We’re excited to unveil the finalists for the FSPA’s premier award for freshmen and sophomores in Florida high school journalism. It was the biggest field of entrants in recent years and extremely competitive.

The award is open to freshmen and sophomore students in FSPA-member programs whose work demonstrates a bright future in scholastic and, perhaps, professional journalism. The winning student will receive $150 toward registration and travel costs for the 2015 FSPA Convention plus free registration at the future FSPA conventions for the duration of their involvement in scholastic journalism. We thank a grant from the Tampa Bay Times Fund for making this cash award possible.

The student’s publication also will receive $150 for staff development or other journalism-related activities. The winner will be announced at the FSPA State Convention in Orlando on Thursday, April 23.

Here are the finalists, in alphabetical order:

  • Annie Aguiar, Hillsborough High School
  • Michael Katz, Dr. Michael Krop Sr. High School
  • Jenna Leval, Cypress Bay High School
  • Katherine Sivco, Viera High School
  • Samantha Verdisco, Robinson High School



2014 Convention Opening Session

March 23 udpate: We have again closed registration for the convention due to reaching capacity limits.

March 12 update: Registration is open again for publications that got shut out of the banquet. The student discounted price is $65 per student without a banquet ticket. You get access to everything else at convention, all the contests, breakout sessions and the dance, go to online registration.

Registration is open for the 2015 FSPA State Convention on April 23-25, 2015, at the Wyndham Orlando Resort. Here are the details and steps you will need to take to bring your student publication:

  1. Convention Invitation & Information (2015 Convention Invitation in PDF format)

  2. Register for convention at our online registration site (Early registration closes March 9). Contact Executive Director Wayne Garcia if you need assistance.

  3. Read the Adviser Survival Guide, along with the student behavior contract and adviser responsibility contract (Download the 2014 document as a .pdf file as a guide, but please do not use last year’s form. The 2015 update will be published in February).

  4. If you are a high school publication, download the 2015 hotel form. You book your rooms directly with the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive using the 2015 hotel form.

  5. If you are a middle school publication attending all three days of the convention, download the 2015 middle school hotel form. You book your rooms directly with the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive using the 2015 middle school hotel form.

  6. Register for contests that we will hold on Thursday at convention, our annual On The Spot Contests. The On The Spot convention contest registration closes on March 22.

Documents for convention:

FSPA Adviser Contract-Behavior Contract-Guide 2015

2015 OTS descriptions

Convention At a Glance

2015 Convention Invitation

2015 middle school hotel form

2015 hotel form

FSPA Sponsor Contract 2015

2015 FSPA sponsor information


Here is your OTS Contest Breakdown, including where to go and what you need to know.

Advisers, you will provide a list of all students participating in each contest at Registration Window A using the OTS Contest Check-In Worksheet. Student names not received by the start of the contest will be disqualified. Please be sure to write legibly as this form is used for contest certificate printing purposes.

Want to know how you’ll be scored? (Links available Monday, April 20)

  • Print Rubrics
  • Broadcast Rubrics
  • Team Rubrics: yearbook, newspaper, lit mag, mixed company, PTI, Danny Wellman

Questions related to print OTS contests should be directed to Elizabeth Cardenas at ecardenas@dadeschools.net. Questions related to broadcast OTS contests should be directed to Kevin Patterson at kevin_patterson@scps.k12.fl.us.


The New England Center for Investigative Reporting is hosting a Summer Investigative Journalism Workshop for high school students.

Students will receive hands-on coaching in writing and reporting as well as research skills by professional journalists. Opportunities to work on investigative news stories for publication will be available.

Participants will learn where to look for investigative stories, how to interview sources, news ethics and more while meeting student journalists and learning from award-winning journalists.

The workshop will take place in Boston, Massachusetts at the Boston University College of Communications. The earliest summer session beginning June 29 and ending on July 10. Other sessions are also available throughout the summer. Details can be found here or at www.necir.org/summer.

Applications for the program are due one week before the beginning of each session. To apply, go to the website listed above. Applicants must submit an academic transcript, one writing sample and a letter of recommendation from a teacher.


You may recall we offered a series of “quick turn” categories last year as part of our Spring Digital Contests. This year, based on your feedback, we are offering them as their own contest window. There will be 10 categories.

  • Specific prompts are attached: FSPA 2015 Quick Turn Contests
  • Additional information for Category 1: 01-Sports Highlight Package
  • Download video file for Category 1: Click here
  • Additional information for Category 7: 07-Headline Hero.
  • Submissions will be accepted via our contest database April 8-10 (except Category 1 as explained in the link above). We provided information via email to advisers.
  • Each publication may submit 10 total entries, with no more than five within a single category.
  • The cost to enter is $30 per publication (whether you submit one entry or 10). We will provide you an invoice before convention.
  • Winners will be announced at convention.
  • Need help? Contact Evaluations Coordinator Joe Humphrey at fspacontests (at) gmail.com.


