Congratulations to our 2021 All-State Journalism Team!

June 25, 2021

2021 All-State Team

The Illinois Journalism Education Association is proud to announce the members of the 2021 All-State Journalism Team. The 11 students selected for the honor were nominated by their advisers in recognition of the indispensable contributions they made to their publications during 2020-21:


Junior, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, news editor of web, The Statesman newspaper


Junior, University of Chicago Laboratory High School, arts co-editor, U-High Midway newspaper


Senior, Huntley High School, photo editor, The Voice newspaper and Harmony yearbook


Senior, Kaneland High School, editor-in-chief and social media manager, Kaneland Krier newspaper


Senior, St. Charles North High School, editor-in-chief, The Stargazer online newspaper


Senior, Prospect High School, editor-in-chief, The Prospector newspaper


Senior, Libertyville High School, editor-in-chief, Drops of Ink newsmagazine


Senior, Oswego East High School, editor-in-chief, Wolf’s Eye yearbook


Senior, Normal Community High School, co-editor-in-chief, print and online NCHS Inskpot newspaper


Senior, Okawville Junior/Senior High School, editor-in-chief, Timepiece yearbook


Senior, McHenry High School, news editor, McHenry Messenger newspaper

In addition to being nominated by their advisers, the students also submitted work samples, reflective essays and other supporting material for consideration by a panel of judges. For more information about each of our 2021 team members, please scroll down to the section titled “Meet Our Honorees for 2020-21.”

About the IJEA All-State Journalism Team

The All-State Journalism Team began in spring of 2005, when the IJEA recognized a need to honor those students who have proven themselves indispensable to their respective school media, including but not limited to yearbook, print or online newspaper, print or online newsmagazine or broadcast media.

The students named to the All-State team are considered by their advisers and fellow publication members as “most valuable players” — those students whose leadership, energy, dedication and expertise not only make their publications possible, but whose main contributions often occur behind the scenes.

This award elevates student journalists who’ve put their publications ahead of themselves. They’re the ones who are willing to sacrifice their spare time to make sure other people’s stories are well edited. They’re the ones who make sure a publication’s pages are smartly designed, the headlines witty, the photos well composed, the website up to date and easy to navigate, the videos smoothly produced and the information in every story accurate. They’re the ones who don’t seek recognition but deserve it most of all.

To be eligible for the honor, students must be nominated by their respective publication advisers. A panel of judges consisting of experienced journalism educators makes the final selections.

Congratulations to all who were named to this year’s team — and to all who were nominated!

Meet Our Honorees for 2020-21

Victoria Feng

Adlai E. Stevenson H.S. | Lincolnshire, Lake County | Dean Bradshaw, adviser

Junior Victoria Feng is news editor of web for The Statesman newspaper of Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. In this role, she facilitated story ideas to executive editors and provided guidance to staff writers and also edited half of all news articles. In her upcoming role as managing editor of web, she will publish stories to the Statesman website, edit stories for web publication and curate content.

Her adviser is Dean Bradshaw. In his nominating statement Mr. Bradshaw said: “Victoria Feng’s character comes through in all that she does and in her daily interactions with her peers both in the classroom and around the school. Victoria uncovers the facts, story angles, human interest and, most importantly, connection to the readers that many writers, including professionals, too frequently miss. She does this with an unending commitment to improving her work and a focused persistence in getting the complete story. I saw Victoria’s growth and maturity when she helped cover the global student strikes for climate change awareness. Victoria worked with another staff member in covering the current controversy and student activism about this important and combustible topic. She understood how controversial a topic this was but still pursued angles and sources with dogged passion. Victoria and her partner crafted a spread of amazing depth and stellar design. Her conscious awareness of issues helped her avoid pitfalls. I was so impressed by her work that I have entered the story in local and national contests.

