Student Journalists tell the story of their contests in their own words. Hear what they have to say.


My contests were Theme & Graphics and Copy Editing. 

In Theme & Graphics, I used, “Why Not?” as my theme. It was kind of difficult to connect triangles to the theme, but I ended up finding a way to say that the triangle represents the three parts of student life - academic, extracurricular and social. 

In Copy Editing, I took a risk because I deleted the first two paragraphs. The first paragraph was a single sentence saying that half the school ate lunch at the school and the second paragraph was an awful quote with a kid saying that he always told his mom school lunches were awful and that he can’t wait to tell her she was wrong. I thought both paragraphs were either inappropriate for the book or irrelevant.


My contests were Yearbook Layout and Yearbook Copy Writing. 

In Yearbook Layout I thought it was really interesting. It was quite a learning curve trying to figure out what all was expected. I enjoyed having the pictures provided because that made it easier to decide what to use. I think it was a really good learning experience for me.

In Yearbook Copy Writing I was a little confused. It was printed in landscape and it was hard to follow. The quotes were extremely long and somewhat confusing. The information was not complete because it didn’t give enough background on the story. I really did enjoy this contest and would do it again if I had the opportunity. 


At regional journalism this year, I competed in Editorial Writing. Editorial Writing was fairly easy for me to write because I like giving my opinion. The contest was 200 words and regarded Sunflower High's cellphone policy. The students failed to have respect for the policy, which led to more strict rules. I suggested that if the students truly wanted freedom, respect was the one and only key. I enjoyed it a lot. My opinion came easy. I just was able to write whatever came to mind. I didn't have to sugarcoat anything. In order to improve upon this year, I would read more professional editorial writing.


Yearbook Sports Writing

- I really liked it

- Maybe needed more practice

- Looking at past essays helped with getting an idea on what to write

- I would definitely do it again

Hannah W.:

My contest was Editorial Cartoon. The story I had to illustrate a story about how a school cafeteria continually received citations for expired food. Some food was 10 days past its expiration date. One of the help mentioned how the inspector is just seeing details that they overlook. I thought rotten food was more than just a detail. At first, I had no idea how to illustrate such an idea. But then I struck a great one. After I had an idea my pencil and pen were flying off that paper the entire time. I think I used up all but fifteen minutes of my time. I could've used a little more preparation.


For my on-site contest I had News Writing. I love this contest because I like writing news stories and some of the information is very historical and I like history. This year I prepared by having a practice story and writing that during class. This did help and also doing many writing assignments with my English teachers and writing stories in yearbook helped prepare me for this. The information was terrible. They gave maybe a sentence of what happened and then four cases of this happening. For example, I got a sentence that said there were science lab accidents and then I got a list of quotes. Some of these quotes were amazing and matched up to at least one of the cases; others literally had “so uhm yeah” in them. It was hard to write with these quotes, but I tried to take parts of them out. 

My digital submission was Sports Photo and there really isn’t much you can do to prepare for that except get experience with your camera and modes. I really think I did well on this contest and I really liked my picture. It was hard for me to find ones I actually liked because I am very picky, but I had people give me their opinions and I put those to use and then chose by myself. I think that if you look at all of the pictures you like together you can kind of narrow them down from there and pick your favorite. I really enjoyed both of my contests and think I will stick with them both for next year.


For contest I had Advertising. I really enjoy doing Advertising especially since thats all I’ve done over my past few years. This contest is actually pretty simple for the most part if you know what you are doing. The main downside is trying to choose what kinds of information you want to pull from your handout and incorprate onto your AD. The plus side is it’s great practice for coming up with ads for our actual yearbook. 


I was in Headline Writing and I felt like I was very prepared. I went to state with this contest last year. The stories were also very well written. My onsite however, was a different story. I was in Feature writing. I wasn’t given very much information and it was a hard topic to write about.


I had Academic Photography and I didn’t really like it because I don’t like taking pictures that much. I also feel like I am disrupting teachers when they are teaching so that is another reason I didn’t like this contest. I might consider doing this contest again, but it wasn’t my favorite.

I also had Newspaper Sports Writing. I really like this contest because I love to write! This contest needed more background information because it only gave quotes, but I would still do it again. It changes every year and I really enjoy the feeling of pretending to be a newspaper reporter. I would do this contest again!


My contest was Sports Photo and the difficulty was that I wasn’t able to take many pictures during the fall; what could prepare me more for this contest more would be to take more photos during each season.


Infographics and Yearbook Layout:

I felt good about both of my contests. I didn’t like the having to get your own information for infographics but I feel like I would do it again. My other contest was yearbook layout and I liked it but the pictures weren’t that great of quality.

Michaela Ford:

Editoria;l Cartoon:

It was about how a school did a heath inspecter check and they had bad food. Then they got writen up and where told to change it. The next day it was fixed. 


My onsite contest was cutline I didn’t seem to have much trouble with it this year. Some of the information was a little vague, but other than that it wasn’t bad. I think I was pretty well prepared for the contest. I did a team theme and graphics contest with Kayla that I really liked. I liked the themes we had to choose from and the ideas we ended up coming up with. 


