Photo by Dave Porreca

The IJEA and Illinois Press Foundation recognized the achievements of some of the state’s top high school journalists with an awards luncheon Saturday in Springfield at the offices of The State Journal-Register. Honored were Illinois Journalist of the Year Ashley Yong and members of the IJEA All-State Journalism Team. Not all honorees were able to attend the event. From left: Isabel Rich, Belvidere North High School; Ashley Yong, Hinsdale South High School; Isabella Murray, John Hersey High School; Rachel Krusenoski, Downers Grove North High School; Kaitlyn Morrill, Elk Grove High School; Gabrielle Cano, Kaneland High School.

The future is looking bright: IJEA, Illinois Press Foundation honor high school journalism standouts

With the end of the school year came IJEA's annual awards luncheon sponsored by the Illinois Press Foundation — a chance to glimpse journalism's future while saluting some of the most talented and hard-working students in the state

June 7, 2015

SPRINGFIELD — Some of the most talented and dedicated young journalists in the state were recognized Saturday when the Illinois Journalism Education Association held its annual year-end awards luncheon.

The event honored the Illinois Journalist of the Year, Ashley Yong of Hinsdale South High School in Darien, and members of IJEA’s 2015 All-State Journalism Team (see below).

Carla Jimenez of The State Journal-Register was the keynote speaker. Jimenez is editor of the Voice, a weekly SJ-R section written by teens on teen issues.

The luncheon took place at The State Journal-Register offices, and the event was sponsored by the Illinois Press Foundation. IJEA is grateful for the continued support of the IPF and its director, Barry Locher.

IJEA is delighted to salute the following students:


Ashley Yong
Editor-in-chief, Vespa yearbook
Web and ads editor, The Stinger newspaper
Executive producer, HSTV Internet television station
Hinsdale South High School
Darien (DuPage County)
Adviser: Jim Kelly

According to Ashley Yong’s adviser, Jim Kelly, the future of journalism is in good hands.

In his nomination letter, Kelly said that Ashley will “no doubt” be a leader in the field. “[She] can tell stories with her writing, which she takes seriously, and is a student of ‘old-school’ journalism,” he said. But he added that she is also a “champion of the infographic … and a rising star in video and Internet journalism.”

At Hinsdale South, Ashley has been “the face of the journalism program.” Indeed, Ashley served as editor-in-chief of the Vespa yearbook, web and ads editor of The Stinger newspaper and was one of the founding members and executive producers of HSTV, the school’s Internet TV station. She also contributed to her school’s publications as a photographer.

Oh, and she was the IHSA state champion in yearbook layout design for the past two years.

Kelly added: “It’s hard to put all of Ashley’s journalistic accomplishments into one letter: yearbook editor, newspaper editor, IHSA journalism sectional and state champion, Quill & Scroll and NSPA honor roll student, Medill cherub …. In between all of this, Ashley is also seen as not only the ambassador of our journalism program, but of the English department, and even our school. She is a great journalist and an even better human being.”

You can check out the video she posted on YouTube about how she “ditched prom to help the homeless.” It has more than 150,000 views.

Ashley plans to study journalism at the University of Missouri in the fall. We’re excited to see what the future holds, and we’re delighted to have this opportunity to honor Ashley Yong’s contributions to scholastic journalism.

If the future of journalism is in the hands of students like Ashley, we agree it’s in good hands.


Michael Glick
Editor-in-chief, U-High Midway newspaper
University of Chicago Laboratory High School
Chicago (Cook County)
Advisers: Wayne Brasler, Logan Aimone

When Michael Glick entered the journalism program at the University of Chicago Laboratory High School, he hit the ground running.

And he stood out to veteran adviser Wayne Brasler from the start.

“He came in with natural talent, a natural sense of inquiry, a quick learning mode and an eager drive to learn and succeed,” Brasler said. “Even in that first year he was doing two or three times as much work as any other reporter, and he was gaining a reputation for maturity, solid judgment, superior reporting and interviewing skills, and a writing style that from the beginning bespoke professionalism.”

Michael went on to serve as editor-in-chief of the U-High Midway newspaper both his junior and senior years. In addition to reporting, writing and editing, Michael also oversaw a redesign of the publication with an eye toward breaking away from the conventional.

He says he is most proud of the work he did to honor Brasler, who retired from advising in January after 51 years. Michael reported, wrote and designed a four-page insert magazine titled “Wayne of a Kind” as a surprise tribute honoring Brasler for his service.

For diligence, determination and an exceptional work ethic, we’re proud to honor Michael Glick as our runner-up for the Illinois Journalist of the Year, and honor his new adviser, Logan Aimone.


