UNL welcomes 700 Nebraska high school journalists to campus for convention

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 - 3:45pm

More than 755 students and teachers from 48 Nebraska high schools made their way to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus on Oct. 17 to learn journalism and media skills from professional journalists, college educators and high school advisers.

The Nebraska High School Press Association convention, co-sponsored with UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, offers a variety of learning opportunities for students in broadcasting, newspaper (online and print), yearbook and sports communications.

“It is so gratifying to see such interest in the fall convention, which is one of the state’s most popular events for students interested in scholastic journalism,” said Michelle Carr Hassler, NHSPA executive director and associate professor of practice of journalism at UNL. “The College of Journalism and Mass Communications and the NHSPA are proud to continue to offer this great educational program for high school students and teachers.”

Throughout the day, students could attend 33 sessions on a variety of media-related topics – from sports writing to social media best practices.

The event kicked off with a keynote presentation by UNL alumna and Lincoln native Alyssa Schukar, a Washington, D.C.-based photojournalist, educator and writer who is a frequent contributor to the New York Times and Feeding America, a national network of food banks. She also is the co-director of the 75-year-old Missouri Photo Workshop, which connects early-career photographers with industry leaders who guide them through the process of narrative, documentary storytelling.

During an awards ceremony after the keynote, the organization presented Distinguished Adviser of the Year awards to David Stevens of Fremont High School and Jean Brown of Aquinas High School.

The NHSPA also honored Mindy Burbach, Lincoln Public Schools communications director, with its R. Neale Copple Friend of Journalism award, which acknowledges those who significantly support scholastic journalism. In a new award this year – NHSPA Administrator of the Year – the organization honored Audrey Downey, principal of Lexington High School, for her support of scholastic journalism.

The NHSPA also recognized high school student winners in its annual awards competition.

The following high schools won the highest honor – the Cornhusker Award – in the yearbook category: Elkhorn (The Antler); Elkhorn North (The Imprint); Elkhorn South (The Notus); Fairbury (The Trail); Lexington (The Minuteman); Lincoln Southwest (The Talon); Marian (The Crusader); Millard North (The Stampede); Millard West (The Prowler); Papillion La Vista (The Monarch); Ralston (The Ram); Pius X (The Thunderer); and Yutan (The Chieftain).

The following schools won Cornhusker Awards in the newspaper category: Fairbury (The Blazer); Lincoln Southeast (The Clarion); Millard South (Common Sense); Papillion La Vista South (Titan Legacy); and Scotus Central Catholic (Rock Bottom).

In the online news category, Omaha Westside (Westside Wired) was awarded a Cornhusker.  

And in the broadcast category, Millard West (MWHS Wildcat News) was awarded a Cornhusker.

During an adviser meeting, the organization held elections for the NHSPA executive board. Re-elected to their respective positions as large school and at-large representatives were Mark Hilburn, current board president and Millard West teacher, and David Stevens, current secretary and Fremont teacher. The group also elected three new board members: Chris Jenson of Elkhorn High School and Kirsten Gilliland of Grand Island Northwest, who will represent medium-sized schools, and Rod Henkel of Mead, the small school representative.

Major sponsors of the convention and its annual awards include the Nebraska Broadcasters Association, SNO Sites (School Newspapers Online) and Walsworth Publishing.

The NHSPA is open to all high school instructors of journalism and/or advisers of student publications in the state of Nebraska. For additional information, including how to join, see the NHSPA website: http://www.nhspaonline.org

Alyssa Schukar