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ALMA convention

Journalism students given an opportunity to participate in real-life situations

South Mountain High School student reporters work on their stories for the Arizona Latino Media Associating writing contest, while eating lunch at the ASU campus in downtown Phoenix.

South Mountain High School student reporters work on their stories for the Arizona Latino Media Associating writing contest, while eating lunch at the ASU campus in downtown Phoenix.

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In March, South Mountain High School’s Southwinds reporters participated in the 20th Annual High School Journalism Workshop, hosted by the Arizona Latino Media Association at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.

Anne Montgomery, the faculty advisor for the Southwinds, explained that anytime students are given an opportunity to participate in real life situations, it’s positive.

“This lets them see what real life in journalism is like,” she said. “ALMA, while it is a Latino association, they do allow anybody to attend. The idea is we need more diversity in media. We need to hear everybody’s voices and so they’re promoting young Latino students who might want to have a job in journalism. They want to help them understand how the business works and help them get ahead.”

This year there were two press conferences which allowed students to act as reporters. In the first conference student reporters interviewed three recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy for certain undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children, and which allows them to remain in the country. Reyna E. Montoya, Ezequiel Santos and Vasthy La Madrid told their stories.

“It was diffcult growing up undocumented, because everyone was getting drivers license(s), everyone getting jobs. . .and I couldn’t do any of that,” said Santos. “And every time things (came) up after school, I had to lie.”

In the second press conference, students interviewed new Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, who spoke about problems related to immigration and what it is like to be sheriff.

For the press conference contest, students had to choose which topic to write about and had an hour deadline.

“It was a great experience,” said junior Chris Dominguez. “I poured my heart out on that article.”

“In high school situations we sometimes. . .give them another day, but in the real world when they need something by four o’clock, you better have it by four o’clock,” said Montgomery. “So I think the deadline thing is one they ran up against.”

Students participated in several workshops, including digital journalism, finding your voice – a radio and recording class – and a small screen/big program, which used smartphones for TV.

“I enjoyed the radio program, because I learned how to change my voice,” said junior Oscar Nunez. “The guy who was helping us was pretty cool (and) he showed me how to read a script to an audience.”

“I was able to see inside the Cronkite school and have an idea of what it would feel like to be at that school,” said Southwinds assistant editor Makayla Lambert.

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ALMA convention