NJ teen journalists attend GSSPA Fall Conference 2018 at Rutgers


Photo Credit: Photo via Declaration Staff under the Creative Common License

Enjoying their time at the conference, Colonia High School students learned different tasks for their writing.

By: Hillary Wolanski, Fall reporter

The GSSPA Fall Conference welcomed young journalists to the Busch Campus Center at Rutgers for their 39th annual Fall Press Day. Both the journalism classes and yearbook classes at Colonia High School (CHS) went to the Fall Conference on October 29. The Conference had an attendance of double the amount it usually has.

The event had over 50 workshops. It was $20 for students to attend and $50 for advisers. We had 43 students and 3 advisers from Colonia High School attend. The day started at 8:30 am with check-ins and the first session of workshops were at 9 am. Due to Woodbridge Township School District not allowing trips to leave before 9:15 A.M. because of limited buses, CHS journalists missed the first session and half of the second. Students were still able to partake in four sessions.

Also, the conference offered a student write off, a newspaper exchange, awards and a Twitter contest.

In addition, New Jersey’s New Voices Legislation which is seeking to protect speech rights for student journalists and advisers asked students to fill out post card to be sent to the state Senate. Pins promoting the New Voices campaign were given to students and advisers as well.

The Workshops

Overall, the conference had many different workshops for different types of audiences. Newspaper, yearbook, editors, beginners, experienced, students and advisers were the types of variety for workshops and target audiences.

One example of a workshop was  ‘Photography and Photojournalism’ which was perfect if you were looking for a workshop in the yearbook category. It helped capture images for the yearbook at the school.  Jim Caroll of Lors Photography presented this workshop for yearbook students. Will Doyle, a yearbook student at Colonia High School, who attended this session stated, “The workshop taught me how to get diverse and different angles when taking photos.”

At the event there were also lots of classes for young journalists and students interested in this topic. “Let’s Get Political” was a great workshop to attend for this category. Senior Editor at Colonia High School, Jada Davis, attended this workshop. Davis went into why it was one of her favorite sessions, “The political workshop was my favorite, for sure. It was right up my alley. I learned a lot about what I can and cannot do as a journalist. I just loved the vibe, energy, and information that came with the session.” This workshop was taught by the adviser of  the Eastern High School newspaper, Walter Bowne and his staff.

Other workshops covered topics like the First Amendment, copyright issues, marketing, multimedia, social media, headlines, covering difficult stories, and AP style guide. Presenters of the workshops ranged from Garden State Press Association (GSSPA) Board Members, yearbook publishing companies, college professors, marketing coordinators, Journalism Education Association (JEA) Mentors, professionals in the field and school newspaper advisers.

The Round Tables

Other students seem very interested with Brocks round table discussion. Photo by the Declaration staff from October 29, 2018 used with permission.

There were 39 sessions presented by 28 speakers in addition to student led round tables. The round tables ran from 9:50 am to 1:05 pm with 7 different tables with a variety of topics.

Frankie Brock, senior and editor in chief here at Colonia High School, held her own round table. “My round table focused on how to give constructive criticism as an editor in both yearbook and journalism. And I actually had a lot of kids come and talk to me about how they edit and how hard it is to say ‘I don’t like this, could you change it?’.”

Brock went furthermore into the event stating, “I thought the whole experience was fulfilling, it helped us grow as a class, and it taught us very valuable things as journalism students.”


There were approximately 700 students and 80 advisers from 50 schools in attendance at the conference. The attendance doubled from the last fall press conference.

Sue Everett, creator of the event, said, “everything went very well. There were no problems that I was aware of. As this was our 39th conference, I would find it hard to say ‘best’ but it was certainly well received. Each year we strive to improve our offerings and keep up with the changes in journalism. ”

The next GSSPA conference will be during the spring time in May and will also be held at Rutgers.