Walpole Journalists Attend NESPA Conference at BU Principal Imbusch and Student Journalists Earn Regional Recognition

By GiGi Anello and Rachel Stanton

On May 4, Walpole journalists traveled to Boston University to attend the New England Scholastic Press Association, where they attended workshops, heard keynote speakers and received awards. Most notably, The Rebellion received the All New England Journalism Award in Scholastic Editing and Publishing for Class I Print and Online. This is the first time the Rebellion has gotten recognition since 2015.

"We received this top recognition in 2013, 2014 and 2015, but we finished second place in 2016 and third place in 2017, so I am really proud that our editorial staff earned the top recognition in 2018 for the program. They have worked incredibly hard this year in redoing the website and in improving the layout of the paper, so they really deserved this prestigious recognition," said Rebellion adviser Conor Cashman.

In addition to the program recognition, the staff also won fourteen individual Special Achievement awards that ranged from "Artwork/Cartoon" to "Bylined Column" to "Feature Story" to "Homepage Design," the highest number of individual recognitions the staff has earned in one year. For "News Story" achievement awards, the Rebellion earned six award recognitions.

"I am really proud of News Editor Emily Ball and Assistant News Editor Jess Ferguson. They have worked incredibly hard this year and are great role models for our staff writers," Cashman said.

Along with Walpole High School students, Principal Stephen Imbusch received the 2018 Freedom-to-Write Award.

Principal Steven Imbusch holding his Freedom To Write Award next to Advisor of The Rebellion Conor Cashman.

Editor-in-Chief Lindsey Sullivan worked alongside Callie Ross and Jess Ferguson on a feature article regarding the increase of vaping in high schools. The article, which received a Special Achievement Award under the Feature Story category, discussed the topics of the new fad and the harmful effects vape can potentially have on student users.

The cover page for "The Buzz About Vape" article written by Lindsey Sullivan, Callie Ross and Jess Ferguson.

Sullivan said, “I was really excited to win along with Callie and Jess because a lot of work went into writing that article.”

The writers not only gave their point of view on the topic but also the administrators reactions in order to incorporate opinions from a variety of positions at Walpole High School.

Sullivan said, “We had to sift through survey results, interview multiple sources, and even go to a vape shop to interview the manager. I'm really proud we could pull it all together and get recognized.”

Although many writers for the Rebellion received awards, News Editor Emily Ball received the most recognition as she had two news stories and a bylined column awarded by the New England Scholastic Press Association.

“I am really impressed by the improvement in news writing by a number of students. Emily Ball’s leadership as news editor has definitely had an impact on her staff writers,” Cashman said.

In the Bylined Column category, Ball was recognized for her article, “Examining the effect of Class Labels on Student Performance."

“I felt really honored,” Ball said. “My column took a lot of work, including an experiment I conducted during school, so it is really rewarding to be recognized at a regional level.”

Ball was also awarded for two news stories surrounding important achievements of Walpole High nurse, Rachel Jackson, and Walpole Public Schools’ Nutrition Director, Maria Hall.

Through NESPA’s awards, Ball has been more motivated as a journalist in hopes to further her education while attending Providence College next year.

Emily was not the only news staff member to feel honored for her recognition at this event. After receiving an award for both a news story and a personality profile on Walpole High School Junior Javon Jackson, junior Caitlin Kahaly also appreciated the recognition.

“I was pleasantly surprised but very proud of myself,” Kahaly said.

Kahaly received an award for her personality feature on Javon Jackson and his role in Television Production with teacher Peter O'Farrell.

Kahaly enjoyed every chance she got to present at workshops with other staff members and adviser Conor Cashman and meet other journalists from across the region.

“I love to discover new ideas on how to be a better writer and [journalist,]” Kahaly said.

Along with the Sullivan, Ball, and Kahaly, Website Editor, Dana DeMartino was in shock when she was awarded for an article she wrote. Normally working behind the scenes to perfect the layout of the Rebellion website, DeMartino went out of her comfort zone and wrote a review on the popular movie, The Greatest Showman.

DeMartino was recognized for her only article of the year, her critical review of the movie, The Greatest Showman.

“I was pretty surprised by the review reward because I don’t consider myself a staff writer. So it was definitely a pleasant surprise that my writing was capable of receiving an award,” DeMartino said.

DeMartino then received another award for Homepage Design along with staff writer Julia Kane.

“We wanted something fresh and different and I think the changes we made and the time we spent on the website paid off,” Demartino said.

This year, Walpole High School won more awards than ever before which was an achievement for the program's success.

“I am really proud of the diverse student work that got recognized. In my time as an adviser, these awards really show the breadth and variety of the our staff’s strengths during one of strongest years as a program," Cashman said.

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