UIL journalism, speech students travel to Baylor for regional competition


photo or infographic by Emily Meachen

PRESS ON. At the Magnolia Silos in Waco, the UIL group takes a picture before exploring the top attraction in town. Pictured are senior Katherine Lee, Summer Rains, Stephanie Keele, Jason Clark, Reed Henderson, Heather Jackson, Danica Sunquist and Michel Schlowinski.

Genuine Czech kolaches. High octane wiffleball. 1990s music videos. The road to UIL regionals was full of unexpected fun that helped make the stakes just a little more bearable. 

Overall, the journalism team placed third in Regional UIL at Baylor April 23, where a room full of accomplished competitors from ten districts vie for a three spots state. After a successful trip to UIL Regionals in Waco, senior Katherine Lee will advance to UIL State today in Austin at UT Austin.

“I am super proud of the 3rd place finish at regionals,” journalism teacher Emily Meachen said. “The testing room is filled with competitors who know how to win.  It is so stressful because we have to bring computers and printers and walk over campus at Baylor. It was the goal of the coaches who were on the trip to have a lot of fun so the competitors forgot to be nervous.”

For many of the students participating in the competition, the trip to get there was the best part of the trip.

“The drive to wherever we are going to compete is always my favorite part of the trip,” senior Katherine Lee said. “The energy is always chaotic and it always pumps me up before I get ready to compete.”

Once they arrived in Waco the day before regionals, the team had plenty of time to sightsee and grab unique cuisine. 

“The best part of the trip was spending the day in Waco before the competition,” senior Summer Rains said. “I enjoyed getting to go to the silos with my friends and my favorite teachers. I also enjoyed the car ride to our hotel after dinner. I can’t remember what we were talking about, but we were laughing the whole time. It’s something that I won’t ever forget.”

One big hit with the students were the resident bears at Baylor’s campus.

“The best part of the trip was seeing the Baylor bears and getting an awesome t-shirt from the bookstore,” junior Reid Henderson said.

For many of the seniors, this was their last chance to participate in high school UIL, raising the stakes even higher than they already were.

“I was nervous before and during the competition,” Rains said. “It was my last UIL competition ever. I wanted to do my best and perform to my fullest potential so that I wouldn’t regret anything later on. I felt like I was in a movie when I was writing, as the time was running out I became more and more tense. When we had five minutes left, I really started freaking out because I couldn’t print my story, but it finally worked with just a couple minutes to spare.”

One senior, Katherine Lee, is advancing to State UIL in feature writing.

“Katherine making state is really the icing on the cake of her UIL journey,”  Meachen said. “She has been writing for the journalism team since her freshman year. This is the third year she has earned enough points to be on All State Journalism Staff. She has also won a lot of awards from ILPC and TAJE for her work.”

Though the stakes may have been high and the stress levels higher, those who went on the road trip still found ways to have fun.

“My favorite part was spending the weekend with friends doing fun things like seeing the bears and eating lots of food,” freshman Danica Sundquist said. “I remember laughing the entire trip no matter what was going on around us.”