Letters From The Editors: Awards season


Justin Curto and Jena Smith

Welcome back to Letters From The Editors. Sorry for not blogging last week — we both spent our Friday nights at Relay For Life, and our Saturdays recovering from that endeavor. But, now that it’s April, we have plenty to write about since it’s finally awards season. Awards season basically lasts for all of April, and it’s when us student journalists find out about distinctions like All-Kansas and All-American, National High School Journalism Convention spring best of show, Online Pacemakers and Kansas Scholastic Press Association state results (well, that’s in May). So, needless to say, it’s exciting.

The National Scholastic Press Association critiques both print and online publications each year. This week, we received our critique for Mill Valley News and our website ranked All-American for the first time ever. The judge was impressed by both our writing and photography, which made us incredibly proud of both the JAG and JagWire staffers.

Next Wednesday, J-Curt, JagWire managing editor Jillian Leiby and JAG photographer Kristen Garrett, along with Habs, will head to LA for the spring NHSJC, where journalism students and advisers from hundreds of schools will gather to listen to speakers, participate in breakout sessions and receive awards. That Saturday afternoon, J-Curt and the gang will find out if Mill Valley News wins its first-ever Online Pacemaker — commonly referred to as the Pulitzer Prize of student journalism — and if our publications placed in the convention best of show contests. But, the excitement doesn’t end there, because, at another awards ceremony the next morning, J-Curt will find out if he is the Journalism Education Association’s Student Journalist of the Year or a runner up. Meanwhile, Jena will be holding down the fort in the J-room and attending prom. Needless to say, we hope it ends up being a great weekend.

After NHSJC, we’re going to be working hard on state journalism entries for the contest on Saturday, May 7. This year, J-Curt, Jena and JagWire editor-in-chief Tori Aerni will work together to create a multimedia storytelling state entry. Multimedia storytelling is exactly what it sounds like, in that we will be packaging some of our best multimedia together to tell a story about our school. We’re keeping our exact plans for our entry on the down-low, but we’ll keep you updated on progress and eventually show the final product. Also, while at the KSPA state competition, we’ll find out if Mill Valley News is All-Kansas.

To sum it all up, we’re excited and busy, but mostly excited. It’s really rewarding to see all of the journalism department’s hard work already receiving so much recognition, and we can’t wait to see what else is to come for Mill Valley News this year.

Check it out: Like we mentioned, last Friday night into Saturday morning was super busy, since the school hosted its first Relay for Life. This event was extra cool since it was mostly organized by students (including Jena), and it raised nearly $50,000 for pediatric cancer research. Our photographers were busy throughout the night, and posted not one, but two photo galleries. After the event, we put up a story as well. We can’t imagine you didn’t hear about Relay for Life, but, if you want to relive the event, we’re proud of our coverage and you should check it out.

Lessons of the week:

J-Curt: It sounds really cliche, but I’ve been super busy lately. Between homework, play practice and figuring out college, I haven’t had much time for anything else. So, I haven’t been sleeping much, which is no fun. I know some students run on next to no sleep, and I don’t see how they do that. Getting 4-5 hours of sleep these past few nights has taken quite a toll on me: I’ve nearly fallen asleep in a few of my classes, my caffeine consumption has gone up and I’ve become more irritable around others. I’m definitely learning the hard way how important it is to get sleep.

Jena: As we mentioned, Relay for Life raised almost $50,000. This year specifically, I’ve seen the dedication and hard work Mill Valley students can put forth. I’m extremely blessed to attend a school with so many amazing people, and Mill Valley has taught me to put forth 110% into everything I do. As I enter the University of Kansas in the fall, I won’t forget what an awesome school I came from and how proud I am to be a Jaguar.

Seniors Justin “J-Curt” Curto and Jena Smith are the editors-in-chief of Mill Valley News online. They appreciate captioned photos, categorized and tagged stories, staff members who don’t text about web assignments at 11 p.m., teachers and students who talk about things they read on Mill Valley News and all things multimedia.

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