The World-Herald annually recognizes outstanding student journalists with its Key Staffer award. The prize salutes journalistic achievement by a high school senior on any high school publication. Forty-three of the 44 metro-area schools invited to participate chose a recipient this year.

Meet the honorees and read what school officials had to say about their Key Staffer selection.

Kendra Dragon

Kendra Dragon

BELLEVUE EAST 

Kendra Dragon

Current journalistic role: Yearbook editor-in-chief

College plans: UNO; elementary education

Parents: Melanie Tuamoheloa, Chris Dragon

About: Kendra was the calm in the storm. She helped create the theme, as well as provided feedback to junior editors, page designers, writers and photographers. She established deadlines, managed workflow and determined assignments for each staff member. Though Kendra’s duties required much of her, she tackled every assignment with an amazing work ethic, always meeting deadline with a thoroughness and sense of professionalism that consistently served as examples for junior staff members. Despite the closing of school due to the coronavirus, Kendra’s leadership ensured that the yearbook was finished on time.

* * * 

LeAnne Bugay

LeAnne Bugay 

BELLEVUE WEST 

LeAnne Bugay

Current journalistic role: Yearbook video director and copy editor, newspaper editor

College plans: UNL; broadcasting and journalism

Parents: Mike and Melissa Bugay

About: LeAnne made marked improvements to Bellevue West’s publications. She elevated journalistic standards on three staffs, she created and implemented a redesign of the newspaper and she worked to improve social media outreach. She is a talented designer, editor, filmmaker and photographer. We are lucky that she chose to spend so much of her high school life leaving an indelible mark on our publications.

* * * 

Sydney Lowe

Sydney Lowe

BENNINGTON 

Sydney Lowe

Current journalistic role: Newspaper editor

College plans: Central College (Iowa); undecided

Parents: Krista and Eric Lowe

About: Sydney plays a pivotal role on our staffs. Whether she is asked to write, design, edit or photograph events, she is always ready to rise to the challenge. She puts in the extra time to make sure her work is of the best quality, and is always ready to lend a hand to her teammates.

* * * 

Brailynn Nero

Brailynn Nero 

BENSON 

Brailynn Nero

Current journalistic role: Yearbook editor-in-chief

College plans: UNL; communications

Parents: Hillard and Araceli Nero

About: For the past two years, Brailynn has been the driving force behind both the yearbook staff and journalism department. She constantly pushes her staff to do more, be more and to never settle while simultaneously making the J-room a fun place to be.

* * * 

Amanda Hickle

Amanda Hickle

BLAIR 

Amanda Hickle

Current journalistic role: Newspaper co-editor-in-chief

College plans: Metropolitan Community College; secondary education

Parents: Tom and Karen Hickle

About: Amanda Hickle has been an integral part of the Bear Tracks newspaper staff all four years of high school. As a junior last year, she competed in the NSAA Class B Journalism State Championship where she earned seventh place in headline writing and second place in newspaper feature writing.

* * * 

Jazmyn Knudsen

2020 Jazmyn Knudsen

BOYS TOWN 

Jazmyn Knudsen

Current journalistic role: Yearbook staff

Career plans: Work full time as CNA

Parents: Rich and Sara Blackburn

About: Jazmyn’s positive attitude and mature disposition have made her a valuable member of the yearbook staff. She is responsible and reliable and always willing to sacrifice her personal time to take photos at activities and events, and she is also willing to go above and beyond her own duties to ensure that yearbook pages are complete.

* * * 

Brianna Liu

Brianna Liu 

BROWNELL TALBOT SCHOOL 

Brianna Liu

Current journalistic role: Yearbook co-editor-in-chief

College plans: University of Chicago; economics

Parents: Brian Liu and Belinda Jiang

About: Brianna is, without exception, the best student with whom I’ve worked as the yearbook sponsor. She is exacting in photo quality, pica spacing and font consistency, and has an eye for design. She is, furthermore, a superior writer and has skills to see errors others miss. She is willing to do work not her own, and she offers help to me beyond her job description. As we are now working from home, Brianna recently sent me tutorials on using our more intricate programs. I could not do without her.

