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The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

PV senior receives national journalistic recognition

Senior+Jae+Jepsen+received+the+Student+Impact+Award+on+April+2.
Selah DeVore
Senior Jae Jepsen received the Student Impact Award on April 2.

Senior Jae Jepsen was awarded the National JEA Student Journalist Impact Award in recognition of her work covering the PV school board election earlier this school year.

Jepsen has been writing for the Spartan Shield for two years, and this year she serves as the publication’s online Editor-in-Chief. For a student newspaper, this position comes with a lot of responsibility.

“As EIC, I edit articles, but I also keep track of what is published, run the Shield’s social media and make sure everything is running smoothly. It definitely takes a lot of time and energy, but I love doing it,” Jepsen said.

But on top of all of the expectations of her position, Jepsen has continued to post remarkable writing on the Spartan Shield website.

During first semester, dialogue about the PV school board election began circulating throughout the school. Jepsen found that much of what people were saying about the different candidates and policies were based on misinformation and rumors due to the lack of coverage. So, taking matters into her own hands, Jepsen scheduled interviews with each of the candidates and began writing about the election on the Spartan Shield website.

“I talked to seven of the eight candidates, some in person and some over zoom. It was a little intimidating at first, but over time I got used to the environment. The whole story just felt very big, so I knew I had to be really careful and thoughtful with both my interviews and my writing. My goal was to clear up all the misinformation and rumors I had been hearing and provide a solid summary of the candidates’ platforms,” said Jepsen.

Covering such a pivotal community event was very difficult, especially when Jepsen was met with fierce opposition. From public comments to private threats, the public response to Jepsen’s work was shocking, especially to Journalism teacher Maureen Dyer.

“It’s disheartening to watch a student take verbal beatings by parents of the PV community,” Dyer stated, “But Jae learned a lesson about the harsh part of being a journalist very early in her career and that will only make her stronger.”

But despite the public outrage, Jepsen continued to write, ending up with four articles covering the election.

While few appreciated Jepsen’s hard work and determination at the time, she was delighted to learn that it paid off when, many months later, she received national recognition.

Dyer believes that Jepsen stood out as an ideal candidate for the honor due to her perseverance and community impact. “Her commitment to seeing the issues through to the end was awe-inspiring, and her hard work did a lot to inform the community about the issues surrounding the election,” she said.

In her recommendation letter to the selection committee, associate professor of multimedia journalism and mass communication at Augustana College, Carolyn Haslinger, went beyond this claiming that, “Jae’s solid reporting on this election surpassed the coverage by the professional media in its depth and courage.”

Awarded to only one student annually, the Student Journalist Impact Award aims to recognize a student journalist who, according to the JEA website, “has made a significant difference in his/her own life, the lives of others, the school he/she attends and/or the community in which he/she resides.”

Haslinger’s recommendation letter claimed that Jepsen’s writing fit this description perfectly, stating, “Her work was instrumental in raising community awareness about the importance of the election, spurring voter turnout and educating voters so they could make informed decisions.”

The work Jepsen did to cover the election didn’t just positively impact the community, but also made her a better journalist. “I’ve learned so much about how to properly conduct and interview and how to avoid bias in my writing, but also I have a lot thicker skin for the criticism I’ve received. I know that, as a journalist, I’ll continue to recieve backlash, and I feel prepared to deal with that,” Jepsen said.”

Jepsen will be continuing her journalism career by attending University of Missouri in the fall, majoring in journalism.

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About the Contributor
Selah DeVore
Selah DeVore, Copy Editor
Selah DeVore is a senior at Pleasant Valley High School and serves as the copy editor for the Spartan Shield. At PV, Selah is very involved with the theater department both on and offstage, most recently serving as the co-director for the 2024 childrens show. Outside of journalism, Selah passionately loves reading, overthinking, and gossiping with friends, but often finds herself cramming for a last minute anatomy test or chauffeuring her friends and siblings all over creation. Selah works as the props program aid for Davenport Junior Theater where she enjoys burning her fingers with hot glue and listening to audiobooks. After graduation, Selah plans to pursue a career in the medical field and hopes to become a physical therapist.

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