Back in January, SPJ Florida proudly announced the two recipients of its inaugural High School Journalism Grant, Westland Hialeah High School in Hialeah and Thomas Richard Robinson High School, located in Tampa.

With the school year over, both schools reported back with how the grants helped their newsrooms.

Lisa Espinosa, the newsroom adviser at Westland Hialeah, said that her students were able to purchase a new wireless microphone set for its programming—during the application process, the students were dismayed to discover their current set was no longer usable due to changes made by the FCC. The class didn’t have enough money to buy a new set, until they won the grant.

“The microphone helped the students gain confidence in their production skills and made their finished productions sound more professional,” Espinosa told SPJ Florida. “Their final project, a short film titled Primo, won 19 awards at the Florida Film Institute’s end of the year awards ceremony.”

The grant was also useful for the students at Robinson High School, whose newsroom exploded to 40 students when its print and online newspaper teams were combined.

“It was amazing, until the group of editors realized how many inexperienced writers we now had and how few resources we had to help them,” said Macy McClintock, the managing editor of the Robinson High School Knightwriters and RHStoday.com. “Due to the financial status of our school, the newspaper staff receives very limited funds, so we have no wiggle room to purchase new equipment.”

After the grant, the Knightwriters were able to purchase newspaper racks, print the newspaper in color for the first time, and purchase t-shirts to help with branding and team building.

“When you award scholarships and grants, your hope is that the money helped make a difference for students and newsrooms,” said SPJ Florida president Christiana Lilly. “It was wonderful to hear how much these two schools were able to progress their journalism programs with our grant, and solidified our decision to continue with the grant.”

The High School Newsroom Grant will be open again soon for the next round of applications, stay tuned!

Add Comment