Convention energizes journalism students

More than 1,400 students were “electrified” this past weekend at the Florida Scholastic Press Association convention in Orlando.

Thirty-three journalists from West Shore’s TV pro, yearbook newspaper and Journalism 1 attended the FSPA convention April 11-13, with many participating in on-the-spot competitions and attending informative journalism sessions.

Senior Anna Wilder served as the event’s co-state chair and junior Rosellen Rodriguez was the District 3 Representative.

FSPA is a non-profit organization founded in 1946 with a goal of encouraging and supporting journalists and advisers statewide.

“[The students] went to a lot of workshops and they teach you different things that really help to expand your knowledge of journalism,” junior Lexi Vander said.

The workshops included presentations about how to use various software for yearbook design, how to improve newspaper articles, and even how to change camera settings for action photography.

Competitions included creating a newspaper spread, where the “Roar” newspaper team of seniors Valery Linkenhoker, Auston Gonzales, Madhav Pamidimukkala, and freshman Sophia Bailly earned third place. Pardon the Interruption, a live broadcast by seniors Shawn Humphrey and Matthew Marcinkowski earned second place, News Photography of the convention, where sophomore Haley Alvarez-Lauto received an Honorable Mention, and coverage of a press conference, where Bailly placed first.

In order to improve the yearbook spread and participate again in a feature photography contest, Vander plans to practice her photography skills.

“I’m impressed at where I was this year, but next year I should be a lot more experienced and come in with better ideas for the competitions,” Vander said.

“At FSPA I learned what it’s like to be competing against other journalists,” Bailly said. “Everyone wants to win. But I learned how to block that out and listen, report and write despite what other journalists were doing and saying.”

Bailly began writing in Associated Press style this year in her Journalism 1 class and plans on becoming a journalist after college.

“Journalism is unlike anything else, and I’ve loved every second of it this year,” Bailly said. “I’ve grown a lot from it, and I’ve learned to connect to people and tell their stories.”

Bailly used her skills to write a story about FSPA’s Sunshine Standard award after being at a press conference with FSPA’s evaluation coordinator Joe Humphrey.

“I was ecstatic,” Bailly said after winning first place for the press conference. “I hadn’t known what to expect from FSPA, so to place was really exciting.”

Bailly intends to work in yearbook next year and bring optimism and support to the team.

“I hope that I can help to bring the team closer together so that we can be as successful as possible,” Bailly said.

By Emma Robinson