A JOYous occasion

One student is commemorated for her work in journalism


photo courtesy Delaney Lueck

During her Yearbook class, senior Kaitlin Reynolds was surprised by her advisor with the title of 2022 Nebraska Student Journalist of the Year. After spending three years working toward this moment, Reynolds reflects on her past and looks toward her bright future. “I am hoping that being the Nebraska Student Journalist of the Year will help me to get involved right away in college,” Reynolds said. “I think that by having it on my resume it will open doors for me to join publications in the future.”

Quinn Burton, Staff Reporter

Countless hours of hard work and dedication have paid off for one Millard West student. On March 7, senior Kaitlin Reynolds received the 2022 Nebraska Student Journalist of the Year award.

Reynolds enrolled in Intro to Journalism her freshman year, and since then has continuously built upon her skills and techniques. Now wrapping up her senior year as the Editor in Chief of the Prowler Yearbook and the News Editor of the Catalyst, Reynolds has received the achievement of a lifetime; however, her journey to success was no piece of cake. 

“When I was announced as the Nebraska Student Journalist of the Year I was sort of in shock,” Reynolds said. “Throughout my high school career, I have made countless sacrifices to pursue my love for journalism: coming in early, staying late, working on weekends and even dropping other classes that I was interested in to make room for journalism in my schedule.”

Along the journey of applying for the title, Reynolds put in extensive effort to leave a memorable imprint on the judges. This included spending hours watching informational videos, zoom lessons, building a portfolio and evening creating a website from scratch. 

“At the start of November I began to create my WIX page,” Reynolds said. “ I used this website to plan out the layout of my portfolio and select the fonts and overall design. However, December was when I really got serious about working on it and I spent all of my free time writing the explanations and placing content until 11:57 p.m. on the day it was due.”

Along the way, Reynolds had help from her adviser, Mark Hilburn, who constantly gave feedback on areas she could improve on. 

“Over the course of the three years that Katie has been a part of the journalism department, she’s become a master storyteller,” Hilburn said. “She’s spent months putting together her portfolio that showcases three years of incredible work. Seeing it all together in one place really took me back to realize just how far she’s come and what a talented journalist she is. Knowing her work is strong, I had a feeling she’d be selected as Journalist of the Year.

Aside from her advisor, the judges of Nebraska’s Student Journalist of the Year contest have also observed the extensive amount of work that Reynolds has put into her craft. After searching through hundreds of profiles, Reynolds’ portfolio went above and beyond, setting herself apart from other candidates.

“Kaitlin’s nomination package was stellar,” Nebraska Journalist of the Year coordinator Marsha Kowalski said. “She created a fantastic online portfolio that showcased much of the work she’s done at Millard West. The national judging rubric has 11 main categories, and Kaitlin received high marks in everything, plus some bonus points available at the judge’s discretion. She seemed to make the strongest contributions to her school and the community, while also having a strong sense of maturity and responsibility.”

Now that Reynolds has gained this title, she will now compete against other state winners for the National Student Journalist of the Year title in Los Angeles. Not only that, but she continues to work with aspiring young journalists at Millard West high school, leaving behind a legacy for future generations.