Hess earns top 3 finish at state competition


Olivia Hess asks a question at the press conference at the PSPA state journalism contest at Penn State. (Mara Bollinger)

Brandon Buss, Staff Writer

Bellwood-Antis junior Olivia Hess finished as a runner-up in the PSPA state journalism contest held at Penn State University last week, competing as one of more than 150 contestants from high schools across Pennsylvania.

BluePriint staff members Bailee Conway, Renee VanProoyen, Mara Bollinger, and JoJo Caswell pose with Nittany Lion mascot Michael McDermitt. (Kerry Naylor)

A first-year writer for the BluePrint, Olivia finished third in the news writing category, which was won by Emma Noss from Avenworth. Entrants were judged on a 40-point scale, and Olivia was one of just three writers to score in the 30s.

Olivia had qualified after a victory at the St. Francis PSPA regional contest in November.

“It was really overwhelming, but it was a great experience to have under my belt,” Olivia said. “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to compete against the best writers in the state, so it was humbling to be among them.”

Students participated in a press conference held at the HUB building with Michael McDermott, the Penn State Nittany Lion from 2020-2023. After the press conference competitors had an hour to write a news story.

“I had a lot of fun and even got to ask the Nittany Lion a question he enjoyed answering,” said Olivia.

 From Bellwood-Antis, Olivia is the first news writer to make iit to the state competition.

After the competition students were given a tour of the Bellisario College, which is the college of communications at Penn State. 

BluePrint News

“The tour of the communications college was very impressive,” BluePrint advisor Mr. Kerry Naylor said. “It was amazing to see what the next level of student journalism looks like.

Mr. Naylor said that Olivia set the tone for BluePrint writers next year and for years to come.

“She has blazed the trail for future writers at B-A and I’m sure she will be back at Penn State competing again next year,” he said.