Shawnee Mission East senior Daisy Bolin is a storyteller at heart. It’s a skill that comes in handy given her position as the head copy editor of The Harbinger, her school’s student newspaper and online news site.
Now, her storytelling ability is gaining the attention of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association, or KSPA. Bolin was chosen as the 2018 Kansas Student Journalist of the Year by the organization.
The KSPA award puts her in the running for a national honor from the Journalism Education Association committee, which will announce a winner during an awards ceremony April 14 in San Francisco.
The KSPA honor, which comes with a $1,250 scholarship, is recognition of Bolin’s hard work and commitment to the field of journalism, but telling stories is something it seems she was born to do.
“I have always been a big talker and I make a story out of everything I do,” she said. “Everyone has these stories, but it is the way you look at them. I just really enjoy telling stories.”
Back in January, Bolin submitted a variety of her stories for consideration along with a two-page essay describing what storytelling means to her.
She was notified in February that she had won the KSPA award. Bolin is the third student from SM East to be selected as the Kansas High School Journalist of the Year in the last four years and the eighth overall since 2005.
Her journalism teacher and newspaper adviser at SM East, Dow Tate, wasn’t surprised to learn that Bolin received the prestigious honor.
“She’s passionate about what she does, she’s a good writer and a motivated leader,” Tate said. “She has a good, strong command of storytelling and puts time and effort into the people she interviews.”
Tate said he knew early on that Bolin had what it takes to be a great journalist. He recounts a story with humor and amazement about the time when she was a freshman and wrote a story about a substitute teacher who also worked as a beekeeper.
Tate describes the moment he was editing Bolin’s article and realized that she had actually put on the beekeeper’s protective suit in order to really get a feel for the story.
“I laughed and I couldn’t believe it,” Tate said. “It’s hard to get kids to observe and here she was determined and willing to jump into the middle of the story no matter what it took. That really established who she was going to be in this program.”
For her part, Bolin credits Tate for helping to bring out the best in her writing.
“He definitely has pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone and try stories in different sections that I am not used to writing,” Bolin said. “When he edits your work, he is pushing you to expand your ability and confidence in writing.”
Bolin said she and her fellow student staff members at The Harbinger are fortunate to have so much support from both their adviser and the school’s principal, Dr. John McKinney.
“Both are very trusting of our newspaper,” Bolin said. “We really are student run.”
During her three-and-a-half years as part of The Harbinger staff, Bolin’s had the chance to experience it all. She’s written a little bit of everything including features, news, sports and opinion pieces.
She’s tackled the tough subjects too, like teen suicide and a profile about a classmate whose father was dying of cancer.
It all has served to make her a more well-rounded journalist and prepare her for her next chapter. She will begin college next fall at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
While Bolin is undecided on her major, she does know that she would like to continue writing. She said that in a time when journalism faces more scrutiny than ever, it’s more important than ever to continue telling important stories.
“Most journalists are there to do their job and to bring light to what is real in society,” Bolin said. “Storytelling is empowering because it can help a broad spectrum of people.”