From Student Journalist to Contest Facilitator: My DSPC 2023 Experience

My fellow facilitator and I while answering the questions of the participants regarding the equipment they can only use. 

One of the events I am looking forward every school year is the conduct of schools press conferences. When COVID-19 hit the country, it made me miss it so bad. Mass gatherings were not allowed. Good thing that DepEd Central Office and our own Regional Office I held national and regional schools press conferences virtually. I was able to participate using my screens. But, attending physically hits different. You see the excitement of the participants as well as how the budding journalists demonstrate the skills they have. 

Our school division office had its Division Schools Press Conference from March 10 to 12, 2023 at Calasiao Comprehensive High School. In this year's edition, we had our district elimination before qualifying for the DSPC. Only the first placers in individual and group events, and top 3 school papers per section are allowed to join the next level of competition. Our school participated for English and Filipino categories. There was only one learner in the Filipino medium contest who won as champion in photojournalism. His adviser would accompany him. We had campus journalists who were part of Top 3 in several events. However, they did not advance based on the rule. On the other hand, our school papers qualified as we were able to land spots in all sections. Thus, I was the only participant for White Sand, our official school paper in English language. Our school had only three participants--- our smallest delegation since we started attending. 

I was happy meeting my fellow school paper advisers during the first day. We had our boisterous hellos--- a sign that we really missed to be part of the event. Seeing them walking with their learners made me sad as I went alone in the event. For the past years, I had complete lineup for Pre- DSPC and I brought qualifiers for DSPC. My learners wanted to be there especially our graduating writers and editors. I told them that they still reached the division level as their writeups in our school paper could be read by the judges in the competition. I hope there is a change of fate next school year. I am thankful my fellow district delegates for their company that time. 

The first day was special as it was attended by the division office's key officials and supervisors. It is pleasant to see that our leaders are supportive to this kind of endeavor. They delivered inspiring messages during the opening program. What gave me goosebumps that moment was the recitation of the Journalist's Creed by the student journalists. Their voices are the voices of future. I can't help but to reminisce the time I joined press conference for the first time. 

I was second year high school when I competed in Pre-DSPC at Sual National High School. A learner can join two events before. If my memory serves me right, I won fifth place in news writing (English) and fifth place in editorial writing (Filipino). I remember that our school principal announced my winnings a week after the competition. I was thankful to my coach, Ma'am Aurie for picking me. That participation was the first and last. We were not able to participate in the succeeding years. I saw how my coach was determined to bring us back to the competitions, but we were not given a chance. 

Fifteen years ago, I was just a student journalist. In the recently held press conference, I served as a facilitator in online publishing (English) event. It is a group contest with five members. The objective of a team is to produce a website with news, editorial, features, science and technology content, and sports articles. It was second day and I woke up as early as 4 AM to prepare myself. I reported at 7 AM in the TWG quarters. I received the envelope containing attendance sheet and bond papers to be used. 

Early selfie at CCNHS. 

I was a little nervous that time. It was my first time serving as a facilitator in an event. Good thing that I have my SPA friends who helped me to calm down and do the job confidently. I met my fellow facilitator and we checked the ICT room in third floor of senior high school where the contest would be held. Before the contest proper, we started checking the equipment the contestants brought. Then, we assisted the contestants in the mini press conference which would give them scoops about what to publish in their websites. The resource speaker decided that the student journalists would witness a barangay election debate between two candidates who were acted successfully by two school paper advisers. 

What I thought I would just watch and monitor the contestants during that activity. I became part of the supporters cheering for a candidate. I thought that ends my acting stint. The resource speaker directed my co- facilitator and I to do a brawl. The scene intended to spice up the face off of the two candidates. One of my friends told me that it was realistic. I joked that my action could land on a site as a headline. After the staged campaign activity, a chess match was conducted. 

SPA acting as a candidate for barangay captain position. 

The learners were asked to go back to the designated rooms. The resource speaker gave a final set of reminders about what they need to do in their websites. After that, the contestants were given the signal to work on their content. While observing, I can't help but admire how the contestants are good in laying out their websites and produce contents. Some are even good in using PhotoShop. I saw how the learners were gritty in creating their works. Indeed, they are advanced. 

The contest ended in the afternoon. During the last five minutes, the learners were panicking to submit the links of their sites. I was tasked to collect the URLs. I remember that some were screaming as they are finalizing their outputs. Good thing that they were able to submit within the time. The resource speaker served as the judge of the event. 

My role ended when I submitted the results of the competition to the TWG. I am thankful that I was given a chance to serve as facilitator. I hope it is not the last. It is one of the achievements I had as a school paper adviser. This year's DSPC is indeed memorable. 

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