* * * 

Olivia Rickley

Olivia Rickley 

BRYAN 

Olivia Rickley

Current journalistic role: Yearbook editor-in-chief

College plans: UNL; education

Parents: Andrew and Gabrielle Rickley

About: Olivia Rickley was chosen for the Bryan High Key Staffer because she is a strong, level-headed leader. She manages the yearbook staff with grace and has put in countless hours over the past two years as editor-in-chief helping her staff create award-winning yearbooks and helping push them to always do their best. Additionally, she has proved that she has mastered many journalistic skills by earning both local and national awards for her own work.

* * * 

Carly Herman

Carly Herman 

BURKE 

Carly Herman

Current journalistic role: Yearbook co-editor-in-chief

College plans: UNO; nursing

Parents: Jay and Jane Herman

About: Carly is a four-year member of the yearbook staff. In that time, she has moved from freshman staffer to photo editor to editor-in-chief. Carly is a hard worker and has dedicated her time and effort to excellence. This hard work paid off in 2018 when she won the NSAA Yearbook Sports Feature Writing competition. Carly is a great example of creativity and leadership. We are lucky to have had her on staff for four years.

* * * 

Emma Whaley

Emma Whaley 

CENTRAL 

Emma Whaley

Current journalistic role: Newspaper editor

College plans: UNL; journalism

Parents: Danny and Elly Whaley

About: Emma has been on staff for three years and has been an editor for two years. She takes on difficult stories with hard-to-get interviews and completes them on time for each issue. Her writing is impeccable, and her passion for journalism is unmatched.

* * * 

Zoie Jacobsen

Zoie Jacobsen

CONCORDIA 

Zoie Jacobsen

Current journalistic role: Journalist, yearbook staffer, photographer

College plans: UNK; education

Parent: Peggy Jacobsen

About: It would be hard to find another student who is as determined, prompt and effective as Zoie. In both yearbook and journalism classes, she has shown great aptitude in seeking out stories, crafting pieces and producing a polished product.

* * * 

Bailey Peabody

Bailey Peabody

COUNCIL BLUFFS ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

Bailey Peabody

Current journalistic role: Newspaper co-editor-in-chief

College plans: Arizona State; communications

Parent: Karyn Peabody

About: Bailey’s passion for journalism was evident from her first day at Abraham Lincoln High School and has not wavered. Bailey is an integral part of leading the newspaper, and the journalism program as a whole, to success. Whether she is writing a story, designing a page, producing video or organizing a potluck, Bailey does it all.

* * * 

Carter Wells

Carter Wells

COUNCIL BLUFFS LEWIS CENTRAL 

Carter Wells

Current journalistic role: Broadcast editor

College plans: University of Iowa; cinema

Parents: Ashley and Scott Wells

About: Carter’s impact on the reputation and branding of Lewis Central can’t be measured. He’s been responsible for a majority of the content created for our district’s social media accounts. Not only is he the most prolific content creator in the district, he’s also the most skilled. His growth with cameras, editing software and social media is beyond impressive. He is a motivated self-starter, curious for new ways to create. There’s nothing Carter can’t accomplish when he puts his mind to a task.

* * * 

Andrew Gronstal

Andrew Gronstal 

COUNCIL BLUFFS ST. ALBERT 

Andrew Gronstal

Current journalistic role: Newspaper editor-in-chief

College plans: Creighton; nursing

Parents: Matthew and Lisa Gronstal

About: Drew stepped up at the end of his sophomore year to lead the school newspaper. For the last two years, he has been the editor-in-chief of The Accipiter, managing through example and with a teamwork philosophy to produce a variety of entertaining, informative and award-winning investigative articles. He is a meticulous editor and story planner who loves to write and never missed an opportunity to pen an article himself.

