On Friday, October 25, nine members of the staff of The Voice took a field trip to Drexel University in Philadelphia for the Pennsylvania School Press Association (PSPA) Regional School Journalism Competition (SJC). Over 115 Philadelphia-area high school students competed in the SJC across multiple categories spanning journalism, yearbook, photography, and art.
The competition began at 10:00 a.m. with opening remarks from the Sandy Stewart, Dean of Drexel’s Westphal College of Media, Art & Design. Immediately following began the first of two 45-minute competition sessions, where students were given a fictional prompt about a realistic high school event that they then had to handwrite an article about. During a session when the high school journalists weren’t competing, they attended breakout sessions of their choice ranging from graphic design to journalism and legal protection of high school press.
“At Drexel, I competed in the News Story writing. The experience was one of a kind, yet amazingly organized, like all of PSPA’s events,” Maggie McGovern told The Voice. “I truly enjoyed learning from people who have been in the field for years and continuing to practice my own skills as a writer. Not only was the competition itself a fun challenge, but I also got to spend time with my friends. I laughed harder than I have in a long time!”
News Editor Maggie McGovern, along with Jenna Marie Gasko, competed in the News Story Writing category, and were tasked with writing a 200-300 word article about school shooter concerns at a fictional high school. Owen Ley and Evan Rieser competed in the News Feature Writing category, where they had to write a piece featuring a sophomore girl who found $10,000 cash and returned it to its owner who rewarded her with a car for her honesty.
Students Ryan Lanza and Hannah Smith competed in the Sports Writing category. Maggie Knee and Amelia Harris both wrote editorials about climate change and Greta Gerwig in the News Editorial Writing category.
“I’d never done anything like [the competition] before,” The Voice Opinions Editor Maggie Knee admits, “The writing was kind of nerve-wracking – I don’t typically write in 45 minutes. It was good to do it with my friends too.”
Staff Photographer Isabelle Ewing spent the day attending both breakout sessions, as her three photography submissions had already been sent in online.
“I feel that my submissions are just one of the many good ones entered. Talking to the different photographers you could tell how passionate we all are about our work which is really nice to see at a high school level where we are just getting our start,” Isabelle shared. “The day in general was super fun, the amazing people I traveled with made the day 100 times better. On top of that getting to talk to other schools and learning new techniques made the day worth it.”
The competition wrapped up at 1:30 p.m. after a Q&A session with two Drexel students. The entries will be judged by professional journalists all across the country and scored according to rubrics based on writing skills, AP format, and quality of the article. The results will be announced within 10 days of the competition, with the top writer in each category advancing to the State Finals at the Pennsylvania State University in March 2020.