Gabrielle Cano
Webmaster, The Kaneland Krier online news site
Page editor, The Kaneland Krier newspaper
Kaneland High School
Maple Park (Kane County)
Adviser: Kimberly Reese

The Kaneland Krier online was not highly regarded. The  staff did not buy into the immediacy of the online version, and reporters were openly negative about the product and put it on the back burner.

But junior webmaster Gabrielle Cano was not dissuaded. She never responded in a negative manner. Instead she met that challenge with enthusiasm and determination.

Gabby spent all summer redesigning the online news site for The Kaneland Krier. And it transformed before her eyes. Although it is still a work in progress, she is proud of the way the website looks now and of the attention it gets from the student body.

But this award is also for what Gabby does besides the online edition.

According to her adviser, Kimberly Reese, without fanfare Gabby quietly works long hours to complete her commitments, which include being a page editor and writer for the print edition alongside her regular duties of overseeing all web projects. She doggedly researches a variety of stories and produces high-quality page designs for The Krier’s School News and Voice pages.

Reese describes it as a vibrant work ethic, one in which Gabby eagerly attacks her stories, interviewing community board members, business owners and area high school administrators.

Gabby says she doesn’t think she’s the best writer, but she doesn’t have to be. She does need to continue to be passionate, open-minded, to gather facts and interview strangers.

For taking on the responsibility of the online edition and rejuvenating it, for taking an active role in both the writing and design of the print edition, and for having unflagging determination, Gabby Cano is named to the 2015 All-State Journalism Team. Congratulations to Gabby and her adviser, Kimberly Reese.

Jess Clavero

Editor-in-chief, Chieftain yearbook
Design editor, The Voice print and online news publications
Huntley High School
Huntley (McHenry County)
Adviser: Dennis Brown

The All-State Journalism Team was designed with a journalist like Jessamine Clavero in mind. We genuinely don’t know how Jess does it all. You can see how many responsibilities she has with student publications at Huntley High School — yearbook, print newspaper, online news site.

But the behind-the-scenes story is that throughout her high school career, she has been the go-to girl for her newspaper adviser, Dennis Brown.

When Brown left the yearbook only two years ago, he asked her and the other remaining staffers to help the new yearbook adviser produce a quality publication, and she did not let him down.

Jess became the yearbook’s sports editor, but she did more, training the new staff on AP style and journalism basics and producing a book that continued Huntley’s strong legacy. This year she took the next step and became editor-in-chief.

But she did not stop there. She applied to be design editor of the newspaper, meaning she set up fonts, pages and folios, and she oversees the design of the front page and the centerspread. For the website, she handles two online assignments a month, and she is responsible for some of the most interesting features in the paper.

Even as editor, she works alongside the staff. Brown says that Jess’ practical intelligence makes her invaluable. He says, “There are no excuses with Jess.”

For bringing grace and energy to multiple publictions, for leaving her design mark on the newspaper, for shouldering the responsibility of yearbook deadlines, and for being a student editor that two advisers rely on, we congratulate Jess Clavero for being named to the 2015 All-State Journalism Team.

Michael Glick

Editor-in-chief, U-High Midway newspaper
University of Chicago Laboratory High School
Chicago (Cook County)
Advisers: Wayne Brasler, Logan Aimone

Senior Michael Glick has been named to his team before. We honored him last year as one of Illinois’ top high school journalists.

And this year, he did it again, this time taking his role as leader to the other side of the classroom, helping his new adviser learn the ropes of the journalism program at the University of Chicago Laboratory High School mid-year.

Michael straddled that fine line of honoring his humble, revered and beloved adviser, Wayne Brasler, and learning everything he could so that he could teach it to the next adviser, Logan Aimone. In fact, Michael was on the search committee that chose Aimone.

But he felt a responsibility to Brasler’s 51-year legacy, and he secretly and painstakingly conceived, researched and wrote a special four-page insert to document Brasler’s legacy, trying to practice the lessons his teacher taught him.

Aimone does not know the ins and outs of this unusual school just yet, but he does note that in a group of four high-achieving editors, Michael is the one his peers turn to for guidance and initiative. He deftly led meetings, inspired teammates, shared the spotlight and helped others become successful.

Rather than seeing his own byline on page one, Michael preferred to help the staff produce a solid issue. And he patiently worked with Aimone to navigate the school traditions and understand the traditions of student publications of the school.

For his unselfish commitment to ensuring the legacy of his teacher and the program at U-High Chicago over his own ego, for being a true MVP, Michael Glick is named to the 2015 All-State Journalism Team.

And special thanks to his adviser, Wayne Brasler, for his years of sharing his passion and wisdom with advisers and journalists, and congratulations to his new adviser, Logan Aimone.

