With three UIL state qualifiers and two alternates, Paradise is taking its largest group yet to Austin this weekend.
“I’m excited to have this many,” UIL coordinator Megayla O’Rear said. “We’ve never taken this many before.”
Seniors Faith Blankenship, Avery Caddell and Austin Medlin, junior Logan Waggoner and sophomore Emersen Adams have worked their way from invitational meets to the highest level of competition, practicing on their own time.
“They work really hard,” coach Karen Bohmfalk said. “The kids do it all on their own. They apply themselves independently.
“I’m so proud of them.”
Advanced in: editorial and feature writing
Q: Why do you do UIL academics, and specifically journalism events?
A: I always did UIL. When I joined in high school I used to do speaking events, but then I realized I wasn’t very good at speaking events. Then I realized I could always win in journalism.
Q: Have you been to state before?
A: No, this is my first time, and when I found out about feature I actually cried. I cried really hard because I wasn’t expecting it at all. Ms. Bohmfalk read my paper for feature and I had this factual error in it, so she told me I probably wasn’t going to place anyway. That’s the one I got first in [at regionals].
Q: Do you do anything special to get into competition mindset?
A: I get criticized by Ms. Bohmfalk. She goes over my stuff and criticizes. Mostly I read my old papers that were successful so I can do that again.
Q: What are your techniques for feature and editorial to make a successful paper?
A: In order to write a good editorial I have to get kind of feisty about it, so if I don’t really care about it I’m not any good at all. When it comes to feature I think I just have to read what the people are saying. I try to tell their stories.
Q: What are your goals for state?
A: I’d like to place in both. Mostly I’m excited to be there.
Advanced in: headline writing, his third year to make state. Last year Caddell won Tops in Texas in headline.
Q: How are you feeling about state?
A: I’m excited.
Q: What are your goals for this year?
A: Not to fail … I’m trying to place.
Q: What are you looking forward to about the trip to Austin, other than the competition?
A: Good food. We eat out at a lot of places. It’s fun.
Q: What’s your advice to the other students who’ve never been to state before?
A: Treat it like any other competition.
Q: How are you feeling about this being your last UIL meet?
A: I’m a little sad about it. It’s my last time to get to do this.
Q: What’s been the best thing about your UIL career?
A: I like all the coaches. Mrs. O’Rear and Ms. B do a great job.
Advanced in: number sense
Q: What about state are you looking forward to the most?
A: I’m excited to go to Austin … And the atmosphere of the contest – even at district and at regionals there are people who don’t understand the contest as well as others do. When you make it to state everyone’s there and everyone’s ready to compete.
Q: How are you feeling about the contest?
A: I’m really excited. I kind of went crazy and looked at all the other regions and their scores, and right now I’m ranked fourth in the state. So I’m hoping for top three.
Q: Do you have any plans for what you’re going to do in Austin other than the competition?
A: Usually they go to watch the one act plays, but their schedule is a bit different this year. I’m not 100 percent sure what we’re going to do, but hopefully it’s something relaxing.
Q: Do you have anything special you do before a test to get in the right mindset?
A: Right before they say “Get ready” I close my eyes for a second and take a deep breath, then I open them and they say “Go” and I’m ready.
Advanced in: alternate for math and number sense
Q: Why do you compete in UIL?
A: I do UIL because my parents both teach math in separate grade levels. I had both of them in a row, and they really love UIL. I started liking it, too, ever since I saw a number sense test. It just became a fun time to hang with friends.
Q: What’s your favorite event and why?
A: Number sense because it only takes ten minutes.
Q: What is it about math and number sense that you enjoy?
A: It comes easy to me I guess. Some of the questions are really fun. The guy who writes the tests [Larry White] is a funny guy.
Q: Do you have anything special that you do to prepare for competition?
A: I sleep.
Q: What’s your goal for state if you end up getting to compete?
A: 200 points – in other words, I have to get 40 questions completely correct.
Advanced in: alternate for editorial writing
Q: How do you feel about your first trip to state?
A: Well, I’m not going to do much, but if I have to [write] I’m prepared. I’m a little nervous.
Q: What made you want to do UIL journalism?
A: I’ve always loved to write, and specifically for editorial – I’m very opinionated.
Q: What have you learned through UIL?
A: Always take your time. If they give you 45 minutes, use all of that time.
Q: Is there anything special you do to prepare for contests?
A: Make sure your printer is working. I double-check my printer a whole bunch of times to make sure everything is looking good.
Q: Other than state itself, what are you most looking forward to about the trip?
A: Actually I’ve never been to Austin, so I’m excited to see the sights. And no school.