Newspaper, yearbook students travel to Saint Francis University


Charlie Kephart

Saying goodbye. Newspaper and yearbook students leave Saint Francis at the end of a long day. Students hope to return next year to compete again.

On Nov. 2, the Mountain Echo and Horseshoe yearbook staffs traveled to Saint Francis University for the Pennsylvania School Press Association (PSPA) regional competition. The staffs competed against other schools in the region including the Lions Digest staff from State College and The BluePrint staff from Bellwood-Antis. 

PSPA offers regional and state level competitions for the students involved in publications in Pennsylvania. The categories offered included: writing, design, art and broadcasting. Freshman Madison Aboud competed in one of the writing categories. 

“I competed in the literary magazine poetry section. I learned that I am not a poet, that is for sure and certain. I tried my best, and even if it is not necessarily what the judges are looking for, I’m proud I took a chance and liked what I wrote,” Aboud said. 

This year is Aboud’s first year on the Mountain Echo staff. She previously wrote for Livewire. Aboud hopes to continue writing through high school and go to Boston University for journalism. 

“I love being on the staff. It’s a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding. I love getting to be with everyone else every day and getting to look at my stories on the website,” Aboud said. 

Besides competing, students had a chance to listen to two different speakers. Students also had the choice of attending a communications program discussion with Saint Francis students or a photography workshop. Editors from Altoona, Bellwood and State College attended an editor’s meeting. This was also an opportunity for students to spend time with their friends in the publication programs. 

“Being able to meet with other editors was very beneficial because it was an awesome way to not only connect with other publications, but a great way to see what our publication needed ,” Editor in Chief Cassidy Klock  said. 

Anna Baughman has been chief editor of Morrisons Cove Herald for almost two years. Baughman delivered the keynote address at the event. She accepted the offer of speaking because of her past experiences at that college. 

“I typically go back to Saint Francis every time my professor asks me to. Both professors involved with this event, Drs. Kelly Rhodes and Patrick Farabaugh have recommended me for positions, served as my references and given me journalistic and life advice consistently since I met them,” Baughman said.

Baughman was the editor of her high school newspaper at Bishop Guilfoyle and editor of Saint Francis’s newspaper, the Troubadour. Baughman spoke about her experiences of being in journalism at a high school, college and professional level. 

I was actually asked to speak at this event last year, but it was canceled. I am almost glad that I didn’t have to speak until this year. There was so much more for me to discuss, so many more experiences for me to draw on and so much more knowledge in the field than I had even one year ago,” Baughman said. 

With Baughman’s multiple years of experience, she had advice to give to the high school students she interacted with. She hopes students also build their portfolios with stories they are proud of to have ready for the future. 

“Everyone is essential to the success of the paper. Now is a good time to start learning how to work with different personalities and how to exhibit contributors’ strengths. Work together and acknowledge what others excel at, “ Baughman said. 

Baughman coordinated with Nate Thompson to be able to speak at this event. Thompson has been a board member of the PSPA for ten years. He organized the regional event at Saint Francis. 

“The former president of the PSPA got me involved. I began helping with organizing the local competitions. I got my Certificate of Journalism Education in 2009. I have a tendency to really want to dive into something and master it when I commit to it. Journalism education was that goal,” Thompson said. 

Students who win their regional competition will advance to the state level. One student will win from each category. Regional winners will be invited to Penn State main campus in the spring to compete against winners from the other regions. 

“Everything will be written up based on information in front of them that day. For example, one year we had Miss Pennsylvania and individuals had to find a sports angle on her, and they delved into her physical fitness. We have also had the Penn State quarterback and a running back there one of the years,” Thompson said.

Thompson was pleased with the spike in numbers since it was their first regional event since the COVID-19 outbreak. He hopes to see even more kids back next year. There were 66 students attending the event. 

“I’ve seen so much decline in activities with kids. It’s just nice to see new schools and larger numbers than we had before the pandemic. It’s astounding honestly,” Thompson said.