MacJournalism captures UIL District 17-5A title

Shield staffs win first place in four out of five UIL journalism events; team earns eight spots to compete at region meet


Dave Winter

MacJournalism co-adviser Jena Weber reviews the instructions for news writing prior to that event at the UIL district meet held outside on the Mac campus on March 27. Due to COVID safety measures, each school met on its home campus, and the Shield staffers decided to hold theirs outside on the picnic tables to make the event even safer. Freshman Alice Scott (center) won first place in news writing. Juniors Samantha Powers (left) and Anna McClellan (right) finished second and fourth respectively.

A week ago today, seven Shield staffers competed in the UIL District 17-5A Journalism Meet. Because of the pandemic, each competing school hosted its own students who then competed in five timed events: news writing, feature writing, editorial writing, headline writing and copy editing.

On Wednesday, the Shield staff learned that it had won first place in four of the five journalism events. MacJournalism district champions include junior Madelynn Niles in feature writing and headline writing, junior Samantha Powers in editorial writing and freshman Alice Scott in news writing. 

In addition, the staff learned that it had won first place as a team by earning the most team points at the meet. A team earns 15 points for a first-place finish, 12 for a second, 10 for a third, eighth for a fourth, six for a fifth and four for a sixth-place finish.

Individuals qualified for the region meet on April 17 by placing in the top three. In addition to the four first-place finishes, senior Bella Russo and sophomore Evie Barnard qualified for regionals in feature writing; Powers, in news writing; and Scott in editorial writing.

Fourth-place finisher Anna McClellan is the alternate in two events: news writing and copy editing. Alysa Spiro (editorial writing), Niles (copy editing) and Power (copy editing) earned points toward the team total by placing in the top six.

In a non-pandemic year, McCallum’s regional qualifiers would travel to the University of Texas at San Antonio for the regional competition, but this year, UIL has divided the regional academic meets into pods. McCallum’s district will therefore compete in the pod that will meet at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville.

Mac will have eight chances to qualify for state with a top-three finish, and the team will compete for the team regional competition. Each top six finish earns points for the team.

Last year, the UIL journalism meet was a 100 percent virtual event. Class of 2020 co-editor in chief Kristen Tibbetts (feature writing) joined Russo (headline writing) and Niles (news writing) in qualifying for the second round of the virtual meet. Tibbetts and Russo both placed fifth in what amounted to the 2020 state meet.

Individual results:


McCallum swept the top three places in feature writing with Niles (center) taking first; Russo (right), second; and Barnard (left), third. All three qualified for the region tournament on April 17. (Dave Winter)

Feature writing

First place – Madelynn Niles (McCallum)

Second place – Bella Russo (McCallum)

Third place – Evie Barnard (McCallum)

Freshman Alice Scott is the District 17-5A champion news writer. She also placed second in editorial writing and therefore is a double qualifier for the UIL 5A Region Meet on April 17. (Dave Winter)

News writing

First place – Alice Scott (McCallum)

Second place – Samantha Powers (McCallum)

Fourth place – Anna McClellan (McCallum)

Opinion page editor Alysa Spiro (left) and co-news editor Samantha Powers both placed in editorial writing. Powers placed first; Spiro, fifth. (Dave Winter)

Editorial writing

First place – Samantha Powers (McCallum)

Second place – Alice Scott (McCallum)

Fifth place – Alysa Spiro (McCallum)

Niles won first place in headline writing. Russo placed fifth despite running out of time before writing her last headline. The first five must have been awfully good. Marty the MacJournalism mascot was a fixture at the event, a sentinel of Shield seriousness during the entire event. (Dave Winter)

Headline writing

First place – Madelynn Niles (McCallum)

Fourth place – Anna McClellan (McCallum)

Fifth place – Bella Russo (McCallum)

While the baseball team wrapped up its morning practice, Niles and Powers wrapped up their copy editing entries. The duo placed fifth and sixth respectively in the first contest of the meet. (Dave Winter)

Copy editing

Fifth place – Madelyn Niles (McCallum)

Sixth place – Samantha Powers (McCallum)

The three picnic tables formed a perfect socially distant triangle for the UIL journalism meet held on the Mac Campus. Marty the dog provides moral support while the copy editing competitors struggle with the state abbreviations their advisers never taught them. (Dave Winter)

Team results

First place – McCallum — 144

Second place – Lockhart — 82

Third place – LASA — 35