Horizon Attends Journalism-Day Trip at University of Maryland


Students attended multiple workshops and sessions focused on various journalism skills. Photo: Zachary Harvat.

On April 14, the University of Maryland’s (UMD) Philip Merrill College of Journalism and the Maryland-D.C. Scholastic Press Association hosted their annual J-Day Conference. Running from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the event provided high school students the opportunity to attend various seminars covering audio, digital and print reporting led by a diverse group of experts in the field. 

The day began with the opening program in the Hoff Theatre at the Stamp Student Union. The event’s attendees gathered for introductions and to hear this year’s keynote speaker, DeNeen L. Brown. Brown is an award-winning staff writer at the Washington Post and a journalism professor at the University of Maryland. 

As a foreign correspondent writing on a variety of issues, including education, politics and culture, Brown described her life story and the path she took to become an accomplished and influential journalist. 

Attendees from Sidwell agreed that her speech was inspiring and that Brown had a great stage presence, passionately explaining her journey. 

I enjoyed being able to listen to experienced journalists share their stories and paths, as well as being surrounded by like-minded peers.

— Stella Stone '26

Sophomore Aigerim Bibol said she appreciated “the useful tips [Brown] gave the audience about writing, which were all drawn from her own experiences.” 

Freshman Seneca Oehrle shared a similar sentiment.

“It was really interesting to hear about the accomplishments of someone who has worked in the industry for a long time and how she got to where she is now,” Oehrle said.

Next, students attended individual seminars of their choice. The programming consisted of three distinct sessions with a lunch break in between the first and the second. These seminars, taught by industry professionals and award-winning educators, covered a wide array of journalistic skills, including reporting, photography, videography, layout and design and social media.

Oehrle said she greatly appreciated “the freedom to choose what [she] found most interesting from a list of many different course options, as it gave [her] an opportunity to learn about many different reporting aspects that [she is] unable to explore within Sidwell.” 

Sessions were divided into categories including General Journalism, Multimedia, Photography, Design and Yearbook. Examples of seminars included “Ethical Decision Making,” “Sports Writing that Shines” and “Script Writing 101.” 

Sidwell attendees learned about valuable career skills including formatting, how to pitch stories and how to give valuable feedback. 

Bibol shared she attended the “Story Structures in News and Feature Writing” session that discussed various ways to structure articles. Additionally, she went to the “Publish Your Stories with PBS NewsHour” session, which discussed the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs, a program that provides teenagers the opportunity to produce original stories for national broadcast on PBS.

In addition to the workshops, the Maryland-D.C. Scholastic Press Association offered a student-led panel on the experience of studying journalism beyond high school and provided attendees the opportunity to tour the UMD Merrill College of Journalism and the Capital News Service (CNS).

Bibol said that during the student-led tour of Capital News Service, UMD’s broadcast news facility, students shared what their experience was like while working at CNS and studying in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. 

Freshman Stella Stone also said that through the workshop on pursuing journalism in college, she learned “all the possible career options with a journalism degree.” 

Bibol shared her favorite part of J-Day was “getting to hear from professionals in their industries because they provided information about different careers in journalism and media and offered real-world perspectives on what it’s like to work in their fields.” 

Stone enjoyed “being able to listen to experienced journalists share their stories and paths, as well as being surrounded by like-minded peers.”