Hannah Boufford, IJEA’s 2016 Illinois Journalist of the Year, is joined by (from left) Stan Zoller, East Region director of national JEA and an IJEA board member; Michael Gluskin, Libertyville H.S. Drops of Ink newsmagazine adviser; and Brenda Field, Illinois state director for national JEA and an IJEA board member. This photo was taken last March, when Stan and Brenda visited Libertyville High to inform Hannah of her award in person.

IJEA Blog: Seniors, here’s how to get ready for the upcoming Illinois Journalist of the Year contest

Who will succeed Libertyville's Hannah Boufford as Illinois Journalist of the Year? The Feb. 15 IJOY deadline is only a few weeks away, and JEA State Director Brenda Field has some advice for those seniors who plan to compete for the honor: Let your passion for scholastic journalism shine through!

January 30, 2017

Each June, at the IJEA awards luncheon, I have the privilege of recognizing those selected to be honored in the Illinois Journalist of the Year competition.

Without a doubt, it is the highlight of my role as JEA state director.

I write the scripts for each honoree, and as I do so, I get to revisit all the reasons why each journalist deserves special commendation.

Every student’s experience with scholastic journalism is unique. Some live in small towns; others reside in large urban areas. Some have faced administrative pushback, while others have been supported at every turn. Some have worked for multiple media outlets; others have chosen to focus on one.

There is no recipe for an Illinois Journalist of the Year.

While all share a passion for telling stories, each IJOY’s experience with scholastic journalism is distinct. Each portfolio is a window into how scholastic journalism has shaped that student’s thinking as illustrated in that student’s work.

So, to those of you thinking about entering: As a board, we relish the opportunity to see the great work you’re doing. Be yourself. Show us your best — let your passion for scholastic journalism shine through. Tell us how you’ve been challenged and how you’ve grown. Help us see your leadership and how you communicate your excitement about scholastic journalism to others.

Don’t worry about a particular formula, but take advantage of the guidance provided. Utilize the resources on the JEA website. Review the rubric. Take a look at the sample portfolios.

Then think about yourself. Which experiences are most emblematic of your love for scholastic journalism — where do you find your greatest joy? Which stories challenged you? How have you changed as a result?

Putting together an IJOY portfolio is a time-consuming process, to be sure. For all those submitting, however, we’re certain the process of reflecting on your experience will be meaningful. We’re also confident it will be a tool you can use beyond this contest. It’s a reflection of your learning, and it’s a showcase of your work.

The Feb. 15 deadline is only a couple weeks away. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to explore how journalism has shaped your high school experience. You won’t regret it.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected].

Brenda Field, MJE, advises the national award-winning Etruscan yearbook at Glenbrook South High School. She is the Journalism Education Association’s Illinois state director.

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