November 1, 2018 / News

El Camino students win big in Social Media Writing competition

Written by Jenica Hallman, CJE

It’s not often that students from one school can claim first, second and third place in the same competition category, but students from El Camino Real Charter School did just that!

Six yearbook students from the Los Angeles high school competed at the California State University Northridge (CSUN) Journalism Day in partnership with The Los Angeles Times on Oct. 20. The CSUN J-Day offered the more than 200 students from 23 schools a chance to showcase their writing talent in competition, learn from veteran journalists and find out more about the CSUN journalism program, Southern California Journalism Education Association (SCJEA) and The Los Angeles Times High School Insider.

Adviser Samantha Lasarow is in her third year of advising El Camino’s El Corazón yearbook staff. Previously, only newspaper students attended J-Day, but Lasarow felt her yearbook staff also utilized the skills tested – and she was right! Lasarow recalled the awards ceremony at the end of the day.

“We attended the awards ceremony, which was proceeded by a professional panel of community and LA Times journalists,” Lasarow said. “The Social Media Writing category came last, and as Linda Bowen from CSUN read the names and began to realize they were all from El Camino, she said, ‘I think we’re seeing something really special, guys!’ It was so exciting!”

The Social Media Writing competition required students to find a student from another school whom they did not know. They took the student’s photo, interviewed them about their interest in journalism and why they attended J-Day, then posted the photo with a 240-character caption to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #CSUNJDay. First place went to El Camino sophomore Ashleigh Soto, second place to El Camino senior yearbook Editor-in-chief Hannah Ilao and third place to senior newspaper opinion editor Valeria Estevez.

“Recognition like this helps propel my students to meet their first deadline with renewed energy,” Lasarow said. “It can be tough to cope with the delayed gratification inherent in the yearbook process, and it is vital for students to have opportunities to feel validated throughout the year, rather than only when the printed yearbook finally arrives in our hands. In addition to in-house staff morale builders, competitions like this contribute to staff motivation and remind students that journalism is a valuable skill with the potential for recognition. Furthermore, it’s important for the kids to have opportunities to add to their professional portfolios.”

Lasarow was not surprised her students stood out.

“My students have inquisitive minds and believe that every individual has a story to tell. They stand out in the journalism field due to their dedication to finding interesting story angles and their obsession with accurately reporting through the marriage of photography and writing… I am always shocked by my students’ ability to stay on top of the news beat and expertly transform news into meaningful features,” Lasarow said.

Other competition categories included news writing, feature writing, opinion writing, sports writing and photojournalism. J-Day offered 14 workshops as well. Lasarow’s students attended “The Importance of ‘Why’: Writing feature stories like a professional” by Steve Padilla, Enterprise Editor, foreign and national, The Los Angeles Times and “The ABCs of Design: White space by any other name” by Gary Metzker, Adviser, CSU Long Beach.

Based on what we have seen so far, we have a feeling this is not the last we will hear of El Camino, and Walsworth looks forward to great things in their future.

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Jenica Hallman, CJE

Jenica Hallman, CJE, is a Copywriter for Walsworth Yearbooks. Yearbooks got into her blood in high school, and she has been pursuing them ever since. She has worked in various capacities as a high school and college yearbook editor, an adviser, sales representative, plant customer service representative and now in marketing, her favorite role to date. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mass media communications from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.