Jessica Bowman of Canton-Galva High School has won the 2013 Ad Astra Award and Barbara Tholen of Lawrence High School has won the 2013 Sunflower Award, the two annual awards given by KSPA. A third award, the Jackie Engel Award, is determined by Kansas Collegiate Media and will be announced later in April.
Bowman has taught journalism at Canton-Galva for 10 years and her students won the KSPA State Contest Sweepstakes for Class 2A in 2012. Under her guidance, what was a yearbook-only program at Canton-Galva grew to include a newspaper (later a news magazine) and a digital photography course. Bowman earns a $250 cash prize and a plaque for winning the Ad Astra, an award designed to honor advisers who have overcome a significant obstacle or challenge in order to create a strong journalism program.
“She’s given us so much responsibility that I feel I can handle because she taught me how to be a leader,” wrote Hannah O’Neil, a Cant0n-Galva student, in her nomination letter. “She’s is such an admirable woman and I feel as though she has helped me prepare for the world.”
KSPA Hall of Fame member Carol Dreiling also endorsed Bowman.
“Bowman has created a ‘school home’ for students in her journalism room,” Dreiling wrote. “She supports them academically, emotionally and personally. She is totally unselfish with her time and her expertise.”
Tholen is a former reporter for The Topeka Capital-Journal and is now in her third year at Lawrence High School. She earns a scholarship for continuing education and a plaque for winning the Sunflower, awarded to outstanding new advisers.
Tholen teamed with Laurie L. Folsom of Lawrence Free State and Karen Ford of Holton to lead an ad hoc KSPA committee that helped convince the Kansas State Department of Education to restore CTE funding for selected journalism courses.
“We could have sat around and had the usual ‘they just don’t understand’ conversation, but instead something clicked,” Folsom wrote in her letter of nomination. “Between Barbara’s experience as the education reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal and my experience with CTE, we began strategizing about what needed to be done.”
The result was the CTE journalism courses that exist today. Tholen also has positively affected her students’ lives.
Abby Gillam, a student at LHS, wrote about how Tholen wangled a press pass for Gillam to cover President Obama’s 2012 speech in Osawatomie.
“It’s not every day a high school journalist has the opportunity to wake up and photograph the president,” Gillam wrote. “She always puts her students first.”
Both Tholen and Bowman will deliver short speeches at the State Journalism Contest brunch, set for 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 4.
KSPA will announce its Administrator of the Year Award winner later this month, as well as any inductees into the KSPA Hall of Fame.