The Vision Staff Writes its Way to Press Association Conference


Thomas Richardson

The Vision staff gathers for a group photo at the MSPA Conference.

Helen Peng, Student Life Editor

Groups of high school students gathered in clusters in front of the open auditorium sitting in The Grove at the annual Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Conference (MSPAC). Hosted by the University of Mississippi, MSPAC is held every year to celebrate the journalistic achievements of high schoolers and encourage them to continue practicing their freedom of speech.

The day started with breakfast donuts and a morning welcome before the 9:30 seminars began. For MSMS students, that meant dragging themselves to the bus at 6 a.m. sharp to sit in the bumpy bus ride all the way to Oxford. Thankfully the bus ride was worth it.

Following the welcome session, three hour-long workshops starting at 9:30. 10:30 and 11:30 led up a lunch break in the Grove. Session topics included subjects such as “Visual Storytelling,” “Spotting Fake News” and “Smartphone Photography.” These sessions ranged from a variety of topics that were sure to pique the interest of newspaper, broadcast, social media and yearbook students alike. Apart from the informative topics, students also had the opportunity to meet other student journalists across the state.

“I went to a session on how to get a job out of college, where I learned about different interview tips and building a profile” senior Mariat Thankachan stated. This was her second year attending the conference. “Last year was the Vision’s first time going to the conference, so we only had a few students, but this year most of the staff was able to attend.”

For new members, the sessions were also a interesting learning experience.

“I especially enjoyed the level of closeness and approachability even large seminars gave,” junior Victoria Gong said.

After a lunch of pizza was served, students traveled to the Ford Center in order to hear the Keynote address and Awards Ceremony. The Keynote address was delivered by Jesse J. Holland, a native of Holly Springs, Mississippi, and the author of the companion novel to “Black Panther.” Holland delivered his speech with enthusiasm as he re-counted his life and career as a journalist. He encouraged students to continue to pursue their interest in journalism and stated that “the most important thing a journalist can do is listen.”

“I thought the Keynote speaker was an additional bonus to attending the conference. Not only did he share his story of traveling down the path of becoming a writer, but he also gave us wise tips about writing,” Thankachan said.

By the time the Awards Ceremony had started, students were in nervous anticipation. MSMS received several nominations for the “Best of Mississippi,” including the best opinion piece, sports article, news article, photographs, and online presence, by Victoria Gong, Dev Jaiswal, Keely Brewer, and the Vision Staff respectively. While MSMS did not take home any overall awards, the Vision Staff returned to campus with new and more insightful ideas for journalism in the future.