“As news editor, Victoria has shown great dedication by taking large amounts of time outside of her normal reporting duties to ensure our newspaper is covering the news our students need to know,” Mr. Bradshaw continued. “Her work on the paper’s coverage of a contentious Board of Education election is a perfect example of Victoria’s professionalism. The story Victoria led through the reporting and editing processes is balanced, fact-driven and audience centered. Sensitive to those she leads, Victoria is a role model of patience while cajoling her staff to meet the highest standards of journalism; the high standards Victoria Feng has been instrumental in setting and maintaining. Victoria’s work as news editor showed how prepared she is for more. Victoria was just named managing editor of our website for next year. I eagerly await the innovative changes she will make to help make our website a must-read for our school community.”

Caroline Hohner

University of Chicago Lab H.S. | Chicago, Cook County | Logan Aimone, adviser

Junior Caroline Hohner is arts co-editor for the U-High Midway newspaper at University of Chicago Laboratory High School in Chicago, where her duties included developing and managing coverage of arts and artists in the school and in the city as well as writing for all sections in the newspaper and website.

Her adviser is Logan Aimone. In his nominating statement, Mr. Aimone said: “Caroline thrives as part of the team, helping wherever she can. When editors need someone to handle a complicated story, Caroline volunteers. When a sudden news story must be written on short deadline, editors most frequently turn to her. With outside activities restricted or eliminated, Caroline has used extra time to lean in to journalism. This school year, she has filed more than 20 stories, representing a range of interests and topics. She was part of coverage teams for two election-related stories, and she was the lead reporter for the months-long search for a new director of schools. Caroline likes helping others, and she delivers — always 100%.

“With each experience, Caroline grows and shares,” Mr. Aimone continued. “As an assistant editor and now a section editor, Caroline absorbs knowledge and tips, so she can be a resource and share advice she wishes had been shared with her. Her November review of ‘What the Constitution Means to Me,’ a video version of the stage play, stretched her to evaluate not just the performance but also the messages of feminism and freedom. In February, she wanted to comment on the role of tech companies in public discourse, yet she struggled to find her precise opinion about the complex laws. A talk with tech journalist Kara Swisher, a virtual visiting fellow at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, helped Caroline understand the issues and form an opinion that resulted in an excellent column. Through big moments like these, and dozens of smaller milestones, Caroline has built her confidence, fueling her ambition for more complex and interesting stories.”

Sydney Laput

Huntley H.S. | Huntley, McHenry County | Dennis Brown, adviser

Senior Sydney Laput is photo editor of both The Voice newspaper and Harmony yearbook at Huntley High School in Huntley. In addition to shooting and editing photos, she took over organization of the entire photo effort, organizing the photo equipment, determining what was needed, training the new crop of photographers and overseeing their work.

Her adviser is Dennis Brown. In his nominating statement, Mr. Brown said: “I met Sydney when she a sophomore enrolled in the News Media Production course. That year, Sydney signed up to be a staff photographer and honestly was kind of a quiet kid, sitting in the back of the room not saying too much. She would smile and participate in whatever hijinks were going on in class, but she was kind of to herself at first. But her photos and her dedication to her work really began to stick out. As a junior, Sydney took on the role of photo editor, and it was then that Sydney began to really come into her own. That year, she became my ‘go to’ person when it came to anything visual in the newsmagazine. To be perfectly honest, I’m not a photographer at all, and I really rely on my photo editor to have a certain standard that she can teach to the other photographers. That Sydney did and then so. She organized the photo equipment over the summer, told me what we needed, trained the new crop of photographers as far as what was expected and how to get it done, and kept an eye on their work throughout the year.

