Student media programs earn international, national recognition


This photo has earned senior Ricardo Torres first place in feature photography as announced by Youth Journalism International.

Student media programs combined to win two international and two national awards last week.

Spotlight earned two first place awards from Youth Journalism International when senior Ricardo Torres won first place in feature photography and 2021 graduate Atzel Nunez took first in illustration.

WBDG had two national award winners as announced by the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System last week. Jacksen White, an Area 31 senior from Danville, won first place in national competition for Best Sports Talk Show and Emerson Allen won for Best Community Volunteer/Program for his School Talk with Emerson that is produced by Maxwell Gillie, a junior from Monrovia. 

WBDG also had three national finalists in Best Public Affairs Program (School Talk with Emerson), Best Sports Interview (2021 graduate Zion Brown interviewing girls assistant basketball coach Derrick Goss) and Best Public Service Announcement (2021 grads Ethan Morris and Josh Thompson, both from Plainfield).

Torres took first place for a photo he took of junior drum major Lauren Vescovi during a home football game in August.

The judges said this about Torres’ work: Spontaneous moment with excellent composition taken by a talented photographer.”

Nunez earned praise as well: “A dense, colorful illustration that clearly involved a lot of research and planning. A wonderful cover and feature piece.”

The Spotlight staff won second place in team reporting for an issue they did titled “Friday Night Lights.” The “Friday Night Lights” package of stories that students pulled together is terrific, comprehensive work on something near and dear to many high schools in many places: football. This team effort by young journalists helps show why it all matters so much. Well done!”

Senior Drake Johnson won second place in review writing, and the Spotlight staff earned honorable mention in editorial writing. Junior Jalen Flowers also was honorable mention in sports writing for a story he did on our Unified Flag Football team.

A complete list of YJI award winners can be found at 

These awards come a week after Spotlight and Keyhole combined to win 14 awards during Ball State’s annual High School J-Day competition including superior (first place) awards to Torres in feature photography and Nunez in illustration.

Spotlight has three state winners up for national awards from the National Federation of Press Women in Johnson for review writing, junior Taubah Elebute in opinion writing and 2021 graduate Denise Gimlich in editorial writing. All three were first place state winners. National results will be announced next Monday.