* * * 

Emily Eikenberry

Emily Eikenberry 

COUNCIL BLUFFS THOMAS JEFFERSON 

Emily Eikenberry

Current journalistic role: Online newspaper editor-in-chief

College plans: William Penn; computer science

Parents: Luanna and Bret Eikenberry

About: Emily has been a steady leader for two years as the newspaper editor. She has grown as a leader in this role and will continue on to great things in college.

* * * 

James Heldridge

James Heldridge

CREIGHTON PREP 

James Heldridge

Current journalistic role: Yearbook and newspaper chief photographer and photo editor; social media team

College plans: UNL; journalism

Parents: Tom and Gayle Heldridge

About: James was an invaluable member of the Jay Journal staff. His photo skills helped us capture some of the most iconic Prep moments in the past four years. He always tried to better himself in getting the elusive “perfect shot.” It was my honor to have him in my class.

* * * 

Mckennah Bohlen

Mckennah Bohlen 

DOUGLAS COUNTY WEST 

Mckennah Bohlen

Current journalistic role: Yearbook staffer and photo editor; contributor to Falcon Flush newspaper

College plans: Metropolitan Community College; undecided

Parents: Suzane Bohlen and Dave and Jodie Bohlen

About: Though this is Mckennah’s first year on our digital journalism staff, she has contributed so much enthusiasm and energy to our projects. She is very creative and has a great eye for photo opportunities and layout design. Mckennah tackles each and every project with an understanding of the importance of completion but always somehow manages to create an entertaining and lively environment. We have truly enjoyed having Mckennah be a part of our staff.

* * * 

Kathleen Hoover

Kathleen Hoover

DUCHESNE 

Kathleen Hoover

Current journalistic role: Yearbook staffer

College plans: University of St. Thomas; business

Parents: Brenda and Tom Hoover

About: Kathleen was selected for her leadership role. She has always been a vital contributor to all aspects of the yearbook but this year took on an even bigger role within our layout, editing and design.

* * * 

Sydney Cole

Sydney Cole 

ELKHORN 

Sydney Cole

Current journalistic role: Newsmagazine design editor, opinion writer and in-depth reporter

College plans: Florida State; English

Parents: Len and Chris Cole

About: Syd is a calm, quiet leader who is respected and admired by her peers. She has been a key staff member for our publications since her sophomore year, when she was a state champion in editorial writing, a state runner-up in in-depth news coverage and a sixth-place finisher in photo illustration. As a junior, Syd was selected design editor, a position she held for two years, and earned a fifth-place state finish in newspaper layout. As a senior Syd earned a national award for her in-depth coverage of sex education. She is a gifted writer, a talented designer and a wonderful person.

* * * 

Callista Gregory

Callista Gregory 

ELKHORN SOUTH 

Callista Gregory

Current journalistic role: Senior editor and reporter for magazine and website

College plans: Creighton; international relations and anthropology

Parents: Jason and Megan Gregory

About: Calli is a senior editor for the Elkhorn Storm Alert and has taken on the role of design editor. Calli’s constant and steady leadership throughout the school year, ability to accept feedback and willingness to make our magazine better with each issue is why I am nominating her for this award. She is constantly trying to learn more and improve her abilities so that we put out our absolute best work. Calli is an outstanding staff member whom we are truly fortunate to have.

* * * 

Morgan Miller

Morgan Miller 

FORT CALHOUN 

Morgan Miller

Current journalistic role: Yearbook writer, designer and photographer

College plans: Creighton University and National Guard Reserve; psychology or computer science

Parents: Tim and Angela Miller

About: Morgan is dedicated to giving her best effort to each yearbook layout that she is responsible for. This includes doing a thorough job of researching and writing her stories and designing her pages, and she puts out full effort in getting the best pictures possible. She has outstanding people skills and is a remarkable team player, always happy to help the other students with their writing, designing and picture-taking.

