UIL journalism team wins state championship


Courtesy Photo

Senior Erin Westermann, junior Callie Boren, journalism teacher Laura Smith and freshman Erin Sheffield celebrate their state championship after the awards ceremony at the State UIL Academic Meet in Austin May 24.

The UIL journalism team won the state championship at the UIL Academic State Meet in Austin, Texas May 24. Junior Anna Jones, coached by Dawn Welch and Lance Culbert, competed in computer applications, earning ninth place.

Three journalism students competed and placed at the meet. Senior Erin Westermann placed sixth in feature writing, junior Callie Boren placed sixth in editorial writing and freshman Erin Sheffield placed first in news writing. This is the first time the journalism team, coached by Laura Smith, has won the state championship.

“It was incredibly thrilling,” Westermann said. “We tried to figure out our points so we would know ahead of time if we were state champions. We didn’t know other teams’ scores, so it truly was a surprise when we found out at the awards ceremony. All of us went up on stage to accept our plaque and have our picture taken. I know I was smiling like an idiot the whole time.”

Boren competed in both headline and editorial writing, but did not place in headline writing. Boren went to state as an alternate for headline writing her freshman year.

I also knew that my teammates were more than capable of doing very well.

— Callie Boren

“I knew going in that I was going to be facing the best competition in the state, so I really had no expectations for myself as far as how I was going to place,” Boren said. “I also knew that my teammates were more than capable of doing very well so I did expect our school to be well represented, and as a team, we accomplished that.”

As a freshman in Journalism I, this is Sheffield’s first year competing in UIL journalism.

“State was a learning experience,” Sheffield said. “It’s overwhelming. I knew I was in the top six, but Mrs. Smith did not tell me where I placed. As they counted up it became more and more realistic. I just came hoping for top 10.”

Westermann said she was incredibly fortunate to compete at state for the third time.

“I was grateful to be there,” Westermann said. “My goal was to place again, and I achieved that. It was the perfect way to tie a nice little ribbon around my high school career. My first semester of college contains three journalism courses, and I know that there is always more to learn, but it will be incredibly beneficial having this foundation of experience and knowledge.”

Boren said she encourages students who think they would enjoy doing journalism to join the program.

“I am really proud to be a part of such a successful program,” Boren said. “I know that as a result of being involved in the program, I have made many new friends and found many new passions that I hope to carry on with me for the rest of my life. I would also like to acknowledge the hard work the Mrs. Smith has put in in order to help all of us to be more successful in not just the field of journalism, but the field of life.”