LHHS’ Bye brings home State Championship
By ANTHONY FLORES
Kennedy Bye couldn’t help falling into an emotional embrace with her instructor Mikyela Tedder when she learned she was named State Champion in UIL News Writing.
It was her first year competing in the event.
“I felt excited, happy, and just amazed that I even placed,” said Bye. “Now that I have placed in an event I just started, I want to make it to state in the other events I compete in.”
Bye has a natural talent for journalism. The LHHS sophomore follows her mother, who went to state for feature writing, and her sister, who studied journalism.
“I wanted something where I could be more creative,” she said. “My sister did journalism, so I started to do journalism. I like writing stories. When I did my writing when I was younger, I would write these long essays about fantasy things. In journalism, I can make the transitions more creative.”
Bye began her journey finishing third in District and second in Regionals. She also placed third in copyediting at Regionals. She rose through the leaderboard as she continued through the year and worked her way to the top.
“She puts her heart and soul into it. She puts in 100 percent effort,” said Tedder. “She continued to improve at each level and that speaks a lot to her dedication.”
In the competition, Bye has only a certain amount of time to craft her story.
“They have 45 minutes to complete the contest from the time they look at the paper until they have to hit print and turn their story in,” said Tedder. “They are expected to construct, write, edit the entire story in 45 minutes. She is a dream to coach because she is very receptive to critique or any comments I give her to make her writing better. She quickly implements them and improves her writing.”
The dedication to improving her craft is evident to Tedder in the form of the adaptations Bye makes to her work.
“I’ll write my story, and then we go over it together. I’ll listen to the ways that I can fix mistakes,” said Bye. “Sometimes I’ll go back and look at the comments on what I wrote, and I’ll make sure to use those notes to not include the same mistakes.”
One of the challenges Bye faced this year in the competition was changing how she practiced her writing. Before restrictions were set in place, a large part of preparation began with practice meets.
“Our preparation this year is more one on one where Kennedy comes in after school,” said Tedder. “She typically writes a story or two a night. She sends them to me, and we critique and go over the stories when we’re together.”
Injection of Creativity
Creativity is at the core of Bye’s desire to write, and she uses the transitions between quotes to insert her ideas.
“I just like writing creative things,” she said. “I like to add fun to it because I don’t like reading things that are only facts alone without anything creative holding them together. I like to read interesting and exciting things, so I like to write like that.”
For a creative writer like Bye, falling into the constraints of news writing can become monotonous and formulaic, a difficult adjustment for her style.
“Some of the harder things are having to stick right to the prompt, not putting in opinions, and making sure it’s exactly what is being asked for,” said Bye. “Sometimes I put opinions. I don’t realize that it sounds like an opinion, and I have to reword it to make sure that it’s paraphrased correctly.”
Traditionally, journalists are taught the basics of news writing first before moving to the more fluid feature writing. Bye bucked tradition, doing feature writing first and working backward.
“She’s never had Journalism I. That was interesting, and I think this [learning feature writing first] has helped with her transitions, but she’s had to go back,” said Tedder. “I think that might have been the most challenging thing. In the beginning, you can’t add all the creative stuff like in features. It’s got to go straight to the news. Once she got that, she took off.”
Like most high school students, Bye has to balance her writing with several other activities, including cheerleading, student council, and being on the yearbook staff.
“I would go to football games and would take pictures of the cheerleaders because I know the varsity cheerleaders,” she said of her yearbook responsibilities. “We each had certain spreads assigned to us, and I would also help people write captions and add more creative parts to them.”
Tedder stresses that her dedication to being a hardworking student is how Bye balances her workload.
“What’s next for her is adding a fifth category,” said Tedder. “She will be competing in all five journalism events. This year we did four. She’s going to add editorial writing. We talked about it already, and her goal is to make it back to state, and this time in multiple events.”