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Missouri student named 2012 Journalist of the Year

Mark Newton and JOY Kelsey Bell

JEA President Mark Newton with the 2012 High School Journalist of the Year Kelsey Bell of Francis Howell North High School, St. Charles, Mo.

During the past school year, hundreds of high school journalists throughout the country worked hours to complete their portfolios for state Journalist of the Year contests, and the 37 state winners were recognized in the April 15 awards ceremony at the conclusion of the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle.

“All of us on the Scholarship Committee and the JEA Board are so appreciative of the hard work evident in the winning portfolios and applaud the student winners and their advisers on achieving this prestigious recognition,” said Wayna C. Polk, scholarship committee chair.

When the final results were announced, Kelsey Bell of Missouri was named as the 2012 National High School Journalist of the Year. Bell will receive a $5,000 Sister Rita Jeanne Abicht scholarship as part of her recognition from the Journalism Education Association.

Six other state winners, Aiste Zalepuga of Florida, Christian Rumscheidt of Texas, Sarah Darby of Kansas, Beatriz Costa-Lima of Indiana, Christopher Haubursin of California and Carlo Nasisse of Georgia, were selected as the runners-up for the award. Each will receive a $2,000 scholarship from JEA.

Named in honor of JEA’s longtime treasurer, Sister Rita Jeanne Abicht, the scholarships recognize some of the top high school journalists in the country. Portfolios are judged at the spring national JEA/NSPA convention and scholarship funds are paid directly to the recipients in honor of their work on scholastic media.

The competition this year attracted dozens of entries in some states and none in others. When the state JOY portfolios were perused by the 14 members of the scholarship committee in Seattle, members were impressed with the depth of journalistic writing contained in the entries and the technological advances of the entries.

Following are some of the judges’ comments:

2012 Journalist of the Year
Kelsey Bell
Francis Howell North High School, St. Charles, Mo.
Adviser: Aaron Manfull

Kelsey Bell : JOY Portfolio

Kelsey Bell really did not want to follow in her sister’s footsteps by enrolling in a high school journalism class, but her mother forced her to. By the end of her first semester Kelsey began to see things differently and discovered she liked being a storyteller.

Kelsey’s story at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Mo., is one that has affected everyone on her campus. She has served in every capacity on the North Star news magazine since she entered that beginning journalism class four years ago and her design capabilities and storytelling skills have earned awards and recognition for herself and her school.

About Kelsey’s submission, the judges said:
“The design and visual presentation is excellent. Cyber awareness is strong and thorough.”

“This student has an impressive use of innovative technology.”

“This kid has a sense of humor.”
“This portfolio is a risk in both journalism and a portfolio, but it succeeds at both.”

“This entry includes a use of all things visual — from photography, art direction, to font and design choices, to color and thematic design.”

Kelsey’s ability to tell stories helped to set her entry apart from the others. She can write, she can design and she can coach others to follow her direction to project a clear message to her readers.

“I loved generating content for the paper, but as I progressed through my junior year I found myself actually creating things less and less. Instead of taking the ideas and making them happen, I was coming up with ideas and helping my staff do the best they possibly could to make their work happen,” Kelsey said in her self-analytical essay.

While Kelsey has continued to evolve as a media specialist, she has learned that her responsibilities to her readers, and to herself, helped improve her skills.

“I’ve learned what it means to work with a team. I’ve learned what qualities a good leader needs. I’ve learned to keep an open mind,” Kelsey said, “and I’ve learned no matter how hard I tried to be different than my sister, I ended up just like her.”

Runner-up for Journalist of the Year
Aiste Zalepuga
St. Stephen’s Episcopal High School, Bradenton, Fla.
Adviser: Nadia Watts

Throughout the years of this competition, we have had students who impacted others’ lives on their campuses in a big way. We have seen entries that challenged censorship, stood against leaders who were stubborn, and yet these students stood firm and made a difference in their community. Aiste did all that and much, much more.

Comments from the judges included:

“The self analysis is the BEST one I have ever read.”
“The international coverage in this entry is thorough and impressive.”
“This entry included quality community work and work far beyond the Florida area.”

