Bob Jones’ ‘Patriot Pages,’ ‘The Eclectic’ ranked first in Alabama

MADISON – At its recent conference and competition, Alabama Scholastic Press Association honored the staff of “Patriot Pages” website and “The Eclectic” literary magazine with first-place honors.

The University of Alabama hosted the conference.

“We mailed in our entries because we have a substitute teacher and bus driver shortage in Madison City Schools. It has been a challenge to organize field trips on a tight budget this year,” Brandy Panagos said.

“Our program can’t afford a charter bus while also publishing a 300-page literary magazine. We hope to attend conference workshops and compete in the in-person write-off competitions next year,” Panagos said. Panagos teaches creative writing, multimedia design and multimedia publications.

In online reviews, judges assessed students’ “quality and frequency of articles, photography, graphics, videos, infographics and podcasts. Two of our seniors submitted portfolios of their editorial and feature writing,” Panagos said.

This year, about 85 students have contributed work to “Patriot Pages” in regular articles, graphics or multimedia. Top student contributors and leaders are Emily Duong, Madison Tanner, Carmen Hunderman, Grace Sanders, Thomas Sigler, Eric Joy, Matthew Pimmel, Olivia Lekas and Katie Dougherty.

Additional congratulations are due to Madison Tanner for winning the “Bailey Thomson Award for Editorial Writing,” presented to one outstanding senior in the state. “Madison Tanner researches her topics deeply, and she writes about her subjects with maturity and nuance,” Panagos said. Madison’s topics have ranged from Bob Jones students’ concerns to political pieces.

The award engenders Bailey Thomson, a prominent Alabama journalist whose writing advocated for Alabamians’ everyday issues and constitutional reform. Thomson wrote for “The Huntsville Times” and other newspapers and taught journalism at the University of Alabama.

“When you have students on staff who submit more than they are required to submit and ‘just for fun,’ you know you have a good staff,” Panagos said. Bob Jones also has several podcast groups and some students who enjoy making news packages, on-camera interviews and photographing or drawing digital, editorial cartoons. “It helps to have these other forms of storytelling.”

As Bob Jones’ literary and arts magazine, “The Eclectic” showcases 100-plus students’ ideas, including fiction/nonfiction, poetry, stage/screen, comics, art and photography. Multimedia, like short films or interactive works, is accessed by QR codes.

“The literary magazine’s theme was ‘fate.’ Students did a stellar job with both layout design and the content,” Panagos said. Student leaders were Danica Vu, Emily Duong, Katie Tanner, Madison Tanner, Joe Williams, Baraka Busambwa, Christine Pham, Quinn Powell and Sam Krueger.

“Student publications are important because students learn to think about the world in which they live. They learn to research and evaluate their sources, conduct interviews and experiment with different forms of expressing themselves,” Panagos said.

“Students who are sometimes reluctant to create are more motivated when they’re writing for authentic audiences. I have students who submit extra stuff, without it being for a grade, often,” Panagos said.

“Maybe it’s just to share their interests with others, like Emily Duong’s 5,000-word review of a K-pop concert,” she said. “Maybe it’s to promote other things that they’re involved with at Bob Jones, like Thomas Sigler’s promotion of our drama department’s events or Morgan Walker’s coverage of the inaugural season of girls’ flag football or Chyanne Smith’s coverage of girls’ golf.”

“If I ask if anyone would like to make an infographic or gif animation to promote homecoming ticket sales, I have students like Grace Sanders who will email me something that day. When students are contributing content ‘just for fun,’ I know it will be a good year for us at the competition,” Panagos said.

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