26 Sterling journalism entries qualify for state contest

WICHITA — On Feb. 25, student journalist from Sterling High School traveled to the campus of Wichita State University to take part in the Kansas Scholastic Press Association Regional Journalism Contest.

Of the 36 entries into the contest, 26 placed, which means they qualified for the KSPA State Journalism Contest. It will take place May 4 in Lawrence on the campus of the University of Kansas.

This means that of the 12 students on the Sterling Student Publications staff (including both the Cub yearbook and the Cub Reporter magazine) that took part in the journalism contest, all have qualified for the state competition in at least one event.

Students placing in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Honorable Mention all qualified for the state contest.

Sterling students competed against other 1A/2A schools. Each student could enter up to five competitive categories, but each school could only enter twice in each category.

They competed in 19 different categories that fit into one of two types of contests: Digital Submission, in which the students, using prompts, either take a photo or create a design at school and upload the completed entry via the contest’s online portal for judging; and, On-Site, in which the students, using prompts, complete writing, editing or cartooning entries at the contest site on the day of the competition.

For Sterling, those students include the following in the following categories:


Copy Editing

  • freshman Riley Richter, honorable mention

Editorial Cartoon

  • senior McKiah San Miguel, 2nd place
  • sophomore Shawna Britton, honorable mention

Yearbook Copywriting

  • sophomore Christina Both, 2nd place

Feature Writing

  • senior Grace Rowland, 1st place

News Writing

  • freshman Megan Roelfs, honorable mention

Editorial Writing

  • senior McKiah San Miguel, honorable mention

Yearbook Sports Writing

  • freshman Riley Richter, 3rd place
  • senior Grace Rowland, honorable mention


Academics Photography

  • senior Morgan Anderson, honorable mention


  • freshman Riley Richter, 3rd place
  • sophomore Lucas Gilmore, honorable mention

Headline Writing and Design

  • sophomore Lucas Gilmore, 1st place


  • senior Morgan Anderson, honorable mention
  • senior Andy Norez, honorable mention

News Page Design

  • sophomore Kayley Clark, 1st place
  • sophomore Lucas Gilmore, 2nd place

Photo Illustration

  • senior Grace Rowland, 1st place
  • junior Abigail Riffel, 3rd place

Sports Photography

  • senior Morgan Anderson, 1st place
  • sophomore Courtney Ball, honorable mention

Student Life Photography

  • freshman Megan Roelfs, 2nd place
  • senior McKiah San Miguel, honorable mention

Yearbook Layout

  • junior Abigail Riffel, honorable mention

Yearbook Theme and Graphics

  • sophomore Shawna Britton, honorable mention
  • junior Abigail Riffel, honorable mention

“This is a huge accomplishment to have so many entries qualify,” journalism adviser Todd Vogts said. “In the regional grouping Sterling was in, only one school had more qualify. That school was Chase County with 27 qualifying entries. We tied Chase County with the number of first-place finishes at five apiece.”

The regional groupings were handled differently this year than they have been in the past. Previously, schools were assigned a regional location to compete in. However, a change allowed schools to pick locations closer to home to compete at. The aim was to help increase participation by eliminating long-distance travel that could see schools driving past another regional location to get to their assigned location.

The change also meant the KSPA staff created more fair regionals with a more even number of schools in each. KSPA made the regional groupings after schools had signed up. This meant that for every seven schools in a given classification category that signed up, those seven were turned into a regional grouping.

“This change was nice,” Vogts said. “It allowed us to go down to Wichita instead of all the way out to Hays, which is where we normally get placed. And it didn’t impact the level of competition we faced. If anything, it helped it because KSPA took all schools and divided them up more equally for each regional division.”

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

“We consider the Regional Contests to be one of our most important annual events both for students to receive feedback on their work and also for students to compete with one another,” said Eric Thomas, KSPA executive director, in a press release. “Teachers who organize and enter their students into the contest give their students a great opportunity to see how their work compares to the work of others.”

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

Every student begins preparations for KSPA contest hoping to win, but ensuring quality entries can be daunting, especially faced with all the other activities the Sterling journalism students are involved in.

“The tricky piece to our competition puzzle is time,” Vogts said. “All of my journalism students are heavily involved in activities offered by the high school, and we had yearbook and magazine deadlines to tend with. The students were strapped for time. However, they all managed the multiple responsibilities well.”

Going into the coming months, the pressure will be on again as various activities divide students’ time during the spring.

“That same level of time management will be required in the run-up to the state contest,” Vogts said. “I know they can do it, and I’m excited to see how we place on this larger stage.”

In the coming weeks, the students will be receiving information about the State Contest prompts and will be able to get started on their new round of entries.

“It’s an exciting time,” he said. “I can’t wait to roll into Lawrence and see the students compete against other top student journalists in the state. It’s going to tough, but I know the students of Sterling High School can hang with anyone. Go Black Bears!”

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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 twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.