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Hays High, TMP fare well in journalism competition

4/4/2013

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Two perennially strong high school journalism programs qualified numerous students for the state level at last month's regional competition.

Both were led by students who qualified in numerous events. And while one three-time regional champion might have been surprised by her performance, her adviser wasn't.

Anna Shippy, a senior at Hays High School, placed in four of the five events she entered at regionals, winning three of them and placing third in another.

While Shippy never had placed at state in her three previous years, Bill Gasper said he expects that to change this year.

"I can tell when they write their first story right away if they get it," said Gasper, in his ninth year as Hays High's adviser. "She was one that got it."

Shippy is one of 15 HHS students who qualified for the Class 5A-6A state competition of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association, set for May 3 in Lawrence.

Also from Ellis County, Thomas More Prep-Marian High School had five state qualifiers in the 3A-4A regional competition, and Ellis qualified several in 1A-2A.

TMP was led by juniors Lexie Wasinger and Jena Ernsting, who each qualified for state in three events. Wasinger was a double regional champ, in yearbook sports writing and cutline writing.

Hays High's Shippy, who plans to major in journalism at Kansas State University next year, was the regional champion in editing, feature writing and headline writing; she also placed third in advertising.

Another HHS senior, Leisha Sadler, qualified for state in three events -- editorial cartoon, infographics and photo illustration.

It will be the first time to state for Sadler, who started writing when she first took journalism classes at HHS but later switched to graphics.

"I do like writing a lot, but I love doing graphics, and it's more of a hobby," said Sadler, who plans to major in biology and engineering in college. "I've always loved art, and computer graphics is relaxing and a good creative outlet."

Judges at regionals rate the top three finishers in 1-2-3 order, and the next three are given honorable mention status, with the top six all qualifying for state.

Another regional champ for Hays High was senior Maddie Peters in student life photography.

Gasper said he was pleased with this year's regional results, led by Shippy's three regional championships.

"Last year, she was our online editor and this year co-editor," he said in reference to the Hays High newspaper, the Guidon. "So I'm not surprised (about regionals). Where I am surprised is that she didn't place in newspaper layout, where she is strong. But she tried something different, non-traditional, and the judges must not have liked it as well."

Shippy said editing is her favorite responsibility as co-editor along with classmate Kellen Griffin because "I love helping others make their stories better, which makes our paper better."

Ellis was led at regionals by senior Luke Lohrmeyer, who qualified for state in three events -- academics photography, yearbook sports writing and sports photography.

Ellis High School's top regional finishers were sophomores Sarah Henman (yearbook layout) and Sarah Mick (yearbook copy writing), who each won regional championships, as did junior Christen Spinelli (feature writing).

* Phillipsburg again dominated its regional competition in 3A-4A, under the direction of longtime adviser Vicky Constable.

PHS placed in all but one category.

"It's pretty exciting," said Constable, who hopes to watch her students bring home a lot of awards from what will be her last state trip as an adviser. She plans to retire at the end of the school year after 38 years at Phillipsburg.

Phillipsburg, which was second in team scoring last year and third the year before, also has won four state titles through the years.

Constable annually signs up every student in her journalism classes to participate in regionals.

"Even if they don't do well, it's an experience," she said, "and they get to see some other comments other than mine."

And most do well.

This year, Phillipsburg recorded the most first-place finishes in the 3A-4A division at Hays with seven -- by six different students.

PHS senior Regan Bartels won two events to pace the Panthers along with classmate Michaela Gower, who qualified for state in three different events. Bartels is the editor of the school's newspaper, Panther Pause, while Gower is editor of the Panther yearbook.

Complete results from the various regionals from around the state can be found online at www.kspaonline.org/regionals/2013-contest.