Sterling High School senior and Cub Yearbook co-editor Veronica Norez received one of the top honors a high school journalist can receive Feb. 19. She was named Kansas Scholastic Press Association Class 3A/4A Journalist of the Year.
The announcement was made via the social media platform Twitter. Journalism adviser Todd Vogts said he received a tweet from KSPA proclaiming the news.
“I was in a meeting in Hutchinson when I found out,” he said. “I immediately retweeted it and tagged Veronica. I wanted to call her, but I wasn’t able to step out and make that call. I figured she would get a notification on her phone since I tagged her in the tweet. I also sent an email to Student Council adviser Ian Anderson since he handles the morning announcements to make sure everyone knew the honor Veronica had just received.”
Norez said she did not receive the notification because her cellular data on her phone was turned off. Yearbook co-editor and junior Lindsay Gilmore saw the tweet, though, and ended up being the first person to tell Norez.
“It’s an honor. When I found out I had won, I couldn’t believe it,” Norez said. “It was such an exciting moment, and I was pleased to find out that my portfolio was so well received. This had meant so much to much to me, and I’m so grateful that I was selected.”
Gilmore and other staff members helped Norez celebrate by taking her on a “victory lap” around the school and ensuring students listening to the announcements new how big of a deal winning was.
The boys basketball team also chanted “MVP” for Norez when she got onto the team bus to travel with them in order to fulfill her duties as team photographer.
“I really appreciated the support from the team and hearing them chant for me was unexpected, but it was such a cool experience,” she said.
In order to win the award, Norez had to create a portfolio of all her journalistic work and write essays. These were then submitted to judges, who determined she was the top student journalist in Class 3A/4A. She made an online portfolio, which can be viewed at https://veronicanorez.wordpress.com/.
In her application essay, Norez said, “Without journalism, I don’t know where I’d be. It’s helped me so much throughout my years in high school, whether it was through writing or preparing for deadlines. I can honestly say it was a class I really learned from, and one I truly enjoyed. I hope to become part of a newspaper staff while I attend school next fall, wherever that may be.”
Vogts praised her in his letter of recommendation for her.
“I have seen her blossom from a novice reporter to a bona fide newshound,” he said. “If there is a story, she is always willing to pursue it, and then she can come back and design a stellar page, including photos since she never leaves without her camera, in no time. She can truly do it all.”
Vogts said Norez was his second student to earn the JOY designation — the second in two years. He said he was proud of her accomplishment.
“It is an incredible honor for her,” Vogts said. “Veronica is a stellar journalist. She leads our yearbook, The Cub, like a seasoned veteran. She is always positive and happy. Every day she comes into the class with a can-do attitude. She is a joy to work with, so it is fitting she is the JOY this year for 3A and 4A. She deserved it.”
For winning, Norez will receive a check for $750 and a plaque touting her accomplishment.
“I plan to use the money for college next year,” she said.
With her eyes set on majoring in Surgical Technology, Norez said she plans to attend Hutchinson Community Technology, but she said she isn’t leaving the journalism world.
“I plan to take part in their student media program,” she said.
Though Norez put in the work to achieve this honor, she said she owed thanks to many others.
“I appreciate everyone who helped me on my application, especially Todd Vogts, Derek Schneider, Ben Marshall and the staff as The Bulletin,” she said. “Without them, this wouldn’t have been possible, and I’m very grateful for their time and continuing assistance. I am also grateful to my family, classmates and the Cub staff for their support in achieving my goals.”