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Award-winning Pleasant Valley student hoping to launch into journalism

Award-winning Pleasant Valley student hoping to launch into journalism

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Writing has interested Alyce Brown since she was a small child.

Now she is trying to turn that passion into a career.

As a girl, Brown, now 18, would write short stories and her English classes were always her favorite.

Her mother, who’d worked on her college newspaper, suggested trying journalism, said Brown, a senior at Pleasant Valley High School. For her own part, Brown said she initially brushed off the suggestion, then changed her mind in high school — she’s not sure why.

“Something switched and I just decided to take it junior year, and, yeah, I just fell in love with it,” said Brown, who is the editor-in-chief of the Spartan Shield, the school newspaper.

Brown said she never lacks for work to do, which is one of the reasons she likes journalism.

“It never really runs out,” she said. “There’s always things to cover and new events and new ways to look at things.”

Brown’s efforts in the field were recently recognized: she won the Iowa High School Press Association’s Iowa Journalist of the Year award.

It put her in the running for the Journalism Education Association’s national Journalist of the Year award, but Brown did not win the award that was announced on April 10.

Brown said she was not expecting to win the state award, but it was nice to be honored — especially now.

Putting out the paper has not only included managing the publication, but trying to do so as the coronavirus pandemic impacted how her school functioned.

“It’s been really hard, especially when we were hybrid because half the staff was split between days,” Brown said.

She had to figure out how to do her job when she or her staff could not always be there in person.

“I’ve made a lot of videos and we’ve used a lot of technology to keep the staff in communication and together,” Brown said.

The Shield has also done numerous coronavirus-related articles, including an investigation into how the district was interpreting social distancing.

The coverage has been extensive enough that the paper has actually gotten feedback from the student readership suggesting it dial the coverage back.

“So we’re backing off now,” she said with a laugh.

Brown’s passion for journalism sets her apart from her peers and she is also very curious, Maureen Dyer, the high school’s journalism teacher, said.

Watch Now: Pleasant Valley teacher Maureen Dyer talks about Alyce Brown, one of her students.

“She always wants to know the ‘why’ behind everything,” Dyer said.

Dyer said Brown also is a skilled writer and described her as brilliant.

“She just makes for a wonderful journalist,” Dyer said.

Brown, who graduates in May, said she is planning to study journalism at Northwestern University.

She wants to be a reporter covering education.

“I don’t really know where, I mean, obviously, I would love to be at a top publication,” she said. “I love cities, so I’d love to be in a big city.”

Brown has found, however, that she also is interested in the media industry in general.

“Really, any profession within this kind of industry," Brown said, "I think I would be really happy with."

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