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Two-day conference celebrates student free speech in Kansas

Celebrating 25 years of free student expression in Kansas, more than 800 students from 80 schools converged on Topeka last week. The event, the KSPA fall conference, gathered students from around the state for two days of break-out sessions, nationally known speakers, critiques and even a student dance.

To commemorate the anniversary, the association gathered key people who helped pass the legislation for an opening session Monday. The key people included former Kansas State Senator Lana Oleen, former KSPA director John Hudnall, former Kansas State faculty member Ron Johnson, former JEA executive director Linda Puntney, plus current advisers Sharon Martin and Susan Massy. Representing the current moment in student publications were the students of Pittsburg High School whose story made national news in March when they forced the resignation of their principal.

Jim Richardson of National Geographic magazine received a standing ovation for his keynote address that showcased his images on the first night of the conference. Frank LoMonte, former executive director of the Student Press Law Center, and Mary Beth Tinker, the student in the landmark 1969 Supreme Court case, spoke to the assembled group on Tuesday.

During the conference, attendees donated more that $1,400 to support the Jackie Engel Endowment. The endowment — which functions as a support and safety net for KSPA — will actually receive a donation of double that amount. The endowment’s board and an anonymous donor matched every donation made during the conference’s pass the hat.

The Maner Conference Center and Topeka Capital Plaza Hotel hosted the students from Sept. 25-26. Platinum sponsors of the event were Balfour yearbooks, Herff Jones yearbooks, Jostens yearbooks and Walsworth yearbooks. Those sponsors joined a handful of other exhibitors in the conference’s trade show Monday.

KSPA would like to thank all of the students, advisers, professionals and journalists who helped make the conference possible. Additionally, the KSPA board provided energy, support and advice for the hundreds of small decisions that went into this conference. 

FALL CONFERENCE WRAP-UP

Want to relive the conference? Check out these links:

 

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