Hundreds of high school students take part in J-Day

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Nearly 600 southeast Missouri high school students are trying to advance their skills in journalism.

J-Day (Journalism Day), formerly known as Southeast Missouri Student Press Association Conference, is an organization started by local yearbook and newspaper advisors that felt something needed to be in place promoting journalism at the scholastic high school level.

This event is important for students to know more about different aspects in journalism to enhance their skills.

Jim Dumont, Jostens Yearbook Sales Representative for Southeast Missouri, feels this event is something that could shine light on helping students to get yearbook sales back up.

"The trend we're beginning to see in some parts of the country is we are seeing a little bit of a downturn in yearbook sales," Dumont said. "Students just aren't buying yearbooks like they once did. I think that may have something to do with the connection that they have with the school."

Students here said this is important to them to help enhance their skills in many areas including sales, photography and editing.

"I'm taking away a lot of important skills on how to do our jobs well and how to make sure things get done on time," Portageville High School Senior Peyton Bullock said.

"It will definitely impact every bit because they can learn more things for the future and so they don't make as many mistakes as they could," Farmington High School Freshman Tori Gaddy said.

Students we talked with said they take this seriously and it may help them down the road in college and finding a job.

"I feel like it will help me know that I really do want to be in this and that it's a good thing to be in," Gaddy added.

"This will influence my decisions in the future about journalism," Bullock added. "It's nice to think about things like that, to have aspirations for things like that. It could benefit to aim high even if you don't achieve what you're trying to."

Keynote speaker at the event was Richland High School Yearbook Business Teacher and Advisor Kyle Carter. He was a Heartland student roughly two decades ago that attended this very conference.

Since then, he has become a nationally known photographer that now teaches in Essex, MO where he has had several yearbooks that have produced well over 100 state, national and international awards.

Students said seeing examples like Carter helps fuel them.

Farmington High School Sophomore Mia Maldonado listened to Carter as he taught various aspects of journalism. She said this is something she has always wanted to do and strives to improve more in every area she can.

"I've been doing that since I was young," Maldonado said. "I used to take pictures of everything I saw. Wherever I went, I took pictures."

"This makes me want even more," Gaddy said. "It makes me want to do more than I could do."

Dumont is thankful so many students want to be involved and hopes a bright future for them.

"The nice thing about this venue is hopefully it gives these students an opportunity to think about moving on to college and pursuing a career whether it's in photography, journalism, writing or graphic design."

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