* * * 

Maycee Fagan

Maycee Fagan 

FREMONT 

Maycee Fagan

Current journalistic role: Yearbook photo editor

College plans: Northeast Community College; real estate and marketing

Parents: Bryan and Kristen Fagan

About: A high-energy and hard-working journalist, Maycee has been a dedicated and valuable member of the journalism program at Fremont High School her entire high school career. During her three years on the Black & Gold staff, Maycee has contributed at a high level in every possible way to the success of the yearbook. Not only has she developed into a strong leader, but she’s also become an award-winning photographer and graphic designer. Maycee won the eighth-place medal in the advertising category at the Nebraska State Journalism championships as a junior (in 2019) and then placed first in the best news/feature photograph category in the University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Communications high school media contest as a senior (in 2020).

* * * 

Grace Sendgraff

Grace Sendgraff 

FREMONT BERGAN 

Grace Sendgraff

Current journalistic role: Yearbook editor and photographer

College plans: Northeast Community College; nursing

Parents: Paul and Kristi Sendgraff

About: Grace is very thorough and loves the creativity of designing layouts and taking pictures. Grace loves to take pictures and is willing to help out any way possible. She has been a great help in the yearbook the past two years and is an overall great person.

* * * 

Jada Scharff

Jada Scharff 

GRETNA 

Jada Scharff

Current journalistic role: Yearbook co-editor-in-chief

College plans: Benedictine College; secondary education and Spanish

Parents: Lori and Stephen Kuehl and Danny Scharff

About: Jada is a leader who makes the journalism lab a positive place for her staff. She runs a staff that meets its deadlines while creating a beautiful book that tells the story of the entire school, not just a select few, and she does this with respect and the ability to make every yearbook class period fun.

* * * 

Kasha Cherek

Kasha Cherek

GROSS 

Kasha Cherek

Current journalistic role: Yearbook editor-in-chief

College plans: UNL; undecided

Parents: Laurie Udron and Rick Cherek

About: Kasha has been an important contributor to the yearbook for the last four years and an essential leader for the last two. Kasha’s contributions to the publication’s design have been extraordinary.

* * * 

Sarah Cronin

Sarah Cronin 

MARIAN 

Sarah Cronin

Current journalistic role: Newspaper co-managing editor, reporter, photographer and designer

College plans: American University of Paris, Fordham or UNL; journalism and business

Parents: Walter and Victoria Cronin

About: Sarah and her other co-editor not only edit the monthly print paper, but also motivate and inspire all those in the journalism program. Sarah and all the staffers write, photograph, design and share their creativity. She has helped foster a great relationship with administration and the student body. Sarah is especially gifted with skills in graphic design and photo illustration. She has been recognized by the Journalism Education Association and the Nebraska Press Women.

* * * 

Elizabeth Walters

Elizabeth Walters 

MERCY 

Elizabeth Walters

Current journalistic role: Online newspaper editor

College plans: Kansas; journalism/communications

Parents: Alan and Mary Ann Walters

About: Elizabeth was chosen for this award for her leadership, enthusiasm and talent as the editor of Mercy High School’s online student newspaper. A superb writer, Elizabeth showed initiative and creativity in both creating content and building readership among the Mercy community. Respected by her peers, Elizabeth has been a calm and comforting voice in the face of school closure and the loss of precious time with her fellow seniors.

* * * 

Molly Murch

Molly Murch

MILLARD NORTH 

Molly Murch

Current journalistic role: Newspaper co-editor-in-chief, in-depth editor and staff writer

College plans: Barnard; sociology and environmental sustainability

Parents: Rick Murch and Xun Wang

About: Molly is an outstanding journalist and leader. She is always passionate about the story she is writing, has excellent communication skills, creates impressive layouts, and leads the staff impressively with her quick-thinking, intelligence and positive attitude. Through it all, she meets her deadlines regularly while producing very high-quality work each and every issue.

* * * 

Isabel Robb

Isabel Robb 

MILLARD SOUTH 

Isabel Robb

Current journalistic role: Newspaper editor-in-chief

College plans: UNL; interior design

Parents: DeDra and Jeff Robb

About: As editor-in-chief, Isabel has been willing to do whatever it takes to get a newspaper out to print. Her maturity and attention to detail are strengths.

