FRONT: Bailey Hansen ’24, Riley Smith ’25, Georgia Gianopulos ’23, Kelly Montague ’25, Catherine Caruso ’24, Nikki MacDonald ’25; BACK: Julia Gray ’23, Matteo Ventresca ’25, Joe Lynch ’24, Michelle Ding ’24, Marilyn Ashley ’25, Sylvan Prey-Harbaugh ’23, Jack Henry ’23

Thirteen student members of the Strath Haven High School newspaper and yearbook staffs traveled to the National High School Journalism Convention (NHSJC) in St. Louis, MO from Nov. 9-13. Accompanied by advisers Mrs. Beth Cohen and Ms. Kate Plows, Haven students participated in three jam-packed days of learning, competition, and team building,

The fall convention is one of two annual conventions sponsored by the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association. With more than 3100 student journalists and advisers in attendance, NHSJC is the nation’s largest gathering of high school journalists, advisers and journalism teachers. 

All students participated in individual National Student Media Contests (NSMC), competing in photography, newspaper writing, and yearbook copy. Yearbook staff members received valuable feedback on the 2022 yearbook during a 30-minute individual critique with experienced teacher and mentor Mr. Jim McCrossen. Students were able to network with colleges, journalism organizations, and other students from around the country at the exhibit hall. On Saturday, Nov. 12, editors-in-chief Georgia Gianopulos, Julia Gray, and Jack Henry co-presented a session with Plows titled “Making Clubs Count.” 

“The skills and experiences I gained on this trip will last me a lifetime,” senior yearbook co-editor-in-chief Jack Henry said. “From the skills I learned in classes to the connections I made with students, professionals, and colleges, I was able to expand my knowledge and connections for the future.”

As extracurricular participants in a convention mostly attended by curricular journalism students, the Strath Haven students participated in contests mostly to collect the individualized feedback offered by judges rather than in anticipation of awards. Plows, who judged St. Louis contests in photography and editorial writing, noted that these categories were very competitive. “There are no participation awards in the NSMC contests,” she said. “The quality of the student work in the contests that I judged was outstanding, and the competition for recognition was fierce.”

Still, the Strath Haven team came home from St. Louis with some national rankings. In all, 1,119 students competed in photo, broadcast, graphic design, literary magazine, design and writing contests, according to the JEA press release. There were 510 students recognized with 75 superior, 168 excellent, and 266 honorable mention awards. Full rankings for the contests are linked. All students receive detailed feedback from two or more judges who reviewed their work.

Sylvan Prey-Harbaugh ’23—SUPERIOR in Video Package Editing (only superior in this category)
Georgia Gianopulos ’23—EXCELLENT in Sports Feature Photography
Jack Henry ’23—HONORABLE MENTION in Portrait Photography
Julia Gray ’23—HONORABLE MENTION in Commentary
Riley Smith ’23—HONORABLE MENTION in Copy/Caption Sports
Michelle Ding ’23—HONORABLE MENTION in Copy/Caption Clubs

Additionally, sophomore Kelly Montague earned a national THIRD PLACE for best in show in the individual Feature Photography category, placing in the ranks of some of the top yearbook programs in the nation.

Students agreed that the convention was an intense structured learning experience, as well as a chance to learn informally from so many others who were excited about student journalism.

“When you are at a convention like this, you turn into a sponge, picking up every little piece of information that comes up, and finding relevant information in the most unlikely places,” senior newspaper co-editor-in-chief Julia Gray said. “Now that we are back home, I hope that we can continue to be sponges, and continue to be full of the passion we held on this trip, because I know I still am.” 

Student participants share some of their learning from the NHSJC experience in the blog posts below.