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Writing their way to Texas

Journalism students will travel to Dallas to participate in convention

NHS Language Arts teacher Niki Hively addresses the Newton Community School District board on 
Monday to request permission for students to travel to a journalism convention in Texas.
NHS Language Arts teacher Niki Hively addresses the Newton Community School District board on Monday to request permission for students to travel to a journalism convention in Texas.

Niki Hively knows the best way to teach her journalism students to get ahead is to teach them to write a great lede which is why she asked the Newton School Board to consider a request to allow students in her journalism and yearbook classes to attend the National High School Journalism Convention. The board approved her request on Monday night, which means students will have an opportunity to travel to Dallas in November. Board meeting Donna Cook was absent at Monday night’s meeting.

The annual convention, held in Dallas, Texas this year, will give students a chance to take a variety of workshops and classes. After taking students to the convention last year, Hively knew immediately she wanted to do it again this year.

“It’s a great opportunity to watch the kids grow, on the 9-hour car ride home from Indianapolis last year they talked journalism all the way home,” Hively said.

The annual convention and trade show, which runs from Nov. 15-19 will offer classes, workshops and presentations from keynote speakers in the journalism industry. Two students accompanied Hively to last year’s convention, and Hively said she noticed a big difference in their work immediately after returning to Newton. One of her students last year was interested in sports photography, and after attending the conference his skill in Photoshop, a popular photo editing program, increased tremendously.

“It was like a night and day difference,” Hively said. “After the conference he could handle the photo editing by himself.”

The trip is open to every student in Hively’s journalism and yearbook classes, and she’s hoping most of her students will take advantage of the opportunity. School administers are still working on figuring out a final budget for the trip, but she estimated that it would cost approximately $900 per student for airfare and lodging. The district plans to cover the cost of the convention fee for students.

“We talked about it this spring, so hopefully they’ve been saving their pennies over the summer,” Hively said.

If students are feeling a little short on funds heading into fall there’s no reason to despair. Hively has a number of fundraisers planned to help students build up their bank accounts after a long summer. A Pizza Ranch tip night is planned for this fall, and students from the yearbook and newspaper classes will be selling advertising and local business sponsorships for their respective publications all year. Newton High School Principal Bill Peter said the school was committed to helping students find the resources to fund trips like these.

“Kids will have an opportunity to come with that cash,” Peters said.

As a student, Hively never had a chance to attend the convention, but as a teacher she’s watched her students reap the rewards of the intensive instruction they’ve received at the annual event. Letting them choose the programs they’re interested in when they get Dallas means they’ll gladly put in long hours to learn as much as they can.

“They’ll spend more time in the classroom than when they are here,” Hively said. It’s a really good experience and a great opportunity for them.”

Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or

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