LINCOLN – More than 800 students and teachers from 49 Nebraska schools gathered Oct. 21 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to learn about journalism and media during the fall convention of the Nebraska High School Press Association.

The convention, co-sponsored with UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, offers a variety of learning opportunities for students studying broadcasting, newspaper (online and print) and yearbook.

“We had a record number of attendees, which I think is a great indication that the state’s scholastic journalism is strong – and growing stronger,” said Michelle Carr Hassler, NHSPA executive director and associate professor of practice of journalism at UNL. “Nebraska is so fortunate to have such engaged journalism students and teachers, in addition to media professionals who are dedicated to helping them learn.”

The theme of this year’s convention was “Facts Matter. Real Journalism.” The day-long event kicked off with a keynote presentation by Lise Olsen, an award-winning investigative reporter and editor from Houston, Texas. The Nebraska Press Association helped make Olsen’s appearance possible.

Olsen, a UNL alumna, recently joined Texas Observer magazine after serving as investigative reporter and editor at the Houston Chronicle. Her reports over 20 years in three states have contributed to the prosecutions of a former congressman and a federal judge, inspired laws and reforms, helped solve cold cases, restored names to unidentified murder victims and freed dozens of wrongfully-held prisoners.

Olsen also presented a break-out session on investigative journalism. She was one of 40 media professionals and educators to present information sessions for students on a variety of media-related topics – from podcasting to social media storytelling.

During an awards ceremony, the organization presented its 2019 Distinguished Adviser award to Erica Brockmoller, who teaches at Lexington High School and is active with the NHSPA, including serving on its executive board. Hassler received the 2019 Friend of Journalism award, which honors someone who has significantly supported scholastic journalism.

The NHSPA also recognized high school student winners in its annual awards competition.

The following schools won the highest honor – the Cornhusker Award – in the yearbook category: Fremont High School (Black and Gold); Gretna High School (The Dragon); Lincoln Southwest High School (The Talon); Millard South High School (The Patriot); Millard West High School (The Prowler); Papillion-La Vista South High School (South Star); Pius X High School (The Thunderer); Scottsbluff High School (The Bluff); and Scribner-Snyder High School (The Trojan).

The following schools won Cornhusker Awards in the newspaper category: Fremont High School (The Rustler); Marian High School (The Network); Lincoln Southeast (The Clarion); Millard West High School (The Catalyst); Papillion-La Vista High School (The Scepter); and Scotus Central Catholic High School (The Rock Bottom);

The following schools won Cornhusker Awards in the online news category: Marian High School (The Network) and Westside High School (Westside Wired).

In the broadcast category, Marian High School’s M-Beat Broadcast was awarded a Cornhusker.

In addition to the Nebraska Press Association, major sponsors of the convention and its annual awards include the Nebraska Broadcasters Association and SNO Sites (School Newspapers Online).

At an NHSPA adviser meeting, members re-elected to the group’s executive board Mark Hilburn of Millard West and David Stevens of Scribner-Snyder. Other executive board members in addition to Brockmoller are Brandi Benson, Lincoln Southwest; Ranae Duncan of Omaha Bryan; Kristen Harris, McCook; Rod Henkel, Yutan; Lynn Hofmann of Shelby-Rising City; Marsha Kalkowski, Omaha Marian; Lori Larson, North Platte; Diane Schieffer, Elkhorn; and Angela Wolfe, Omaha Burke.

The NHSPA is open to all high school instructors of journalism and/or advisers of student publications in the state of Nebraska. For additional information, including how to join, see the NHSPA website: http://www.nhspaonline.org.

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