MSMS students recognized at Press Association Fall Convention

At this year's fall MSPA convention,

Mississippi Scholastic Press Association

At this year’s fall MSPA convention, “Southern Voices” received 16 awards while “The Vision” went home with 11.

Nicholas Djedjos, Copy Editor

The culmination of months of hard work finally came to fruition for numerous MSMS students during the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association (MSPA) Fall Convention. Held virtually via Zoom on Oct. 29, the first half of the event included speakers such as internationally renowned political cartoonist Marshall Ramsey, and the latter half recognized Mississippi yearbook and literary magazine submissions from 2019-2020. In addition to last year’s submissions, MSPA recognized “carry-in” competitions for categories that normally occur in the spring, such as best news and graphic illustrations. 

Two of MSMS’ student run organizations, Southern Voices, a literary and art magazine, and The Vision, the school newspaper, submitted writing and art pieces. Altogether, Southern Voices was recognized sixteen times in individual and whole publication/staff categories, and The Vision was recognized eleven times. 

Senior Lily Langstaff, who was both a short story and personal essay finalist, viewed the competition as an outlet to express her written work.

“It’s very satisfying and rewarding to see my writing recognized,” Langstaff said. “I pour my soul into what I write and I love to be able to share it with others. 

Senior Abby Strain, who was a two-time poetry finalist and a personal essay finalist, shares a similar view.

“I have reeled in a number of writing awards during my time at MSMS; each award is as validating as the previous,” Strain said. “I am honored to be a finalist in multiple categories, and I am glad that my work was recognized.”

Senior and Editor in Chief for The Vision Muneebah Umar, who won Best Lede, looks forward to spring awards and is invigorated by the success this early in the year.

“I’m so proud of everything, staff members and “The Vision” as a whole. We’ve only been publishing for a few months, and I think this is a testament to all the hard work we’ve all been doing,” Umar said. “It feels great getting recognition, I’m excited to see what we achieve at the spring awards.”

Mr. Thomas Richardson, the advisor for “The Vision” and “Southern Voices,” though grateful for the numerous awards, believes that it is not only about the number of awards, but also the quality of work produced by the participants.

“I’m pleased with the recognition Southern Voices received this year,” Richardson said. “By the numbers [for Southern Voices], I think we had about 10 more finalists/winners this year than in the 2019 awards ceremony, but, again, that does not necessarily mean anything to me compared to looking at the general quality of winners and saying we know how to emulate that success.” 

The aforementioned accomplished writers are not stopping here; many of them are expecting to continue their writing careers, even while pursuing other fields of study.

“Writing is my passion; it’s how I interpret the world around me,” Strain said. “I aim to finish and publish a novel in my adult life, but that is years in the future. I will be majoring in a STEM field—writing may be pushed to the back of my priorities, but it will not be forgotten.”

Richardson, a board member of the MSPA, hopes to incorporate more MSMS student involvement with the organization.

“I expect our relationship with MSPA to grow even stronger over the coming years. I’m happy to serve on the MSPA board now, and I hope that our students at MSMS will start to get comfortable enough to lead workshop sessions at future conventions,” Richardson said.


Here is a complete list of awards:


Individual, Southern Voices

Poetry, Ryley Fallon–Winner

Poetry, Abby Strain–Finalist (x2)

Short Fiction, Ryley Fallon–Winner

Short Fiction, Lily Langstaff–Finalist

Nonfiction Narrative, Neziah Igwebuike–Finalist

Nonfiction Narrative, Gracie Rowland–Finalist

Nonfiction Narrative, Rachel Zheng–Finalist

Personal Essay, Lily Langstaff–Finalist

Personal Essay, Abby Strain–Finalist

Photo, Whitley Hester–Finalist

Hand-Drawn Art, Ella Lauderdale–Finalist

Hand-Drawn Art, Ellen Overstreet–Finalist


Whole Publication

Cover Design, Southern Voices–Finalist

Visuals, Southern Voices–Finalist

Quality of Writing, Southern Voices–Winner


Individual, The Vision

Portrait Photo, Kate McElhinney–Winner

Graphic Illustration, Emily Lin–Winner

Headline, Elena Eaton–Winner

Headline, Henry Sanders–Finalist

Lede, Muneebah Umar–Winner

Lede, Amy Zhang–Finalist

Caption, Karlene Deng–Finalist

COVID-19 Writing, Hailee Sexton & Fiona Dawe–Finalists

COVID-19 Visual, Taylor Wypyski–Winner


Whole Publication

Best of Show (News), The Vision–Winner

Best Convention Hype Video, The Vision–Winner