Journalists medal at UIL State Meet


Laura Smith

Medalists at the State UIL Academic Meet include Erin Sheffield, Luke Bruce and Claire Meyer.

Juniors Luke Bruce and Claire Meyer and senior Erin Sheffield brought home medals after competing in the State UIL Academic Meet May 3 at the University of Texas in Austin. Bruce placed second in news writing, Meyer placed sixth in headline writing and Sheffield placed sixth in news writing.

“In news writing, they make a prompt for you,” Bruce said. “It’s a sheet of quotes and information that you have to make a story out of. It’s more like organizing rather than writing. You have to organize quotes and figure out where to put that information together.”

Bruce said the most important part of the story is the lead.  

“It’s meant to tell the most important information first,” Bruce said. “That information is usually the next thing to happen in the story. It’s what you really need to focus your story on. After that you write your nut graph which contains more information to go with your lead. Then you go into a quote-transition formula until you end the story.”

You do have to remember that you’re competing with only 12 people in the room, but then again, when you think about it, those 12 people are the best of the best.

— Luke Bruce, 11

The State UIL Academic Meet includes the top three writers in each contest from the four regions in Texas.

“There are challenges, especially at the state meet,” Bruce said. “When I started out, I thought that it couldn’t get much harder. You think it’s not like a math problem, so it can’t get that much more difficult. At the state meet, it’s just about as hard as it can get. They like to make it difficult for the writer to find the most pertinent information.”

The news writing competition allows competitors 45 minutes to complete and print their papers.

“All the writers go into a big ballroom which is really daunting,” Bruce said. “It’s mass chaos at the beginning. You do have to remember that you’re competing with only 12 people in the room, but then again, when you think about it, those 12 people are the best of the best.”

Bruce said writing at state was a rewarding experience.

“Getting to compete with the best of the best is a really challenging experience,” Bruce said. “I wouldn’t say I am a competitive person, but getting to see where you rank among those people is really fun to do.”

As an associate editor for The Eagle’s Tale, Bruce writes news stories often for the newspaper.

“This stuff prepares you a lot,” Bruce said. “You’re always going to be required to write in most lines of work. Learning how to write proficiently and learning how to organize your thoughts and information is a very important skill wherever you go.” 

Lance Culbert
Following the academic meet, Kayce Nelson, Luke Bruce, Erin Sheffield, Kaylee Buck, Claire Meyer, Cambry King and adviser Laura Smith attended the UIL Interscholastic League Press Conference (ILPC) Spring Convention where they attended workshops and a keynote address by a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer. The Eagle’s Tale and Soaring Wings yearbook both earned ILPC Bronze Star awards, placing them among the best in Texas. ILPC announced 21 ILPC individual awards for staff members of The Eagle’s Tale, with three of those earning the Tops in Texas Awards for Meyer, Aryauna Thompson and Faith Douglass.

Sheffield competed in copy editing and also placed in news writing.

“News writing is where I’ve poured my heart,” Sheffield said. “I’m lucky to say that this was my fourth time competing at state. I placed sixth. There’s so much information, and it’s very hard to know what they’re wanting you to do. A lot of times there are many directions you could go with the story.”

Sheffield competed in UIL Academics since being a freshman.

“UIL Academics is really great for skill mastery,” Sheffield said. “If you have zero intention of going into journalism, even if you hate writing, sign up. There are a lot of places that ask you to write a paper in 45 minutes. To be able to complete tasks quickly, that can get you farther, at least in school than a lot of other skills.”

Meyer said she was in awe after discovering she was advancing to state.

“For two years, I have made it to regionals but have never gotten passed it,” Meyer said. “ It has been a goal of mine to make it to state. During regionals when I walked up to the results and I saw my name, I was overjoyed.”

Meyer competed in headline writing which entails writing six separate headlines for various stories in 30 minutes.

You know going into the competition, these are people who know what they’re doing and they’re good at what they’re doing just like you.

— Claire Meyer, 11

“State is such a different beast,” Meyer said. “Regionals is where I personally am more comfortable and experienced; state is a whole new thing. You know going into the competition, these are people who know what they’re doing, and they’re good at what they’re doing, just like you. It adds another level of competition that sometimes you don’t see in other levels.”

Both Meyer is also an associate editor of the school newspaper. Meyer will join Bruce and junior Macy McClish as co-editors-in-chief of the 2019-2020 staff.

“I’m really looking forward to next year on staff,” Bruce said. “I know some of it will be a challenge, especially since we’ll be missing our four seniors, who have been really great leaders and have done great work. We’ll be missing them, but I’m looking forward to having new staffers.”