LAWRENCE — For the second year in a row, students from Western Plains High School’s journalism program traveled to Lawrence on Saturday to compete at the Kansas Scholastic Press Association’s State Journalism Contest.
Several Bobcat journalists came away with awards. These are listed below:
- Kate Hagans, senior, took 2nd Place, “News Page Design.”
- Ashley Stull, senior, received an Honorable Mention in “News Page Design.”
- Katie Showalter, junior, took 2nd Place in “Editorial Writing.”
- Maci Hagelgantz, sophomore, received an Honorable Mention in “Cutline Writing.”
“The girls did amazing,” journalism adviser Todd Vogts said. “They scored more points than we did last year.”
Point values are based upon the placings. First place is worth five points, second is worth four, third is worth three and honorable mentions are worth one. The school with the highest point total wins sweeps for their classification. Last year, WPHS won sweeps for 1A.
“We didn’t quite get enough points to be state champs again this year, but we did come in second. That’s pretty good. After all, this is only the second year of the program here at Western Plains,” Vogts said. “There was a lot of good competition there. I am not disappointed in the least. The girls all gave it their best effort. What more could I ask for?”
The four girls weren’t the only ones from WPHS who competed at the state level. Junior Casey Kraus entered a photo in the “Student Life Photography” contest and junior Katie Bretton competed in the “Newspaper Sports Writing” competition. Hagans also competed in “Editorial Cartoon” and “News Writing,” and Stull also competed in “Photo Illustration” and “Headline Writing.”
Sophomore Andrew Flax also qualified for state journalism. He did so in two events — “News Writing” and “Feature Writing” — but since state journalism is on the same day as state forensics, which he also qualified for, he chose to compete in forensics. Bretton was in a similar situation, but she chose journalism. Kraus too qualified in both, but his journalism contest was a carry-in, which means he could prepare it ahead of time. Therefore, he was able to compete in both journalism and forensics.
Bretton said she was glad she competed in journalism.
“It was a good experience,” she said. “It wasn’t what I was expecting. It was better. I had a lot of fun.”
“State journalism was a blast this year, just as it was last year,” she said. “The most fun part of the trip was the ride there and back. Although it was fun in general, the ride is what I’ll remember. It will be a memory that I will keep with me for as long as I live.”
Hagans said she was happy she got to attend state again this year.
“I enjoyed the experience,” she said. “I just wish I would have done better. I am still pleased with how we did overall, though. We had more people attend state this year than last year, and we placed higher in each event than last year too. People know who Western Plains is now.”
Vogts said he too felt people were starting to pay attention to WPHS.
“I didn’t know if the girls noticed it, but at state this year, I didn’t have anyone ask where we were from,” he said. “They knew. We made our presence known last year. People recognize we are contenders, and no one is taking us lightly. That is because of the passionate dedication the students have shown.”
Since she is a senior, this was Hagans’ last chance to take part in high school journalism.
“I’m going to miss it,” she said. “I learned a lot. It had a positive impact on the school. I want to see it continue well into the future. I hope it grows so next year they can show up at state with more people and win it again.”
Vogts said he is going to miss his seniors.
“The fire and passion they both have shown me is incredible,” he said. “I am proud to say I taught them. I am honored to have been their journalism teacher, and I wish them both the best as they go off to college, especially since they both have shown interest in pursuing journalism at the collegiate level.”
Next year is looking good for the Bobcats, Vogts said.
“With so much success these first two years, the future is bright for the program, and I am confident we will continue to excel next year and produce Cat Tracks editions that are even better than they were this year,” he said.