Illinois JEA

2013 All-State Journalism Team

Meet Our Honorees for 2012-13


Kristin Brentlinger
The Echo yearbook
Cisne High School
Adviser: Trudy Hurd

Michelle Czaja
Montage yearbook
Elk Grove High School
Adviser: Lisa Martineau

Maggie Devereux
The Prospector newspaper
Prospect High School
Adviser: Jason Block

Michael Geheren
Digital editor
The Voice Online news site
Huntley High School
Adviser: Dennis Brown

Arthur (AJ) Hecht
Managing editor
The Warrior yearbook
McHenry High School
Adviser: Dane Erbach

Melissa Karp
Managing editor
Deerprints newspaper
Deerfield High School
Adviser: Buffy Sallee

Jonathan Marchbanks
Hy News newspaper
Belleville West  High School
Adviser: Laurie Bielong

Joseph Salvato
Entertainment editor
The Pacer newspaper
Rolling Meadows High School
Adviser: Stan Zoller

Rachel Trip
Equus yearbook
Belvidere North High School
Adviser: Mike Doyle

Seth Wade
The Advocate newspaper
Washington Community High School
Adviser: Jennifer Reiser

2013 All-State indoors
Members of the 2013 IJEA All-State Journalism Team were honored in June at a ceremony in Springfield. (Not all members are pictured.) Seated from left: Melissa Karp, Deerfield High School; Julianne Micoleta, Elk Grove High School, who was on the 2012 team and received special recognition this year as the 2013 Illinois Journalist of the Year runner-up; Michelle Czaja, Elk Grove High School. Standing from left: Seth Wade, Washington Community High School; Rachel Trip, Belvidere North High School; Joseph Salvato, Rolling Meadows High School; Kristin Brentlinger, Cisne High School; Jonathan Marchbanks, Belleville West High School.



Senior Kristin Brentlinger is the editor of The Echo yearbook at Cisne High School. In this position she watches over the work of all the staff, helps plan the book, including theme development and — well, she pretty much does whatever is needed, including handling the budget and making sure the staff does not spend more than it has. Although she wishes the book could have more pages, she makes sure the stories in the book are ones people would want to read. As a leader she sets staff goals, such as making sure all students are in the book at least three times and meeting all the plant’s deadlines and earning a Program of Excellence Award. She also wanted to make sure her staff was professional at all times when representing the yearbook. She submitted the book’s opening page, endsheets and memorial page. Her adviser is Trudy Hurd.

Senior Michelle Czaja is the co-editor of the Montage yearbook at Elk Grove High School. She knows that responsibility is a key factor in any yearbook’s success, and that responsibility means meeting deadlines, raising funds and being a part of something that is bigger than any one person. She recognizes that everything with yearbook can be done better if it is a team effort. For example, one of the fundraising events this year was a carnation sale for Valentine’s Day. The staff, which sold more than 300 flowers, pulled together to make it a success. While she works long hours on the book, she wants to ensure that her legacy is strong. She wants to make sure that not only has she made an impact on the book but also on the staff members who will be in charge next year. Her samples were a new “senior sayings” spread and marching band and multiple-sport athletes spreads. Her adviser is Lisa Martineau.

Senior Maggie Devereux is the editor of The Prospector at Prospect High School. She is most proud of the change she made in the atmosphere of the newsroom. She said she inherited a tense newsroom, and it was her goal to transform it. She also was challenged to make her staff write shorter stories. She pushed her staff to take on alternative story forms in an effort to appeal to the student audience, as well as to take on social media, including starting a newspaper Twitter account. She encouraged her staff to connect voices and ideas. She also sees every article and page in the paper, monitors the website, and provides advice and support to the staff. Her samples were a staff editorial and two stories, one on cyberbullying and one on a new evaluation system in the district. She is advised by Jason Block.

Senior Michael Geheren joins the All-State Team for the second year in a row, working as digital editor for The Voice Online (, the online publication for Huntley High School’s The Voice newspaper. In this role he has learned a lot about covering local government, police and schools — and ensuring that the online publication could be free of prior review. Most of all, Geheren wanted excellence. If that meant fine-tuning or redesigning his first efforts, so be it. As he said, he wanted to make sure the website “sparkled.” From sports to features to the community, covers it all. He wants students and the entire town of Huntley to benefit from the coverage. His work samples are from and the print edition, including a feature on a local police sergeant. His adviser is Dennis Brown.

