‘J-Squad’ Takes on Chicago

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Journalism students pose on the sign in front of Millennium Park

Journalism students pose on the sign in front of Millennium Park

Ryan Ash

Ryan Ash

Journalism students pose on the sign in front of Millennium Park

Jessica Fosse, Life Editor

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In a train station on Nov. 1 in Alton, Ill., EHS journalism students were playing Cards Against Humanity on the floor.

Even though they all had two days of absent school work, what better way to start a trip to Chicago?

Just a little after a two-hour delay, the journalism students began their five-hour train ride to Chicago, the location of the 2018 National Fall Journalism Education Association Convention.

The JEA Convention is held twice a year in different parts of the country; Chicago was the first convention close enough for EHS to attend. Journalism advisors Amanda Thrun and Lauren Mudge took 15 yearbook and advanced journalism students.

All 15 of the students competed in write-off competitions at the conventions. Some contests were submitted online prior and the others were in Chicago.

Their entries were evaluated on a scale with ranks of Superior, Excellent and Honorable Mention. Ten EHS students placed, as follows: senior Sam Lance, Superior in Sports Writing; junior Jacqueline Glenn, Superior in Newspaper Editing; senior Jaydi Swanson, Excellent in Editorial Writing; senior Molly Farrar, Excellent in Yearbook Copy/Captions: Clubs; senior Ryan Ash, Excellent in Photography Portfolio; senior Loewy Noud, Honorable Mention in Review Writing; senior Anna Farrar, Honorable Mention in Commentary Writing; senior Jessica Fosse, Honorable Mention in Yearbook Layout: Inside Pages; junior Ryan Stewart, Honorable Mention in Literary Magazine: Poetry; and senior Cierra Veizer, Honorable Mention in Graphic Design: Advertising.

“My contest entailed a test that had three parts: AP style and grammar corrections, a section on current events and a final component of headline writing,” Glenn said. “I thought the sports section would kill me since I didn’t know what the Stanley Cup was.”

The first night in Chicago the group attended the opening event. Keynote speaker and photojournalist Pete Souza spoke about his experiences as the White House photographer under former president Barack Obama’s administration.

“I loved hearing about how he would imagine the shots before he would take them,” junior and yearbook Co-chief-photographer Emily Kloostra said. “He showed also showed us that you can’t really plan for everything.”

On Friday morning, Molly, Anna, Lance and Fosse woke up at 7:30 a.m. to compete in the Journalism Quiz Bowl qualifying round.

“There was a lot of teams there and it was super stressful,” Molly said. “The questions were ethics, journalism and current events based.”

Schools could have more than one team participating, but Edwardsville only had one competing team. Only 16 teams could move on from the qualifying rounds into the live rounds and the “J-squad” was the 16th team.

Live buzzer rounds took place Saturday morning, and the first round was seed No. 16 against No. 1. The first team to 10 points moved on to the next round of the bracket.

Sadly, Edwardsville lost in the first round 4-10.

“I was super nervous to get in front of all the competitors, but I was determined to get on the the board,” Molly said. “The program has never done anything like this before but I channeled my scholar bowl vibes from middle school to get a few questions right.”

Though Quiz Bowl was a smaller part of the convention, there were breakout sessions that any of the students could attend ranging from news broadcasting to sports photography to satire writing and more.

Senior and Co-editor-in-chief of newspaper Josh Perry attended leadership-based sessions.

“The convention was basically a melting pot for journalists and the sessions reflected that,” Perry said. “Each one taught me something entirely new and built upon my current understanding of the media industry and I learned that there are many paths I could take in this field. I know it sounds cliche but the opportunities are endless.”

Though the students learned great things and met new people, they had a lot of time to explore the Windy City and bond with one another.

Adventures included walking to Portillo’s for lunch, snapping pictures of the Chicago Bean and late-night talks in the hotel. All parts made the group closer and the trip more memorable.

“Spending the entire weekend in Chicago was amazing,” Perry said. “I fell in love with the skyscrapers, the city and the rest of the J-Squad’s unending shenanigans. They made a big city feel a little smaller.”

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