“As a senior, Sydney returned to her role as the Voice’s photo editor and (crazy enough) enrolled in the yearbook class as well where she serves as their photo editor as well,” Mr. Brown continued. “I remembered thinking this was a bit nuts; it’s hard enough to serve as the photo editor of one publication let alone two. But hey, if anyone can do it, it’s Sydney. Because of this, she’s sort of an omnipresent person around the halls of HHS, seemingly here multiple days of the week, on weekends, on days off, doing her job and shooting quality photos. Sydney’s leadership in her job as photo editor has been second-to-none. She’s been at every layout, working to make sure that the photos are in place and the covers are well-designed and on deadline. And her creativity has taken a step up as well. As an adviser, it’s ideal when I can just sit back and watch the students run things from beginning to end, and Sydney is very much a part of that. She helps plan the photo and art for each issue, sets a work standard and teaches that to every photographer, stays on top of the photo/art people, makes sure things are in on time/posted on our website, and make the Voice look as good as it does with her amazing cover designs. I simply don’t know how I’ll replace her when she graduates; she such an integral member of the program.”

Jenna Lin

Kaneland H.S. | Maple Park, Kane County | Dominic Bruno, adviser

Senior Jenna Lin is editor-in-chief and social media manager of the Kaneland Krier at Kaneland High School in Kane County. She oversaw production, led staff meetings, mapped out production cycles, managed social media accounts, assisted with advertising and marketing efforts, taught first-year journalism students, mentored second-year editors and helped web-editors-in-chief with upkeep of website.

Her adviser is Dominic Bruno. In his nominating statement Mr. Bruno said: “While we have always been comprised of a proud, hardworking staff, no one has represented journalistic skill, character, and integrity more than Jenna. In a highly unusual and unstable school year, Jenna has been a steadying presence. Our district has used a hybrid schedule this year, with students getting two in-person days of instruction per week. On A-days (Jenna’s day to learn remotely), she voluntarily comes to school to work on our production and help her A-day peers. She uses her lunch periods to come teach my Journalism 1 students how to work with InDesign and how to write in a journalistic style. She helps lead our recruiting efforts, and because of her genuine enthusiasm and ability to connect with others, our Journalism 1 enrollment went from 12 students during Jenna’s sophomore year to 34 students this year.

“Jenna fills any need that arises,” Mr. Bruno continued, “and those needs have been considerable during a year where so many of our students have been out of school for extended periods. Jenna takes our cover and Table of Contents photos, she helps editors with their designs, she uploads content to our social media platforms, and she has advanced our broadcasting and podcasting efforts. Jenna leads brainstorming sessions and coaches staff members through difficult and stressful stories. She is universally respected within our community and is comfortable talking to everyone from a shy freshman to our School Board president.”

Caroline Look

St. Charles North H.S. | St. Charles, Kane County | Alice Froemling, adviser

Senior Caroline Look is editor-in-chief of The Stargazer online newspaper at St. Charles North High School in St. Charles. She guided this year’s transition from print to digital while also organizing staff meetings, editing, posting in various sections and overseeing editorial and design decision.

Her adviser is Alice Froemling. In her nominating statement, Ms. Froemling said: “Since its inception, our paper has been solely print; however, given this year’s circumstances, we fully transitioned to an online presence. Caroline has overseen that switch and set a new standard for our EIC position. She has not yet led a meeting with all of our staff in one room, but through weekly Zooms and daily Google Chats, she has succeeded in her goal of publishing at least two stories weekly (often more), and these stories maintain a high journalistic standard.

“Caroline has modeled enthusiasm all year,” Ms. Froemling continued. “We have a small staff: usually only about six active writers/editors. Caroline’s excitement for publishing unique and important stories has been integral in maintaining that core staff; she’s helped build a sense of community and pride in keeping journalism alive at our school even through a pandemic that has radically changed our means of distributing news. And the pieces she’s written herself have reflected that dedication to shining a light on important information: a series on our reopening plan, an in-depth feature on the mental health of North students and staff and pieces in her ‘Caroline’s Look’ column about trends in entertainment. Our newspaper could have easily fallen to the wayside; it’s difficult enough in “normal” times to retain staffers. However, Caroline has led our group with pride and resilience, and our student journalism is stronger than ever; she leaves a new and lasting legacy for future EICs.”

Rick Lytle

Propsect H.S. | Mt. Prospect, Cook County | Jason Block, adviser

Senior Rick Lytle is editor-in-chief of The Prospector at Prospect High School in Mount Prospect and oversees the paper’s web site. He wrote multiple stories each issue, designed pages, edited stories, ran daily staff meetings and made content decisions.

His adviser is Jason Block. In his nominating statement Mr. Block said: “As a journalist, Rick has a creativity and curiosity that can’t be taught. Regardless of the assignment, Rick finds a way to make it his own, searching out a unique angle, source, or voice that makes his story stand. Rick truly has a gift for storytelling, as his writing is as natural as it is engaging, allowing him to connect with his audience as few journalists can. He has taken on such challenging subjects as teenage depression during COVID, the on-again, off-again nature of the high school sports seasons this year and its impact on student athletes, and the fallout from the historic 2020 election. Even with such diverse story topics, Rick was always consistent in the professionalism of the writing and reporting that made each story great.

“His talent, though, would be wasted if not for the tireless work he pours into everything he does,” Mr. Block continued. “Rick is always willing to do one more revision, ask one more follow-up question, brainstorm one more source — all in an effort to get his work up to his own very high standards. This type of passion for what he does has benefitted our entire program this year, as Rick has made it his mission to make our online platform,, more professional and respected by our readers and community. It hasn’t been easy, but Rick has spent countless hours redesigning the site, finding widgets that readers will love, experimenting with different story forms, and also pushing others to do the same. It would have been easy to take the same route as so many of his peers: write a few stories for the newspaper, design a page or two, and call it a day. But Rick isn’t wired that way. He wanted a new challenge, and he found that in our website, and the work he has done in that area has truly been remarkable. This year, Rick has emerged as the editor-in-chief of our entire journalism program, and that is not by accident. Rick is a leader in every way sense of the word. He leads by example every time he takes on a story or page, always putting full effort into his work, making his deadlines, and just overall doing things the right way so his peers can look to him for a model of what it means to be a professional and responsible journalist.”

Ella Marsden

Libertyville H.S. | Libertyville, Lake County | Michael Gluskin, adviser

Senior Ella Marsden is editor-in-chief of Drops of Ink newsmagazine at Libertyville High School in Libertyville. As leader of the staff, she edited content and oversaw the issue process and also led story idea discussions, prepared the budget for each magazine and website cycle, and completed her own assignments.

Her adviser is Michael Gluskin. In his nominating statement, Mr. Gluskin said: “Despite our school’s all-remote setting first semester and hybrid setup for second semester — Ella has remained entirely remote — Ella has helped steer our publication to continued success. Early in the school year, when I mentioned to the editorial board that we should consider shifting our overall approach this year given the circumstances, Ella was one of the voices pushing back against that idea, insisting that we publish and print as many magazine issues as possible. We are on track to publish seven issues of our magazine this year, as scheduled, along with regularly updated web content, in large part due to Ella’s efforts.

“During each monthly work cycle,” Mr. Gluskin continued, “Ella regularly edits more than a dozen assignments, ranging from stories to photos to layouts. In particular, her story editing is strong; she leaves detailed comments that aim to improve an article’s content and writing, while also offering to read through an article again. Several times this year, she has put the publication’s needs ahead of her own interests by agreeing to design layouts, even though her first preference would be to write. She did this for our first issue when our new staff members weren’t ready to contribute to design work and in our most recent magazine, when our budget got shifted around due to the unexpected death of a school counselor. In her understated, lead-by-example style, Ella readily agreed to take on these assignments. Her increasing versatility and familiarity with layout have significantly helped us during our deadline night, as she not only helps to copy edit pages but also makes many of those edits on the final pages.”

Isabella Mendoza

Oswego East H.S. | Oswego, Kendall County | Colleen Calvey, adviser

Senior Isabella Mendoza is editor-in-chief of Wolf’s Eye yearbook at Oswego East High School in Kendall County. She coached writers, designed pages, provided design instruction, collaborated with section editors, led class discussion and developed and oversaw theme.

Her adviser is Colleen Calvey. In her nominating statement, Ms. Calvey said: “It is because of Isabella’s dedication, perseverance, and commitment that the Wolf’s Eye yearbook will publish on-time and tell the complete story of this unique year. Over the summer Isabella attended virtual workshops and met with section editors to prepare for the year. She was very nervous when she learned we would not be in-person, but immediately looked for ways to stay organized and solve problems. She routinely attended webinars outside of the school day to consider alternative ways to cover the year. When others could not, or would not, attend these webinars, she created presentations to share in class. She pushed her staff members to think outside of the box and encouraged them to pursue new ideas.

“Isabella has always been a talented writer who I could depend on to coach others,” Ms. Calvey continued. “She is good at finding sources and conducting interviews. Once of our biggest challenges this year was finding and interviewing sources. Isabella worked tirelessly at helping staff members find sources and workshopping interview questions to make sure interviews were meaningful. When students submitted drafts that lacked depth she reached out to the writer and helped them identify ways to dig deeper. She also helped identify potential sources to make sure our coverage was diverse. She fact checked every piece of writing and ensured stories were accurate and fair. Isabella’s biggest job was being a decision maker and a problem solver. From determining who and what to cover, to choosing to move from traditional to seasonal organization, Isabella made each decision based on research and collaboration with her staff. Isabella’s organization, coaching, and dedication kept our publication on-time and inspired others to tell the story of this year.”

Olivia Plangger

Normal Community H.S. | Normal, McLean County | Brad Bovenkerk, adviser

Senior Olivia Plangger is co-editor-in-chief of the print and online Inkspot at Normal Community High School. In addition to writing and reporting, she shared the job of overseeing the newspaper staff’s organization, operation and content. She also proofed articles, assisted in layout and design, made final decisions on all content and controversial issues or matters brought to the editorial board, coordinated social media posts and content and organized livestreams.

Her adviser is Brad Bovenkerk. In his nominating statement Mr. Bovenkerk said: “Olivia Plangger, in her two years as Inkspot staffer, helped the publication continue producing consistent and quality content despite the pandemic’s challenges — repeated school closures, remote learning, canceled events. Most telling is Olivia’s work since March of last year. Olivia defined what it meant to be an editor-in-chief. She was a true extension of me, the adviser, and I knew she could be trusted to lead our staff of 40 something students. During this time, Olivia was an indispensable member of the team — scheduling remote staff meetings, organizing the digital and social media budget, contacting former Inkspot staff members to schedule guest speakers or to set up 1:1 conferences with our reporters.

“Olivia’s biggest struggle as a journalist this year was attempting to write her essay for this nomination — writing about herself. She is selfless — her own writing and reporting has focused on telling stories that might otherwise go untold — a series on our girls cross country program; coordinating, designing, and laying out a ‘senior showcase,’ once graduation was canceled; a look at how the theater program was responding to the school shutdown. Olivia leans toward sports reporting — and does a great job of it. But in her selflessness, she is the first to assign stories to other writers that she would love to write. She sees these as development opportunities for her peers. She spends time editing and conferencing with her staff members in place of working on her own writing. She refuses to think a story another staffer worked hard on should be scrapped and has offered some very creative ways to help them revise, rethink and restructure content to make sure they achieve a byline. Olivia has been the ultimate team player, doing whatever she felt would make our journalism program as a whole the best it could be now and in the future.”

Tricia Rennegarbe

Okawville H.S. | Okawville, Washington County | Dana Donovan, adviser

Senior Tricia Rennegarbe is editor-in-chief of Timepiece yearbook at Okawville High School in Washington County. She developed the theme and overall design of yearbook, gave final approval of spreads and layouts, communicated with staff members and answered their questions, and generally picked up any slack when needed.

Her adviser is Dana Donovan. In her nominating statement, Ms. Donovan said of Tricia: As her yearbook adviser, I have seen Tricia truly grow as a leader. She has held the position of editor-in-chief for two years because of the excellence she has shown. In this position, Tricia is responsible for editing every single item that appears in the yearbook. She has been a productive member of this staff all four years of high school, and her contributions to this publication will be missed after her graduation. I have had absolutely no regrets about giving her the position of editor-in-chief. She is punctual and has a talent for teaching the younger members to use the software and equipment. These positions have helped her to gain confidence and refine her ability to teach others. She is responsible for training the staff in design, copy writing, and editing. She has worked on her training techniques and has a talent in communicating and teaching new staff members. She became truly invaluable last spring during the school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She simply refused to give up on the yearbook. Many staff members had difficulty finishing their assignments, but not Tricia. She was involved in the production until the very end.

“Tricia works very hard to achieve goals, not only for herself, but for the staff,” Ms. Donovan continued. “She attended various conferences geared toward yearbook production and leadership. These opportunities not only furthered her talent as a yearbook staff member but helped her to grow and mature as a leader. She was able to bring information back to the staff and integrate it with our current methods to produce an award-winning yearbook.

Emma Snyder

McHenry Community H.S. | McHenry, McHenry County | Dane Erbach, adviser

Senior Emma Snyder is news editor of the McHenry Messenger at McHenry High School. She helped manage pitches and assigned stories to writers on the staff, and during this unusual school year (half full-remote, half hybrid), has worked to clean up news stories for the paper before publication, making recommendations and corrections — and occasionally adding to stories.

Her adviser is Dane Erbach. In his nominating statement Mr. Erbach said: “I didn’t meet Emma until second semester last year, my first year as a newspaper adviser (after 10 years of running our school’s yearbook program). I was surprised to have a new student in our yearlong course, and I was worried about catching her up. In days, I realized that Emma would not need much catching up; having developed her skills in our Introduction to Journalism class, Emma already possessed a solid foundation and the discipline to succeed as a staff writer. Of course, our last school year didn’t go as expected. As our school announced the cancellation of events due to COVID-19, Emma was part of our team breaking the news to the rest of the school community.

“This year hasn’t gone as planned either, as our school has flipped between remote and hybrid learning,” Mr. Erbach continued. “Nonetheless, Emma has stepped up as a leader—she is not only our news editor, but has written a significant number of tough stories this semester. This year, Emma revealed that she is more than a reliable writer; she is, in fact, a natural journalist, one who is unafraid of asking tough questions, who can put together a thorough, well-reported story with seemingly little effort, and who pushes herself to do her best. Included in the 16 stories she’s written this year is a story called ‘One year later,’ a 3,500-word retrospective of the entire year since our school’s COVID shutdown; she wrote this alongside two freshmen writers, and helped nurture their skills as she guided the story. Additionally, she covered our county’s mass vaccination day, taking gorgeous pictures; an article about student stepping up to help their younger siblings during remote learning; and an article addressing our district’s inconsistent reporting of COVID cases. Truly, Emma is an invaluable member of our staff.”

IJEA All-State Journalism Teams Since 2004-05

Our 2021 honorees join a long line of distinguished high school journalists who have earned All-State recognition since the competition began during the 2004-05 school year. Congratulations to all of our past winners, and we look forward to honoring many more outstanding scholastic journalists in the years to come!

• 2021 Team (2020-21 school year)

2020 Team (2019-20 school year)

 2019 Team (2018-19 school year)

 2018 Team (2017-18 school year)

 2017 Team (2016-17 school year)

 2016 Team (2015-16 school year)

 2015 Team (2014-15 school year)

 2014 Team (2013-14 school year)

 2013 Team (2012-13 school year)

 2012 Team (2011-12 school year)

 2011 Team (2010-11 school year)

 2010 Team (2009-10 school year)

 2009 Team (2008-09 school year)

 2008 Team (2007-08 school year)

 2007 Team (2006-07 school year)

 2006 Team (2005-06 school year)

 2005 Team (2004-05 school year)


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