ASPA conventions ‘priceless’ for students

Published 5:06 pm Monday, October 8, 2018

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Let’s hear from Pelham High School!” says Meredith Cummings scanning the opening session of the Alabama Scholastic Press Association’s Fall Convention at the University of Alabama. Both PHS Broadcast and Lit Mag staffs attending respond with loud cheers. Cummings serves as Alabama Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) Executive Director and also a University of Alabama Journalism Professor.

First year teacher and broadcast adviser Justin Foster is attending his initial ASPA event as an adviser having once attended as a Montevallo High School student years ago. He arrives at PHS after completing his student teaching with cooperating teacher, Brooke Dennis, a PHS grad who trained under legendary broadcast, newspaper and writing teacher Cathy Bearden.

With 41 students, PHS has the most students in attendance. Visiting both Bryant Conference and Ferguson Center, the students enjoy their day at the University of Alabama. Beginning the journey home, Foster has watched me sort through our collective paperwork to call the roll with each bus boarding, collect student session sheets and confer with students with health concerns.

“I hope you’re still willing to take field trips after the paperwork you’ve witnessed,” I say.

“It’s a little daunting,” he says.

“Ultimately what students take away from ASPA trips makes the effort worthwhile,” I respond.

Student writing detailing their sessions reinforces this truth. They’re impressed by strategies to improve their photos in John Cutsinger’s photography session. Don Brown’s “Editorial Writing” has students contemplating subjects. Sessions by Bobby and Misty Mathews refocus students’ perspectives on writing. And thanks to the ever-impressive Emmett Christolear, the PHS Lit Mag Staff is contemplating sponsoring contests. Christolear’s session on covers also inspired the staff.

“3D design is really in right now,” shared Lupita Aguilar, “as well as blank space to make the central image pop.” Senior Lit Mag Staffer Aguilar also references confident colors and speaks of complementing text color with central image colors.

Parents pay field trip fees and teachers trudge through necessary paperwork. How much are these ASPA field trips worth? ASPA conventions allow our students to explore their next collegiate or career steps—and that exploration is priceless.