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District journalism students sweep local competition

October 04, 2017 - Student Success

On a day of learning, networking and competition, Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) media students swept the top awards at last week’s Florida Scholastic Press Association (FSPA) District 4 workshop, a gathering of about 700 students from the seven-county Tampa Bay area.

First place in all eight on-the-spot journalism/media contests went to HCPS students:

  • Zac Norris, Amanda Lockhart, Christian Pruitt, Frankie McCarty-Brown, Blake High School (Man on the Street) VIEW THEIR VIDEO FROM THE EVENT
  • Chloe Aikman, H.B. Plant High School (News/Feature Story)
  • Isabella Ank, H.B. Plant High School (On-Air Reporter)
  • Alexis Gonzalez and Alex Funderburke, Newsome High School (Commentary)
  • Sarah Ferguson, Riverview High School (Poetry)
  • Sierra Shellabarger, Robinson High School (Alternative Copy)
  • Mallory Pierce, Steinbrenner High School (Candid Photography)
  • Emily Chmielewski, Steinbrenner High School (Editorial Cartoon)

HCPS students also scored all the second-place finishes.

Additionally, educators elected Blake High School teacher Sean Phillips as FSPA District 4 teacher of the year. Phillips, who advises the WBUZ broadcast and film program, will represent the region in the statewide Journalism Teacher of the Year competition.

Steinbrenner High School junior Grace Becker was elected student representative for the area. She will help plan FSPA’s state convention and next year’s district workshop. She replaces another HCPS student, Neeti Bhutada of King High School.

Teachers Kristen Crosby of Steinbrenner High and Joanie Oben of Robinson High School coordinated the workshop, held at the University of South Florida’s Marshall Student Center. Crosby, who advises The Oracle newspaper at Steinbrenner, said FSPA is a valuable day for her staff.

“I like bringing my kids here because they can do sessions, they can do competitions and either way, whatever they choose, they learn so much and they have so many opportunities to grow as student journalists,” Crosby said.

Multiple HCPS journalism programs are active in local, state and national organizations as they produce newspapers, yearbooks, broadcast programs, literary magazines and websites. Secondary Language Arts Supervisor Elizabeth Brown said journalism courses help students gain valuable skills.

"It is rewarding to see so many young people excited to be applying what they've learned in the classroom during this full day of writing, filming, interviewing, collaborating and designing," said Brown, a former journalism adviser.