A Year of Journalism

Senior end high school on a high note

Sydney Looney, Online Editor

photo by Maddie Augustine
At the 2018 Nebraska State Journalism Competition senior Annaliese Punt received Student Journalist of the Year. She received a medallion and a $750 scholarship. “It was an honor to be awarded in front of all the journalism students in the state,” Punt said “The lady who gave it to me was so nice and has always been supportive in everything I do.”

When senior Annaliese Punt was in eighth grade she attended the incoming freshmen activities fair not knowing where she would belong in high school. While she wandered around all the booths there was only one that sparked her interest: Yearbook.

She liked the idea of being able to get to know the people at her school and taking pictures at sporting events. After taking Intro to Journalism, Punt joined the Yearbook staff when she was a sophomore.

“I liked being able to be creative through writing and designing,” Punt said. “Also meeting new people in the class and while interviewing is a good component of Yearbook.”

Throughout her  junior year Punt got serious about journalism. She was given a Copy Editor position which meant her writing skills were tested because her duty was to edit stories written by her classmates. That same year Punt competed in the Nebraska State Journalism Competition. At State, she placed second in Yearbook Feature Writing which helped the team get the State Championship.

“My junior year I realized I was actually good at yearbook and writing when I started getting recognized at national and local contest,” Punt said. “It really opened my eyes to all the potential I had and how much I wanted to continue doing journalism in the future.”

Her senior year, Punt decided to take a leap of faith and take Advanced Journalism along with Yearbook. Being on both staffs allowed her to be able to explore all types of journalism. She also continued to be a leader in the two classes by being Editor in Chief of the Prowler Yearbook and Hard News Editor for the Catalyst Newspaper.

“I wanted to go into journalism as my career so I thought I should try out Advanced Journalism to see if I like all parts of it,” Punt said. “I discovered that I really enjoy making broadcasts which is something I never would have known if I stayed in just Yearbook.”

Punt decided to apply for the 2018 Nebraska Student Journalist of the Year after hearing about it at the State competition the previous year. She began working on her portfolio in January so she could make the February 15 deadline.

One senior from each high school in Nebraska was able to apply for the contest. Instead of filling out a traditional application, Punt had to create a website that showcased her portfolio. Written stories, photographs and a small biography were just some of the types of work that the judges took into consideration when deciding who would be the recipient of the award.

“I did some research about how to make a website and free sites I could use,” Punt said “I then had to decide what stories to put on there and make sure I had all the requirements.”

On March 3rd, the Journalism Education Association named Punt the 2018 Nebraska Student Journalist of the Year, the first student at Millard West to have received this award. Her endless hours of hard work in and outside of the classroom had paid off. Many teachers and administrators congratulated Punt on receiving the award.

“We got the call right as the Yearbook students were leaving for lunch so I asked Annie to stay back so she could hear the news over the phone” Adviser Mark Hilburn said. “Annie has been involved with journalism for four year and has earned local state and national awards for her stories, layouts, designs and broadcasts her compilation, hard work and leadership made her an invaluable editor and master storyteller I had a good feeling she would win the award.”  

At the 2018 State Journalism Competition, Punt was recognized for the award. She received a gold medallion and a $750 scholarship. Along with being Journalist of the Year, Punt became a state champion. She won first place in News Broadcasting.

As her senior year came to close, Punt made plans to go to Northwest Missouri State University to study Journalism. Focusing mostly on the public relations side of journalism, she will use the skills she developed throughout her high school career to further delve into the world of journalism.