West Students Go to Journalism Conference

It was an early start to the morning and a crowded van ride for Wauwatosa West newspaper and yearbook students who attended the annual KEMPA Fall Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on October 18.

KEMPA (Kettle Moraine Press Association) is an organization created over 50 years ago to support scholastic journalism students in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. Each fall KEMPA holds an annual Fall Conference. Students select from dozens of sessions in three different times slots. The sessions range from moving your publication on-line to learning the latest in yearbook design trends. And for the almost 1,000 student and advisers attending the conference this year, there seemed to be something for everyone.

“It’s a really powerful conference . . . a great way to jumpstart the year for our yearbook editor,” said Daniel Prothero, Wauwatosa West yearbook adviser.

Mary Beth TInker, the “TInker” in the famous Tinker vs. Des Moines case regarding freedom of student expression in schools was the special guest this year at the conference and spoke students at each session of the conference. She is traveling the country this fall with the Student Press Law Center as part of the Tinker Tour.

Students feel that it was really interesting to learn the background of the Tinker case. For some students with a detailed understanding of the Tinker case and student press rights, the chance to hear and meet Mary Beth Tinker was a once in a lifetime experience.

“This is like the coolest thing ever, sitting in a room with Mary Beth Tinker,” said senior Abi Simons while waiting for the talk to start. Simons was a member of the American Public Policy Special Emphasis class which focuses on the Constitution and Constitutional issues.

In addition to the talk about the Tinker case, Mary Beth Tinker and Mike Hiestand provided practical advice for student journalists. Many who publish on a daily or weekly basis.

“I didn’t realize how important it could be to balance the gain with the harm caused by publishing something.” Mark Salamone said about his first session, which focused on the ethics of journalism.

The students can’t wait to go back again next year.

“Today was successful, outstanding, motivating, and a great day to be a journalist.” Ryne Radske said about his experience.

The day concluded with an exciting van ride home. The last group to rent the van left a few certain items in the vehicle which the Tosa West students were quick to discover. These items were a sweater, a hat, and a purple bra.

The students disembarked back at West warning each other on their way out of the van, “not to step on the bra.”