Interest in journalism and the desire to succeed if flourishing at Pontiac Township High School these days. The PTHS team placed in the top 10 at the IHSA Journalism Sectional, which was held recently at Fell Hall at Illinois State University.
    Out of an estimated 15 participating teams, the PTHS team took fifth place overall. Individually, seniors Colin Lakadat, Shelby Jennings and Tatum Joerndt moved on to the IHSA State Journalism Finals, which were held in Buzzard Hall at Eastern Illinois University last week.
    At sectionals, Peter Babb place fifth in broadcast journalism, Jennings placed first in both editorial cartooning and yearbook theme development, Joerndt placed first in review writing and third in yearbook copy writing, and Lakadat placed placed third in both yearbook caption writing and yearbook layout: double-page spread.
    At state, Joerndt placed first in review writing and Jennings placed fourth in yearbook theme development.
     Lakadat, who has been a part of the yearbook team for the past three years, said it’s a bit hectic to juggle a class schedule and work on the yearbook. In between classes, he also has to find time to schedule photos and work on layout design.
    “We definitely like to work on this stuff though,” Lakadat said. “We find interest in working on the pages that we’re involved in. For instance, Tatum likes to work on madrigals and band stuff and I like to work on club stuff and academics.”
    When it comes to taking pictures, Joerndt said it was a little nerve-wracking at first, but got easier over time. She says everyone on staff is asked to take pictures of students interacting with one another throughout the year.
    “It’s nerve-wracking at first because you don’t really know how close to get to people or what kind of picture to take,” Lakadat said. “But once you have a few pictures out of the way, it gets a lot easier. I just stopped being nervous and it has worked out ever since.”
    Although Joerndt and Lakadat had attended sectionals before, it was a first for Jennings, who said she was shocked to take first place in both of her events. On the other hand, Joerndt and Lakadat said they both wanted to do better.
    “I was actually more nervous this year than I was the first year,” Joerndt said. “Going in for the first time you think, ‘if I don’t place, it’s OK this is my first time.’ But when you know you placed last year, you kind of have expectations of placing again. You know you have to do better, which can be  scary.”
    Writing is something Joerndt has loved all of her young life. Since she started writing reviews, Joerndt said its been exciting to know that people are interested in her opinion. During the review writing sectional, she watched footage of a one act play called “This is a Test” and then had to critique it. At state, Joerndt said it was a little bit different because they had to write an opinion after a live performance.
    “I told my mom, my grandmother and (Elston) Flowers that I didn’t feel like I could do the singer justice with my writing because she was just so good,” Joerndt said. “But once the awards started, I kept telling myself I had to get top six.
    “As they were going down the list, they announced third place and then second place and I just started telling myself I was sure I got in the top six, but I never expected to get first place until they called my name.”
    In yearbook theme development, Jennings and other participants were given a theme of a few words and had to create a yearbook cover and title page based on that.
    “I think I’ve got an eye for design,” Jennings said. “I’m planning to study graphic arts in college, so being able to work on the yearbook has been a lot of fun. It was kind of scary going in the testing room because you could work in pairs or singles. I worked in the singles category, but everyone seemed to have a partner and knew what they were doing, so I was pretty nervous for how things would work out.”
    Jennings said going to state was intimidating, because she knew she was going up against the best from sectionals.
    “Even though you think you did well, it’s all about what the judge thinks,” Jennings said. “So, you kind of have to make yourself not worry about it, because at the end of the day, you realize it’s just one person’s opinion.”
    Lakadat competed in layout design. For the competition, each participant was given photos and a subject and they had to create a layout based on how many pictures they had.
    “Last year I placed in both of my events and I did the same this year, so I felt like I knew what I was doing,” Lakadat said.
    Since attending the events, the seniors have turned their focus back to finishing up the yearbook. Throughout the years, Lakadat said yearbook has typically been made up of a pretty small group, but this year they had a number of freshmen join.
    “We hope that by participating in these events, we will encourage the underclassmen to stay interested in working on the yearbook,” Lakadat said.