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National journalism convention lands in Denver, connects students with peers

Sierra Middle School student Declan Palmer with his teacher, who also happens to be his father.

DENVER – Student journalists and their teachers from Douglas County had the opportunity to network with their peers and professionals recently at national journalism convention held in Denver.

Sponsored by the Journalism Education Association (JEA) and the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA), the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention hosted 2,700 attendees at the Sheraton Denver Downtown, April 16-19. JEA President Mark Newton who is also a journalism adviser at Mountain Vista High School, valued the opportunity for local teachers and students.

“More than anything, it's access,” said Newton. 

This close access gave future journalists in Douglas County a chance to interact with some of the nation's leading journalists, compete against the nation's best, and share experiences with their peers. It wasn’t only the students that gained a wealth of information from the conference, but their advisers as well. 

“Learning new skills, ideas, concepts, etc. is the norm, not the exception, at this convention,” explained Newton.
The convention proved to be especially memorable for one family. Declan Palmer, a middle school student at Sierra Middle School, received the Aspiring Young Journalist Award from JEA. His proud father, Jed Palmer, looked on not only as a parent, but also as Declan’s yearbook teacher. (pictured)

“There is a great sense of pride that my wife and I both feel. We know how hard he works at journalism and all of his other academics. It is great that he has received an external recognition for that hard work,” Palmer expressed Palmer about his son’s recognition. 

Some middle school students might be horrified by the thought of having their father as their teacher, but Declan didn’t seem to be bothered in the least. “Working with my dad doesn't really feel like everybody thinks it is. It isn't very different than [having] any other teacher would be. He pushes me like anyone else, and I succeed. It isn't that complicated,” said Declan. 

Sierra Middle School was also honored with two Best in Show awards for their yearbook and newspaper publications.

Rock Canyon High School's Kristi Rathbun was also recognized at the conference as a Distinguished Adviser for her work with the students who create the school's yearbook.

“I'm fortunate that my students let me push them to work hard and achieve their best, so much so that they make me look good,” said Rathbun. 

The judges were also impressed by the work of Rock Canyon students, naming the school's yearbook a Pacemaker Finalist and third place winner in the Best in Show category. 

“For our students, the convention provided a place to learn and compete with [yearbook] staffs that share their passion and push to be better both at what they do and how they do it,” Rathbun said.

The following students and programs were recognized at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention.

Castle Rock Middle School 9th Place Best in Show Yearbook  
Castle View High School Honorable Mention, Newswriting Jett Goldsmith
  Honorable Mention Feature Writing Jolene Martinez
Legend High School Yearbook, Pacemaker Finalist  
  9th Place Best in Show Yearbook  
  Excellent Yearbook Copy/Caption Vanessa Campuzano
  Excellent Review Writing Jason Burke
  Excellent Yearbook Copy/Caption Becca Garbrick
  Excellent Yearbook Copy/Caption Emily Smith
Mountain Vista High School 9th Place Newspaper Special Edition  
  Superior Yearbook Copy/Caption Amy Huang
  Excellent Feature Writing Conner Davis
  Honorable Mention, Newswriting Lexi Weingardt
  Honorable Mention, Press Law and Ethics Cesco Viola
Rock Canyon High School Yearbook, Pacemaker Finalist   
  3rd Place Best in Show Yearbook  
Rocky Heights Middle School 5th Place Best in Show Yearbook  
  5th Place Broadcast Program  
Sierra Middle School Aspiring Young Journalist Declan Palmer
  2nd Place Best in Show Newspaper  
  3rd Place Best in Show Yearbook  


April 29, 2015 | By SCPaulsen | Category: High School Education, Middle School Education

District News

graduates standing in line outside, smiling

DOUGLAS COUNTY – Graduation rates in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) continue to climb. Data released today by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) shows the on-time, four-year graduation rate is now 90.4 percent.

DCSD students also made an impressive showing at graduation. The class of 2017 earned more than $82 million in scholarships.

DCSD has one of the highest graduation rates in the Denver metro area. According to CDE, DCSD graduation rates have risen steadily from 81.9 percent in 2009 to 90.4 percent in 2017.

Five female students standing on stage smiling and laughing at the awards ceremony

The top two-percent of female athletes in Douglas County School District (DCSD) were honored at the annual Girls and Women in Sports Luncheon last week at Chaparral High School. This year represented the 30th national celebration of Girls and Women in Sports Day, created to encourage and promote the participation of girls in athletics. The girls who were honored were selected by their school’s coaches, athletic directors and principals for their outstanding achievements.

Superintendent Search text based logo

Working through the recent winter break, the Douglas County School District Board of Education has kicked off its search for DCSD’s next permanent superintendent. Following a thorough vetting of potential search firms, Ray & Associates (no relation to Board Director David Ray) has been hired to conduct the national search. The cost of the firm, excluding travel expenses, is $40,000. The money will come from the school board's budget, which is used for costs such as legal expenses and conferences.