The essay in this entry grabbed our emotions, our hearts and encouraged us to want to read each word in the packet. Aiste is more than involved on her campus; she is involved with her heritage, her founders and another country. She has interviewed diplomats, policymakers, and according to her adviser, all for the sake of her Lithuanian culture.

Aiste ended her essay remembering an interview where the subject said to “Never forget to dream.”  We think she is going to realize all of her dreams as a journalist.

Runner-up for Journalist of the Year
Christian Rumscheidt
Cypress Falls High School, Houston, Texas
Adviser: Lisa Van Etta

This entry was absolutely incredible. Pure and simple. One-of-a-kind and indicative of previous entries from this program.

Christian’s entry was submitted digitally on an iPad and included an instructional video for the judges on how to navigate the entry. It was well designed, easy to navigate and contained newspaper and yearbook stories and designs, live broadcasts and some great photography.

The judges had these comments about this entry:

“The range of experience using media simply astounds me.”
“Incredibly impressive portfolio. This was a pleasure to read, evaluate and experience.”
“This entry is setting the standard for others to follow. It is going to be interesting for other journalists to compete with this type of entry.”

Christian’s work indicates he is on the cutting edge of interactive digital communications and is the kind of journalist we will see in the future. He has also designed an app for his school for campus communications.

Runner-up for Journalist of the Year
Sarah Darby
Mill Valley High School, Shawnee, Kan.
Adviser: Kathy Habiger

Sarah has a vision and is really good at pursuing that vision. This student’s vision helped to create a new publication at the school and she was responsible for helping the publications win awards in every competition in which they have entered.

Some of the judges’ comments include:

“This entry contained a nice variety of media — solid program and a solid entry.”

“Attractive portfolio — easy to read.”

“Your explanations about each selection were helpful and elevated this entry to the top.”

Known on her campus as “the journalism girl” Sarah has established herself as someone who can be trusted  to cover what is important to her school and her peers.

Her adviser says Sarah knows the most precious right a journalist, or a citizen, has is the right to express ideas and opinions.

Sarah has big dreams for her future as a journalist. The committee believes she will achieve each of those dreams.

Runner-up for Journalist of the Year
Beatriz Costa-Lima
Munster High School, Munster, Ind.
Adviser: Rebecca Hoyle

Beatriz “Bia” Costa-Lima is a force to be reckoned with at Munster. A student leader, this student cares deeply about the school and publications.The entry was well designed, easy to navigate and contained newspaper, yearbook stories, designs and some great photography.

The judges said this about this state winner:

“After reading this essay, I felt as though I knew this student.”

“Entry is well designed and the writing and photos are exceptional.”

“This submission has included quality reasons on each example and it is no wonder this student has won awards.”

According to Bia’s essay, “My friends think I am out of my mind to give up every ounce of free time in the creation of our student newspaper.”

The committee feels the work in this self-proclaimed “journalism nerd’s” submission was exceptional.

Runner-up for Journalist of the Year
Christophe Haubursin
Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, Calif.
Adviser: Michelle Balmeo

Christophe produced a beautiful portfolio. He is a phenomenal writer, has an eye for design and is the sort of student advisers want on every staff.

A few of the comments from the judges included:

“Great visuals in this entry. Your design skills are awesome!”
“Your personal essay was well written and passionate.”
“This entry has a good visual sense and feature orientation.”

Being in a journalism class motivate this student to achieve.

“Here was an occupation fueled by creativity and diligence, where art in both image and language had a practical application with a massive audience,” Christophe wrote in his essay. “Nothing else I experienced in high school offered such gratification.”

One of the attributes Christophe’s adviser, Michele Balmeo, appreciates is his ability to walk into the classroom each day and look for something new to learn.

“His combination of skill and instinct make him a fabulous journalist,” Balmeo wrote in her letter of recommendation, “and after four years, he continues to push himself each day.”

