Ghostwriter staff heads to Dallas for Texas-sized journalism

Sophomore Mahi Kandage and freshman Bella Barreto explore Dallas.

Chloe Morbelli, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Six members of the Ghostwriter Staff packed up shop and headed to Dallas, Texas on November 16-19, to attend the NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention. The conference was led by journalism professionals, and included workshops and presentations. The team found success in not only the diverse workshops, but also in the write-off competitions, bringing home two awards. 
WA students ranging from the classes of Journalism I to Journalism III, along with advisors, English teachers Janet Fonden and Jack Holbrook, joined other students and teachers from across the U.S. From participating in writing competitions to meeting accomplished writers, the conference provided the Ghostwriter staff with many opportunities to learn about journalism and perfect their craft.
After a long day of travel to Dallas, the conference began on the 17th with pre-convention workshops, where the staff was exposed to tips on investigative journalism, photography, and sports writing. Journalism advisor from Pittsburgh High School, Emily Smith, led the investigative journalism workshop and shared a story from her school’s newspaper that got national attention. Her students exposed the school’s principal after learning that he did not have the credentials that he had claimed. This exposed scandal led to his resignation. Smith’s story served as an example and inspiration that high school journalism can make a difference. 
The first full day concluded with authentic Tex-Mex dining and a speech from keynote speaker, Erin Grace Trieb, who spoke eloquently about her work as a documentary photographer. Trieb shared impressive images and stories from her travels to Israel and Palestinian territories. Her images focus on life at war for not only men, but also women.
Mahi Kandage, a sophomore who attended the conference, sounded off on her opinion of the keynote.
“I was very inspired by the keynote speech from Erin Trieb; her approach to journalism was very cool. I like how she would live with the people she photographed and was very committed and dedicated to her work,” she said. 
On the 18th, the convention offered multiple workshops for students to choose from. Options ranged from year book and magazine tips to ideas for staff bonding. The day finished with each of the six staff members competing in their own write offs, including feature, news, sports, review, commentary, and editorial writing. Senior Anthony Cammalleri received excellent, or second place, in the commentary write-off and junior Garret O’Connor received superior, or first place, in the editorial write-off.
Award winner, Cammalleri remarked, “The results of the write off were completely unexpected. I kind of just winged the write-off, expected to do okay, but certainly not second. The possibility that I had won anything was so distant from my mind, I didn’t believe [it]. I was certainly excited and kind of wish I had tried a little harder.”
Free time was spent exploring the city of Dallas. The team experienced authentic Texan culture through food, people, shops, and the city in general.
Bella Barreto, a freshman who participated enjoyed seeing Dallas.
“My favorite part of the trip was when we walked around Dallas, seeing sights and going to shops,” she said. 
Through both intellectual and cultural experiences, the trip to Dallas was very enriching for the Ghostwriter team. They brought back not only new ideas for the school newspaper, but also a closer working relationship.
“Compared to past years, the group of students seemed hyper-focused, eyes on the prize, but even with such a level of focus, there was a lot of time to bond, and have a good time. I think it was a success, we took a lot from it and learned a lot of helpful tools that hopefully we will use to improve our paper in the years ahead,” Cammalleri said.