Student journalists “electrify” FSPA

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Spotlight and The Patriot Post staffs gather for a fun group photo at the Wyndham Orlando Resort before the annual banquet. (Photo/Isaac Sofy)

Students attended the annual Florida Scholastic Press Association (FSPA) state convention at the Wyndham Orlando Resort April 11-13. The entire convention embodied their 2019 theme of “Electrify,” which came to life when student district representatives came together earlier in March to help coordinate the convention.

“When we were coming up with the theme, we wanted to have something that represented how this year was going because as student journalists we have so much power, so much energy, and we wanted to show that in our theme. We really loved ‘electrify’ because it made us feel like we were a part of something, like were contributing to change. We wanted to represent that feeling like we’re in motion, like we are the spark,” said District 7 Representative junior Paula Mitre.

WAHS showcases their multiple FSPA awards after the closing ceremony. (Photo submitted by Maria Molina)

Before the convention, students submitted work into the digital competitions such as review writing and nature photo. Some students received either a honorable mention, excellent or All-Florida rating. Those awarded an All-Florida could also be picked for one of the three Best-of-the-Best slots in each category. Seniors could also submit a portfolio into one of the journalist of the year awards, including Designer of the Year, Writer of the Year, and Tom Pierce Photojournalist of the Year, each of which is awarded to one senior every year. All-Florida winners, Best-of-the-Best nominees and Journalist of the Year finalists were announced online prior to the convention.

Students journalists participated in on-the-spot competitions April 11. Most competitions, such as poetry, newspaper spread and module design, involved something that had to do with “Electrify.” Allotted a time frame to complete whichever competition they signed up for, students spent the day gathering information, taking pictures, writing articles and getting footage. Opening ceremony began at 7 p.m. and involved WBIR Sports reporter David Schiele recounting his experience as a journalist and advice for future journalists. Some digital contest Best-of-the-Best winners were also announced. At 9 p.m., the attendees could also perform in a FSPA student district representative held lip-sync battle. WAHS performed “Low.”

Students attended workshops the next day including ones on team building, trends in design and improving staff photography. The day concluded with a banquet at 7 p.m. where more Best-of-the-Best winners were announced. Journalist of the Year awards were also given out and winners received a plaque and $200. This year, senior Angela Lin received the Tom Pierce Journalist of the Year award. After the banquet, students were invited to enjoy a dance where they could take pictures in a photobooth and mingle with others.

Senior Angela Lin holds her Tom Pierce Photojournalist of the Year award after the closing ceremony. “My heart has been set on this award since freshman year. I cried when I found out that I won. It validates all the work I’ve done for the past four years,” Lin said. (Photo/Maia Fernandez Baigun)

The entire convention ended with a closing ceremony bright and early at 8 a.m. the following day. All the digital and on-the-spot contests were announced. Heritage students went to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure to spend their last few hours together in Orlando and celebrate the end of FSPA.

Sophomores Rachel Taylor, Hannah Myers, Kolby Fleming and junior Erin Bryan receive their Third Place for the Yearbook On-The-Spot competition. (Photo/Angela Lin)

On-the-Spot Contest Winners:

First Place, Commentary – Alex Nazareth, Jeremiah Bang, Theodore Rackauskas
First Place, Collaborative PSA – Shivan Giroti
First Place, Podcast – Alex Solomon, Ryan Seen, Owen Lynch
Second Place, Spot Feature – Alycia Cypress, Cole Holifield, Courtney Medwin
Third Place, Review Writing – Joanne Haner
Third Place, Yearbook Spread – Erin Bryan, Kolby Fleming, Hannah Meyers, Rachel Taylor
Honorable Mention, Mixed Company – Emma Remudo
Honorable Mention, Literary Magazine Spread Design – Ariann Barker, Simran Dulay, Jordan Romeril, Caitlyn Pyson-Titman
Honorable Mention, Copy and Caption Writing – Rachel Taylor

Best of the Best Winners:

Nature photo – Brandon Woods
Show opener – Teddy Rackauskus, Brandon Woods, Adriana Cardenas, Ana Curi
Video Demo Reel – Brandon Woods

All-Florida Winners:

Yearbook Student Life Spread – Paula Mitre
Yearbook Student Life Spread – Olivia Lloyd
Yearbook Copy – Erin Bryan
Nature Photo – Dalya Ackerman
Nature Photo – Kayla Rubenstein
Nature Photo – Alexander Nazareth
Nature Photo (two-time winner) – Khameron Auerbach
Nature Photo (three-time winner) – Jeremiah Bang
Nature Photo (two-time winner) – Brandon Woods
Nature Photo (two-time winner) – Angela Lin
Personality Portrait – Jeremiah Bang
Personality Portrait – Khameron Auerbach
Spot News Photo – Khameron Auerbach
Public Service Announcement – Jeremiah Bang, Declan Byrne, Rayyan Allaf
Quick Turn Cooking Video – Kolby Fleming
General Feature Story – Amber Bhutta
General Feature Story – Olivia Lloyd
Review – Emma Remudo
Profile Story – Maia Fernandez Baigun
Profile Story – Bella Ramirez
Newspaper/Newsmagazine Multi-Page Spread (two-time winner) – Angela Lin
Newsmagazine Front Page – Angela Lin
Newspaper/Newsmagazine Opinion Page – Kristen Quesada
News Package – Khameron Auerbach, Sofia Diaz, Brandon Woods, Alycia Cypress
Talent Demo Reel – Sofia Diaz
Talent Demo Reel – Theodore Rackauskas
Talent Demo Reel – Zachary Dishinger
Podcast – Bella Ramirez, Zoe Persaud
Broadcast Commentary/Review – Theodore Rackauskas

Angela is a senior at American Heritage School. This is her fourth year on staff, and she is Co-Editor of The Patriot Post with Amber Bhutta, her better half. Graphic design is her passion, and she plans to pursue it in college. In addition to being Co-Editor-in-Chief, she is also the historian for NHS. When she’s not working on the news magazine, she enjoys taking pictures, eating ethnic sandwiches, painting and playing piano. Angela also runs her own photography company. You can visit her website at alinphoto.wix.com/home to purchase photos or schedule a photo shoot.

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