Three advisers receive First-time Convention Grants to bring students to the fall national convention

Three advisers receive First-time Convention Grants to bring students to the fall national convention

By Sarah Nichols, MJE, JEA president

Three advisers and their students have been selected as First-time Convention Grant recipients for the Fall JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in St. Louis, which will take place Nov. 10-13, 2022. 

The recipients include:

  • Vicki Kennedy-Klaker, Maize Career Academy in Maize, Kansas
  • Sarah Pelayo, Mt. Harrison High School in Heyburn, Idaho
  • Deborah Porterfield, Bronx River High School in Bronx, New York

Part of the application process asked candidates to identify what they aim to accomplish by exposing their students to the National High School Journalism Convention.

“We are a relatively new newspaper and are in the building stages,” Porterfield said. “This convention will give my students a chance to exchange ideas with other students and professionals and develop new skills as they assign, write and edit stories, photos and artwork. They will share what they learn with students at my school and also have agreed to share the info with other NYC students participating in the Press Pass NYC program.” 

Like Porterfield, Kennedy-Klaker has one year of advising experience. Her program combines multiple classes in one block with 65 students producing the newsmagazine and online news site.

“Many of these students have never been in student journalism before, so they are not only learning a new craft, but also learning about our First Amendment rights in scholastic media,” she said. “I hope for my students to see how other journalism programs work, and to brush elbows with other highly talented students.”

While the grant is open to any teacher who hasn’t previously attended a national convention, it is geared toward advisers from underserved areas, including locations where a convention is unlikely to take place. Pelayo, for example, advises at a rural alternative high school with an average enrollment of 150.

“My students and I are coming into this with very limited experience. We are looking forward to learning the ropes in various breakout sessions, networking with seasoned publishing media students and advisers to grow our school’s program,” she said. 

Leading up to the convention, participants will receive guidance from JEA leaders to help students set goals and measurable outcomes.

“My hope is for them to bring some electricity back with them to energize the rest of the group. I would love for my students to return ready to try something new, something they wouldn’t have been brave enough to try,” Kennedy-Klaker said. 

The First-time Convention Grant provides complimentary registration for advisers and two of their students, a National Student Media Contests entry for each student, adviser participation in JEA’s Outreach Academy and one NSPA publication critique for each school.

Details from past participants are available here.

Founded in 1924, JEA supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, promoting professionalism, encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity. It is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

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