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Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

North Star journalists dive into success in the City of Fountains at JEA Spring 2024 convention

@northstarnewspaper Instagram
North Star journalists pose in front of the fountain located outside the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center (pictured left to right: Henry Rothenbach, Aiden Stanciu, James Prizant, Griffin Larson-Erf, Reed Larson-Erf, Penelope Roewe, Emily Mathree, Lily Howard, Annie Tumang, Tenzin Choenyi)

On April 4, 10 members of the North Star Journalism team departed the city of Skokie en route to Kansas City to partake in the JEA/NSPA Spring 2024 convention, which lasted until April 7.

Twice a year, the Journalism Education Association (JEA) and National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) join forces to host a conference that draws attendance from more than 4,000 student journalists across the nation. The event features sessions taught by high school and college publication advisers and professionals in the journalism field, covering a wide variety of topics ranging from student press laws to feature photography to the use of artificial intelligence. This year, the organization came together to celebrate its centennial, historically marking 100 years since its establishment in 1924.

The North Star Journalism team gathered inside the Burnt End BBQ restaurant to convene for a team dinner (Pictured from left to right: Henry Rothenbach, James Prizant, Jean Ordonez, Aiden Stanciu, Griffin Larson-Erf, Penelope Roewe, Annie Tumang, Lily Howard, Tenzin Choenyi, Emily Mathee, Reed Larson-Erf) (@northstarnewspaper Instagram)

During the conference’s awards ceremony, the publication managed to take home tenth place for the Best of Show award for high schools with 1,800 students or more, which recognizes the most distinguished high school publication websites in the country.

In addition, four awards were earned by individual journalists for participating in the National Student Media contests, the most of any previous convention attended (Excellent – Aiden Stanciu for Newswriting, Honorable Mention – Penelope Roewe for Commentary Writing, Honorable Mention – Emily Mathee for Sports Writing, and Honorable Mention – Griffin Larson-Erf for News Editing/Headline Writing/Current Events). As part of the process, students were given two hours to analyze a given prompt, conduct interviews, and hand write stories on the spot alongside other student journalists from around the country.

Junior reporter and first time JEA convention attendee Griffin Larson-Erf shared words of wisdom for aspiring student journalists seeking to attend future such events.

JEA Student Media contest award winners photographed after receiving their respective certificates (Pictured left to right: Griffin Larson-Erf, Aiden Stanciu, Penelope Roewe, Emily Mathee) (@northstarnewspaper Instagram)

Regarding advice to future convention-goers: though you should pick topics which interest you, find a mix of different subjects when you’re deciding which sessions to attend,” Larson-Erf said. “This year, I took several writing-based ones, but I also learned a great deal from two that related to photojournalism, from one in which a professional journalist outlined his rules for success, and one that was simply about going to college. The wider the variety, the more you take away.”

When it came to exploring Kansas City outside the journalism sessions, some staff members took the time to explore the city’s iconic National World War I Museum/Memorial, known as the largest of its kind in the United States. With more than 300,000 objects and documents, the museum holds the most diverse collection of World War I items in the world and strives to display the social and cultural impacts of one of the largest conflicts experienced by humanity. The facility also makes use of customized exhibitions to take visitors on a unique journey by sharing personal stories of courage and sacrifice from soldiers who fought in the Great War.

For the first time in the school’s history, on April 6, the North Star Journalism team opted to participate in the IHSA Sectionals competition. Each participant was given a virtual prompt and some were tasked with watching a video (for the News writing, Review Writing, Sports writing, and Feature writing sections) to compose an article that corresponded to the given topic. On April 12, it was announced that Quinn Graham (Sports Writing), James Prizant (Copy Editing), and Aiden Stanciu (News Writing) advanced to the State competition, which will be held in Normal, IL on April 26.

Assistant Feature Editor and Assistant Sports Editor Emily Mathee competed under the Infographics category and shared her thoughts on the process of participating in the contest. 

“It was pretty easy to navigate,” Mathee said. “They [the IHSA officials] gave us the information and preparation that we needed beforehand. Then on the actual day of the competition, the second that I got on at 9:30 [a.m.], the link was already there and it was working perfectly. There weren’t any issues with Wi-Fi or anything like that. It was a really smooth process.”

Mathee also gave advice to future convention attendees who hope to challenge themselves by partaking in either the JEA/NSPA or IHSA competition.

Don’t take it [the JEA/NSPA or IHSA competition] too seriously. Take your time, but also make sure that you prepare yourself in advance. You don’t want to run out of time, you want to use it accordingly.”

— Assistant Feature Editor and Assistant Sports Editor Emily Mathee

“Just have fun with it,” Mathee said. “Don’t take it too seriously. Take your time, but also make sure that you prepare yourself in advance. You don’t want to run out of time, you want to use it accordingly.”

When it comes to learning outside the classroom, maintaining an open mindset for the sake of being exposed to new experiences remains essential. In a rapidly evolving digital era in which the rise of artificial intelligence threatens to challenge the authenticity of journalism, learning to utilize this tool to one’s advantage while being wary of its drawbacks has become a focal point for achieving success. 

After having traveled to St. Louis (fall 2022), San Francisco (spring 2023), and Boston (fall 2023) for the previous three JEA conventions, Kansas City served as the bittersweet final stop on the voyage for both North Star adviser Jean Ordonez and Editor-in-Chief and News Editor Aiden Stanciu. Needless to say, the future ahead shines bright for the cohort of young journalists who will return to continue cultivating the publication’s blooming legacy.

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About the Contributors
Aiden Stanciu
Aiden Stanciu, Editor-in-Chief & News Editor
Aiden is a senior who serves as the Editor-in-Chief and News Editor of North Star News. Since first joining the staff during his freshman year, he has continued to develop his journalistic skills while gaining a deeper insight into the world around him. Outside the newsroom, his strongest passions include learning foreign languages, writing, listening to/creating music, and spending time with family.
Henry Rothenbach
Henry Rothenbach, Asst. News Editor
Henry Rothenbach is a Sophomore assistant news editor at Niles North who has been with North Star News since Freshman year and enjoys writing and reading in his free time.

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