA), organized hundreds of practical learning sessions that included workshops and professional conferences about the different aspects within journalism.
Journalism teacher Paul Kandell said that due to the great number of student participants, Paly journalism teachers negotiated the first bulk discount with JEA and NSPA, allowing a larger number of Paly students to attend.
Thirty-five Paly students stayed for an additional two hours to enter write-off contests about news writing, feature writing, design and page layout, of which 18 received an award. Junior Asia Gardias, for example, entered the press law and ethics write-off, focusing on student rights and the court cases involved in determining them. The challenges in the write-offs included essays, vocabulary questions and specific tests relevant to the topic of the competition.
“I chose to go to the convention because [Paly students] were lucky it was conveniently close this year. I thought it would be good to expand in knowledge on the subject [of the write-off] in case we needed someone on staff who was well versed in the subject.”
Journalism Student Asia Gardias
Gardias said that the convention further motivated her to pursue journalism after hearing the inspiring feedback about careers of professionals.
“The best part of this experience was delving into the stories of journalists and publications that went to court and battled to uphold the press and free speech,” Gardias said. “The freedoms we enjoy at Paly as student journalists stem from people who were willing to sacrifice their reputations or even personal freedoms, and the [write-off] was a perfect way to remind myself of that.”
Two Paly students returned to San Francisco on the next day, the last day of the convention.
NSPA held a Best of Show competition for student journalists and advisors who entered their student publications. At the awards ceremony on Saturday, The Paly Voice received a Pacemaker Award and Verde’s special edition, Veritas, received second place. The Campanile received ninth place in the Newspaper Pacemaker Award Finalist, as well as seventh place in special edition newspaper.
For the following years, Kandell hopes the convention will change its write-off rulings.
“I wish we could enter more of our students into the contests because they only allow one person in each category,” Kandell said. “We were already putting people in slots that we know are not natural fits for them.”