Rachel Krusenoski

Editor-in-chief, The Omega newspaper
Downers Grove North High School
Downers Grove (DuPage County)
Adviser: Elizabeth Levin

This year was a year of controversial stories for the staff of The Omega at Downers Grove North High School, and these are the stories the paper’s editor-in-chief, Rachel Krusenoski, is most proud of.

These stories challenged the administration and required courage. Even when the staff had reservations about coverage, Rachel said, the joy she felt after completing these stories had less to do with praise or bylines and more to do with watching her staff transform from a group of athletes, musicians, artists and individuals to a group with a uniform goal.

Rachel said there is nothing more humbling than knowing that she created this staff environment, an environment where students strive to be the best not for themselves but because they know that if they don’t, they would be letting down a team depending on them.

She loves the heated group discussions, one-on-one brainstorming with editors, the rush of scoring an interview with the administration, the chatter of students reading quotes from the published stories aloud — all this evokes a passion within Rachel and gives her a sense of gratification and accomplishment.

When Rachel first applied for a position at the paper, she dressed the part and came prepared with ideas and writing samples. Adviser Brett Schwartz knew he had a gem, someone who would take that extra step beyond what was expected of her, all in the service of practicng her craft.

For example, when a teacher died two days before the monthly publication went to bed, the staff debated whether to try to get the story in. The complication: Her daughter was a student in the school.

In the end, Rachel made the call. She said simply, “If it were me, I would want to have the chance to talk about my mom.” The daughter’s words became the heart of the story.

For Rachel, journalism is the opportunity to step outside her comfort zone and test the limits of her abilities, morals and beliefs.

In recognition of her outstanding leadership and journalistic skills, Rachel Krusenoski is named to the 2015 All-State Journalism Team. Congratulations to Rachel and her adviser, Elizabeth Levin.

Kaitlyn Morrill

Editor-in-chief, Montage yearbook
Elk Grove High School
Elk Grove Village (Cook County)
Adviser: Lisa Martineau

Elk Grove adviser Lisa Martineau says that yearbooks, by their nature, are dependent on students who meet deadlines, go out and find stories, interview subjects, photograph events, organize spreads, use graphic designs and write well.

Some people dismiss the journalistic value of a yearbook, seeing it as a scrapbook more than anything else. But they are wrong. Yearbook is the “Life magazine” of a school, valued through time as an encapsulated year frozen forever.

Kaitlyn Morrill understands this. She and her adviser are a team, working to ensure that the details of editing are accurate, from fonts to graphics, from color correction to dominant photos.

Kaitlyn trained her staff on new software, gave them tips for interviewing and storytelling techniques, and called them in after school and on weekends to work and send them out on assignments.

And they respected her, in part because she understands people need a balance; each must be allowed the chance to succeed, sometimes to learn through mistakes. And they respected her belief that it is up to the yearbook to cover the full range of school life.

One important point: Everyone is included in the book, particularly those not involved in clubs or activities, transient students, English Language Learners and special needs students. One student even thanked Kaitlyn after an interview, saying, “I’ve never been in a yearbook before!”

Her staff was ethnically diverse, and Kaitlyn was particularly proud that her staff got along so well and had connections to cover different nationalities to represent diversity throughout the book.

Although she felt frustrated that it took time to understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, ultimately Kaitlyn’s compassion left its mark on her staff, who admired her and considered her a role model.

For being an advocate for yearbook, for nurturing her staff and documenting the year for all students, we honor Kaitlyn Morrill as a member of the 2015 All-State Journalism Team. Congratulations to Kaitlyn and her adviser, Lisa Martineau.

Isabella Murray

Editorial board member, The Correspondent newspaper
John Hersey High School
Arlington Heights (Cook County)
Adviser: Janet Levin

Senior Isabella Murray is a worker. She proves that daily for John Hersey High School’s Correspondent staff.

She volunteers to take on every task. She call advertisers, takes photographs, Photoshops pictures, designs pages and handles all kinds of media to drive traffic to the paper’s website. She undertakes all this with a focus on informing the student body.

According to her adviser, Janet Levin, Isabella has been easy to advise because she pushes herself to learn more in areas in which she has little background.

She knows her limitations, but she is creative in finding an angle to take on any subject or genre that is not her strength.

For example, Isabella knew little about broadcasting prior to receiving a grant to produce a multimedia package at the national JEA convention. She and her peers spent 10 hours a day learning to shoot and edit the video.

At any convention she attended, she set the tone for the rest of the staff by showing how learning can be a most enjoyable experience.

