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Medill expands connection to high school journalism with SPAC

The Scholastic Press Association of Chicago supports journalism educators in Chicago

April 20, 2022
A stack of books.
Founded at Roosevelt University in 1991, SPAC sponsors scholarships, awards, workshops and an annual conference for student reporters and teachers in Chicago.

EVANSTON, ILL. -- Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications today announced that it will become the new home of the Scholastic Press Association of Chicago (SPAC), which is the largest organization for Chicago media teachers and advisers.

Founded at Roosevelt University in 1991, SPAC sponsors scholarships, awards, workshops and an annual conference for student reporters and teachers in Chicago.

“SPAC provides excellent opportunities and recognition for local high school journalists and I am excited that Medill will be able to expand its offerings to young journalists through SPAC’s programming,” said Medill Dean Charles Whitaker.

"I am very excited to continue the tradition of celebrating great scholastic journalism in Chicago at Medill,” said former SPAC President and current Senior Program Coordinator of the Teach for Chicago Journalism Program at Medill Katie Fernandez. “Medill’s stellar history makes it the perfect place to continue SPAC’s traditions and create new ones."

Since 2006, SPAC has recognized the Chicago High School Journalist of the year, a competitive honor that provides a $1500 college scholarship, and the Principal of the Year, which honors an administrator who has demonstrated support for high school journalism (the administrator’s journalism program receives $500). SPAC also annually awards up to $1500 each for a teacher and a student to attend summer journalism workshops.

"I'm delighted that Medill will be the new home for Scholastic Press Association of Chicago,” said Linda Jones (MSJ85), associate professor of journalism at Roosevelt University and director of SPAC. “As an alum, I’m confident that Medill’s longtime support for high school journalism and journalism teachers will help SPAC become a stronger and even more vital organization in the next 30 years."

SPAC’s move to Medill comes as the school is significantly expanding its work with high school journalism programs in the city. Through its “Teach for Chicago Journalism” program supported by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Medill is working to expand the number of journalism programs and opportunities in city schools. Medill also is providing training programs for high school journalism advisers and their students, and it’s connecting Chicago news media professionals with classrooms through its new speakers’ bureau. Medill now will be able to better coordinate many of these activities with SPAC, strengthening both the association and the Teach for Chicago Journalism program.

SPAC was founded in March 1991 at Roosevelt University, following the Conference on School Journalism in Chicago, organized by Roosevelt University journalism faculty member Neal Robbins. The event attracted Chicago high school journalism teachers and newspaper advisers, national figures in scholastic journalism such as Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and Mark Goodman of the Student Press Law Center, and college educators who worked with high school journalism programs.

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