Celebrating the Student Press in Washington state!

SPI Reykdal will make a statement in support of a strong student press in Washington state, as we celebrate four years since Washington’s Student Press Rights “New Voices” bill was signed into law by Gov. Inslee.

A panel of 12 student journalists from schools around the state will then pose questions on topics of concern to their peers.

Student journalists, civics and social studies students are encouraged to attend!

Register student groups of up to 20 using this link.

The following students won awards at the 2022 WJEA Spring Conference.



Superior Alex Levin Mercer Island
Excellent Alden Arnold Seattle Prep
Excellent Reilly Brundage Nathan Hale
Excellent Rachel Davis
Mountlake Terrace
Excellent Will He Inglemoor

Editorial Writing

Excellent Kate Grove Mercer Island
Honorable Mention Jakob Nacanaynay
Mountlake Terrace
Honorable Mention Jackie Su Inglemoor
Honorable Mention Lily Turner Nathan Hale

Newspaper/Newsmagazine Feature Writing

Excellent Una Cleary Nathan Hale
Honorable Mention Bella Blankenship-Miller Sedro-Woolley
Honorable Mention Paloma Hissong Seattle Prep
Honorable Mention Sandra Pedersen Mercer Island
Honorable Mention Mika Raring
Mountlake Terrace
Honorable Mention Klaira Zhang Inglemoor

Yearbook Feature Writing

Honorable Mention Casey Carpenter Mountlake Terrace

Sports Feature Writing

Excellent Alex Gardner Nathan Hale
Excellent Siqi Li Inglemoor
Honorable Mention Cecilia Negash
Mountlake Terrace
Honorable Mention Asha Woerner Mercer Island

Review Writing

Superior Max Hense Mercer Island
Excellent Mariam Kazmi Woodinville
Honorable Mention Claire Meng Inglemoor
Honorable Mention Darby O’Neill Shorewood

Editorial Cartooning

Superior Lena Hardisty Mercer Island
Superior Eliana Megargee Shorewood

Headline Writing/Editing

Superior Jordan Balousek Mercer Island
Honorable Mention Maggie O’Hara Mountlake Terrace

Newspaper/Newsmagazine Layout

Superior Jana Dimikj Inglemoor
Excellent Kate Grutz Shorewood
Honorable Mention Ava Tinder Seattle Prep

Yearbook Layout

Excellent Julia Cappio University Prep
Honorable Mention Allie Fey Inglemoor

Newspaper/Newsmagazine Feature Photo

Honorable Mention Samantha Pelter Mercer Island

Yearbook Feature Photo

Excellent Tom Fathi Ballard
Honorable Mention Mischa Gregory Mercer Island
Honorable Mention Emilyn Smith Inglemoor

Newspaper/Newsmagazine Sports Photo

Honorable Mention Caroline Erdey
Mountlake Terrace
Honorable Mention Ava Jones Inglemoor
Honorable Mention Brooks Kahsai Mercer Island

Yearbook Sports Photo

Superior Isaiah Hoagland Auburn
Superior Kayla Tran Inglemoor
Excellent Piper Pokorny Mercer Island
Honorable Mention Emmalee Harmon Mountlake Terrace

News Website

Excellent Seattle Prep
Excellent Shorewood
Excellent Mercer Island

Scholastic Journalism Week 2022 is Feb. 21-25. This year’s theme is “Amplifying Voices.” Each day of the week also has its own theme. For more information, including a list of suggested activities, head to the Journalism Education Association’s Scholastic Journalism Week website.


On Thursday, Feb. 24, celebrate Student Press Freedom Day. Sponsored by the Student Press Law Center, this annual eventrecognizes the power of student voices. This year’s theme: “Unmute Yourself!” For more information, including a list of 10 things you can do to mark the day, head to studentpressfreedom.org

A surprise classroom visit by principal Robert Aguilar brought excitement to media teacher Cathy Mebes’ morning “Talon” yearbook class at College Place High School on April 28.  Mebes was named Washington state’s 2021 Journalism Adviser of the Year by the Washington Journalism Education Association (WJEA). The annual award goes to a teacher who exemplifies excellence in teaching and in upholding high standards of journalism.

College Place media teacher Cathy Mebes is Washington state’s 2021 Journalism Adviser of the Year.

An important aspect of this award is that nominations come from students. The letter nominating Mebes came from junior Veronica Sierra on the Talon staff, who said of her teacher: “She continues to go the extra mile every day for each and every one of her students in order to make us feel welcomed. In her class, she makes it clear that no idea will be frowned upon, and that everyone’s opinion matters.”

