Publications Takes On J-Day

Students from magazine, yearbook, and online news classes attended Mizzou’s Journalism day


Jayce Haun

Rhett Cunningham passionately teaches fellow student journalists about how to create a yearbook that is outside of the normal.

Ally Schniepp, Sports Editor of the Ledger

The Publications program ventured to Columbia, MO to visit one of the best journalism schools in the country, Mizzou, for their annual J-Day celebration that was held in-person for the first time since 2020. Students attended workshops, competed in writing contests, and listened to a passionate speech from keynote speaker CBS Washington correspondent Major Garrett. In addition to these excellent learning opportunities, the awards ceremony at the end of the day provided student journalists with the recognition of winning Best of Show or All-Missouri awards. 

Two students, Sruthi Ramesh and Rhett Cunningham, who attended the celebration were offered the opportunity to teach fellow student journalists about the way the programs at Liberty work. Cunningham, Editor-in-Chief of the Talon yearbook, taught a workshop based on creating a chronological yearbook and the approach the staff had to take to complete this unique style. Ramesh, Editor-in-Chief of LHStoday and Photo Editor of the Ledger magazine, taught a workshop on how to effectively run an online publication.

“I like teaching, and I like teaching something I’m very passionate about,” Cunningham said. 

Offering student journalists like Cunningham and Ramesh the opportunity to talk about the original and innovative ways publications work at Liberty, was an amazing experience for everyone involved. Students who attended Cunningham’s workshop were inspired by the Talon staff’s ambition to take on completing a chronological yearbook, which many schools would now like to try in their own way because of the inspiring lecture Cunningham gave.

“To be able to inspire people is amazing,” Cunningham said. “It also makes me feel really proud of our staff and our program that we’re doing something good.”

Students from Online News, Magazine, and Yearbook pose in front of the iconic columns on Mizzou’s campus after the awards ceremony. (Jackie Hall)

The celebration kicked off with Garrett’s speech, which discussed the changes in journalism over the course of time, the importance of accuracy in reporting, diversity in the newsroom, and emphasized that journalism is telling the stories of others, not yourself. He also shared experiences from his own career, where he has seen and dealt with a lot of people in pain when he was working for various police stations. 

“Sometimes the enormity of the pain is not understandable for everyone,” Garrett said in the Q&A portion of his speech. His passion for journalism was evident throughout his entire speech, capturing the audience’s attention throughout the majority of his time speaking.

After Garrett’s animated speech, most students left the auditorium in Jesse Hall to start their learning day in many of the different workshops offered. The students left in the auditorium were those competing in the writing contests. Seniors Mollie Banstetter, Avery Schlattman, and Sean Bruce were left in the auditorium along with junior Kay Copeland from the Ledger staff.

“I really liked when [Garrett] said one thing you have to strive for is accuracy. You’re going to make mistakes, but you have to go fix them,” Banstetter said on Garrett’s speech. 

Copeland went into the trip expecting to have a great day full of learning with her fellow journalists. When she sat down in the auditorium seats to start her piece that would be entered in the review writing competition, she had no idea that a few hours later she would be the sole winner of the Best of Show award, the highest award that can be received. Copeland’s award for her review story on Garrett’s speech was the only Best of Show for the people who attended the celebration from Liberty, and the staff was ecstatic when her name was announced in front of hundreds of student journalists and advisors. 

“Mollie noticed my name before I did, and she grabbed my hand and was like ‘Oh my gosh I saw your name!’ I started freaking out, my heart started beating, and the realization hit me that I was going to have to go up there and get the award. It was really surreal and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced,” Copeland said.

Copeland kicked off the awards for Liberty’s publications programs. In the next hour, the program received awards for a broadcast, a podcast, the overall theme of the yearbook along with one spread from it, and photography by Sruthi Ramesh. All of these awards were All-Missouri, meaning they are some of the best in the state. 

The Mizzou J-Day celebration was a great success for Liberty’s Publications programs and resulted in a lot of learning and well-deserved recognition after a year of hard work. 

LHS Publications awards from J-Day 

All Missouri

Broadcast – Sruthi Ramesh – Broadcast Overall Announcements Only 

Journalism – Anumitha Vaka, Chloe Stenger, Lydia Hamby – Podcast

Yearbook – Rhett Cunningham and Talon staff – Overall theme/concept 

Yearbook – Jackson Martin – Non-traditional package (week 3) 

Photography – Sruthi Ramesh – Sports 

Best of Show 

Magazine – Kay Copeland – Review Writing


Magazine – Sruthi Ramesh – Cover Page Design 

Online – Sruthi Ramesh and LHStoday staff – Overall 

Yearbook – Alix Queen – Yearbook Mods


Magazine – Paige Bostic, Elizabeth Hamby and Ledger staff – Overall

Online – Grayce Page and Cody Cushing – Feature package

Online – Kay Copeland and Kyndall Stubblefield – Feature package 

Photography – Sruthi Ramesh – Sports Feature – Reaction Photo 

Yearbook – Monica Reyes, Jackson Martin and Cara Turner – Yearbook Design (week 6) 

Yearbook – Alix Queen, Jax Drezek, Amanda Yoder and Liz Hayes – Traditional package (varsity football) – Sports 

Yearbook – Monica Reyes, Jackson Martin and Cara Turner – Traditional package (varsity tennis) – Sports

Yearbook – Dori Earle, Charley Orf, Emily Barnett, Ella Pinz and Brianna Franklin – Non-traditional package (week 5) 

Yearbook – Dori Earle, Emily Barnett, Ella Pinz, Brianna Franklin, Charley Orf – Traditional package (cross country) – Sports

Honorable Mention

Magazine – Mollie Banstetter – Double Truck/Centerspread Page Design

Magazine – Fiona Flynn – Newspaper Inside Page Design 

Broadcast – Liz Hayes – Sports Feature story 

Photography – Sruthi Ramesh – Sports Photography 

Photography – Sruthi Ramesh – Sports Feature/Reaction Photo