Akins High School excited about first trip to JEA/NSPA

Written by Evan Blackwell, CJE

Michael Reeves said it so matter of factly that I almost missed it, so I asked him to clarify. Next week, when 24 students from Akins High School in Austin, Texas, travel to San Antonio for JEA/NSPA, it will be the first time the school has sent a group to the National High School Journalism Convention.

“We’ve never been to JEA/NSPA, because we couldn’t afford it. This is going to be the first time,” said Reeves, the newspaper adviser at Akins. “We probably won’t ever be able to go back until it’s in our home state again.”

A large group of yearbook and newspaper students from Akins will indeed be coming to the National High School Journalism Convention, thanks in part to scholarships received by nine students as part of Walsworth’s 75 Scholars program, in partnership with NSPA and JEA. Reeves said the registration costs covered by the scholarships have been vital for his students.

“Some of these students absolutely wouldn’t have gotten the chance to go. The costs probably would have been too high,” said Reeves. “It’s a big deal for us. It’s helping our journalism program so much.”

One of those students is Hannah Kerns, a sophomore reporter on the newspaper staff. She was the first Akins publications student to apply for, and receive, a Walsworth scholarship.

“Journalism is my main thing. I feel like I’ve found something I’m good at,” said Kerns. “This convention is a chance for me to learn and improve my writing skills.”

Cristina Gonzalez is a senior reporter on the Akins newspaper staff who also might not have gotten a chance at the trip to San Antonio without the financial assistance of the 75 Scholars program. Gonzalez plans on pursuing a career as a filmmaker, and she’s already well on her way. One of her short films was screened, and won an award, last year at the Austin Film Festival.

“Media has changed so much, and it impacts the world we live in so much,” said Gonzalez. “I’m just excited to go to the convention, learn more about the craft of writing and get the chance to meet other journalists.”

Evan Blackwell, CJE

Evan Blackwell, CJE, is a Web Content Specialist for walsworthyearbooks.com and yearbookhelp.com, as well as a regular contributor to Idea File magazine. He's been a writer and editor for Walsworth Yearbooks for the past 13 years, and is the author of the Yearbook Suite's "The Art of the Interview" unit. Prior to joining Walsworth, Blackwell spent five years as an award-winning newspaper and magazine journalist. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.