Freedom Focus Media students participate in annual PSPA state competition


On Thursday, March 30, 11 members of Freedom Focus Media competed in the Pennsylvania School Press Association (PSPA) state finals. This is a yearly competition where students from all eight regions around the state meet at Penn State University’s main campus to compete in their designated contest categories. Before the state event, students from all over the state meet up with other schools in their regions for the regional event. This is where students compete to move on to the state competition. 

The 16 contests span the spectrum of scholastic journalism with yearbook, newspaper, broadcast, photography and literary magazine categories. For most competitions students get sent to a competition room, where everyone is given one hour to complete their entire given entries, surrounded by other student competitors. There are a few competitions where students are given all of the day to collect videos and pictures, then given a week to edit and choose what content they would like to submit. This year, Freedom had more state qualifiers than any other competing school in Pennsylvania, three of whom were defending state champions from 2022. Senior Kaylee Ostrowski brought home the gold for Freedom again this year in her category, “Yearbook Spread Design,” making her the first Freedom student to win multiple journalism state titles. 

“I was honestly shocked when I was handed my award this year, there was a ton of great competition. It feels exciting to have won twice,” Ostrowski said. 

As of now, Ostrowski is the only state champion. Judges from PSPA have not released the scores of the yearbook photography, newspaper photography or the broadcast categories. Sophomore Lainey Tusynski, and seniors Madison Sanders and Brigette Richard competed in those events. Even though Ostrowski was the only one who brought home the championship from Penn State, every student who went gained valuable skills and lessons from this trip. Outside of the competition, the day is full of workshops, talks and practices planned by PSPA president Mr. Aaron Fitzpatrick and state competition chair Paul Fantaski that can help any student journalist, no matter if they are competing or not. Students had the chance to attend a press conference featuring former Nittany Lion Michael McDermott, heard from last year’s student journalist of the year Lucy Bickel, had round table discussions with other publications and heard from students running the New Voices campaign in Pennsylvania. 

“It was great to talk at the round table conversations with other publications because it made me see how lucky we are to be able to have a class where we get to complete the newspaper and yearbook. It was also great to see what other schools are doing and being able to be able to bring that home to make our publications better,” junior Skylar Scobbo said. 

With students from all over the state coming together for this competition, it was a very beneficial and enjoyable day for all students and staff involved. Even with the competition, the events gave students experiences that they would not get in the classroom, and that will help them for years to come.