Kicking off contest season

Journalism students attend their first contest of the year

On Monday, October 21st, the Millard West Journalism students attended the annual Nebraska High School Press Association’s Fall Convention in Lincoln, Neb. to start off their contest season.

During the convention, students had the opportunity to network with journalists from across the state through break-out sessions in reporting, writing, broadcasting, yearbook, team-building, social media and more. Following the Opening session, keynote speaker and awards, students attended four break-out sessions of their choice taught by industry professionals and UNL professors. This gave schools and chance to learn more about various fields of interest and bring back new ideas to their school newsrooms. But before these sessions began, award were handed out from 2019 publications. 

The Catalyst print newspaper was awarded their second consecutive Cornhusker Award, the highest award given out in the state. The MWHS Wildcat News and The Catalyst online both received Superior Awards. 

“When they announced that we had received a Cornhusker Award, it was very exciting because we had put a lot of hard work into our newspaper last year,” senior Editor-in-Chief Kaitlyn Willard said. “It sets a tone for the year, as we have a goal to continue to win the Cornhusker and awards in the future.”

The Prowler Yearbook was given their eighth consecutive Cornhusker Award, as well as Golden Kernel Awards for Photography, Design, Sports Coverage, Feature Leads and Music/Artistic Features, along with Coverage of Special Populations.

“This award is important because it shows all of the work and hardships that the staff goes through and it makes everything worth it,” Prowler Editor-in-Chief Aubree Howell said. “It meant a lot to me because I had worked on the yearbook last year, so having another Cornhusker under our belt is a great feeling.”

photo by Jasmine Hermosillo
The Millard West Catalyst and Millard West Prowler Cornhusker Awards.

These journalists started their day off in Lincoln at an Opening ceremony where the NHSPA President and Millard West Journalism and Yearbook teacher and adviser Mark Hilburn welcomed schools from all over the state to the convention.

“During the Opening, we have all schools and advisors meet in the Centennial Room for a brief welcome with information about the keynote, venders and breakout sessions,” Hilburn said. “As president, this was a chance for me to speak directly to 808 students and adviser in attendance. Aside from formal introductions, my favorite part was being able to announce and handout Cornhusker Awards to staffs that worked so hard throughout the year. The excitement on many of their faces is something I won’t forget. 

The Opening ceremony speech was followed by the keynote speaker. This year’s keynote speaker was Lise Olsen; currently the Deputy Investigations Editor and Senior Investigator at the Houston Chronicle. Olsen shared with the students her adventures throughout her experience of becoming an investigative reporter.

Then all of the journalists were given the opportunity to participate in four breakout sessions. These sessions varied from broadcasting to photography to writing and yearbook. Sessions were instructed by professors from UNL as well as professionals from Lincoln Journal Star, STRIV, Omaha World Herald and other local associations. Students were able to learn techniques and strategies to improve their work as well as their school’s overall work.

“We ran the STRIV session because we love connecting and sharing our work with journalism students around the state,” Education Director Sarah Brune said. “We would go back because we see the value of sharing conversations about the future of social media with students.”

To end the day off before heading back to Millard West, these reporters were able to tour the NET broadcasting facilities. 

The tour was led by Bill Kelly who is the Senior Producer at NET, students got to see the behind the scenes of an entire working facility. They were able to see the various sets of news broadcasts, the mobile broadcasting vehicle and digital programming behind the network. 

“The tour overall was very intriguing and I enjoyed seeing the sets and being able to learn about all of the elements that go into a live broadcast,” senior Entertainment Editor Elizabeth Hahn said. “With being interested in a future career in Journalism, this helped me learn more about the broadcasting side rather than writing.”

photo by Mark Hilburn

Throughout the school year and the first semester, the journalists have been able to practice their writing and broadcasting skills. This has prepared the students for the upcoming contest season, including national conventions and State.

photo by Mark Hilburn
Students touring the NET mobile van used largely at state sporting events.

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