DbVkY_3U0AA9zA6Breaking news: three students on the staff of the Viator Voice advanced to the state finals of the IHSA journalism competition, that takes place today on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in downstate Charleston.

Joanne Jun ’18, Emma Perry ’18, and Crystal Schuster ’19 all placed in the top three of their respective divisions at sectionals last weekend, emerging from a pool of reporters from 14 schools from the North and Northwest suburbs. Megan Bosshart ‘20 also placed fourth in copy editing while Nicole Marcinkus ’18 placed sixth in newswriting.

Joanne took first place in editorial cartooning, which is something she’s been doing all year. She already earned first place ribbons for cartoons submitted to the Illinois Woman’s Press Association and to the Northern Illinois School Press Association.

She has created graphics for the Voice all four years, and she has served as the graphics editor the last two years. During that time, she figures she has drawn more than 100 graphics for the paper, and all on the iPad. However, once she got to sectionals she had to create a cartoon — on the spot — to interpret an editorial written for the competition.

“I’m so used to drawing on the iPad, but there I had to draw it out on paper — and there was no backspace,” she says. Her editorial dealt with whether funds from a school fundraiser should deal with a global issue or one closer to home.

Joanne drew out a lawyer scale, with different images on each side to dramatize the student body weighing their options. She says it took nearly 40 minutes to sketch out her cartoon in pencil before going back over the image in black felt ink before submitting it.

“In my mind, I’m always thinking of ways to dramatize a story,” says Joanne. “It has to be eye-catching, it can’t be trite and the imagery has to draw in the reader. It’s definitely an important component of the editorial.”

Emma Perry, who serves as co-editor of the opinion section for the Voice, placed third in headline writing. For the competition, she had to write headlines for six stories on a pre-designed page, using a designated font and making it fit in the space allowed above the story.

“She’s been our go-to headline writer all year,” says Mr. Chris Paolelli, newspaper moderator. “She’s got the knack. She’s just really clever.”

In thinking about headlines, Emma says she keeps in mind the rules laid out in the AP Style guide, but mostly she likes to insert her own creativity into them.

“I read through the story carefully and look for some of the creative elements that I can have fun with in the headline.” Emma says, “but it still has to reach out and grab the reader.”

Crystal Schuster took third place in feature writing. Crystal is a staff writer for the Voice, and her writing at sectionals stood out.

As part of her event, Crystal sat in on what amounted to be a live, press conference, hearing from a survivor of the Boston marathon massacre.

“It was both breathtakingly inspiring and intriguing to hear a firsthand encounter of what happened on that fateful day,” Crystal said.

The presentation included taking questions from the young reporters before students were set loose, to “work their magic” to produce a 500-word feature story. In it, judges looked for the use of an interesting lead, accurate details, and proper style and mechanics.

This is the second straight year that members of the Viator Voice staff have advanced to state in journalism, and even as they work to hammer out this year’s coveted senior edition, their moderator says they deserve this kind of recognition.

“I’m beyond proud of what these kids accomplished,” Mr. Paolelli says, “and I’m looking forward to many years of IHSA excellence in the future.”