FSPA 2023- Where Stars Aligned


On April 13-15 at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive in Orlando, nearly one thousand students attended the convention, with the theme of Stars Align.

Founded in 1946, the Florida Scholastic Press Association is comprised of more than 300 student publications, online media teams and broadcast programs throughout the state. Yearly, the organization, seeking responsible exercise of freedom of expression involving adherence to the highest standards of journalism, hosts an educational convention for all student publications in Florida to attend.  

On April 13-15 at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive in Orlando, nearly 1 ½ thousand students attended the convention, with the theme of Stars Align. The theme, created by the student representatives of FSPA, was designed to emphasize each and every student journalist as a star, and all of their unique work covering all areas of journalism- as yearbook, photography, newspaper, or print publications- create a constellation of stars.  

Addison Gear, the Coverage Editor-in-Chief of Plant High School’s yearbook “The Panther,” was this year’s student state chair for FSPA. 

“This position really opened my eyes to how big the journalistic community in Florida is and how important it is for the young students, because we have students coming to the convention from middle school and all the way to their senior year of high school, and they keep coming back because they keep learning and growing as journalists and it made me realize how important is to have this event for the future of journalism in Florida,” Gear said.  

The event started Wednesday, as students started checking into their rooms that evening, but Thursday is when the journalistic activities began. The opening session was unlatched by an inspirational speech by Kerry Sanders, the keynote speaker of Stars Align. Sanders recently retired from NBC News where he spent three decades covering wars, catastrophic weather events, elections and much more for the TODAY show, NBC Nightly News and MSNBC. 

“I’ve learned a long time ago that news, N E W S, is North, East, West and South- it is what is going on all around us,” Sanders said during FSPA’s yearly pep rally.  

Thursday was the day dedicated to virtual contests, where students had the opportunity to show off their camera, writing, digital design, videography, and broadcast skills. By submitting their entries online, they were too eligible to receive valuable feedback. Thursday’s FSPA was concluded with the iconic Lip Sync battle.  

Friday, however, was full of educational sessions and seminars for students to attend and gain valuable knowledge from experienced journalists and instructors. And in the evening, attend the yearly banquet and dance.  

“My ultimate experience at FSPA was a lot of fun. Putting it all together and organizing the events was a lot of work, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I will forever cherish this experience and would do it again in a blink,” Gear said. 

And with the loud weekend full of camera flashes, audio equipment surrounding the convention center, and students organizing their media, it is time to rewind and get ready for next year’s convention.  

“I think FSPA turned out great this year- even better than I hoped- the stars truly aligned, because we had so much fun and everyone had a great time. The convention went smoothly, people won contests, and I really loved seeing the keynote of Kerry Sanders as well as students running around the lobby while interviewing others and getting their quotes,” Joanie Webster, president of FSPA, said.

More on this year’s FSPA highlights: https://www.instagram.com/fspastudentreps/