PITTSBURG — Awards decorate a section of a wall in the Pittsburg High School’s student publication classroom for their excellence in journalism and design — not including the countless certificates the students received for their outstanding work.

Three high schoolers, Maddy Emerson, Grace Palmer and Aspin Durbin, received awards in the Kansas Scholastic Press Association State Contest — adding to the program’s growing reputation.

Thirteen PHS students submitted their work for the contest and competed against 85 different schools.

The Kansas Scholastic Press Association is a non-profit organization composed of Kansas journalism students and teachers, which provides journalism education leadership through contests, conferences and other activities.

The students chose from 21 categories and received prompts from the categories they chose — some categories include academics photography, student life photography and yearbook layout.

Palmer received first place in Yearbook Layout Design and a honorable mention in Advertising.

The feedback for Palmer’s designs and the experience competing has encouraged her to consider pursuing a career in graphic design.

“It feels good to place in competitions like this,” she said. “It boosts my confidence.”

Emerson received first for Student Life Photography. She was prompted to photograph the way students went to school. The judges commented on her photographic technique, called panning. She also received second place in Academics Photography.  

PHS senior Aspin Durbin — who has been involved in student publication classes since freshman year — has received multiple awards over the past four years. The most recent state contest brought her one more — an honorable mention in the Academics Photography category for her strong storytelling and capturing a good moment.

A different contest brought one student, Nicole Konopelko, an opportunity to learn about investigative reporting at a week-long workshop at Boston University after submitting an investigative news story in the New England Center for Investigative Reporting’s National Watchdog Contest.

Palmer, Emerson, Durbin and Konopelko were not the only students to who stood out this semester as the school’s newspaper, The Booster Redux, made national news following a story about the school’s incoming principal Amy Robertson — who had questionable qualifications.

The story landed them seats at the the annual White House Correspondents Dinner April in Washington, D.C. on April 29.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP.