Two Florida high schools are using SPJ Florida High School Newsroom Grant to advance their student newsrooms

From SPJ Florida — WildcatsBack in January 2018, SPJ Florida announced the two recipients of its inaugural High School Journalism Grant to Westland Hialeah High School in Hialeah, Florida, and Thomas Richard Robinson High School, located in Tampa, Florida.

With the school year over last spring, both schools reported back to SPJ Florida with how the grants helped their newsrooms.

Lisa Espinosa 
Lisa Espinosa

Digital Media Instructor Lisa Espinosa and the newsroom adviser at Westland Hialeah, said her students were able to purchase a new wireless microphone set for its programming. During the application process, the students said they were dismayed to discover their current set was no longer usable due to changes made by the FCC. The class didn’t have enough money to buy a new set, until they won the SPJ Florida grant.

“The microphone helped the students gain confidence in their production skills and made their finished productions sound more professional,” Espinosa told SPJ Florida. “Their final project, a short film titled Primo, won 19 awards at the Florida Film Institute’s end of the year awards ceremony.”

Florida grant winner logoThe grant was also useful for the students at Robinson High School, whose newsroom exploded to 40 students when its print and online newspaper teams were combined.

“It was amazing, until the group of editors realized how many inexperienced writers we now had and how few resources we had to help them,” said Macy McClintock, the managing editor of the Robinson High School Knightwriters and “Due to the financial status of our school, the newspaper staff receives very limited funds, so we have no wiggle room to purchase new equipment.”

SPJ Florida high school grant winner 2018
2017 -2018 Robinson High School Knightwriters and staff

After the grant was dispersed, the Knightwriters were able to purchase newspaper racks, print the newspaper in color for the first time, and purchase T-shirts to help with branding and team building.

“When you award scholarships and grants, your hope is that the money helped make a difference for students and newsrooms,” said SPJ Florida president Christiana Lilly. “It was wonderful to hear how much these two schools were able to progress their journalism programs with our grant, and solidified our decision to continue with the grant.”

The SPJ Florida High School Newsroom Grant will open again soon for the next round of applications. Watch for announcements on or SPJ Florida social media.

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