November 13, 2009 / 2009 Fall JEA/NSPA / Walsworth Live

Staffs from different parts of the country bring their own vibe to conventions

Written by Kevin W. Simpson

My name is Kevin Simpson, and I’m a junior at Shawnee Mission East in Prairie Village, Kansas. I am the assistant editor of the Harbinger, our school newspaper.

There are a few perks to being on the Harbinger staff. Deadline dinners with the best BBQ that Kansas City has to offer [Oklahoma Joe’s, located in a gas station. Seriously good.]. Spirited Photoshop wars with the photographers. And finally, there are the trips. I’ve now been on five journalism getaways: D.C., a trip to Anaheim in the spring of my freshman year, St. Louis last fall and workshops in Dallas each of the last two summers.

When one travels to enough of these things, it’s hard not to pick up on a few stereotypes. The Virginia kids are always the most supportive at the awards ceremonies, complete with “V-A” chants after a student chalks up another accomplishment for the Old Dominion State. The other Kansas kids seem to be the most competitive.

And finally, the Texas kids are the proudest and loudest bunch I’ve ever encountered. If it’s not a boisterous t-shirt proclaiming that nothing’s bigger in Texas, it’s a Texas flag adorning every folder, every notebook and every cowboy hat. Alright, maybe there aren’t any of those, but I’ve seen enough Texas memorabilia at these things that it would make Sam Houston blush.

The Lone Star Scholars always seem to outnumber all other states two to one, and that number is obviously magnified in Dallas, where one can’t turn a corner without encountering a Texas twang. Their cries at the awards ceremonies rival those of the Virginia schools.

All of these eccentricities are what makes these conventions a spectacle to behold, and it’s what will keep me coming back for future journalism excursions in Portland, Dallas and Kansas City.

I’m done for now. Check back tomorrow for the typical D.C. staple: the sights and sounds of the capital city’s tourist hot spots.

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Kevin W. Simpson