Senior Arthur (AJ) Hecht is managing editor of The Warrior yearbook at McHenry High School. This position entails editing, writing and photography, as well as cleaning up his and other spreads for grammar and pixelation before submission, helping staff develop skills and conferring with adviser Dane Erbach and the editorial staff throughout the year. He said he feels that everyone has a story to tell, and it is his job to tell those stories and to make them interesting; he has worked hard to improve his writing. He is also proud of the way the staff works independently but together. He considers the group a team, but he often is the one responsible to see assignments through to the end. His samples were a sports story, a yearbook and a caption-writing and headline-writing assignment.

Junior Melissa Karp is the managing editor of the Deerprints newspaper at Deerfield High School. In that role she copy edits, mentors editors and writers, creates a ladder each month, writes and manages the paste-up. And one of the most challenging jobs is fixing grammar. She says she happily does what others dread: spending two seven-hour blocks meticulously editing grammar each month. She says she loves the “nitty-gritty” of journalism. She loves “the process of puzzling words together to create something beautiful, complex and interesting that reads easily.” For Melissa, the newspaper’s credibility is the basis of good journalism, and “to maintain that integrity, precise grammar is a must.” Her samples were a piece on global warming, an editorial after Sandy Hook and a page of fruit recipes. Her adviser is Buffy Sallee.

Senior Jonathan Marchbanks cares about the legacy of the Hy News newspaper at Belleville West High School. And he does this, as co-editor, by helping new staffers and working hard to develop the next editors. He conducts meetings and teaches skills and leadership, best modeled by his work editing the editorial section and writing staff editorials. He makes sure that the editorial policy established by the staff and adviser is carried out to the fullest. He writes, “I am most proud when beginning reporters succeed because of my help and guidance, for being a good leader of a newspaper is to produce efficient reporters who will one day be in the leadership position.” And he loves that journalism is a platform to inspire, inform and educate readers and the community. His samples were two editorials challenging his generation and a centerpread. His adviser is Laurie Bielong.

As entertainment editor for The Pacer newspaper at Rolling Meadows High School, junior Joseph Salvato was responsible for coordinating all aspects of the entertainment section, including story planning, coordinating the work of other staffers, writing features and reviews, layout and design. He also reviews two or three movies as they come out each weekend, and posts reviews of them immediately on the paper’s website. He works hard to engage readers and the paper’s staff. His two biggest passions: his writing and his commitment to the journalism program at RM, which he champions every chance he gets. He also sees himself as a general helper to other section editors and staffers. His work samples were a movie and theater review, as well as a sample of a feature he started this year called “Artist of the Month.” He is advised by Stan Zoller.

Senior Rachel Trip, as co-editor of Equus, probably never thought she’d be coordinating fundraisers for her adviser and their student publications program at Belvidere North High School. But when her adviser, Mike Doyle, was out for a while this year with an illness, Rachel stepped up to ensure that the annual events would go on. She co-chaired the International Food Fair and planned the Mr. Thunder scholarship competition, both fundraising events. And she planned a dinner for the entire journalism community at her school to honor Mr. Doyle, presenting him with a check for $613 from the dinner for classroom supplies. Her responsibilities are vast, and those, of course, include her journalistic duties: planning, designing and determining editor assignments for the yearbook. She is most proud of rising to the occasion and providing leadership for her staff during such a difficult time. Her samples were three spreads, including a division page.

One of senior Seth Wade’s goals for The Advocate newspaper at Washington Community High School was a redesign of the paper. As editor, he worked with his staff to brainstorm new designs and coordinated a daylong seminar with a newspaper design expert that helped empower the staff. Over winter break, he finalized the new design. In doing so, he also created the staff’s first style library and paragraph styles for consistency. He sees his role as one that motivates his staff to do better: to meet deadlines, to write more complete stories and to achieve general excellence for the paper. In addition, he contributed to an 18-page policy manual for the paper that designated the paper as a public forum. His samples are the redesign, an investigative piece on midterm graduation and an article on construction at the school. His adviser is Jennifer Reiser.


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2013 All-State Journalism Team