For local high school journalists, the quest to become a state champion commenced once again Oct. 18 when the Pennsylvania School Press Association opened up its sixth annual State Journalism Contests at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

A total of 34 students from southwestern Pennsylvania competed in hopes of advancing to the state finals to be held at Penn State University on March 25. PSPA President Paul Fantaski expressed his appreciation for several aspects about the event, which was held in conjunction with the annual high school journalism workshop organized by The Indiana Gazette and IUP.

“It just amazes me how institutions like The Indiana Gazette and IUP truly advocate and super-support journalism in Pennsylvania schools.

“On behalf of PSPA, I simply must thank Hastie Kinter from the Gazette and everyone else who met over and over to make this all happen. Because of those efforts, 18 student journalists from outstanding southwestern Pennsylvania schools have advanced to the state championships,” he said.

Contests involved literary design, photography, copywriting, sports writing, editorial cartoon, broadcast media, and poetry. Only the top-scoring competitors in each regional contest category qualified to attend the state finals. The following were the finalists:

• Bailey Hamilton, Kiski Area High School (tie for 1st), yearbook caption writing

• Rachel Helsel, Kiski Area (tie for 1st), yearbook caption writing

• Chandler McGuire, Kiski Area, yearbook copy writing

• Eddie Fuhrer, Kiski Area, yearbook sports story writing

• Amber McGihon, Franklin Regional High School, newspaper news story writing

• Debra Spaid, Purchase Line High School,  newspaper news story writing

• Emmet Jamieson, Punxsutawney Area High School, newspaper feature writing

• Luke Rainey, Penns Manor Area Junior-Senior High School, newspaper sports story writing

• Brice Hoculock, Kiski Area, editorial cartoon

• Louise Bennett, Punxsutawney Area High School, editorial writing

• Sean Adamski, Kiski Area, literary magazine poetry

• Alyssa Poleski, Kiski Area (tie for 1st), literary magazine artwork

• Jack Coleman, Kiski Area (tie for 1st), literary magazine artwork

• Anna Buggy, Penns Manor Area, broadcast writing

• Martina Webb, Kiski Area, yearbook photography

• Colin Matz, Purchase Line, newspaper photography

• Angelina Pampena, Franklin Regional, broadcast feature

• Olivia Ciotti, Franklin Regional, broadcast news package

The PSPA originated in 1925 and stands as one of the oldest scholastic journalistic organizations in the country. The group is headquartered in Manchester and welcomes all to apply for membership. For details, visit www.paschool press.org.