KEMPA Conference speaker and ses- sions inspire student journalists

Four Elmbrook publications, the Brookfield Central Tyro, the Legend, the Spartan Banner, and the Echo, attended the annual Kettle Moraine Press Associations (KEMPA) fall conference on October 11. The Tyro, along with the Legend, received All-KEMPA, the highest possible rating, in their respective categories for their work from the 2018-2019 school year. The KEMPA conference was an incredible opportunity that gave students inspiration and ideas to improve Central’s newspaper and yearbook.

The conference opened with the awards ceremony, followed by a keynote speaker: Mary Beth Tinker from Tinker v. Des Moines. She spoke about the importance of student voices and the power of the press. Tinker believes that all students can bring amazing talents and thoughts to the table. Often times, students feel ignored and believe their ideas aren’t valid. Tinker disagreed. “Students are persons. Yeah, you are, and you have the rights of a person,” she said.

One of the greatest challenges that journalists face is addressing delicate and controversial issues. “We can deal with controversies in a way that is respectful,” said Tinker, who understands first hand how important freedom of speech is.

At the end of her speech, Tinker invited students and advisors to come up and ask a question or give a comment. Several students shared their encounters with censorship in their respective schools. After each story, Tinker led a rousing round of applause and encouraged the student journalists to persevere. She also thanked the advisors for standing by their students despite the potential consequences of true journalism.

Here’s to the free press, and here’s to all of you

— Mary Beth Tinker

Tinker stayed for the remainder of the conference, leading a breakout session on student voice during each of three time slots.

Students and advisors alike had a variety of options to choose from when it came to the breakout sessions. “It was nice to be able to learn things about journalism that I wanted to learn,” said Liem Rao (‘23). Owning a drone himself, Rao selected Drone Journalism for his second session. “It wasn’t very good,” he admitted, “I went there to answer one question, and I never had that question answered until the very end.” Rao’s other sessions proved to be more satisfactory.

Despite having some session letdowns, the student journalists enjoyed what was for many of them their first KEMPA experience. “The weather was unpleasant, since we had to walk around campus, but everything else was amazing,” said Rao. “I learned things I would have never considered or researched, and I hope to apply them to my Tyro articles.”