Chosen as one of four students to be a member of a national panel on student journalism, I was deeply honored and just as nervous as the other three editors sitting by my side.
About 3,000 students from across the nation are attending the National Scholastic Press Association annual convention held in Portland, Ore. Penn Points is represented by four students and two advisers who are at the convention this week.
The panel was selected from among the highest-placing school newspapers, named online Pacemaker finalists, by the NSPA.
Those in attendance were there to glean information from the Pacemaker finalists. In other words I was supposed to be the expert answering questions from student journalists and their advisers how they could someday be where I was.
“These are the students who are on the cutting edge for journalism, these are the Pacemakers, these are the experts,” and that was our introduction from moderator Paul Kandell, nationally recognized adviser of the Palo Alto’s The Paly Voice and Verde Magazine.
One of the question that Kandell asked the panel was: “Why/ How do we think we’ve gotten to point we’re at in becoming one of the finalists?”
“The reason for our success is cooperation,” I told the audience. “We have a staff of more than 40 students and we all went out of our way to make this work in such a small amount of time.”
Also on the panel, were David Ryan, a Co-Editor-in-Chief of Wayland Student Press Network, David Zhengn a Sports Editor from Hilite Online and Suzanna Quiring, Editor-in-Chief of The Feather Online.
Mr. Kandell opened the discussion to the audience who asked everything from “how do you handle your advertising” to “do you think using WordPress is cheating” to “who has the final say in publishing a story?”
Some questions came as a surprise and some were expected.
With so many eyes on you, coming up with an answer on the spot can be unbelievably nerve-wracking.
My heart was beating a thousand beats per minute and I was sure everybody could see that, yet I kept my composure.
The other editors seemed calm, cool and collected.
I thought to myself, I’m the only one up here who has never even been on the newspaper before this year, do I really know what I’m talking about.
But if you know me, that question was quickly kicked aside with a “of course I do, I’m Rob Henry.”
A sea of hands rose to ask questions in the final minutes of our panel discussion.
After an hour of discussion, Kandell had to bring the session to an end, with many audience questions still unanswered.
The audience clapped and many rushed forward to ask additional questions. I’m not going to lie, a feeling of achievement overwhelmed me.
Next year I plan to remain an active editor-in-chief. But even when I graduate, I will continue to believe Penn Points can be the greatest online high school newspaper in the country and by extension of the web, the world.
By Rob Henry