AP Mays & Seminole Ridge win High School Newsroom Grants from SPJ Florida

In its second year, the SPJ Florida board is awarding two grants to two high school newsrooms, Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts in Miami and Seminole Ridge Community High School in Loxahatchee, Florida. (Above: members of the APMaysMedia.com)

From SPJ Florida

Both Arthur & Polly Mays and Seminole Ridge newsrooms will receive $500 and will report back to SPJ Florida by the end of the school year on how grant helped them with their student journalism.

“We received double the number of applications in our second year of offering the High School Newsroom Grant, and the scholarship committee had the difficult task of choosing just two schools,” said SPJ Florida President Christiana Lilly.

The first grant will be awarded to AP Mays, a magnet school with a focus on the arts. Dr. Devin Marsh, the adviser for APMaysMedia.com, wrote in his application about how there is just one DSLR camera for all students from sixth to 12th grade to use for projects.

“… My underprivileged students cherish any of the equipment they can use from the program.” – Dr. Devin Marsh

“We are a Title 1 school, so my underprivileged students cherish any of the equipment they can use from the program,” wrote Marsh, a two-time FSPA Teacher of the Year winner (Florida Scholastic Press Association).

“Adding another camera would allow more students the opportunity to create the visions they are creating in their minds and afford them the chance to get one step closer to becoming professionals in the video world,” he said.

The second grant will be awarded to Seminole Ridge Community High’s newsroom, which according to their student adviser is starting from scratch after years of neglect.

“It is a vicious cycle as the lack of funds don’t allow for any way to grow the program for site.” – Eric Jourgensen

“The newspaper program at the school seems to have long become an afterthought. What was once a class is now only a club with only two to three staff members,” Adviser Eric Jourgensen, wrote in the application. “It is a vicious spiral as the lack of funds don’t allow for any way to grow the program or site which then leads to poor visitation of the site which means no advertising.”

Jourgensen wrote that with the money, he hopes to “get our newspaper re-established as a program that the students, school, and community can once again be proud of.”

SPJ Florida has offered scholarships for college students for years, including the newer Molly Turner College Scholarship for women in broadcast, and added its High School Newsroom Grant in 2018 to help at-need high school programs. The chapter believes that early exposure and support of journalism leads to a strong foundation in news reporting and the First Amendment.

“AP Mays and Seminole Ridge are just two stories of how high school journalism programs in our state are in a great need,” said Lilly. “Our board wants to help as much as we can, and we hope these grants can help give them a leg up. We look forward to seeing what these students are able to accomplish this semester.”