Nadia Sanburn

Chicago skyline on Wednesday.

By Nadia Sanburn, Assistant Online Editor

Sunday- 11/4/18

This was our last day in Chicago! We went to the last ceremony, and found out who won Write-Off contests! We had a good amount of people win, and that was really cool! The ceremony was really long, and we had to get through about 800 individual awards.

We went to the Art Institute of Chicago after that, and had a couple hours to check that place out before the train. It was pretty awesome, I threw on my earbuds and got to check out the art alone for a while. I had a lot of fun there, and saw some pretty famous paintings and sculptures in person.

We made our way to union station, and said goodbye to Chicago! We were home around midnight.


Pretty view from the 2nd day!

I’m glad we had this experience! Now it’s time to get caught up on homework.

Saturday- 11/3/18

I was looking forward to this day the most! I grabbed a coffee cake for breakfast and we headed to the convention.

My first session was LGBTQ media: behind the letters. It was presented by Bethany Grace Howe. She was such an amazing presenter. I learned a lot from her, and she was really good at covering the topics, but making the presentation interesting and informative. There was one quote of hers I had to jot down. “You’re going to make people angry,” she said. “Do it anyway.” I struggle with the fact that I can’t make everyone happy, and this was a really eye opening topic I’m glad she discussed. She also did a really good job of covering intersectionality, and recognizing her privilege.

I stayed for her next session as well, Transgender Q&A. I had to leave a bit early, but I really enjoyed listening to the wisdom she shared with curious teens.

My next session was Covering the LGBTQ Community Today. The presenters, Tracy Baim and Matt Simonette, were both staff on the Windy City Times, Chicago’s weekly LGBT paper. Tracy talked about her experiences with covering LGBTQ media ever since the 1980s, when the AIDS crisis was at its peak, and the erasure LGBTQ papers have to endure from the mainstream media. She also talked about her fear of angering differing sides of the community, and how she had to ask herself “should I even run this?” Matt talked a lot less, but he still had a lot of good things to say.

My last presentation before lunch was called Say Something! Writing Effective Opinion Pieces. The speaker, Naeema Clark, was lovely, and really captured the attention of the packed room. She showed us examples of effective opinion pieces which consisted of a Ted Talk by a student of hers, and an article written by another one of her students, and an article of her own. She gave us tips on how to analyze them, and the . I really enjoyed her content and her way of presenting it. Afterwards, I talked to her for a second, and she gave me contact information for the student of hers who did the Ted Talk. I’m excited to contact him!

Sophie, Hailey and I took lunch at Jimmy Johns, and then walked to a store I had been wanting to go to for the whole trip. It was called Graham Cracker Comics, and it was nerd heaven. I got two books I had been looking for, and I’m super excited to read them!

After that, it was back to the hotel to change for the awards ceremony. We had to get a little dressed up, and then we headed back for the ceremony.

Right after the awards ceremony! It was freezing cold.

We didn’t win any big awards for the overall paper, but at least we were still Pacemaker Finalists, which is still a big deal! I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed, though. Luckily, we had lots of staff win individual awards! Macy Landes, Connor Schmaus and Gary Schmidt received an honorable mention in social justice reporting. Jackson Hoy got fifth place in opinion writing, and Anna Parnell received an honorable mention in newsmagazine page design, along with Sami Turner winning fourth place in newspaper front page design of the year. Also, Elijah Jackson got second and third place in cartoon of the year contest for comic strip panel.

We snuck out of the ceremony a bit early, and went back to the hotel. Sophie, Hailey and found a burger place that delivered, and we just stayed in and watched some TV.

I can’t believe tomorrow’s our last day! We’re planning to go to the last NSPA event, and then go to an art museum. Our train leaves at 2pm. I’m excited to be home, but I don’t want to say goodbye to Chicago!

Friday- 11/2/18

First full day of the conference! It was an early morning, and we had to be on our way to the convention hotel at 7:30am. We had three teams compete in the Quiz Bowl (a journalism nerd contest). Emily Kruse and I didn’t want to compete, so we both hung out with Tholen, grabbed coffee, and got organized.

Showing off our tote bags from Herff Jones!

We headed to the floor on the bottom level. There were a bunch of tables set up by organizations that had tons of free stuff for students. I got some nice notepads, a Herff Jones tote, and lots of buttons, among other things.  

The first session I attended was Covering Tragedy, presented by Phillip Caston of Wando High School. It was a really heart wrenching presentation, and I learned a lot about conveying emotions in certain pieces.

After I got out of that session, I made my way through masses of students to try to find the next presentation I was interested in, but when I got there, it was completely full. I decided to just chill out until my next one.

I had high hopes for the next session. It was called Making Minority Voices Heard, and it was given by Grace Marion from the University of Mississippi. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very impressed with her coverage. She didn’t have much content to show/teach us, and mainly focused on one minority, race. It would’ve been better if she wouldn’t have relied on so much audience participation, and had gotten her point across better, with many more viewpoints.

