After exceeding their fundraising goal, 15 media students along with two advisers gained a once in a lifetime experience while attending the national spring convention in Denver.
Local event coordinator Jack Kennedy, executive director of the Colorado High School Press Association, kicked off the Journalism Education/National Scholastic Press Association (JEA/NSPA) convention with a unique and unusual keynote address: He sang a gospel song about the First Amendment. Though it only had 47 words, Kennedy’s rendition of our constitutional rights was a more than rousing way to start off the evening. The keynote speakers for the night were Dave Philipps of The New York Times and Michael Ciaglo and Joanna Bean of the Colorado Springs Gazette.
They spoke about the Pulitzer Prize-winning series for investigative reporting, “Other than Honorable” that they worked on about wounded veterans being kicked out of the army for misconduct. It followed the veterans through their often tumultuous lives after they lost their benefits, a side effect of their less than honorable discharges. Many of the veterans, the team found, often had some sort of serious injury, such as PTSD or a traumatic brain injury.
“The people who were most likely to be fired were the ones who brought home the invisible injuries like PTSD,” Ciaglo said. “Things that made it hard to function as a soldier.”
However, Friday morning was when the convention really started. Students were encouraged to attend the numerous workshops that the convention offered on a variety of topics, with everything from leadership skills to learning how to have intriguing layout designs being covered.
One of the more unique sessions was called “Confessions of a Fontaholic.” Presenter Lynn Strause shared her seven-step program to curing “fontaholism.” She discussed how fonts can convey emotion and provide a deeper meaning for newspapers and yearbooks.
“I thought that the workshops were really different because I got to interact with advisers and students on specific subjects,” junior Jacqueline Tatulyan said.
Friday afternoon, students went to compete in their write-off competitions. In the competitions, students have a limited amount of time to write a story on a specific topic. Following the write-offs, students had a chance to relax in Team Trivia Night. Students worked in teams from their schools to figure out the answers to to various trivia questions. Categories included Disney Songs and Name that Monument.
On Saturday, students continued to attend workshops all day. That afternoon, convention participants attended the National Scholastic Press Assn. Awards. The Pearl Post took home an award for Third Place Small School Website, a good placing considering that the level and number of competitors increased this year.
It wasn’t all about the sessions and awards though. Throughout the convention, students were encouraged to explore downtown Denver and that evening, DPMHS students were treated to a bus tour of the city. The tour’s relaxed, country guide, Billy, talked about Denver’s history and pointed out famous landmarks as the bus wound through the city.
The convention completed with the Journalism Education Assn. awards on Sunday. These awards were for write-off competitions that were held on Friday. At the convention, nearly 1,000 students competed in categories which that ranged from included writing and design to broadcasting video productions.
Seniors Karla Medrano and Brandon Gilden and junior Yousef Fatehpour all received Honorable Mentions in their categories: Commercial/PSA, Sports Writing and Review writing, respectively. Senior Dianne Villalta received an Excellent award in Commentary Writing.
“This convention showed me my classmates’ fun sides and we could enjoy this city many of us had never been to together,” junior and staff photographer Veronica Godoy said.