A new organization was formed in 1997 to fill a critical need in Kentucky’s high schools — assistance for journalism teachers, advisers and their students. The Kentucky High School Journalism Association (KHSJA) was officially launched in March of that year by the KPA board of directors.

An advisory council comprised of teachers/advisers, university officials and media representatives provided initial direction for the new association and established the organization’s motto: “Dedicated to preserving and enhancing scholastic journalism in Kentucky.” KHSJA now operates with an elected board of directors.

Through its annual statewide convention, teacher/adviser workshops, its annual contest for high school newspapers, yearbooks and broadcast programs and other resources, KHSJA has become a leader in Kentucky scholastic journalism, said David Greer, KHSJA administrator and member services director for the Kentucky Press Association. Greer is a journalism veteran with more than three decades of service in print and broadcast news. KHSJA is headquartered at KPA in Frankfort.

Another member service from KHSJA is its lending library, in addition to the www.khsja.org Web site.

Membership in KHSJA costs each school $50 per year regardless of how many different forms of journalism it teaches. More than half of the 107 member schools in 2005-06 had their memberships paid by their local newspapers.

KHSJA’s highlight event of the year is the annual state convention. The first, held in March 1998 in Lexington, drew 720 high school students and advisers. In 2002, the convention attracted more than 860 students to downtown Louisville. Subsequent conventions have drawn 700 to more than 850 students, plus teachers/advisers.

In 1999, a statewide contest was started with awards presented at the state convention. Awards are presented in several different categories in three divisions: newspaper, yearbook and broadcast. The 2005-06 school year KHSJA contest featured more than 2,200 entries from more than 50 Kentucky high schools.

In each category, awards are given for first, second and third place. Honorable mentions are given at the judges’ discretion. The school with the most points in each division is awarded General Excellence. In addition, points are also tallied by school, including all the journalism programs, for a Grand Champion Award. Schools must enter at least two of the three divisions to qualify for the Grand Champion. Schools compete in one of four classes, based on student enrollments.

KHSJA also partners with journalism programs at Eastern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University to co-sponsor workshops.

For more information, contact David Greer, KHSJA administrator at 101 Consumer Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601, (502) 223-8821, dgreer@kypress.com