Paly journalism brings students to national convention, finds success in awards ceremony


The Paly journalism program took 120 students to the National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco on Friday, April 21.

The Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association hold the convention twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, in varying locations. At conventions, which span three days, students attend workshops on topics such as design, writing and editorial leadership.

Paly journalism advisor Brian Wilson said despite the many logistical hurdles of organizing the trip, he enjoyed planning it.

“The whole thing is a huge, fun, challenging puzzle to put together, from getting the train tickets to making sure the lunches are secure to talking to students about how to get to sessions,” Wilson said. “It’s an immense amount of work, but it’s also kind of fun to do because we know people are going to have a good time when they’re there.”

Wilson also said he, along with fellow Paly journalism advisors Paul Kandell and Rod Satterthwaite, are all part of the local committee for planning the convention. As a result, Wilson said he had additional responsibilities beyond organizing Paly students.

“I was so busy coordinating not just Paly students, but also, because the Paly advisors are all part of the local committee of the convention as a whole, we had a lot of responsibilities throughout the day to make sure everything was running smoothly,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he noticed Paly students stepped up, not only in attending speaker sessions and workshops, but also in representing Paly journalism as a whole.

“Paly students had a nice opportunity to impress and show people they’re leaders, talk in sessions, help out other students, provide examples of their publications, meet new people and just generally be good people,” Wilson said. “I really saw that, and I thought that was a great part of it.”

Senior Madelyn Castro, a member of Paly’s Incubator, said she enjoyed going to the convention as a school because she could connect with others from the Paly journalism program and grow as a student journalist.

“It was like a little community we all got to travel with, and it felt like we were really building bonds,” Castro said. “(The convention) also helped me reflect on my own work and helped me view things a little differently, especially with photography,” Castro said.

In addition to building inter-publication relationships with fellow Paly journalists, Castro said she also was able to meet journalists from all across the country.

“My favorite part was hanging out with all of the students in between sessions because we got to have a nice, relaxed time together but also talk about what we learned and how we were going to apply it to our lives,” Castro said. “I met some people from Virginia, which is where I’m originally from, so that was cool. I met people from Kansas and a whole bunch of other places I’ve never been to or even thought had impressive journalism programs, and it was cool to see other people who used different ways to get to the same place.”

According to the journalism convention website, people from 37 states, England, Canada and Taiwan attended the convention.

Junior Emma Tyler, a student journalist from Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska, said she traveled three and a half hours to attend the convention with her school.

“We flew in here,” Tyler said. “We left at 4 a.m., and we have a lot of people who have never been to California.”

Beyond attending the convention, Tyler said she and her schoolmates have also taken the time to explore the Bay Area and visit San Francisco attractions such as Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge and the Wharf. She said the convention has been both fun and insightful for her.

“I really went here on a whim because I love San Francisco and I want to go with my friends, so it was less of a business expense and it was more just for fun,” Tyler said. “But now that I’m here, I would say if people have the opportunity to really just collaborate with any individuals from other parts of the country on something they’re passionate about, it (would be) a really interesting and eye-opening experience. I got a lot more out of it than I was expecting to.”

Tyler said collaboration was one main takeaway from attending the convention. She attended a newsmagazine spread design critique session, in which she said she gained valuable feedback from other student journalists.

“I used to look at certain journalists from other schools as if it’s kind of competitive, and we never really collaborate with other schools or other journalists,” Tyler said. “But being here and hearing people’s insights on my design, (I realize) people having different eyes on it is a good thing. It kind of taught me to reach out and work with other people.”

On Saturday, April 22, the convention held its awards ceremony from 4-6 p.m. From Paly, 20 students won contest awards, and six students won NSPA Best of Show awards.

In the NSPA Best of Show publication awards, Ink placed ninth under the Literary Arts Magazine category. Under the Specialty Magazine category, C Magazine, Viking, [proof] and Anthro placed second, fourth, sixth and seventh, respectively. Among publications at schools with 1,800 or more students, The Campanile placed ninth under the Newspaper category, and Verde placed first under the Newsmagazine category.

Next spring, the convention will be held in Kansas City. Wilson said he hopes Paly journalism can take students to attend.

“Typically, at least pre-COVID, we would tend to take a smaller group of students to the conventions that were further away,” Wilson said. “We might talk to our students and open it up to a group of not 120, but maybe 20 or 25, who are interested in going. If that’s the case, we would get the full convention flavor of being there Thursday, Friday and Saturday, getting a chance to see more of it instead of just doing a one-day (trip).”

Overall, Wilson said the trip was a success both for the students attending and for him as an organizer.

“It was just one of those magical, fun days,” Wilson said. “I think people had a great time, and it was one of those things where everything felt like it went right.”

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