Runner-up for Journalist of the Year
Carlo Nasisse
Clarke Central High School, Athens, Ga.
Adviser: David A. Ragsdale

This scholarship winner has worked on a variety of publications and the judges felt that was notable. Carlo has won awards on the state, regional and national level and is a student leader at Clarke Central High School.

Some of the judges’ comments include:

“You are a great storyteller with your photos.”
“This student has an acute awareness and deep emotion in his writing.”
“I believe this student could use his photography as an in-depth storytelling device in all areas of his campus publications.”

Carlo believes he is a visual storyteller and his fascination with the world motivates him as a storyteller.

According to his adviser, David Ragsdale, Carlo is a can’t-miss kid. The judges on the JOY committee agree and know Carlo will continue telling stories as he pursues his education.

State Winners

Additional entries in the national JOY competition included these state winners:

ALABAMA Erin Hutter, Thompson High School, Alabaster
Adviser: Brooke Dennis
ARIZONA Monica Contreras, Carl Hayden Community High School, Phoenix
Adviser: Jill Jones
COLORADO  Cassa Niedringhaus, Rocky Mountain High School, Fort Collins
Adviser: Stephen Wahlfeldt
CONNECTICUT  Julian Clarke, Staples High School, Westport
Adviser: Stephen Rexford
IDAHO  Justin Kirkham, Borah High School, Boise
Adviser: Michelle Harmon
ILLINOIS Sydney Scarlata, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Chicago
Adviser: Wayne Brasler
IOWA Lisa Friesth, Johnston High School, Johnston
Adviser: Leslie Shipp
KENTUCKY  Seth Fischer, duPont Manual High School, Louisville
Adviser: Liz Palmer
MARYLAND  Samantha Cooney, Rockville High School, Rockville
Adviser: Jessica Nassau
MICHIGAN Samuel Gringlas, North Farmington High School, Farmington Hills
Adviser: Derek Blair
MINNESOTA Anna Morris, Stillwater Area High School, Oak Park Heights
Adviser: Rachel Steil
MISSISSIPPI Donna “Bailey” Brocato, Starkville High School, Starkville
Adviser: R.J. Morgan
MONTANA  Tessa Millhollin, Great Falls High School, Great Falls
Adviser: Linda Ballew
NEBRASKA Jayde  Balentine, Omaha Central High School, Omaha
Adviser: Hillary Blayney
NEVADA Alyssa Laiacona, Liberty High School, Henderson
Adviser: Josh Wikler
NEW JERSEY Emily Masters, Northern Highlands Regional High School, Allendale
Adviser: John Wodnick
NEW YORK Marissa Ditkowsky, Commack High School, Commack
Adviser: Christina Semple
NORTH CAROLINA Resita Cox, Kinston High School, Kinston
Adviser: Michael Moon
NORTH DAKOTA Alek Haugen, Bismarck High School, Bismarck
Adviser: Ann McKenzie
OHIO Leah Cramer, Findlay High School, Findlay
Adviser: Jim McGonnell
OKLAHOMA Alexandria Canoy, Bartlesville High School, Bartlesville
Adviser: Darla M. Jones Tresner
OREGON  Olivia Moore, Lakeridge High School, Lake Oswego
Adviser: Erin Schloetter
PENNSYLVANIA Laura Weiss, Conestoga High School, Berwyn
Adviser: Susan Houseman and Cynthia Hyatt
RHODE ISLAND Emily Corsini, North Providence High School, North Providence
Adviser: Michael Gianfrancesco
SOUTH CAROLINA Coralia Balasca, James L. Mann Academy, Greenville
Adviser: Phillip Caston
TENNESSEE Xinrui “Tina” Qian, Harpeth Hall School, Nashville
Adviser: Denise Croker
UTAH Kyrie Hulick, Taylorsville High School, Taylorsville
Adviser: Mary Seal
VIRGINIA  Vanessa Ehrenpreis, Harrisonburg High School, Harrisonburg
Adviser: Valerie Kibler
WASHINGTON Sarah Moore, Yelm High School, Yelm
Adviser: Robyn P. Fisher
WYOMING  Acadia DeAtley, Cody High School, Cody
Adviser: Vin Cappiello