On Apr. 23 and Apr. 24, the staff of The Andalusian virtually attended the Florida Scholastic Press Association (FSPA) convention. For all of that Thursday and Friday, The Andalusian staff, myself included, spent the school day enhancing our journalism skills and putting our year of hard work to the test. 

“I learned a lot about sports writing,” Sports Editor RJ Hosay said. “It was very helpful to me because I am now the Sports Editor, and I learned tips and tricks on covering games as well as photography for sports.” 

The convention was separated into two different parts: competitions on the first day and seminars on the second. Led by The Andalusian advisor Cailyn Callaway, we assigned different members of the staff to different competitions. These competitions included a variety of journalism categories, including news writing, opinion writing and mini-magazine making. My team, Team Newspaper, was tasked with creating a newspaper spread that contained articles and information on how the pandemic has put extra stress on families. From 9:00am to 6:00pm, Managing Editor Mary Leah Yearty, Online Editor-in-Chief Veronica Marshall-Kirk, General Editor Logan Sundberg and I worked tirelessly to create a two page newspaper spread that represented the talent of The Andalusian staff. 

“My favorite part was probably Team Newspaper because that was just a really fun way to showcase our skills and also do some stuff that we really didn’t get to do this year because of the pandemic,” Yearty said. “It was fun to have the whole day to meet the deadline and that little rush when we finally got it turned in.” 

The second day, FSPA leaders and members gave seminars on a wide array of journalism topics. Throughout the day, four sessions were provided, with each session offering up to eight individual seminars focusing on different aspects of journalism. In order to improve and build upon The Andalusian, which is both an online and print publication, we attended seminars such as “Let’s Get Social: Building Your Newspaper’s Social Media Presence,” “How to ‘Beat’ Bias in Your Coverage” and “Headlines: Telling and Selling the Story.” 

“My favorite session I attended was about headline writing,” Marshall-Kirk said. “I gained a lot of knowledge on ways to creatively write headlines, and the speaker was very entertaining. Mary Leah winning the headline competition was also super exciting and helped team bonding even more.”

FSPA gave us the opportunity to challenge ourselves, get out of our comfort zone and gain real-world journalism experience of working with deadlines. With the information and advice we received throughout the convention, The Andalusian staff is eager to see the publication evolve and improve. 

The winners of the competitions will be announced on Apr. 30. 

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Shelby Watson
Shelby Watson is a Staff Writer for The Andalusian. Outside of The Andalusian, she plays on the Maclay tennis team. In her free time, she enjoys acting for the Young Actors Theatre, spending time with her friends and family, cheering on the Florida State Seminoles, and going to Disney.

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