National awards highlight fall for journalism students


Megan Ortiz

Newspaper and yearbook staff members showcase their awards at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Conference. Those who attended included Kaitlyn Sitton, Maya Ortiz, Ana La Rosa Grillo, Arleigh Doehring, Taylor Nethery, Katie Gerbasich and Fallon Head.

Journalism students traveled to the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Conference for the first time since 2019. They hoped to hear their name called on the awards stand at least once. They heard it more than just one time.

In total, they won 12 national awards.

Junior Maya Ortiz was attending her first national convention and won the title of National Photojournalist of the Year for a second time. She also finished second in the country in Digital Sports Story of the Year and third in Social Media Promotion.

“My goal was to place in the top five, and hopefully to win at least one,” Maya Ortiz said. “And then I just wanted to learn more about journalism and gain knowledge to bring back to our staff.”

The newspaper program brought home the district’s first Pacemaker Award, the most prestigious honor a high school publication can receive. It was for the 2021-22 print newspaper.

Alicyn Logue and Kathleen Ortiz, who graduated in May, also took home individual awards, along with junior Arleigh Doehring.

Each student also participated in an on-site competition. Those who placed included: Katie Gerbasich, Maya Ortiz, Fallon Head, Kaitlyn Sitton and Ana La Rosa Grillo.

During the convention, the journalism students also met with college recruiters, listened to Pulitzer Prize winners and attended sessions packed with information to improve their publications for the upcoming year.

“Going to nationals is an experience I’ll never forget,” Doehring said. “My favorite part was hearing the announcer say our name for the Pacemaker Award, everyone was screaming and I was thankful to be a part of something so great.”

TAJE Fall Fiesta Wrap-up

The journalism team won 1st Place Sweepstakes at the state conference in San Antonio in October. Each publication placed in best of show and the students won the following individual awards:

Maya Ortiz: 1st Place Photo On-Site Best of Show, Photo Portfolio (Excellent), Feature Photo (Superior), Sports Reaction (HM), Video Commentary (HM), On-Site Digital Photo/Hot (Superior), On-Site Digital Photo/Unexpected (HM)

Katie Gerbasich: Photo Portfolio (HM), Sports Action (HM), Sports Reaction (HM)

Arleigh Doehring: Photo Portfolio (HM), On-Site Digital Photo/Hot (HM), On-Site Digital Photo/Self-Portrait (HM)

Cara Helton: Feature Photo (Excellent)

Emerson Harris: 1st Year Photo (Excellent), On-Site Digital Photo/Self-Portrait (HM)

Madlynn Morris: News Photo (Excellent), On-Site Digital Photo/Unexpected (HM)

Ana La Rosa Grillo: Editorial Writing (Excellent)

Taylor Nethery: Review Writing (HM)

Fallon Head: News Writing (Excellent)

Kara O’Hara: On-Site Digital Photo/Hot (HM)

Cara Helton, Bailey Hall, Exa Nix and Ramiro Hernandez: Scavenger Hunt (2nd Place)