Kearney High School Chroniclers Garner Recognitions

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Journalism students overcome pandemic obstacles to win awards

(From left) The Clipper Editor-in-Chief Kaylin Higgins, Managing Editor Kaylee Baggerly and Photo Editor Morgan Wood

Kearney, Mo., April 29, 2021: Morgan Wood and her journalism teammates at Kearney High School want people to remember the good and the bad of a historic year.

The old cliché is that journalists write the first draft of history. That draft is in good hands at KHS. The journalism students who staff the Kearney News Network (KNN), The Clipper yearbook, Bulldog Broadcasting Network (BBN) and KHS-TV have garnered an impressive array of regional, state and national recognitions for their work during an unprecedented year.

Morgan, a senior and the yearbook photo editor, earned an All-Missouri Award at the 2021 Missouri Interscholastic Press Association Scholastic Journalism Day, a virtual statewide event held on March 31. She was recognized for her yearbook photo, “Circle of Life.” In it, KHS student Maleah Bell performs while wearing a protective shield during the school’s fall musical.

High school journalism programs are valuable because they enable students to capture important moments and make them meaningful, Morgan said.

“When we look back on the last year, things like the yearbook and our broadcasts, you look back on those things and it reminds you of the memories, it reminds you of the good times and maybe even some of the bad times,” she said. “When we look back at it as adults, we get to look back at those fun times, we get to see the friends that maybe we haven’t seen in years, and look back at the achievements that we had and how we were able to reach our goals and overcome the challenges.”

At its heart, journalism is about chronicling the notable things that people do. That task was made considerably more difficult when events were canceled and people sequestered due to a global pandemic. That was the biggest challenge for Morgan and her colleagues.

“We had kids only coming in two or three days a week,” Morgan said. “It was hard to find the time when you had to get students out of class on certain days, or you had to hope they would answer your emails to get certain spreads done, to get certain photos with captions.”

The journalism students learned to work more effectively and efficiently while putting together their stories and broadcasts during the unusual school year. That meant setting priorities while knowing that students could be sent home again at any time due to the pandemic.

“We didn’t know how much time we were going to get. We didn’t know if things were going to go back on lockdown or how that was going to work,” Morgan said. “We just took the challenges head on and focused on getting as much done as we could in a limited time. We worked on the things that we would have struggled to get if we had gone back virtually like we did last year.”

KHS Yearbook, KHS-TV and KJH-TV Adviser Karen Johnson, left, guides one of her students.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Morgan, Clipper Editor-in-Chief Kaylin Higgins and Managing Editor Kaylee Baggerly were collaborating in one of the journalism classrooms at KHS, under the guidance of teacher Karen Johnson. Morgan fully credits Ms. Johnson for the program’s success.

“She really trains us to be professional,” Morgan said. “She gives us photography skills and teaches us how to write stories, how to give interviews. I think the key to our success is mainly from her.”

Few people outside of that team understand the time and effort it takes to produce content for all of the school’s outlets, according to Morgan. It’s essentially a part-time job.

“It’s a pretty huge commitment. I’d say maybe about 15 to 20 hours per week,” she said. “I was just at a soccer game last night, taking pictures. You’re constantly going to school events, in addition to your regular classwork. And then we’re always staying after school to work on extra things or coming in during open periods to try to catch up and make sure we’re getting things done on time.”

Morgan is headed to College of the Ozarks this fall, where she intends to study accounting while continuing to be involved in journalism activities. She knows that journalism at KHS will continue to set the standard.

“Our Editor in Chief is a junior, so she’s still going to be here next year and I know she’s going to train the underclassmen as they come in,” Morgan said. “I just know that no matter who steps up, we’re going to be able to give them the skills and the drive to keep this program successful for many years to come.”

KHS Journalism Honors and Recognitions for the 2020-2021 School Year

Journalism Educators of Metro Kansas City Awards

  • Kaylin Higgins – 2nd Place, Yearbook Four-Part Theme Presentation
  • Kaylee Baggerly – Honorable Mention, Yearbook Sports Action Photo

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Awards

  • KHS Yearbook Staff – Gold Medal, Reference
  • KHS Yearbook Staff – Gold Medal, Visual
  • KHS Yearbook Staff – Gold Medal, Verbal

National Scholastic Press Association Awards

  • KHS Yearbook Staff – Mark of Distinction, Essentials
  • KHS Yearbook Staff – Mark of Distinction, Coverage
  • KHS Yearbook Staff – Mark of Distinction, Photography

Missouri Interscholastic Press Association 52nd Scholastic Journalism Day

  • KHS Yearbook Staff (Shawna Courter, Reece Greenwood, Diane Miller and Lydia Miller) – All-Missouri Award, Overall Yearbook
  • BBN Staff (Gabe Coffelt, BBN Producer) – All-Missouri Award, Sports Broadcast
  • Morgan Wood – All-Missouri Award, Student Life/Organization Photography
  • Kaylee Baggerly – All-Missouri Award, Sports Feature
  • Kaylin Higgins – Superior Award, Sports Feature/Reaction Photography
  • Morgan Wood – Superior Award, Student Life/Organization Photography
  • KHS Yearbook Staff (Kaylin Higgins, Editor-in-Chief) – Superior Award, Overall Theme/Concept
  • KHS-TV (Producers: Kaylee Baggerly, Gabe Coffelt, Abby Dunkin) – Excellent Award, Broadcast Announcements/Video
  • Morgan Wood – Excellent Award, Student life Package
  • Abby Dunkin – Honorable Mention, News Feature
  • Morgan Wood – Honorable Mention, Academic Photography

Visit the Kearney News Network at to learn more about the journalism programs in Kearney School District and to stay up-to-date with all the great things happening in our schools.

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