Journalism team places fourth at SPC competition


Photo courtesy of Camryn Knobbe

The Journalism team posing with their medals in their respective categories after placing fourth at the Southern Prairie Conference

Aaliyah Solano, Editor-in-Chief

The journalism team placed 4th at the SPC conference on Feb. 18 with 11 students making all-conference, including two conference champions.
“I was pretty confident going into the competition, but it was surreal getting first place,” Abby Timm, conference champion in Copy Editing, said.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect since this was my first time competing, but winning felt amazing,” Brooke Plowman, conference champion in Yearbook Copy Writing, said, “It was such a great feeling receiving my medal and gaining the title of conference champion.”
Joe Defano, video editor and Rebecca Law, staff writer placed 2nd in Video News, this being Rebecca’s first time competing in any journalism competition.
“I was pretty confident I would do well,” Law said. “I’ve been practicing nearly every week just by doing the Fielder Friday videos.”
For this year’s conference, the Wildcats have prepared and practiced plenty.
“My co-editor Rebecca and I did a NISPA video, which was a minute long and we focused on broadcast news and transitions,” Defano said, “Last year Anesa placed, and her video was similar to the NISPA video we did, so I’m hoping to recreate something similar to Anesa’s work.”
Plainfield Central hosted the conference for the first time this year, with the help of many NHS volunteers.
“There’s little details that take more time than you would anticipate to bring everything together,” journalism advisor Renee Nieckula said.
Oswego East hosted last year’s conference.
“Last year when we went to Oswego East, it was huge, and I was confused as to where I was going,” Defano said.
Competing in a familiar place definitely plays a role for some students.
“It’s great to have the home-court advantage. This is my work area, so I feel more comfortable working here,” Miguel Cambray, who came in second place for News Design, said.
Additionally, Holly Winiars (Editorial Cartooning) and Rilee Bergstrom (Editorial Writing) finished second in their respective categories.
As the judges narrow down the top six students in almost every category, placing in the competition can be very difficult.
“The judges use ranking sheets that are provided, and beyond that, we look for overall aesthetics and professionality,” Nieckula said. Teachers from each of the nine competing schools were the judges, including Nieckula.
Everything was done by hand at last year’s conference, but this year everything was done electronically.
“I think it’s a lot better,” Timm said, “Last year having to write everything by hand took a toll. I [it] took a lot more time trying to make sure I was within the word count, and that at the very least my handwriting was eligible for judges to read.”
The time limits for each block are set at 90 minutes, which is the same as the IHSA sectional and state competitions.
“An hour and a half is a lot of time for me when it comes to page design, so I won’t get stressed out,” Cambray said.
Nonetheless, the wildcats have lofty goals as they look ahead to IHSA Sectionals in April.
“I still have a lot of room for improvement, but knowing that I have that accomplishment encourages me to pursue that category for sectionals and hopefully state,” Timm said.