Let’s get ready to rumble! Pardon the Interruption, the sports-debate contest based on an ESPN show of the same name, is back. This year, debaters had to submit a qualifying video for a chance to compete at the state convention. We’re pleased to announce the following finalists, who will debate on Friday, April 24 (time TBD).

American Heritage Boca/Delray, Wild Horse Productions: Jacob Solkoff and Andrew Rubin

American Heritage Plantation, WAHS News: Brett Kahn and Conner Guidry

Christopher Columbus High School, CCNN Live: David Perez and Daniel Villaneuva

Cypress Bay High School, Lightning Round: Jake Fuhrman and Evan Kessler

Hagerty High School, BluePrint: Ben Clyatt and Nathaniel Kauffman

West Broward High School, The Lynx: Scott Gelman and Nicholas DeRosa

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logo_UOR_tcm13-48662Universal Studios in Orlando has offered FSPA a great deal on its group youth tickets at a substantial discount from the regular price — plus two complimentary chaperone adult tickets.

Details are on this Universal FL Scholastic Press Order Form.15, and you MUST arrange tickets ahead of time. No showing up at the gate with this form and hoping for the discount. We hope you can take advantage of this tremendous offer while you are in Orlando for convention.


The first place winner of Feb. 23-Feb. 27 #SJW2015 is:

The Lynx Newspaper (@TheLynxPaper) of West Broward High, which was mainly represented by Scott Gelman (@Gelman_Scott) & Yolany Paz (@YolanyPeace).

The most active and creative participants in our social media challenge, The Lynx staff truly rose to the occasion day in and day out. Multiple staff members were highly active on social media and achieved the goal of the campaign, which was to raise their own and others’ awareness of the power of scholastic journalism. We were pleased to see the variety of actions The Lynx staff took that week from photographing their staff at work to treating their advisers to donuts and a thank you card. The Lynx took the social media challenge to heart and took action offline.

The Lynx Newspaper will be rewarded with a pizza party for their efforts. We look forward to seeing their social media activity continue once their pizza arrives.


#SJW2015 Runner-Ups: (in alphabetical order)

Bloomingdale Yearbook
Bloomingdale High School

For its active and thoughtful participation, Bloomingdale yearbook receives an honorable mention.


Christopher Columbus High School

For CCNN’s high profile coverage of Barack Obama’s visit to Florida International University and actress Diane Guerrero, we recognize CCNN’s cutting edge coverage and active use of the power of the press.


We have hit our threshold for banquet tickets for the 2015 Convention and we have temporarily taken down the online registration. So what does this mean if you wanted to attend but have not registered yet?

You will still be able to attend convention but we will likely not be able to accommodate you with banquet tickets. You will have access to all other aspects of the event, including the opening and closing sessions, contests, and speaker sessions. We will send out an email once we reopen the convention-no banquet registration options and registration.


We’re proud to announce the finalists for the Todd C. Smith Florida Student Journalist of the Year award.

These seniors submitted portfolios in writing, design, photography, broadcast journalism and online media, and they all showed excellence in student journalism. Judging was supervised by a highly qualified, out-of-state professional involved in scholastic journalism. Our judge wrote: “I was VERY impressed with some of the web sites the students set up. Keep building those and use them as your portfolio to get into college and to get jobs. This is a GREAT start. And it’s something I wish my college students would emulate.” Good advice for all journalism students, not just our finalists.

Congratulations to our four finalists this year, listed here in alphabetical order:

  • Kristi Cook, American Heritage School
  • Erika Orstad, Cypress Bay High School
  • Elina Rodriguez, Hillsborough High School, Tampa
  • Aaron Michael Sortal, American Heritage School

The winner will be announced at the state convention awards dinner on Friday, April 24, and will represent FSPA at the national level. Three of Florida’s winners in the past decade have been honored as finalists for the Sister Rita Jeanne Scholarship,  the national Student Journalist of the Year competition.

Follow us on social media on Facebook or Twitter for more convention and award updates throughout our April 23-25 convention at the Wyndham Orlando Resort. We use the hashtag #FSPA2015.


Scholastic Journalism Week Social Media Challenge

We’ve got a full week ahead, beloved FSPA members. In honor of the Journalism Education Association’s Scholastic Journalism Week, which starts on Monday, we’re launching a state-wide social media challenge. The staff that participates the most in creative and engaging ways will win a pizza and ice cream party, courtesy of FSPA plus special recognition [...]

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