Sterling High School takes 2nd in 2019 2A State Journalism

Six 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 2A, and one student won an individual 1A/2A state championship.

LAWRENCE — On Saturday Sterling High School took second place in the 2A classification as they competed in the Kansas Scholastic Press Association State Contest, which rewards the best student journalism from around the state.

Sterling scored 24 points. Humboldt High School won the 2A division with 63 points.

“I’m really proud of how we finished,” journalism adviser Todd Vogts said. “According the records I could find dating back to 2012, this is the first time we’ve taken second at state in the 2A division, and this year we scored the most points we ever have in the state competition. 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 1A and 2A schools. A total of 19 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 1A and 2A schools to determine the divisional winners.

Sophomore Lucas Gilmore earned a 1A/2A individual state championships as he took first in Headline Writing and Design. This victory earned the team five points toward its sweepstakes total.

“I’m so proud of Lucas,” Vogts said. “He really stepped up to the challenge and showed what he can do.”

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

Senior Morgan Anderson took third in both Academic Photography and Sports Photography, as well as receiving an Honorable Mention in Infographics, netting seven points for the team; senior Grace Rowland took second place in Yearbook Sports Writing and also earned an Honorable Mention in both Feature Writing and Photo Illustration, adding six points to the team total; junior Abby Riffel took an Honorable Mention in both Yearbook Layout and Yearbook Theme and Graphics, contributing two points to the team total; and freshman Megan Roelfs placed third in News Writing and secured an Honorable Mention in the state-only contest of Online Photo Gallery, bringing four points to the team’s total.

“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.”

Seeing Roelfs place was also a bright spot in the results, according to Vogts.

“This is her first year in journalism,” he said. “So her placing so well in both a writing and a digital contest is great. She is in a fantastic position to be a leader on staff next year, and I can’t wait to see what she can accomplish by the time she is a senior.”

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. This year, every member of Sterling’s journalism program qualified in at least one event.

Other student competing but not placing include the following: seniors Andy Norez and McKiah San Miguel; sophomores Courtney Ball, Shawna Britton, Kayley Clark and Christina Voth; and freshman Riley Richter.

“Obviously, I would have loved to see everyone place, but I’m still proud of everyone for competing,” Vogts said. “This time of the year is hectic for our journalism staff. We have several yearbook and magazine deadlines we are up against, so even getting the entries in by the deadline is a big deal. I look forward to next year and building off of the moment of this year.”

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. Wichita State University hosted the Regional competition Sterling participated in, while other universities hosted Regionals for other schools across the state.

Senior Grace Rowland receives her plaque announcing her as the 1A/2A Journalist of the Year from KSPA President Jessica Bowman at the opening session of the State Contest Saturday at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

During the opening session of the State Contest, Rowland also received her plaque for winning the 1A/2A Journalist of the Year designation.

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

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share
About toddvogts 840 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