Kingwood Park journalists write, {photograph}, publish their method to quite a few state, nationwide awards


Megan Ortiz is beaming with pleasure after her journalists collected some 130 state awards and greater than a dozen nationwide awards final faculty yr and whereas she graduates a big senior class, there’s nonetheless extra expertise and looming prospects with the following class of scholars.

Ortiz, who has been a journalism advisor in Humble ISD for seven years, the previous couple of at Kingwood Park, was a former Houston Chronicle sportswriter masking the NFL with John McClain when her oldest baby began kindergarten.

“When she began kindergarten, I began educating,” she mentioned, at Summer season Creek Excessive College.

She had an inkling that she would wind up in a journalism classroom since her mother was a highschool journalism trainer and her brother additionally adopted swimsuit.

“I beloved it and was touring loads,” the previous nine-year veteran photographer mentioned.

She first lined tennis, then moved on to the Houston Rockets with Jonathan Feigen.

“Then I lined the Houston Texans throughout their horrible years after which quite a lot of faculty baseball with Rice,” she mentioned.

With a great little bit of expertise beneath her belt, she transitioned to the classroom.

She was the primary journalism trainer at Summer season Creek Excessive College when it opened and later moved over to Kingwood Park. The transfer was to be nearer to house and her youngsters, she mentioned.

“After I first arrived at Kingwood Park, they didn’t have a newspaper, solely a yearbook workers. That first yr (at KP) we received the newspaper again up and working. It’s simply sort of grown from there,” she mentioned.

One of many first priorities was to construct an internet site.

“The children wanted these multimedia expertise, nevertheless it actually didn’t start to take off till COVID hit. They realized how priceless it was to actually get data out to folks. They had been simply pouring the whole lot they’d for information and knowledge onto the web site to get all people the place they had been. After which two years in the past, so a lot of my college students had been digital, we solely put out a few print points,” she mentioned.

With the disconnect difficulties of working digital, the scholars honed in on the web site, podcasting, and somewhat video.

This yr, nonetheless, has been the best successes for this system.

“This yr, with all people again, I had 18 on newspaper with a large number of seniors who had been actually enthusiastic about what they might do of their ultimate yr, they usually put out six excellent print points. We print 2,000 of them so all people will get them without spending a dime,” she mentioned.

With their fixed enter on the web site, their host website additionally hosts contests between excessive faculties throughout America the place college students and highschool newsrooms can earn distinguished advantage badges.

“It’s judged on the quantity of social media, the variety of hits and views, how constantly the publish, and the various kinds of media,” Ortiz mentioned.

This yr was an award-winning yr for the journalism college students who garnered 130 state awards for images, writing, and design. Additionally they added 27 nationwide awards to their trophy case.

One of many prime awards got here from Sophomore Maya Ortiz who was named the Nationwide Photojournalist of the 12 months by the Nationwide Scholastic Press Affiliation. Different prime nationwide winners included junior Katie Gerbasich (1st place in Single Sports activities Photograph from the Columbia Scholastic Press Affiliation), senior Kathleen Ortiz (1st place in Well being, Science and Agriculture Writing and 1st in Sports activities Occasion Protection by way of Quill and Scroll) and senior Alicyn Logue (1st place in Function Photograph for Quill & Scroll).

Further nationwide award winners included sophomore Arleigh Doehring and senior Reece Cavallo.

Senior Kathleen Ortiz was named Texas Excessive College Journalist of the 12 months runner-up – the best end ever for an Humble ISD scholar. Ortiz, Gerbasich and Maya Ortiz additionally had been named 2022 All-State Journalists.

Twenty-one publication members had been inducted into Quill & Scroll, the worldwide honor society for highschool journalists.

Ortiz mentioned college students in this system additionally earned faculty scholarships, internships and work alternatives outdoors of student-run publications this yr.

“With being acknowledged as a distinguished website, I consider we had been one in every of solely 64 websites in the complete nation,” she mentioned proudly. “They only took it to an entire new degree.” The scholar-led web site is

The yearbook workers additionally carried out a yeoman’s job promoting out for the primary time since Ortiz started at the highschool.

“We put in an additional run to accommodate those that didn’t order in time and missed out. We’re nonetheless ready to obtain these,” she mentioned.

“It was by far probably the most profitable yr to this point,” she mentioned.

Whereas Ortiz graduated a fantastic crop of seniors, it doesn’t go away the cabinet naked for the following few years.

“Considered one of my juniors, Katie Gerbasich, simply spent per week on the College of North Texas attending a Scripps Howard rising journalist program. She spent per week there and has been positioned in a paid internship for the remainder of the summer time,” she mentioned.

Ortiz mentioned she is going to lead the yearbook workers subsequent yr.

Her daughter Maya Ortiz is a sophomore who in November was named Nationwide Photojournalist of the 12 months and has additionally received quite a few nationwide writings awards this previous yr.

“She’s simply multimedia and may sort of do all of it. She is going to lead the newspaper workers as a junior, and the staffs of each are bigger subsequent yr than they had been this yr,” she mentioned enthusiastically.

Ortiz mentioned she is going to host quite a lot of first-year college students coming into this system from her intro class including that numerous them are already state award winners.

“I attempt to gear all of the assignments towards getting them revealed after which I put them within the state nationwide competitions in no matter classes I can discover for them and see what occurs. Loads of them haven’t even been on workers but however are already state award winner in order that’s sort of cool they usually’re very excited for what’s to return once they get their probability,” she added.

With an upward pattern towards digital, Ortiz is equipping the scholars with twenty first century expertise.

“They’ve realized podcasting, video, video modifying utilizing Adobe InDesign and Photoshop relying on what space of issues they go into,” she mentioned.

College students are additionally studying coding WordPress sort of stuff on-line, she mentioned.

“After which this yr, with a lot of the restrictions lifted, we’re lastly going to get again to touring. I take them annually to the state and nationwide journalism conferences the place they get to compete, meet professionals, normally tour faculties, and newsrooms.

The scholars self-fund all their tasks together with promoting enterprise advertisements for the newspaper and senior advertisements for the yearbook to maintain prices as little as potential.

“Fundraising has been a problem since Harvey, after which the pandemic hit. The children get rejected loads, nevertheless it’s a great life lesson for them,” she mentioned.

Ortiz mentioned a lot of their prime tales all year long had been profiles on college students who they see within the hallways day-after-day, however not often know their again tales. Considered one of them included senior Ashton Smith, cheer captain, 5-time cheer All-American, and a four-year letterman who’s autistic. The compelling tales, she says, is what retains college students and fogeys coming again to the positioning.

“This was by far the strongest senior class I’ve ever had. It was very enjoyable,” she smiled. Even by way of the challenges of the final 4 years, she believes the scholars realized tips on how to pivot and join with the group.

They proceed to develop their podcast program whereas additionally starting to dive extra into video and broadcast. College students in 9-12 grades within the journalism programs all contribute to the coed media developed at Kingwood Park.


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