It’s 9:05 a.m. on April 15. Kelsey Bell, a senior and editor-in-chief of the North Star, sits and listens to the names of six runner-ups for the National High School Journalist of the Year Award.
After Bell won Missouri State Journalist of the Year, Manfull decided to take her and a several other editors from the program to Spring Nationals in Seattle.
FHN Journalism Adviser Aaron Manfull, eight students from staff, and thousands of other students from all over the nation now sit with anticipation.
Wayna Polk, head of the Journalism Education Association Scholarship Committee, reads the judges’ assessment of the Journalist of the Year’s portfolio from the podium. There were strong elements of theme, color, and font, they note. Polk mentions a cyber awareness package in the portfolio. Some ears perk up. Bell had designed a cyber awareness section for the newspaper a few years ago. Then, remembering a lot of schools had covered cyberbullying, some slump back down. The announcer reads off other achievements. Then:
“Join me in congratulating the 2012 JEA High School Journalist of the Year, Kelsey Bell.”
Bell hears these words. Manfull hears these words. And so do the other eight. But the words don’t register.
At least not at first.
Then, it hits them and Bell doubles over and Manfull has tears in his eyes and the others on staff stumble up to their feet to clap.
“I was shocked, thrilled, surprised, excited and happy for her all at once,” Manfull said. “I just know how hard she worked and how she’s helped people, her peers in the room, and I was just really happy.”
This award means a lot not only to Bell but to the rest of FHN media department.
“It’s so cool that everyone works so hard all the time and I couldn’t be happier to share this exciting moment with everyone who helped me get there,” Bell said. “I really do think it was not just me, it was everyone in the program.”
Along with winning the title of Journalist of the Year, Bell received a $5,000 scholarship and the opportunity to speak at 2013 Spring Nationals in San Francisco.
“The scholarship money that goes with it is just incredible and will help her out with college expenses,” Manfull said. “Beyond that, I think it helps give her even more confidence of her amazing abilities and will help her get her foot in the door a few more places.”
Bell has plans to attend either the University of Ohio or Indiana this fall.
“I do know I want to be doing what I’m doing and it’s going to be sad to leave 026 but I’m ready to to go on and find a place in a different newspaper somewhere,” Bell said. “Hopefully it’s like 026. It won’t be the same but hopefully it will remind me of it.”