My individual contest was news writing. I personally thought that the idea of the story itself was an easy subject to write on, but what made it hard was the limited amount of quotes they gave and the facts were each very similar. The story was about a chemistry lab that recently started having injuries occur. The facts they gave consisted of instances of how the students got injured but each instance was very similar. So there wasn’t much variety to choose from. I was able to pull it together in the end; the limited information just made it rough. I think the best way to prepare for state is maybe just writing more stories and giving us scarce information like they have a tendency to do, so we are more prepared and can write better stories even with limited information. I have done news writing the last two years and I like it so I wouldn’t have a problem doing it next year. Journey and I did theme and graphics and I thought it was fun. It was different and I would love to do it again next year or yearbook layout because I like designing things and I think that is probably my strength in yearbook.


Student life was different this year, I feel like we had to do a lot more work to get pictures we didn’t want to take. There was nothing wrong with this contest except the fact that it is very very difficult to get a picture of an actual student doing something. If the contest was about getting a picture of your friend messing around or working it would have been easier.

To be better at this I have no suggestions on how to get different candid pictures. I would do this again next year for sure, I just hope that next year’s contest has a better theme. As far as my picture this year goes, I’m pretty proud of being able to find a good picture, even if the judges don’t think it’s as good as I do. All in all I’m proud of my contest.

Jeremiah Neitzel:

I did student life. I thought this year was way more difficult than last. 

I like student life but I would like to change.

I would love to do it (contest) again next year.

Jenna Confer:

My contest was News paper Sports writing. I thought this year was a lot more difficult than last year. They gave me very little information and lots of statistics and quotes. This was difficult for me because I am use to having lots of information and really good short quotes! I think a way to help us at state would be to make us do exactly what they did to us. Give us little information and lots of stats and long sentences. Also have us work on cutting quotes in half. I would like to do this contest next year because it is a contest I can relate to and enjoy doing.


For me, contest was really a breeze this year. With the knowledge and techniques I’ve gained and learned this year with the programs like InDesign and Photoshop, I didn’t have a hard time with contest. My piece was photo illustration, while the goal was to illustrate teens and their struggles/thoughts on curfew. At first it was a little difficult to think of an idea to capture, but once I had an idea the rest fell into place. I completed my piece within two days and felt extremely confident in my work. I’m really hoping my piece travels on to state because I’d love to have another one of my pieces go that far. If not, I can always hope for the best and work even harder next year. I’d enjoy getting to do photo illustration again next year because I know what I’m doing and I don’t have to second guess anything. 


Editing involved editing a story about the Sunflower School’s cafeteria and its expired food. There was a side bar this year where I edited numbers and spellings as I did in the actual story.

I think I prepared pretty well. I did some warm ups, studied the AP book and looked over the past contests. I could improve by getting more familiar with the AP book and its contents. It really helps to know what the judges are looking for in editing. Looking over the past contests and reading the judges comments makes editing a little simpler in my mind. Making time for, studying, and practicing is the best way to improve any contest especially editing. 

I love editing because I love correcting errors that may have occurred. I would be thrilled to do this contest next year.



My contest was about technology in school. What prices they cost and how many people had them.The fact that they gave you little information and told you to go broad or narrow complicated things. They also didn’t give me any info about the school I had to collect my own info. I think I would have benefited from practice doing other infographics. I could have gotten used to infographics and learned the best way to create them.


My contest was yearbook copy writing. I really enjoyed this contest because I love writing stories, but I did not like the subject that was given to me, which was the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases. It was hard because there was no specific idea to go with. I could’ve either went with the school part and written about how the teachers were teaching the kids about the case or went with just the cases. If I needed more practice I would’ve liked to write more stories. 


My contest was News Page Design. I really liked this contest and felt that I knew what I was doing. I think the hardest part was not knowing what the judges were looking for. Due to having no other double truck pages to look at. The pictures they gave me  also did not match the story, making it difficult to know which to use. The captions were very large and had to be cut to make them fit. I would really like to try this contest again.


My contest was cutline writing. I didn’t think it was very hard. My hardest part was knowing where to put the commas and what to capitalize. I think I could’ve been more prepared if I would have practiced more in class. I liked my contest and I don’t think I will change next year.


My contest was Editorial Writing. I enjoyed my contest; it was about the cell phone policy - if cell phones should be prohibited or the should be able to be used. I would have liked to have more practice with my contest. I definitely want to do it again next year.

Matthisen Witzel:

I really enjoyed my contest which was feature writing. I really liked this contest because I love writing. It was difficult because I didn’t know a lot about boa constrictors. It would have seemed easier if I would have been able to talk to other people that have been in that contest before. I wouldn’t mind doing this contest again.

Reagan Beims:

My contest was headline writing and design. This contest was very fun, but also difficult, mainly because I wasn’t sure what would catch the judges eyes so I did the best I could. This was a very fun contest and I wouldn’t mind if I did it again.

Jylian Laten:

News Page Design:

My contest was about Grant County Basketball and how a couple met each other because of basketball.  The hardest thing about my contest was putting everything in the right spot and making it look nice. I would want to do Newspaper Design again if I could.


My contest was advertising for Twinkle Toe Shoe Store. I would definitely do this contest next year. One thing that I struggled with was time, I feel like if I had more time and I wasn’t rushed, than I could’ve organized the ad better. If I would’ve looked up information about shoe stores I could’ve done a lot better for my writing. I want to do this contest again next year but I would like more time to work on it.


Yearbook Sports: My story was on varsity girls cross country. I think that it was hard because it was on a topic that I have no background in. If I had studied more, I think I would have been more prepared.

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