The Journalism Education Association announced its National High School Journalist of the Year and Sister Rita Jeanne Abicht Scholarship winners April 13 during closing ceremonies of the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Convention in San Diego.
Taylor R. Blatchford of Mountain Vista High School, Highlands Ranch, Colo., was named the 2014 Journalist of the Year. Her adviser is Mark Newton, a Master Journalism Educator and JEA’s president.
“I just can’t believe it, and I am thrilled,” an emotional Newton said, after he heard the announcement.
Blatchford’s diverse digital portfolio earned her the title and a $3,000 scholarship. She is a 21st-century journalist and the editor-in-chief of the innovative VISTAj program which converges news magazine, news website and yearbook.
“As a scholastic journalist, Blatchford exhibited strong skills in design, photography and writing in the entry,” said Wayna Polk, MJE, Journalist of the Year Committee chair.
“I was impressed at the level of her journalistic skills in all fields,” Lisa Van Etta, adviser at Duchesne Academy in Houston and committee member, said. “As we worked through the portfolio, Blatchford’s work became stronger with each category.”
With dreams of becoming a musical journalist, Blatchford has photographed more than 20 concerts, and many of those images were in her entry.
“Every day VISTAj pushes me to go past what I know I am capable of,” Blatchford said. “I learned to create high goals and even higher dreams for myself, to work hard and to never give up.”
The 18-member Journalist of the Year Committee named five runners-up, and each will receive a $1,000 scholarship. Those honorees are Ryan O’Meara, St. Mark’s School of Texas, Dallas (adviser, Ray Westbrook); Lauren Stepp, West Henderson High School, Hendersonville, N.C. (adviser, Brenda W. Gorsuch, MJE); Annie Schugart, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Overland Park, Kan. (adviser, Matt Hallauer); Alexa A. Chryssovergis, Lakota East High School, Liberty Township, Ohio (adviser, Dean Hume); and Carley D. Lanich, Lawrence Central High School, Indianapolis (adviser, Elizabeth Granger).
The scholarships were named for the late Sister Rita Jeanne Abicht, a longtime treasurer of the organization.
The following 33 students were previously named their state’s Journalist of the Year, which made them eligible to compete in this national competition. JEA congratulates them on their state honor.
- ARIZONA — Katelyn M. Faubel, Highland High School, Gilbert (Christine Brandell-Melendez, adviser)
- CALIFORNIA — Amrutha Dorai, Monta Vista High School, Cupertino (Michelle Balmeo, CJE, adviser)
- COLORADO — Taylor R. Blatchford, Mountain Vista High School, Highlands Ranch (Mark Newton, MJE, adviser)
- CONNECTICUT — Hannah J. Foley, Staples High School, Westport (Julie McNamee, adviser)
- FLORIDA: William S. Harvey, C. Leon King High School, Tampa (Christine Munoz, adviser)
- GEORGIA — Jenny Alpaugh, Clarke Central High School, Athens (David A. Ragsdale, CJE, adviser)
- HAWAII — Chayla T. Nakamoto, Kamehameha Schools Kapalama, Honolulu (Lionel Barona, adviser)
- IDAHO — Tyson A. Bird, Sandpoint High School, Sandpoint (William Love, adviser)
- ILLINOIS — Walker K. Post, Lane Technical High School, Chicago (Seth Johnson, adviser)
- INDIANA — Carley D. Lanich, Lawrence Central High School, Indianpolis (Elizabeth Granger, adviser)
- IOWA — Laura J. Scieszinski, Johnston High School, Johnston (Leslie Shipp, MJE, adviser)
- KANSAS — Annie E. Schugart, Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, Overland Park (Matt Hallauer, adviser)
- LOUISIANA — Bianca Shrestha, Grace King High School, Metairie (Thomas Curran, adviser)
- MASSACHUSETTS — Astha Agarwal, Newton South High School, Newton (Brian Baron, CJE, adviser)
- MICHIGAN — Lauren Kostiuk, Eisenhower High School, Shelby Township (Erica Kincannon, adviser)
- MINNESOTA — Paul M. Hudacheck, Stillwater Area High School, Stillwater (Rachel Steil, adviser)
- MISSISSIPPI — Marisa K. Morrissette, Oxford High School, Oxford (Cynthia Ferguson, adviser)
- MISSOURI — Sara-Jessica Dilks, St. Teresa’s Academy, Kansas City (Eric Thomas, MJE, adviser)
- MONTANA — Meri DeMarois, Sentinel High School, Missoula (Jennifer Keintz, adviser)
- NEBRASKA — Emily E. Beck, Omaha Central High School, Omaha (Hillary Blayney, adviser)
- NEVADA — Shannon E. Sneade, Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, Las Vegas (Carol Medcalf, CJE, adviser)
- NEW JERSEY — Melissa L. Moore, Fair Lawn High School, Fair Lawn (Teresa McAleavy, adviser)
- NORTH CAROLINA — Lauren Stepp, West Henderson High School, Hendersonville (Brenda Gorsuch, MJE, adviser)
- NORTH DAKOTA — Elsa G. Bollinger, West Fargo High School, West Fargo (Jeremy Murphy, adviser)
- OHIO — Alexa A. Chryssovergis, Lakota East High School, Liberty Township (Dean Hume, adviser)
- OREGON — Rachal M. Meza Rojas, South Salem High School, Salem (Brian Eriksen, CJE, adviser)
- PENNSYLVANIA — Erin E. O’Neill, Central York High School, York (Lucinda Hogentogler)
- SOUTH CAROLINA — Jamie L. Mason, Dutch Fork High School, Irmo (Amy Medlock-Greene, MJE, adviser)
- TENNESSEE — Carolyne J. Myers, Christ Presbyterian Academy, Nashville (Heather Nagel, adviser)
- TEXAS — Ryan O’Meara, St. Mark’s School of Texas, Dallas (Ray Westbrook, adviser)
- VIRGINIA — Meilan Solly, Tuscarora High School, Leesburg (Elizabeth Staley, adviser)
- WASHINGTON — Anna Ferkingstad, Ballard High School, Seattle (Michael Smith, CJE, adviser)
- WYOMING — Erendira Abigail Morales, Cody High School, Cody (Mike Riley, adviser)
The Journalism Education Association is a national organization of scholastic journalism teachers and advisers headquartered at the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan.