Illinois JEA

2006 All-State Journalism Team

Meet Our Honorees for 2005-06


Matthew Cawvey
Tiger Tales newspaper
Herrin High School
Adviser: Jim Starnes

Megan Geyer
Ambassador yearbook
Stevenson High School
Adviser: Barb Thill

Adam Larck
Editor-in-chief, news editor
Panther Prints newspaper
Lovington High School
Adviser: Carol Smith

Tiffany Lu
Features editor
The Central Times newspaper
Naperville Central High School
Adviser: Linda Kane:

Lauren Mallet
The Central Times newspaper
Naperville Central High School
Adviser: Linda Kane

Elizabeth Orlando
Associate editor-in-chief
The Prospector newspaper
Prospect High School
Adviser: Jason Block

Dixie Sexton
The Oakwood Times newspaper
Oakwood High School
Adviser: Tim Lee

Ben Slivnick
Managing editor for content
The Statesman newspaper
Stevenson High School
Adviser: Barb Thill

Tanya Sneddon
The Correspondent newspaper
John Hersey High School
Adviser: Janet Levin

Adam Weiner
Opinion editor
The Pacer newspaper
Rolling Meadows High School
Adviser: Stan Zoller



Matthew Cawvey, Herrin High School, Herrin, is IJEA’s first two-time winner, having been named to the team last year. This year he served as editor of Tiger Tales, the school’s newspaper, developing and assigning stories, writing, editing, designing and occasionally taking pictures. Comments from adviser Jim Starnes: “Despite his responsibilities as editor. He continues to write three or four stories for each edition and usually writes the staff editorial as well. … Finally, he is not afraid of controversy. If a story needs to be written, even if it might be controversial in nature or ruffle some feathers, he will write it.” Matthew’s clips included coverage of the storm that hit Southern Illinois in November and a story about a new coach controversy.

Megan Geyer, Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, is editor-in-chief of the Ambassador yearbook. Comments from adviser Barb Thill: “Megan leads through example. She refuses to interview friends for stories and checks to see whether any of her sources is a casual acquaintance of another yearbook staffer. If so, she finds another source. In any aspect of yearbook journalism that I can think of, Megan holds herself–and thus others on staff — to the highest possible standards. Whether it’s captions, the cropping of a photo, the diversity of sources or the type of lead on a story, Megan always makes sure her work is of high quality and that she follows the highest of standards.” Megan’s clips included two-page spreads on soccer and acting.

Adam Larck, Lovington High School, Lovington, is editor-in-chief and news editor of Panther Prints, the school’s newspaper. Comments from adviser Carol Smith: “This year [Adam] scooped the county and area papers on a story about the lawsuit filed against our school board by an unsuccessful superintendent candidate. He read the legal documents from the courthouse (which he obtained himself) and explained them in words our readers could understand …. Adam has proven that he cares not only for our paper, but also about journalistic integrity. With his sense of fair play, he contacted both the lawyer of the school board and the lawyer for the superintendent’s candidate mentioned above. He also contacted the school district where the candidate was employed last year and the candidate himself.” Adam’s clips included an update on the lawsuit and a video game review.

Tiffany Lu, Naperville Central High School, Naperville, is the features editor for The Central Times newspaper. Comments from adviser Linda Kane: “[Tiffany] coordinat[es] the centerspread for each issue. She has selected a variety of topics, some controversial, but all timely and interesting to her audience. Included was a 2-part series on cultural and integration and diversity. Many months she wrote in-depth features, one on gender roles, another on Central’s special education/special needs program. For the December ’05 issue, Tiffany conducted a schoolwide survey to find out just how culturally literate Central students really are.” Tiffany’s clips included feature pieces on vending machine food and the goals of young women.

Lauren Mallet, Naperville Central High School, Naperville, is the editor-in-chief for The Central Times newspaper. Comments from adviser Linda Kane: “Lauren began full steam ahead by organizing the staff’s summer, beginning with the trip to Ball State’s summer journalism workshop. Among other things, this entailed getting approximately 25 students to and from the university, planning the ‘look and personality’ of the paper, and cleaning and reorganizing the newspaper office. When school began in late August, The Central Times was ready to begin publishing. And since then, Lauren’s organizational and leadership skills have guided her staff through personality conflicts, late-night deadlines ….” Lauren’s clips included a light piece on love and a serious piece on rape.

Elizabeth Orlando, Prospect High School, Mt. Prospect, is associate editor in chief of The Prospector. Comments from adviser Jason Block: “While Elizabeth was not technically the highest-ranking member of our executive board this year, she quickly became the leader to whom younger staff constantly went for guidance. Regardless of what someone needed help on – whether it be brainstorming possible sources or layouts, or generating the perfect lead – Elizabeth always has the time for her younger peers …. Elizabeth is that rare senior who is not intimidating to freshmen and sophomores …. I can honestly say that nearly every one of our top stories and layouts this year had Elizabeth’s stamp somewhere on it.” Elizabeth’s clips included stories on a preschool program and a Red Cross volunteer who was not allowed to go to help with Hurricane Katrina.

Dixie Sexton, Oakwood High School, Fithian, is editor-in-chief of The Oakwood Times. Comments from adviser Tim Lee: “[S]he is responsible for all facets of the publications, from drumming up story ideas, to writing, to photography, to editing, to design, to public relations, to delivery and more. … Although she is active in all parts of the process, where she is most indispensable and the most valuable to our staff is in the area of layout and design. Dixie has an artist’s eye combined with a journalist’s conciseness, which makes her a perfect combination to do front-page layout. She has been responsible for all of our cover art over the last year and we have received many compliments on the work.” Dixie’s clips included front-page covers of depression and MySpace.

Ben Slivnick, Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, is managing editor for content of The Statesman. Comments from adviser Barb Thill: “Ben is one of those student leaders who makes a name for himself for efforts and attitudes that will resonate long after this staff goes its separate ways. One of the things most impressive about Ben is his deep concern for the longterm reputation of the paper. He’s not simply trying to make a splash with readers this year; he realizes that what his staff does in one issue is setting a tone and an expectation that will long outlive his tenure as managing editor. Ben makes sure that the motivations for doing any story are in the best interests of the readership and the paper ….” Ben’s clips included an editorial on extra credit and a center spread on diversity.

Tanya Sneddon, John Hersey High School, Arlington Heights, is editor-in-chief of The Correspondent. Comments from adviser Janet Levin: “The stories Tanya has written for The Correspondent this year have been some of the most important we have published. One major story dealt with censorship; Tanya was not only courageous enough to write this story, she was also concerned enough to interview all interested parties in order to write a fair and objective story. … Tanya’s goal is to impact what happens in her high school by giving the student body and faculty all the information they need to know to understand an issue.” Tanya’s clips included a column on academic freedom and a story on a drug dog decision.

Adam Weiner, Rolling Meadows High School, Rolling Meadows, is opinion editor of The Pacer. Comments from adviser Stan Zoller: “Beyond his work on the opinions section, Adam’s ability to research and report sensitive issues has earned him the respect of students, faculty and administrators.  … [T]he editors-in-chief and news editor often call on Adam to handle difficult assignment. During the current school year, Adam has masterfully reported on negotiations between the union representing the support staff and the school board, on budget cuts and on the plight of immigrants attending Rolling Meadows High School.” Adam’s clips included coverage of the negotiations and a column on the Pledge of Allegiance.


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2006 All-State Journalism Team