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UM to Host Annual MSPA Convention for High School Journalism Students

By Carson McKinney
Hottytoddy.com intern

The Mississippi Scholastic Press Association spring convention will gather high school student journalists from around the state next week to attend skill sessions and hear speakers from across different disciplines.

Those attending will listen to a Keynote Address from Mississippi Public Broadcasting Director Ronnie Agnew after lunch and recognize exemplary student journalists in an afternoon awards show.

Ronnie Agnew will be the keynote speaker Monday during the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association spring convention at UM.

The MSPA was founded in 1947 at Ole Miss to educate and enhance high school journalism across the state.

MSPA Director and Ole Miss Instructional Professor R.J. Morgan believes the importance of the convention is two-fold.

“One function of the convention is to sharpen and enhance students’ skills as they head into the next school year,” Morgan said. “The other function is to celebrate the successes that students and their publications have had this school year.”

This year marks the first awarding of the “All-Mississippi Recognition” to 10 high school students who submitted outstanding portfolios to MSPA, with Garret Grove of Madison to be named Mississippi High School Journalist of the Year.

Among the variety of talent in attendance on Monday will be two featured out-of-state speakers: Lori Oglesbee-Petter and Dr. Pablo Correa. According to Morgan, Oglesbee-Petter is a 35-year teaching “veteran” whose publication and students were censored by her high school administrator and now advocates students’ First Amendment Rights as a speaker. Correa is part of a team of filmmakers whose documentary “Fannie Lou Hamer’s America” placed at Sundance Film Festival and involves students in the filmmaking process.

“To call it a documentary is kind of selling it short,” Morgan said. “It’s actually more than that. As a part of the documentary, they have begun hosting filmmaking workshops for high schoolers in the Mississippi Delta as a way of giving back to the people of Fannie Lou Hamer’s home region, empowering students of the Mississippi Delta through filmmaking skills to be able to tell their own stories a document stories of their community.”

Although one-hour sessions may not seem like a lot of time to learn, session leaders promise to make the most of visiting students’ time. For instance, Ole Miss Instructional Assistant Professor Ji Hoon Heo will be teaching essential video sequencing skills in his Hands-On Lab: Shooting and Editing Great Videos.

“This would be a great introductory crash course on how to sequence,” Heo said. “The students will shoot a sequence in small groups and come back to the classroom and edit it during the session. It’ll be quick, but fun.”

Although he says it is a lot of work to coordinate more than 700 entries, from more than 500 high school students and dozens of teachers, speakers and awards, Morgan cherishes his ability to bring people into his field.

“High school journalism changed my life as a high schooler, and it changed my life again as a high school journalism teacher,” Morgan said. “The ability to create those experiences for other teachers and students is one of the biggest joys of my life.”


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