I grabbed a quick lunch with Sophie, which meant walking a short ways in the cold rain. It was pretty freezing. I should’ve brought a rain jacket.

Sophie and I went to the next session together: 10 Habits of a Highly Effective Editor. The speaker was Julieanne McClain, who is an advisor at Rutherford B Hayes High School. She talked a lot about bringing the staff together, and I enjoyed her conciseness over the topic. 

We had about an hour to kill before our Write Off contests, so Sophie and I wandered around until it was time to meet the group.

At 3:30pm, I headed to my Write Off contest- News Editing and Headline Writing. Strangely enough, I enjoyed it. They gave us a small packet (about 5 pages) and we had to do stuff like matching people with current events and grammar, along with editing a piece and writing headlines for two. I completed it pretty early, so I hung out with Tholen until everyone else was done.

I decided to turn in early and skip the small bit of sightseeing the group would be doing in the evening/night. It’s been an exhausting few days! 

Overall, I’d say the first day of the conference went pretty good! I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Thursday- 11/1/18

Our first adventure of the day was visiting the Museum of Science and Industry. We did a lot of cool things there, like seeing baby chickens hatch, and running on a giant hamster wheel. It was a pretty fun experience all around. Next was the Field Museum, where we saw dinosaur skeletons and an exhibit about ancient Chinese artifacts.

Hailey Alt, and Sophia Kaufman, and I eat at Naf Naf.

We came back to the hotel, and Sophie, Hailey and I went to dinner at a really delicious Middle Eastern place down the street, called Naf Naf. Sophie said the set-up reminded her of Chipotle. I got a hummus and pita wrap, along with some fried potato things called Naf fries. Really good! After that, we went looking for a bookstore. We walked around in the cold for a while, but Google maps was stupid, and we didn’t find it. We stumbled upon a Ghirardelli store, though, and got a bunch of chocolates for cheap.

We walked a tiny ways to the convention hotel for the convention opening. We saw a really cool tumbling show from the Jesse White Tumblers. Seriously, they were amazing. Go watch a youtube video about them.

Tholen throws shade.

Next was Pete Souza, the main speaker. He was the White House photographer under former President Barack Obama. Souza was granted the highest level of clearance, and therefore produced very raw and emotional photos that no other photographer could obtain. He showed us pictures like Obama playing in the snow with his daughters, and Obama comforting the families of the Sandy Hook shooting. I have to admit, my eyes watered many times. He was also very critical of the current administration, which was very appreciated.

After that moving introduction to the convention, we headed back to the hotel to get some rest. We’re all looking forward to the next couple days, and the things we’ll learn in the process.

Wednesday- 10/31/18

Halloween!!! Today was a sightseeing day. We had breakfast at the hotel and then started the day taking pictures at the Bean.

Sophie Kaufman, Hailey Alt, and I at The Bean.

The LHS students got to take a tour at the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center, a printing center not just for the Tribune, but for many newspapers, like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and others. We were given a tour of the facility, and learned how the newspapers were printed, packaged, and produced.

We ate lunch at a place called Snarfy’s. I didn’t find anything there I wanted to eat, but in the same building, there were these really cool vending machines with vegetarian friendly food, that would dispense in jars. The machine was called ‘Farmer’s Fridge.’ I wish we had stuff like that in Lawrence. I got a yogurt parfait and falafel. Weird combo for lunch, I know, but it was really good.

Sophia Kaufman and I taking a selfie with the Chicago skyline.

After that, we took the subway/walked to the aquarium. Sophie was my buddy, and we saw lots of cool sea creatures like beluga whales and seahorses. We also got to experience a 4D movie (it’s like a sensory movie, the seats shake, and water is sprayed at you, etc.) about sharks. I got chocolate Dippin Dots (my favorite dessert) and they were great.

After that, we went back to the hotel. Sophie and I got Chipotle for dinner and hung out in the hotel room.

Tuesday- 10/30/18

First day of the trip! We had to be at the Amtrak station at 4:30am, but we didn’t end up getting on the train until 6:06am. The train was really bumpy, and it was hard to keep your balance in the aisles. It was hard to sleep because of the jostling, but it was a lot roomier than an airplane.

We got to the hotel after 12 hours (bleh.) and started settling in. As soon as Sophie and I walked into the room, the lights flickered, and creeped us both out. After setting down our stuff, Sophie went to the bathroom. She was washing her hands when the light cover fell right next to her and shattered. So, I think our room is haunted.

After that, we picked up our transportation passes and checked out Navy Pier. We stayed a little too late, though, and security kicked us out.

After that, it was a bus ride back to the hotel. Sophie and I fell asleep really fast, but Hailey stayed up until midnight.