Journalists attends national convention; Midway wins highest accolade


Danielle Dieterich

Members of the U-High Midway and U-Highlights pose for a group photo with a Best of Show second place award at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in St. Louis.

Peter Cox and Taariq Ahmed

Nineteen students and two advisers from the journalism program attended the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention in St. Louis Nov. 9-12, where they attended journalism workshops, participated in on-site competitions and visited locations across St. Louis. The U-High Midway staff also won the nation’s highest award for student newspapers, while students from all three journalism programs received individual honors.

Participants attended a wide range of workshops taught by journalism experts from across the country. The convention opened with a panel of speakers from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch photojournalism team, who were recognized with a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. The objectives of the workshops ranged from developing specific skills in writing and photography to exploring the stories and experiences of prominent figures in the field.

“My favorite part was probably a session that I did on editing,” U-High Midway features editor Sahana Unni said. “In general, I think that I learned a lot from the convention, and that helped better my writing, editing and designing skills.”

The journalism program’s publications were recognized with national awards. The 2021-22 Midway was one of 15 high school newspapers to receive the Pacemaker Award for setting the highest standard of student journalism in the country. The Midway has received the award nine additional times, most recently in 2020, and has been a finalist three other times. 

Best of Show

  • Newspaper (enrollment less than 1,800): U-High Midway, second place
  • Website (enrollment less than 1,800): U-High Midway, seventh place
  • Yearbook (224-278 pages): U-Highlights, third place

Prior to the convention, four journalism alumni from the Class of 2022 were named finalists for several national awards for content published over the last school year. The placings of the finalists were announced at the convention.

During the convention, students took part in the National Student Media Contests from the Journalism Education Association. Newspaper and yearbook staff members competed in on-site activities such as creating content on-demand and completing timed assessments. Photojournalists submitted their entries ahead of time and participated in a critique session at the competition. Twelve students received individual awards from the contest:

Superior rating: 

  • Krishita Dutta, commentary writing

Excellent rating: 

  • Ella Hultquist, yearbook copy/caption: academics
  • Gabriel Issa, themed photo
  • Matt Petres, photography portfolio
  • Téa Tamburo, news editing/headline/current events

Honorable mention: 

  • Audrey Matei, press law and ethics
  • Audrey Park, editorial writing
  • Kenneth Peters, first-year photo
  • Erich Raumann, review writing
  • Sydney Tyler, yearbook copy/caption: sports
  • Sahana Unni, feature writing
  • Sarina Zhao, yearbook copy/caption: clubs

U-High Highlights editor-in-chief Sarina Zhao said participating in the contest was an interesting experience since the contests were held virtually last year. Still, Sarina was pleased to repeat the achievement after winning an award last year. Sarina also said she enjoyed meeting other student journalists.

“In general, being surrounded by all those other people at the convention who are passionate about journalism and sharing stories,” Sarina said. “I think it was definitely really cool and I definitely got a lot from them.”

Photojournalism editor-in-chief Matt Petres said he enjoyed the convention as a whole and learned a lot from the workshops.

“It feels good to have your work recognized after a while,” Matt said. 

The group also spent part of Nov. 10 touring popular St. Louis attractions: the Gateway Arch National Park, historic Old Courthouse, the City Foundry, the St. Louis Art Museum and the St. Louis Zoo. 

“Seeing the Arch was really nice. It was definitely a highlight,” Midway deputy managing editor Erich Raumann said. “It’s the first time I’ve been in St. Louis, so it was nice to just sort of explore the city with all my friends.”

Although students and advisers followed individual workshop schedules, the sightseeing allowed the group to spend time together outside of the convention. 

“​​I got to interact with a lot of the people in like the journalism group,” Midway audience engagement manager Zara Siddique said. “So I really feel like that strengthened my family connection with a lot of people in the journalism program.”

Update, Nov. 17: This story has been updated to include the Photo of the Year, sports, honorable mention for Andrew Burke-Stevenson and to include the correct link on the award-winning photo slideshow.