As a member of the editorial board, Isabella rotated with others in leading the news, in-depth and sports sections, and in that role she has learned how to hold a team together, motivate others and, as she says, “experiment with graphics and write with abandonment.”

She said she loves being a journalist, to give voice to her generation and to represent her peers.

“I can affect my peers and readers with merely the movement of my pen,” she wrote.

For serving as a role model to her staffers, for being a profilic writer (sometimes five stories an issue) and for loving journalism, Isabella Murray is named to the 2015 All-State Journalism Team. Congratulations to Isabella and to her adviser, this year’s winner of the James Tidwell Award for excellence in scholastic media advising, Janet Levin.

Isabel Rich

Editor-in-chief, The North View newspaper
Belvidere North High School
Belvidere (Boone County)
Adviser: John Paddock

Junior Isabel “Izzy” Rich is “the teacher” in the room, and for new adviser John Paddock at Belvidere North High School, that has made his first year a little easier than it might have been.

Izzy answers every question Paddock has in regard to journalism. And she knows the answers to the other kinds of questions a new adviser might have, not just about journalism but also about budgets and fundraising for the publications.

As editor-in-chief of The North View, Izzy is organized and works long hours to ensure her staff meets its deadlines. She supervises, delegates, manages timelines, sets deadlines and creates page one.

Izzy says her strenth is in design, and she believes that journalism is not just words but also pictures, graphics and page design as ways to present the truth to the public in a reponsible, complete, clear and objective way.

She is also the copy editor, a job that requires her to analyze the entire paper for mistakes, accuracy and quality. She worries that she is too micromanaging, taking on more than she should instead of trusting her staff to do the work.

Izzy says she knows she has a lot more to learn and improve upon. But the best part is that she has her senior year to work on that! And she will.

For being a right arm to her new adviser, for overseeing her publication in every aspect, Isabel Rich is named to the 2015 All-State Journalism Team. Congratulations to Izzy and to her adviser, John Paddock, and to her past adviser, Mike Doyle.

Ellen Siefke

Editor-in-chief, The Prospector newspaper
Prospect High School
Mt. Prospect (Cook County)
Adviser: Jason Block

We love copy editors, and we love when stories begin this way: Ellen Siefke started out as The Prospector’s copy editor.

She tells us she “loved editing stories because it afford[ed] a chance to help staff members grow as writers and reporters. Some of my proudest moments have come not from seeing my own byline on a front-page story but from seeing my editors produce some truly amazing pieces.”

Over the past four years she has been her sharpest critic, noting that her demeanor, which could come off as negative, often worsened the newsroom situation. This year she has forced herself to take a step back and consider her response carefully, working with editors in a more productive fashion.

As a result of this growth, others enjoy success as much as she does.

Ellen’s job is on her mind 24/7. She is always working on stories, designing pages or brainstorming ways to increase staff productivity or synergy.

Her adviser, Jason Block, notes that Ellen leads by example. She edits everything in sight, she writes great stories and “designs killer pages.”

And she never misses a deadline, so she is always available to help staffers with their own work. And in that Ellen has become the complete package.

Congratulations to Ellen, for her tremendous year and for earning a spot on the All-State Journalism Team. And congratulations to her adviser, Jason Block.

Elizabeth Youshaei

Sports editor, Deerprints newspaper
Deerfield High School
Deerfield (Lake County)
Adviser: Brett Schwartz

As an editor, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Youshaei has an uncanny ability to praise her writers when they are shining but also to deliver tough criticism when it is needed.

According to her adviser, Brett Schwartz, one time she was editing work by the editor-in-chief, and she quietly and effectively cut his story from the publication because he had missed the first deadline.

She did so in a straightforward way, maintaining an amicable persona while executing a tough and embarrassing aspect of her job. She got it done, and she did it for the team because it was the fair and right thing to do, and she did it without grandstanding.

Like many on the All-State Team, Lizzie’s home this year has been in the news and broadcasting room of her high school. She spends about six hours researching and writing article drafts in that room each week, but when she is not writing she is always thinking of new story ideas, jotting down notes and developing pitches for the next issue and the paper’s social media outlets.

This has been a year of change for the paper with a new adviser, a reduced budget and a new website. Lizzie helped with all those transitions. The website now has 13,000 views and a community of dedicated writers who re-enrolled in the class.

Lizzie connects with her staff and her Deerfield classmates, and she hears their stories. She said she believes that journalists have a duty to give voice to others through writing. And she is determined to make their stories come alive and capture the true essence of individuals.

For taking the reins during this year of changes, and for holding her staff to her own high expectations, Lizzie Youshaei is named to the 2015 All-State Journalism Team. Congratulations to Lizzie and to her adviser, Brett Schwartz.

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