* * * 

Kaitlyn Willard

Kaitlyn Willard 

MILLARD WEST 

Kaitlyn Willard

Current journalistic role: Newspaper editor-in-chief; Wildcat News broadcast anchor

College plans: Colorado State; environmental engineering

Parent: Mary Fran Willard

About: Kaitlyn was part of the inaugural Catalyst newspaper and MWHS Wildcat News broadcast staff and worked her way to editor-in-chief and co-anchor her senior year. During her three years on staff, Kaitlyn has been a reliable and trusted journalist, highly respected by the 40 staffers she leads each day. In 2020, she was a finalist for Nebraska’s Journalist of the Year and has won local, state and national awards for her written stories, layouts and designs and broadcasts. Her hard work and dedication have made her a master storyteller and exceptional journalist, and it is her kind heart and compassion toward others and the environment that will change the world.

* * * 

Alex Schrier

Alex Schrier 

Mount Michael 

Alex Schrier

Current journalistic role: Co-editor-in-chief for newspaper/online

College plans: UNL; undecided

Parents: Alan and Lisa Schrier 

About: Our team is unique because we are one group of 17-20 people producing content for three publications in a short amount of time. The team produces seven print editions, weekly online content, and a yearbook. Alex noticed we could be more much more efficient then we were. He suggested a complete re-organization of our process which we implemented. It has been hugely successful. We are telling better stories and more of them because he cared enough to make a difference. Beyond this, he cares deeply about telling stories and placing them in appealing design to draw readers into those stories. He truly excels at his job.

Nathaniel Smith

Nathaniel Smith 

North

Nathaniel Smith

Current journalistic role: Newspaper editor-in-chief

College plans: Columbia College (Chicago); fashion photography

Parent: Lewanna Gleffe

About: Nathaniel has made journalism his passion for the past four years and inspires his staff to take risks and try new challenges they may not have considered. Not only did he rightfully earn and hold his spot as editor-in-chief, but he also expanded his own journalistic horizons through digital storytelling and gaining access as a photojournalist to high-profile events, such as Omaha Fashion Week. He pushes himself to learn more by regularly attending city, state and national conventions while winning awards at all levels.

* * * 

Quentin Xavier Menyweather

Quentin Xavier Menyweather

NORTHWEST 

Quentin Xavier Menyweather

Current journalistic role: Yearbook design editor

College plans: UNL; athletic training

Parents: Lyndsy Carson and Gabriel Carson

About: Quentin has been a part of the yearbook staff for three years. His growth and imagination have taken him and our yearbook to a whole new level. He has played a crucial role in the design of each of the previous three yearbooks and has helped design the cover art as well. Quentin is a great student and leader for the other staff members.

* * * 

Zachary Roberts

achary Roberts 

OMAHA CHRISTIAN 

Zachary Roberts

Current journalistic role: Yearbook editor

Career plans: Undecided

Parents: Roy and Sue Roberts

About: Zach has been highly invested in our yearbook. Even last year as he battled cancer, he continued to contribute and be involved to help us finish our book. Zach loves the Lord, and his pages shine that love in the yearbook.

* * * 

Megan Davey

Megan Davey

PAPILLION-LA VISTA 

Megan Davey

Current journalistic role: Magazine editor-in-chief

College plans: UNL; biology

Parents: Patrick and Danette Davey

About: Megan is one of the most well-rounded students I have encountered in my time in education. She figures out what she wants and isn’t afraid to work for it while leading by example and with a quiet intensity. She has proven this time and time again by tackling the most difficult assignments for our magazine. She does this because she has committed to her team and she greatly cares about its members and the final product.

