Joyful shrieks and the clapping sound of high-fives all around rang out through the third-floor home of the Journalism Team at Oak Lawn Community High School.
On April 6, the Illinois High School Association live-streamed the results of the Journalism Sectional held on Saturday, April 1. The Oak Lawn Journalism team was delighted with the outcome as they captured their third straight Journalism Sectional Championship. The Oak Lawn journalists faced notable competition from historic programs such as Evanston and Homewood-Floosmoor.
Oak Lawn competed in Sectional 6 against schools throughout Chicagoland. The young journalists competed in eighteen events such as News Writing and Yearbook Theme Development. Oak Lawn had a genuine team effort as they earned points by placing in the top six in all events.
Head Coach Patrick DiFilippo exclaimed, “I am so proud of this team and how they competed at the Sectional. There were many moving parts, and we had some new members step up to the challenge.”
One of those newer members was Sophomore Alessandra Gabriel, who learned in the morning that she was no longer an alternate but was instead competing in News Writing, one of the most difficult events. Thrown into the starting lineup, Gabriel was able to write a Sectional winning news piece.
Alessandra was joined as a Sectional Champion by Senior Ash Argueta in Copy Editing, Sophomore Omar Tellez in Newspaper Design, the Junior Dynamic Duo of Mia Reyes and Staci Standquist in yearbook Theme Development, and the Senior varsity baseball player and journalist Brendan Gallian, who wrote his sports story from the school mini-bus returning from a Spring baseball trip in Alabama.
Gallian was asked about the experience of writing from the highway. Gallian said, “Obviously, it was a very different experience than I had been used to (being on a bus). I didn’t have a keyboard or monitor, just my phone and iPad. I managed to make it work, though. My teammates were very respectful as I competed.”
The top three in all sectional events earn a trip to the IHSA State Finals at Heartland Community College in Normal, Ill., on Friday April 21. The Oak Lawn team will be well represented at the event. Second Place winners included Hir Patel in Advertising, Elizabeth Concannon in Radio News, Annabel Davison in Editorial Writing, Sierra Knutsen in Headline Writing and Caption Writing, Paulina Komperda in Yearbook Copywriting, and Rizan Ali in Yearbook Layout. Third Place included Christian Sweis in Editorial Cartooning, Grace Tynski in Feature Writing, and TV News Broadcast team of Matthew Perry, Victoria Hartin, and Patrycia Szlembarski. This large team now has their eyes on the prize.
Junior Grace Tynski exclaimed, “I can’t wait to go to State with the momentum from this amazing win!”
These journalism competitions give young journalists an opportunity to hone their skills in both individual and group events. 
Mia Reyes commented, “Working with my friend Staci in Yearbook Theme Development was a great experience. We were very nervous in the days leading up to the sectional competition but felt confident after practicing and receiving feedback. This was a fun experience, and we are definitely looking forward to going to state.”


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