Publications Expands Their Program’s Outlook at a Journalism Convention

13 Publications students travel to St. Louis for the National JEA/NSPA conference


Jonathan Hall

Publications students pose together with nine NSPA awards after the ceremony.

Megan Geisler

Sydney Davis, Editor-in-Chief

Liberty’s Publications students traveled to St. Louis for the 2022 Fall JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention that featured more than 3,000 students from all over the U.S.

Publications adviser Jonathan Hall chaperoned students at the convention. The event was held from Nov. 10-12 at The Marriott Grand hotel. The convention was held at America’s Center, right across the street from their hotel.

On the first night of the conference, student journalists from across the country gathered to listen to a few speakers from all over the nation, as well as photographers and other reporters from the St. Louis Dispatch. The speakers told many stories about how to get more involved and spoke even deeper about the importance of participating in the community while being in publications. 

Everyone was fascinated with their experiences, and for some it was their first time attending a JEA/NSPA convention.

Junior Megan Geisler said, “I was really excited to go because I’ve heard a lot about it from the people who went on the L.A. trip and I was really excited to have my own experience.” 

Other Liberty students who attended mentioned how phenomenal their encounters with each other and other students who attended the convention were. A few students even attended the event without any preconceived expectations. 

Senior Alix Queen mentioned, “Through the people you get to learn newer tips and tricks that maybe only the older people in publications would know” though in sessions, “you get to learn through like advisers and people who have been in the field for a while.”

Braden Altrup (10), Megan Geisler (11) and Jayce Haun (12) pose with ‘b’ the bee mascot. (Sydney Davis)

There were hundreds of instructional journalism sessions throughout the day Friday and Saturday that students could choose to attend in addition to a trade show that featured colleges and other journalism-related vendors.

“I would absolutely go back, I loved it so much,” Queen said. “It was so much fun, and I got to grow closer with the people that I know, and make new friends.” 

Students and their adviser attended as many sessions as they possibly could, while still leaving time to eat and exist. Everyone had a takeaway from the trip, whether it was from someone they met, or from a session they attended. 

Geisler spoke about how she learned a bit from both the sessions and the people she met. 

“I went to a lot of sessions on Saturday morning about photography, and I know nothing about photography, so it was really good to finally learn what all of the buttons on the cameras do, like what ISO is, and things like that,” Geisler stated. 

Geisler also spoke to a group of girls from Omaha, Nebraska, who spoke about where they’re from and what they do there, as well as how they contribute to their publications’ staff. All the boys from California that she met were excited for the snow, so that was the majority of their conversation. 

Junior Liz Hayes spoke about what she learned at a critique rather than a session. She stated, “I learned the most important stuff from my critique, I learned basically how to make a Pacemaker winning broadcast in 30 minutes.” 

Hayes added that, “A Pacemaker is the highest award you can win in the NSPA/JEA convention.” 

Liberty publications adviser Mr. Hall attended a session hosted by the Student Press Law Center. He recalled that a session was called “Title 9” and covered everything surrounding student rights and student privacy. 

“I really enjoyed that one. They talked a lot about student preferred names and the legal rights to use those in student publications,” Hall said.  

I can tell right away that once we’ve been back, the students that went are more motivated. They’ve got a little spark under them about some of the things that they’ve learned, that they want to bring back.

— Jonathan Hall, publications adviser

Senior Jayce Haun added that the most important thing that he learned was “to get over your fear of rejection, and kind of just don’t be afraid of people telling ‘no’ to you. Go out and report, do your thing, and let other people do theirs.”

Hall was also proud of how social his students were. “I think this time I was really happy that my students got to meet so many students, teenagers from other schools,” he stated. “They really seem to buy into it, buy into the convention, but also to get out there and be social and talk to people. I was really proud of them for that.”

Senior Rhett Cunningham mentioned that he will go back in the spring, as we (as a publication’s group) are up for quite a bit of awards at the next convention in San Francisco April 20-22. He added that he was very very excited. 

LHS Publications staff took home nine NSPA awards from Saturday’s ceremony. This was more awards than we have ever received at a national convention, also in a single night. 

Hall spoke about how impressed he was with both the convention and the publications staff that attended. He was notably delighted with the outcome of awards the LHS publications staff had received. 

“That was the most national awards that Liberty publications students have ever won at one time.  I can tell right away that once we’ve been back, the students that went are more motivated. They’ve got a little spark under them about some of the things that they’ve learned, that they want to bring back,” Hall stated. “They’re excited to present and implement [their findings] in our own classroom.”

National Scholastic Press Association – Best of Show Awards: Liberty High School


high school / 224-278 pages

Sixth Place


Liberty High School, Lake Saint Louis, Missouri


high school / enrollment of 1,800 or more 

Eighth Place


Liberty High School, Lake St. Louis, Missouri

Individual Recognition

Broadcast: Feature Story

Fourth Place

Anumitha Vaka

LHSToday, Liberty High School, Lake St. Louis, Missouri

Getting to Know Mr. Schaper

Editorial Leadership

Fifth Place

Rhett Cunningham

Talon, Liberty High School, Lake St. Louis, Missouri

Design: Yearbook

Second Place

Rhett Cunningham, Alix Queen

Talon, Liberty High School, Lake St. Louis, Missouri

Mamma Mia

Photojournalism: Feature Photo

Seventh Place

Alix Queen

LHSToday, Liberty High School, Lake St. Louis, Missouri

Calming Canines

Photojournalism: Sports Photo 

Seventh Place

Sophie Hegyi

LHSToday, Liberty High School, Lake St. Louis, Missouri

Their Last-First Game

Broadcast: News Story

Third Place

Braden Altrup

LHSToday, Liberty High School, Lake St. Louis, Missouri

Liberty’s Friday Night Lights

JEA National Student Media Contests

Sophie Hegyi: First Year Photo: Superior 

Rhett Cunningham: Yearbook Copy/Caption: Academics-Honorable Mention 

Julia Wiley: Yearbook Copy/Caption: Clubs-Honorable Mention

Alix Queen: Yearbook Copy/Caption: Student Life-Honorable Mention