Photographer makes history

“Supposed to hear about #JOY results this week. #sweatingbullets”

This was tweeted by senior Kelci Davis just minutes before she heard the results for the Student Journalist of the Year award. As Davis was called to Dr. Sonny Arnel’s office, a surprise was being arranged back in room 139, which is where Davis spends a good majority of her time. As Dr. Arnel led her into the room, shock filled Davis face. A banner that read “Congratulations! Student Journalist of the Year!” let Davis know that she had won.

“It’s kind of funny to me because I just tweeted about it,” Davis said. “It’s not what I was expecting at all.”

Davis is the first student from FHC to ever win this award. To receive Student Journalist of the Year, one must participate in a very fierce competition. The best journalists around the state each make portfolios of their best work and a winner is chosen. Then, each state’s winner can enter the national competition, which is what Davis will do next.

“The winner of the national Student Journalist of the Year award is announced at the San Francisco convention on April 27,” adviser Mr. Matthew Schott said. “It’s way more competitive than the state award.”

Although Davis was told that the results of the state competition would be announced later this week, Mr. Schott received an email from the president of the Missouri Interscholastic Press Association with the news on Friday, Feb. 22.

“I was a little surprised, not because Kelci doesn’t deserve it, but because I know there are a lot of other great journalism programs in Missouri,” Mr. Schott said.

Rod Howe, a longtime journalism adviser in Omaha, Neb., judged the contest for MIPA.

“Kelci’s portfolio displays an impressive breadth of journalistic skills in photojournalism, design and writing,” Mr. Howe said. “Her words, visuals and photographs — the heart-tugging images from a funeral ceremony come to mind — provide readers and viewers with messages they need to read and see to have a better understanding of and compassion for the unprivileged, and the victims of discrimination, bullying, or war. Kelci is a fitting representative of all the excellence in Missouri scholastic journalism.”

As for Davis, this suspense only made her more nervous. As her tweet suggested, waiting for the news was killing Davis, and her doubtfulness about winning the award added to the panic.

“I have a panic attack in any award situation,” Davis said. “I had kind of convinced myself that I wasn’t going to win because there were so many good journalists out there.”

Davis has been on newspaper staff since she was a freshman and has been an executive editor since her sophomore year. She now has her own photography business that has allowed her to solidify her background in photography.

“She’s the best photographer I’ve ever had come through here,” Mr. Schott said. “A few of my students are now professional photographers, but she is easily the best one so far.”

Davis has contributed a lot of work to FHC’s publications. As Mr. Schott said, this award is a culmination of four years of hard work.

“She has given a lot of time and energy and effort to making the Central Focus and FHCToday better every year,” Mr. Schott said. “This award is recognition of that.”

Although Davis is a talented photographer, she is planning on studying pre-med at Missouri S&T University next year. This was a hard decision to make, but ultimately Davis chose this route because she does not want to miss the opportunity.

“I can’t go back and do pre-med,” Davis said. “I already have the knowledge of photography and I can do that all my life.”

To congratulate her, Davis will be recognized at Friday’s pep assembly and will have a chance to speak to the crowd at Mizzou’s J-Day convention. Now, after the wait is over and the the suspense silenced, Davis’ tweets have a different ring to them.

“I’m the luckiest, most grateful person in the world right now. #humble #SJOY”