* * * 

Madison Hurst

Madison Hurst

PAPILLION-LA VISTA SOUTH 

Madison Hurst

Current journalistic role: Yearbook editor

College plans: UNO; political science

Parents: Kim Hurst and Matt and Christy Hurst

About: After helping claim the Nebraska High School Press Association’s highly prized Cornhusker Award as story editor for our 2019 yearbook, Madison took on the role of editor-in-chief and lone veteran returner. At the helm of a young, inexperienced yet eager staff, she has led with courage, conviction and fairness. That became ever more important when COVID-19 shut down schools and presented yearbook students the challenge of covering true history in the making without direct access to the school building or student body.

* * * 

Sylvia Dierking

Sylvia Dierking 

PLATTEVIEW 

Sylvia Dierking

Current journalistic role: Newspaper senior editor

College plans: UNK; secondary English education

Parents: Christopher Dierking and Lisa Dierking

About: Sylvia is a one-of-a-kind newspaper editor. She not only manages the print publication, but she also runs the online version of the student paper. She is the core copy editor of the publications staff. She guides her colleagues with new ideas and new approaches, and pushes herself and students to find the voice and heart of the paper. It’s clear that her goal is not only to make a great paper, but also to make a paper that speaks to its audiences.

* * * 

Alexia Gibson

Alexia Gibson 

PLATTSMOUTH 

Alexia Gibson

Current journalistic role: Yearbook design editor

College plans: UNL; education

Parent: Jesse Gibson

About: Alexia has been a part of the yearbook staff for three years and took on a leadership role as the design editor. She is a strong leader, designer and writer.

* * * 

Ray Dunning

Ray Dunning

RALSTON 

Ray Dunning

Current journalistic role: Yearbook editor-in-chief

College plans: South Dakota State; athletic training

Parents: Tess and Stephen Dunning

About: Ray demonstrates outstanding growth and leadership. Ray is a self-starter and is actively motivated in leveling up the photography, design and writing of her yearbook. She has won the program several awards for the first time in years. Under her guidance, the journalism program has seen tremendous improvement, and students respect her as an authority on journalistic standards. She is collaborative and an excellent communicator. Through great personal adversity, she maintains professionalism and inspires the other students in her program.

* * * 

Kenidy Dunlap

Kenidy Dunlap 

RONCALLI 

Kenidy Dunlap

Current journalistic role: Yearbook photographer

College plans: UNO; pre-nursing

Parents: Andrew and LaDonna Dunlap

About: Kenidy has demonstrated enthusiasm and dedication as a yearbook staff member. She works diligently to making the yearbook the best it can be.

* * * 

Jenna Goehring

Jenna Goehring

SKUTT 

Jenna Goehring

Current journalistic role: Yearbook editor

College plans: UNL; nursing

Parents: Bryce and Rachel Goehring

About: As the yearbook editor, Jenna has done a terrific job creating a vision for the 2020 yearbook. She has designed templates, helped her peers and created eye-catching page designs. Her vision will certainly help us create a yearbook that, considering the current situation, will be a part of history.

* * * 

Haven Appel

Haven Appel 

SOUTH 

Haven Appel

Current journalistic role: Yearbook editor-in-chief

College plans: UNO; undecided

Parent: Darcy Appel

About: Haven showed her leadership abilities last year on yearbook. She would finish her spreads early, then sit down with the students who needed help and work on their spreads with them. It was an easy choice to make her my editor-in-chief this year because she does things without being asked. She also volunteers to do things when others can’t because she knows we need to meet our deadlines. She is reliable, a hard worker, and goes out of her way to help others.

* * * 

Jonathan Snover

Jonathan Snover 

WESTSIDE 

Jonathan Snover

Current journalistic role: Sports journalism co-editor-in-chief

College plans: Missouri; journalism

Parents: Amy Kennedy-Snover and Todd Snover

About: Jonathan Snover is the hardest-working student in the Westside High School journalism program. He serves as one of our first co-editors-in-chief of Sports Journalism, a new class during 2018-19 tasked with covering all WHS sports. Written copy, photos, social media postings, video and more have all been created by Sports J and then distributed to the school’s daily news site, newspaper and yearbook. Jonathan has led by example and produced timely stories, game-coverage tweets and immediate video. He’s become the Swiss Army knife for our program.

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