Campus News

High school students experience journalism at UGA

GSPA-The Saga
The student staff of Lowndes High School's The Saga celebrate winning the best overall award.

Athens, Ga. – More than 575 high school journalists took part in the Georgia Scholastic Press Association fall conference, recently held at the University of Georgia Tate Student Center.

“This is the largest state conference for high school journalism,” said Joe Dennis, public service faculty at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and director of GSPA. “Schools from across the state attend this conference to enhance their journalism skills.”

The annual conference featured 57 different sessions targeted toward high school students who participate in their school newspapers, news magazines, yearbooks, broadcasts and literary magazine programs. Session presenters included Grady College faculty, area journalism professionals and high school teachers. Topics focused on areas of journalism, such as news writing, the difference between writing for print and writing for online, publication management and broadcast production.

Caitlyn Martin, a senior at Jackson County Comprehensive High School and editor-in-chief of Pandora’s Box literary magazine said the sessions were informative.

“The Little Things was my favorite session,” Martin said. “It was pretty much little things you wouldn’t think of to make your publication better.”

Thirty-six schools from across the state were represented at the conference. The event kicked off with an opening night concert from singer-songwriter Kyshona Armstrong. Following her performance, students asked questions at a press conference in preparation of writing a concert review.

The students attended classes from 8:30 a.m.-3:20 p.m., devoting a full school day to their journalistic interests. A special advisers’ track also was offered for high school journalism teachers to enhance their training.

“Many times, a high school teacher is handed the journalism program with little or no journalism experience,” Dennis said. “We encouraged new advisers to attend this conference at no charge to get the basic training they need.”

The conference also held competitions for schools to rank their first publication of the year. Lowndes High School in Valdosta won best overall for its newspaper The Saga.

Other schools receiving recognition were:
•Pace Academy, Atlanta, The Knightly News for overall design;
•Lowndes, The Saga for news coverage;
•Druid Hills High School, Atlanta, The Spotlight for feature writing,
•Lassiter High School, Marietta, The Laureate for opinion writing; and,
•Dacula High School, Dacula, The Talon for sports writing.

Students also could take part in the on-site photo competition, in which they submitted a photo taken that day to highlight the conference. Hannah Forsberg of The King’s Academy in Atlanta won the contest.

Grady College reaches out to high schools across the state to further journalism education and ethics. Conferences such as GSPA also offer students a glimpse into the university and provide insight and tours for those applying to college.

“I was really excited about the conference,” Martin said. “My parents were both journalism majors at UGA.”

UGA Grady College
Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in advertising, public relations, journalism, digital and broadcast journalism, and mass media arts. The college offers two graduate degrees and is home to the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see or follow the Grady College on Facebook and @UGAGrady on Twitter.