The high schoolers on the student newspaper are no longer student journalists.
They're journalists, says Janet Levin.
She has spent nearly 30 years advising teenagers on the John Hersey High School newspaper, The Correspondent.
They maintain a website, attend professional conferences and submit their work to contests.
And for the seventh time, one of Hersey's students has landed on the Illinois Journalism Education Association's all-state team. Jessica Lynk, who recently graduated from the Arlington Heights school, joined several suburban honorees at an awards luncheon in Springfield Saturday.
"The power of our pen is important, and we do make a difference," said Lynk, 17, former co-editor of The Correspondent.
Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire also offered some advice to the team and called for an expansion of shield law protections for college journalism students to high schoolers.
To make the 12-member team, Lynk submitted an essay on what journalism means to her, three examples of her work and letters of recommendation. Over her high school career, she spent hours and hours learning how to design pages in addition to honing her writing.
"These are definitely the ones who are eager to do all the work that needs to get done," Levin said of the team. "They're the ones you not only can rely on, they're the ones you have to say once and a while, 'Let somebody else get a chance.' They just love it so much."
Lynk is headed to Drake University in Iowa where she will continue to study the craft.
"I've really worked hard to get to where I am today," she said.
Three other suburban students who made the team are Holly Baldacci of Huntley High School, Nabi Dressler of Prospect High School in Mt. Prospect and Katarina Weber of Elk Grove High School.