CJA Associate Board extends hand to high school journalists

The Chicago Journalists Association’s Associate Board gave back to the journalism community Friday by educating aspiring high school journalists in the Chicago-area on future careers in the field.

Five students from Joliet West High School received awards for their work in the school’s newspaper and will advance to the state journalism competition later this year. (From L to R) Breven Daugherity for sports writing, Kelsey Warren for news writing, Madi Dobbs for feature photography, Sydney Czyzon for editorial writing and Anna Eklund for layout and design. Photo courtesy of Joliet West High School

Associate Board chairman, Stephanie Choporis, spoke to more than 130 high schoolers at the Southwest Suburban Conference Newspaper Workshop, which featured schools such as Joliet West High School and Thornton Township High School, on qualities students will need to become great, aspiring journalists.

“My associate board members and I put our heads together to think of tips you wouldn’t necessarily learn in the classroom,” Choporis said. “And since most of our board members are just starting out in the field, I thought this topic would be extremely relatable.” 

Developing confidence, covering a variety of topics and thinking quickly were some pieces of advice Choporis offered. “Any young journalist will be scared on his or her first assignment or interview, but you have to convince yourself you can do this,” she attributed to fellow board member, Tyler Davis.

CJA Associate Board chairman, Stephanie Choporis (front row, center), poses with the newspaper staff of Joliet West High School and journalism teacher, Jennifer Galloy (left). Five of the students will advance to the state journalism competition. Photo credit: Tom Bombolis

The workshop educates students, who write for their school newspapers, on various aspects of journalism and rewards them for exceptional articles, photos and page design. Other speakers included Dr. Sally Renaud of Eastern Illinois University and Brien McHugh of the University of St. Francis. 

Associate Board chairman, Stephanie Choporis, shares advice on behalf of fellow board member, Rebecca Jacobs. Jacobs recommends that students cover a variety of topics, as information could come in handy at unexpected times. Photo credit: Tom Bombolis

“It is so important that our journalism students are able to hear affirmations from professionals that support what the students learn year-round from their teachers and sponsors,” said conference host and Joliet West journalism teacher, Jennifer Galloy.

Students who received awards will go on to compete at the state level of the Illinois High School Association journalism competition later this year.

“This was such a great experience,” said Choporis, who also helped hand out awards to the students. “We would love to get involved in more events like this.”

Dr. Sally Renaud, of Eastern Illinois University, kicked off the workshop by showing students samples of good writing. She said each school’s newspaper has its own voice. Photo credit: Tom Bombolis