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Highlights places third in regional write-off, five writers advance to state

Dami Kim, culture editor

Ten members of the Highlights staff competed in Northern Los Angeles Regional High School Journalism write-off at California State University of Northridge on March 16. Highlights placed third overall as a group and five individual writers qualified to advance to the upcoming state write-off in April.

Sponsored by the CSUN Journalism Department and the official regional council of the Southern California Journalism Education Association, the write-off began with an introduction from CSUN professor Tae Kim. Kim discussed the importance of students recognizing the changing media and growing as ethical journalists in a “fast-paced 21st century.”

Students from various schools in the county were  dismissed to their respective rooms  in order to compete in on-the spot writing contests for news, feature, opinion, sports, editorial cartooning and photography. In each of the writing categories, the top seven students were given medals and qualified to advance to the state write-off. Highlights members:

– Junior Danny Licht placed third in photography.

– Junior Zoe Kenealy and Mabel Kabani took third and fifth place respectively in news writing.

– Junior Robert Katz placed third in opinion.

– Junior Arman Zadeh ranked in second place in sports writing.

– Junior Jessica Lu placed third for her feature article.

Although students were recognized in the competition, senior Jessica Saadian hoped to see improved organization of the write-off, so more students can benefit next year.

“Several [writing] categories were placed in one room and it was so hard for me to concentrate on my article,” Saadian said. “Writing the article felt like a rush for me, although I felt like I made a huge accomplishment after I finished.”

Kabani agreed with Saadian that the write-off was unexpectedly “unorganized” and the judges seemed “harried.”

“I thought [competing in the write-off] was a good opportunity,” Kabani said. “But the [system] was very unorganized and I felt that the judge had a really narrow view of what a good article was. Not placing information [in the article] where [the judge] prefers isn’t something I should be seriously docked off [points] for.”

In contrast to students’ mixed reviews of the write-off, Zadeh, who took the highest place out of the five students, still felt optimistic about the following state contest.

“It was exciting to see that my writing compared well to other students in Los Angeles,” Zadeh said. “But I’m even more anxious to see how [Highlights] is going to do at the state write-off.”

Highlights members who wish to compete in additional categories such as critical review, photography and editorial cartooning are permitted to join the five qualified writers for the state contest. All writers are scheduled to compete for the state write-off at California State University of Long Beach on April 13.

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