Durant Journalism Succeeds at FSPA


Majortity of the Pawprint staff gathers to celebrate their victories.

Lily Belcher, Staff Writer

Durant’s Journalism Program found great success at the 2019 Fall Florida Scholastic Press Association Conference.  Over 800 students attended the conference at USF on November 1st.  Three students from Durant’s newspaper and yearbook classes won on the spot contest awards in the district and four won in the state of Florida for their articles written in various categories. Durant’s Newspaper teacher, Mrs. Kious, also won Teacher of the Year in District 4.

Mrs. Kious, who has grown the PawPrint from seven students to 15 in the span of four years, won teacher of the year throughout Hillsborough, Polk, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando, and Pinellas county.  Mrs. Stone, Durant’s yearbook teacher, nominated her co-worker for the award at FSPA because of the success the PawPrint has had under Mrs. Kious. Mrs. Stone said, “Mrs. Kious has … revitalized the newspaper program… she, like, threw herself into it.” 

She attributed the success of the PawPrint’s web presence and stronger, motivated writers originating from the newspaper program to Mrs. Kious and said she is “a good teacher and deserves recognition.”

Durant Pride Yearbook
Mrs. Kious shares words of wisdom with Web Editor Angelique Robinson, Business Manager Jordan Dabbourand Staff Writer Nick Travis as they enjoy lunch at FSPA.

Mrs. Kious will be entered for teacher of the year in the state of Florida and is very deserving of the honor.  

Many of the PawPrint’s staff writers won awards for FSPA’s Fall Digital Contests in various categories as well.  Students who won digital contests placed in the top 10% of winners in the entire state of Florida.

David Fackson, a junior who joined PawPrint this year, wrote an article about the Tampa Bay Rays’ 2019 season for the Sports Feature category.  Despite not being able to make it to the conference, his article won in Florida. “It was nice to feel, nice to see,” he said about winning at FSPA. 

He also said he had never won something like this, and the award confirmed that he was on the right track with his writing as a journalist.

Lily Belcher, a sophomore, also placed in the state for a Sports Feature on Kevin Cash, thanks to help from Mrs. Kious and Jennifer Dages, the Editor-in-Chief of Writing for the PawPrint. 

Marina Hawkins and Adamari Jaimez won in Academic Photography with their photos of a Durant’s chemistry teacher, Mr. Haley, conducting an experiment during class.  Marina is the Social Media Coordinator for the PawPrint and said, “It feels good to know I could put that on my college resume or applications.”

Adamari is a junior who is considering a career in Photo-journalism.  She said that winning at FSPA has motivated her to work harder in journalism and consider Photo-journalism as a potential job in the future.  

The PawPrint also saw success in the On-the-Spot Contests at FSPA.  Mattie Powers, who also joined PawPrint this year and hopes to eventually work in broadcast journalism, won third place in the News Anchor Challenge.  She had ten minutes to memorize the story and report it as a news anchor would. Mattie also takes TV Production at Durant and is working on her articles for the winter edition of the PawPrint.  Mattie said “Winning at FSPA meant the world to me because it really confirmed what I wanted to do as a career, which is to be a news anchor.”

Durant Pride Yearbook
The staff begins to brainstorm their ideas for their on the spot contests.

Two students from Durant’s yearbook won an architectural on-the-spot photography contest.  Javier Lopez and Merrick Wigington featured photos of architectural aspects of the USF Marshall Center.  

FSPA has provided many journalism students with validation for their dreams of becoming a journalist.  It gave potential journalists the opportunity to improve their writing, interviewing, and broadcasting skills.  It allowed staff writers to explore different types of journalism and to discover their journalistic passions.