Y’all. Y’ALL. I am SO proud of my kids.
We went to Las Cruces this weekend for the New Mexico state student journalism competition. We took a senior, a sophomore, and two freshmen (pictured above at Pistachio Tree Ranch in Tularosa). They brought home two first-place ribbons and a third-place ribbon.
I can take a little credit for coaching the kids who won the photography contests, but the freshman who took third in the sportswriting contest just transferred into journalism class three weeks ago and placed at state with the first story he ever wrote.
Here’s the thing about the state journalism competition: It isn’t divided into classes, the way most other state-sanctioned activities are. My kids were competing against schools whose journalism class rosters outnumber our entire district population, K-12. Two big Las Cruces schools were there. Several Albuquerque schools were there. Alamagordo was there. And they held their own against all of them.
Not bad for a handful of rookies from a tiny little school in a tiny little town on a quiet backroad in rural New Mexico.
We’re thrilled with the awards, of course, but the bigger prize might have been the chance for the kids to get some feedback on their work. When I was in high school, we went to the Southern Illinois School Press Association competition every year, and I can draw a pretty straight line from some of the SISPA judges’ comments to my later success as a professional journalist.
I wonder whether any of them ever dreamed that their constructive criticism would help another group of student journalists find success at another competition a quarter-century and 1,200 miles away?