JEA conference makes an impression on Billings students


Lauren Zent, Billings West High School

I took several students to the JEA journalism conference in April. The event, held in San Francisco, was very meaningful for the students and me. My students attended sessions with other students from across the country and heard about other programs, ideas for our program, and also saw the different things they can do with their journalism skills.

It was great to see them interact with other schools and find similarities between programs, schools, and each other.  They also were given an opportunity to compete in Quiz Bowl (which they loved), attend Key Note speakers from the journalism field, and also peruse vendors with careers in journalism.

Just as important as the conference was the idea that these students were able to collectively travel to a new area that many had never been before. We went a day early and saw as many sights as we could. We went on a hop-on hop-off bus and stopped at most stops to spend time and enjoy the beautiful city. Some of the students that I took had never been on a plane, never seen the ocean, and had never been on a group trip. Not only did these students see things that they will always remember, but they also made memories and friendships that they would not have had otherwise.

These experiences are what make my job fun, and what makes our program unique. Our students work hard all year to receive the reward of going to a conference and receiving this eye-opening opportunity. Even though it doesn’t seem like a big deal to most, I know that to my students it is a big deal, and will be talked about for years to come.