Everything is bigger and better in Texas, especially the journalism conferences. This year’s JEA/NSPA National Conference was held in Dallas, Texas. The convention was from November 16th through the 19th. The theme was “Go Big”. Six students from South (Kaitlyn Harris, LaKenya Ellis, Diana Landeros, Bailey Atwood, Josh Brown, and Kadyn Kingsland) and Mr.Welch attended this event.
Wednesday, November 15
South High planned on leaving Wichita on November 15th at 7:30 am. However, the bus did not show up to pick us up at 9:30 am. We planned on going to the Grapevine Mills Mall, but due to the bus being late, we had to skip the mall and head straight to the KERA building to tour NPR. At the radio station, we explored the art of audio and video journalism. The building was filled with awards and trophies. We took a tour of their production rooms and podcast studios. One of the most interesting parts of touring the building was seeing an original statue of Big Bird from the 1940’s.
After touring NPR, the Wichita schools headed to the Hyatt Regency hotel to check in. After dropping our bags off into our rooms, we headed to the West part of downtown Dallas to indulge in some Cajun food. We ate dinner at Croc and Rock and had an amazing time. We had the chance to eat dinner on the rooftop and see the city. Before we walked back to the hotel, all of the students played pool while Mr.Welch and the Heights’s adviser laughed at us. None of us knew how to play and we made an embarrassment out of ourselves.
Thursday, November 16
Thursday was the day that we toured the Dallas Cowboys Stadium. However, Bailey, Josh, and I stayed back at the hotel for two reasons. 1. It was Kenya’s birthday and we wanted to decorate her room and 2. South only had four tickets, so we couldn’t have gone anyways. The other students left the hotel around 10 am to see the stadium. One of the girls from Heights said that it was boring, but the girls from South said that it was lots of fun. They walked around the whole thing, saw the locker rooms, and learned lots of useless information. While they were doing this, Josh, Bailey, and I had only a few hours to walk a mile to CVS, get balloons, food, presents, candles, and roses for her room. When we got back to the hotel, we only had about 30 minutes to find her room and set everything up. As soon as we finished, LaKenya and the rest of the group showed back up. We got the room decorated just in time.
Soon after they got back to the hotel, we left to eat lunch and visit the JFK 6th Floor museum. The museum was an amazing experience packed with small details about his assassination. We thought that we were going to visit the Holocaust museum next, which was just a few streets over, but we did not order tickets. We headed back to the hotel and registered for the conference. We stopped by the convention hall to pick up some free goodies. The convention opening ceremony was at 7:30 pm. It started out with dancing and marching bands and was finished with a Q and A session with Erin Trieb, a photographer that captures wars in Iraq. We had a late dinner Thursday night and went to an RJ Mexican Cuisine. The service here was amazing, even though we arrived just before closing, they still allowed us to eat and hang out for a little.
Friday, November 17
Classes started at 8 am Friday morning. The classes ranged from food photography to team building games. The hotel had multiple food trucks to offer for journalists to enjoy instead of walking multiple blocks of food. Instead of attending class for the first half of the day, most of the students from South stayed in to play a heated game of Uno. The second half of the day, I went to a marketing class and learned some tricks and tips for advertising. For dinner, our school joined Maize for dinner at El Fenix.
Saturday, November 18
Saturday was our last day in Dallas. The day started with a leadership class, where the Editors for newspaper and yearbook learned how to better ourselves and improve the workflow throughout the staff. The next class was team building. During this course, we learned some activities and games to help the class work together more efficiently. The last class that I attended was a class over how to relax during stress. After class, we all hopped on the bus to go to the Galleria Mall and spend most of our money. After 3 hours of shopping, we went to the Dallas Mavericks game, where we watched the Mavs beat the Bucks 111-79.