Joining principal Agular virtually via ZOOM were outgoing Journalism Adviser of the Year, Angelo Comeaux, broadcast instructor at Mountlake Terrace High School and WJEA executive director Kathy Schrier. Comeau, who headed the award selection committee, said that Mebes’ media program stood out because “hers is a program with consistently high standards and the students clearly respect and respond to that.”

Mebes spent years working as a communication professional prior to making the shift to teaching. Originally from Tennessee with a degree in mass communication, she gained experience in a range of positions, including news anchor, public relations spcialist and event manager. After a number of moves due to her husband’s military career, Mebes and husband, Mark, settled in Walla Walla, where she became part of the team to launch the Children’s Museum of Walla Walla. She was then hired to help with the opening of College Place High School. Of course, when a student media program began, she was the natural choice to take the lead.

“When I started at CPHS in 2014, I was asked to take the Strength Finders quiz and my strengths are Individualization, Empathy, Positivity and Arranger (in that order).  Individualization is the act of seeking out the talents, skills and gifts in others and then reminding them of their potential.  I am blessed to get to do this every day in Media and Yearbook Classes.  I have the pleasure of reminding students of their potential, encouraging them to use their talents as they collaborate and work on projects,” Mebes said.

WJEA will participate in this week’s 2021 GIVE BIG effort, hoping to raise funds to help support WJEA’s many programs and scholastic journalism in our state. Please share this link with any of your contacts who you think would like to participate and help keep our programs strong.

Five publications from around the state of Washington have earned recognition in the 2019-2020 WJEA Emerald Award competition.

The Nordic News, from Inglemoor High School, The Puma Press from University Prep and the Hawkeye from Mountlake Terrace High School all earned 90 percent superior ratings this year in Coverage, Writing,  Design, Visuals and Leadership categories to earn the honor.

For yearbook, both Pantera from Mead High School in Spokane and Stillaguamish Trail from Arlington High School earned the 90 percent superior rankings to qualify for the Emerald Award in Theme development/structure, Coverage, Reporting, Photography and Design.

There were no website and broadcast winners.

For several years, I ignored the WJEA fliers in my school mailbox because I thought “I’m only a yearbook adviser.  They don’t have anything for me.”  

Let’s talk about that whole “ONLY a yearbook adviser” thought I had.  What? 

Yearbook is journalism. 

Journalism advisers are journalism advisers regardless of media. We help each other in so many ways. 

WJEA has something to offer everyone. 

I don’t think I’m the only yearbook adviser out there who has thought all the good yearbook support comes from the plant/publisher. I spent nearly 15 years believing that. I cannot believe what I missed out on those years. 

My first several WJEA meetings were convention planning, and I was rapidly sucked in. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been part of this magical group before. That was five years ago. Here I am serving my second term as president and as local committee chair for whatever the April 2021 JEA/NSPA convention looks like. 

I have met amazing friends. I have met some incredible students and introduced them to my own incredible students. I have lost track of the inspirations I have found within this organization. A meeting of the WJEA Board has a way of renewing my enthusiasm. 

As a board, we click. We all want to make WJEA more valuable to the members we currently have, and we want to share the organization with more advisers and students. We know there is power in numbers. The more journalism advisers and students we have, the stronger we become, and the more brains we have improving scholastic journalism in the state of Washington.  

We have a core group of members that show up for everything possible. However, we need your help. We want more of you to join us at events. In the think tank. You have great ideas and new experiences to share. 

If I can convince you of only one thing here, it would be to involve yourself more in WJEA. (This whole Covid business is bringing us into the Zoom world, which means we can be more involved without a six hour drive!) 

If I can convince you of two things here, it would be the first one plus the idea that you have something to offer—regardless of your experience level. I was mentoring a yearbook adviser yesterday. She gave me the perfect idea for my yearbook. I mentored another one today, and our conversation lead to a genius idea for online learning and accountability. 

I will be setting up some roundtable discussions and a new Facebook group for journalism advisers in the state. We need as many ways to connect as possible.  We already are often on a curricular island at schools when we are physically in front of students. We need our collective brain power to thrive in this next school year. 

Nolan DeGarlais, Editor in Chief of the Mountlake Terrace Hawkeye, was named WJEA’s 2020 Journalist of the Year.
Annie Green, the selection committee chair, surprised DeGarlais at an award presentation during a school staff meeting on Friday, March 13. DeGarlais will receive the Robin Morris Scholarship of $2000 from WJEA and will now be considered at the national level for the JEA Journalist of the Year Award.
This is the second year in a row the Washington Journalist of the Year has been from Mountlake Terrace. Outgoing J.O.Y. winner, Annika Prom, placed in the top six at the national level last year. Prom now attends the University of Washington.