Each fall, the National Scholastic Press Association, NSPA, selects student media pieces as finalists for many categories, such as Photo of the Year and Design of the Year. The winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA National Convention, which will be held in Dallas from Nov. 16 through the 19.

Among the top ten finalists in the nation for Photo of the Year are Timber Creek Alumni Amanda Barber and Claire Gustafson, and Design of the Year is junior, yearbook editor Taylor Deker.

“I actually forgot that I entered the contest,” Deker stated. “The end of the year gets a little crazy because there are just so many things to finally wrap up before the yearbook goes out to the students, and even after, there’s so many contests that we enter as a staff that you almost lose track of it.”

Kathy Beers, the yearbook teacher, found the inspiration for the page design on Pinterest. Originally, it was a magazine page with the same person repeated over and over on it. The yearbook design featured many students of Timber Creek with the common name of Alex.

“We thought the idea was really unique, but [we] wanted to incorporate more students into it,” Deker said.

Before the triumphs, there were hardships when trying to complete the page. One of which, was trying to take pictures of everyone named ‘Alex’.

“Some of the difficulties we had with the spread was actually trying to hunt down everyone named Alex. We looked up every single variation of the name Alex in the school schedules, and made a letter to send out to every one of them, giving them ample opportunities to come to the yearbook room and get their picture taken,” Deker explained.

After taking all the pictures needed, Deker and her fellow yearbook staff members had to cut out each ‘Alex’ in Photoshop. The process took around 15 to 30 minutes per picture, depending on what pose they were in.

“One of them brought a bassoon, which took me forever to cut out every single detail, but I had a lot of help from my other yearbookers,” Deker said.

When Beers found out that three of her students had made finals for a national competition, she was ecstatic.

“I was a little giddy, and of course I immediately texted each of the kids and told them, and then we started tweeting about it, so they were able to share it with their families and their friends,” Beers said. “It was pretty exciting.”

Beers and the yearbook staff are planning on attending the convention to find out if Deker’s design, along with Barber’s and Gustafson’s respective pictures won in their categories.

“I’ve just been blessed with talented students. I think they push themselves to be really good at their craft. They’re all a little bit naturally competitive, and so they’re always looking to see how their photos and designs can be the best,” Beers said. “And I think that three of our pieces, two photos and one design, making it to national finals really pushes everybody else to try to do that again, now the bar has been set pretty high. I don’t think that I had much to do with it.”

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