The Student News Source of Sparkman High School

Photo Credit: Erin Coggins

Members of the Crimson Crier staff show off their awards before the bus takes off from UA’s campus following the annual ASPA state convention.

Staff Takes Home Multiple Awards At State Competition

On Feb. 17, the journalism students of the Crimson Crier staff became the state champions at the Alabama Scholastic Press Association Convention (ASPA). This was the first time in two years that the competition was moved back to being in person at the University of Alabama.

Senior Kortney Allen attended the competition in person for the first time as a part of the Crimson Crier staff. She previously attended the competition while it was virtual.

“It’s definitely different in person, I felt more connected to everyone around me and really got to learn more with the sessions,” Allen said. “It was great being able to actually communicate with the people from other schools and to see their excitement along with our staff’s excitement.”

The staff competed in many different categories individually like design, writing, illustration, and even public service announcements. Students had the opportunity to compete in these categories by submitting past work or by participating in the prompted, timed “on-site” competitions.

“I won a couple things. I don’t remember what all specifically but I do remember that I won something for a yearbook design I did last year, my Ukrainian feature story, something for our website, and I got third place for the design layout competition,” Allen said.

The students that attended not only got to experience how it felt to win themselves, but to be alongside and witness their fellow staff members and friends win as well.

“We were all so excited for each other and we showed how much we appreciated and were proud of each other every-time one of us won something by clapping and cheering as loud as we could,” Allen said. “The best part was definitely being able to feel proud of ourselves and know that all of our dedication to our magazine shows.”

Senior Tess Warren, the Crimson Crier’s Editor-In-Chief for the second year in a row, has continued the winning streak for the staff, became Alabama’s journalist of the year and won the Ricks Bragg award among many others.

“I was surprised by the eruption of cheers that came from the staff. You could barely hear him finish my name. It warms my heart to know that even in the midst of crazy deadline days and overflowing edits on their stories, they really do love and appreciate me,” Warren said. “I am also so thankful Maddie, the Editor-In-Chief before me, was able to be there in the moment. She even helped me get started with making my portfolio by calling and giving me advice. I’m glad I could make her, Mrs. Coggins, my staff and family proud.”

— Tess Warren

Warren was not proud of the award itself, but of all of the hard work and dedication that went into it. The people that are along for the ride are what make the award as well.

“I’m not necessarily proud of just the award itself, but what it represents. To get the award, I didn’t just have to make a website and write descriptions of my leadership and stories,” Warren said. “I had to develop my leadership and storytelling skills for the past three years. People hear the name and are proud and celebrate, but don’t know what all went into getting that award. For all they know, I could have just submitted one masterpiece of a story and that would be my golden ticket.”

The staff not only got to compete in the competitions at the event, but also got to attend informational sessions as well. There were a variety of topics to choose from and each student got to pick one to attend at each of the three sessions.

“The biggest take away I got from the sessions I attended is how social media really contributes and affects the news we are exposed to and what some of us use as inspiration for the stories we write,” Allen said.

While the Crimson Crier was at the conference there was an unexpected turn of events in the middle of the day. No one was injured in the event and students’ schedules were only affected minimally.

“The most surprising part of the day was definitely having to evacuate the building during lunch because of a fire,” Allen said. “I definitely was not expecting that to happen while we were there and we all thought it was just a drill at first.”

While the fire was a surprise to everyone in the building that day it was not the only unexpected event. Warren’s day was made by the surprise Mrs. Coggins had in store for her.

“Honestly, it wasn’t even the award itself, but the cheers from my staff and surprise appearance from my parents that made the moment for me,” Warren said. “ Mrs.Coggins completely surprised me by secretly inviting my parents to come all the way to Tuscaloosa to watch them call my name for the award.

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