Sterling High School takes 2nd in 3A State Journalism

Ten of Sterling High School's journalism students took part in the on-site competitions of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association State Journalism Contest, hosted at the University of Kansas. Several others competed in the digital submission contests. Overall, the group took 2nd in 3A, and one student won two individual 3A/4A state championships.


LAWRENCE — On Saturday Sterling High School competed in the Kansas Scholastic Press Association State Contest, which rewards the best student journalism from around the state.

Sterling took second place in the 3A classification, scoring 18 points. Humboldt High School won the 3A division with 44 points.

“I’m really proud of how we finished,” journalism adviser Todd Vogts said. “This is the third time we’ve taken second at state since we’ve competed in the 3A division, and this year we scored the most points we ever have against the other 3A schools. This is a nice cap to the year.”

Classification placings are based on the combined scores of the students from each school, KSPA names a Sweepstakes Champion for each school enrollment size.

To earn points, students competed against other 3A and 4A schools. A total of 26 schools earned points in this combined division. To earn points, participants had to place in the top three or earn an honorable mention in the 21 individual categories. The points earned were then separated out between the 3A and 4A schools to determine the divisional winners.

Senior Taya Wilson earned two 3A/4A individual state championships as she took first in Photo Illustration and first in Sports Writing. Each victory earned the team five points toward its sweepstakes total.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” Wilson said. “This was only my second year in this kind of journalism, so I didn’t know what the expectations were.”

Wilson wasn’t alone in scoring points for Sterling, though.

Junior Grace Rowland took second in the state-only contest of Online Photo Gallery, netting four points for the team; junior Natalie Nichols took third in News Writing, netting three points; and junior Morgan Anderson secured an Honorable Mention in Sports Photography, earning one point for the team.

“Having so many upperclassmen place at state is a testament to how hard they have worked this year and their previous years in the program,” Vogts said. “They are passionate about journalism, and it shows with this type of recognition. They deserve all the praise. They are leaders on our staff, and now they are acknowledged as some of the top student journalists in the state.”

The students placing at state were not the only Sterling journalists who competed in the contest, however, because to earn the chance to compete in the State Contest, students qualified through Regional Contests in February.

Sterling’s regional results, which saw everyone on the journalism staff place in at least one event and had someone place in every event offered, are as follows:

  • junior Natalie Nichols, Copyediting, Honorable Mention
  • junior Kaylie Zimmerman, Copyediting, 3rd
  • freshman Courtney Ball, Sports Writing, Honorable Mention
  • senior Taya Wilson, Sports Writing, 1st
  • freshman Shawna Britton, Editorial Cartoon, Honorable Mention
  • junior McKiah San Miguel, Editorial Cartoon, Honorable Mention
  • sophomore Shelby Drier, Yearbook Copy Writing, 1st
  • senior Raegan Mantz, Yearbook Copy Writing, 3rd
  • junior Andy Norez, Feature Writing, 2nd
  • junior Grace Rowland, Feature Writing, Honorable Mention
  • junior Natalie Nichols, News Writing, 2nd
  • sophomore Shelby Drier, Cutline Writing, Honorable Mention
  • junior Kaylie Zimmerman, Cutline Writing, 1st
  • junior Andy Norez, Editorial Writing, 2nd
  • junior McKiah San Miguel, Editorial Writing, 3rd
  • senior Raegan Mantz, Yearbook Sports Writing, Honorable Mention
  • senior Taya Wilson, Yearbook Sports Writing, 1st
  • junior Morgan Anderson, Academics Photography, Honorable Mention
  • sophomore Shelby Drier, Advertising, Honorable Mention
  • freshman Lucas Gilmore, Advertising, 3rd
  • freshman Lucas Gilmore, Headline Writing and Design, 3rd
  • junior Morgan Anderson, Infographics, Honorable Mention
  • junior Natalie Nichols, Newspaper Page Design, Honorable Mention
  • sophomore Abby Riffel, Newspaper Page Design, Honorable Mention
  • junior Grace Rowland, Photo Illustration, 3rd
  • senior Taya Wilson, Photo Illustration, 1st
  • junior Morgan Anderson, Sports Photography, 1st
  • senior Taya Wilson, Sports Photography, Honorable Mention
  • freshman Courtney Ball, Student Life Photography, Honorable Mention
  • junior Grace Rowland, Student Life Photography, 2nd
  • freshman Courtney Ball, Yearbook Layout, 2nd
  • freshmen Shawna Britton and Lucas Gilmore, Yearbook Theme and Graphics, 1st
  • sophomore Abby Riffel and junior Kaylie Zimmerman, Yearbook Theme and Graphics, Honorable Mention

Categories are divided between on-site and digital submission contests. The on-site offerings generally include the writing and editing contests, while the digital submission offerings concern the photography and design contests.

Participating in such contests is important for students because it helps them improve their abilities.

“Teaching students the bedrock skills of writing, editing, designing and photography is what our contest is all about,” KSPA executive director Eric Thomas said. “The judges for the contest look for solid grasp of the fundamentals first and then seek entries that go above and beyond with creativity. This year’s winners showcased both creative excellence and solid skills.”

The University of Kansas hosted the State competition at the Memorial Union. Fort Hays State University hosted the Regional competition Sterling participated in, while other universities hosted Regionals for other schools across the state. Schools are placed at regionals based upon proximity to hosting locations.

KSPA enlists the help of journalism teachers, professional journalists, university faculty members and other journalism experts to judge the entries.

KSPA is a non-profit association of more than 100 high school and middle school journalism programs. Its mission is to promote excellence in high school journalism publications and education. To learn more, visit

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About toddvogts 837 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at or via his website at