Highlights receives national awards

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Candice Hannani, feature editor

Twelve members of the Highlights staff flew to San Antonio for the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention from Nov. 15-18. There, the group competed in multiple competitions and won several awards.

Highlights received the National Pacemaker Award, the highest national honor that a high school newspaper can obtain, and its online edition won eighth place in Best of Show.

Additionally, students participated in individual and group write-off competitions. Senior Jessica Saadian received the Superior ranking for review writing, seniors Pasha Farmanara and Julia Waldow and junior Dami Kim received Superior for online news package, junior Arman Zadeh received Excellent for sports writing, junior Sasha Park received Excellent for editorial cartooning, and junior Danny Licht received Excellent for feature writing.

While in San Antonio, students were required to partake in at least three journalism sessions per day. Sessions ranged from improving page designs to writing investigative articles.

The convention also featured two keynote speakers, Rodolfo Gonzalez and Charean Williams, both of whom are renowed journalists and provided the students with a source of inspiration to continue their passions for the field.

“I especially enjoyed photojournalist Gonzalez’s presentation of images he took at Columbine High School following the mass shooting,” Print Editor-in-Chief Julia Waldow said. “His emotional, riveting photos really re-enforced the huge role photography plays in capturing the human experience.”

During their free time, students were able to visit sites in San Antonio such as the Alamo and the Tower of the Americas, and walk along the Riverwalk, a four mile long river surrounded by restaurants and gift shops.

Students left the city with an increased motivation to excel in journalism, new knowledge about newspaper writing and page designing and greater ties with their classmates.

“After seeing other schools’ newspapers, I felt more inclined to produce better quality work and come up with more creative ideas for my page. I was able to spend a lot of time with other members of the staff that I usually did not hang out with. We bonded a lot and it was a great experience and trip overall,” News Editor Michelle Banayan said.

The next JEA/NSPA conference is in San Francisco in April. Yearbook and website Pacemakers will be announced.

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