In its more than 50-year history, Saint Viator High School has always had a student

Editors of Saint Viator High School’s Viator Voice competed in the IHSA state journalism contest

newspaper. Whether it was the Lion Lector, Viator Voyageur or Viator Voice, students were encouraged to report school news and publish a regular edition of the paper.

Now, they can add state champion to its masthead.

One of this year’s co-editors in chief, Stephen Hannon ’17, took first place in the headline writing event at the Illinois High School Association’s journalism state finals.

His classmate, Elias Rivera ’17, who serves as arts and entertainment editor for the Viator Voice, medaled with his fifth place finish in the photo storytelling event.

Stephen Hannon, left, was crowned state champion in headline writing, while Elias Rivera, center medaled in photo storytelling. Maeve Schumacher, right, competed in sports writing at sectionals

This was the first year Saint Viator entered the journalism competition and after advancing two of its editors to the state finals — held at Eastern Illinois University — school officials realized they were one of only three Catholic schools there.

Stephen says he never expected to win and consequently felt little pressure coming up with clever headlines. Contestants were given six stories to assign headlines, that all covered activities at EIU. For one that detailed a crack down on locker thefts on campus, Stephen assigned this headline: “New Plan to Lock Out Thieves.”

“I went through the stories and assigned preliminary headlines, and then I’d go back and play around with the words,” he said. “I tried to stay away from clichés or anything formulaic, but instead tried to insert a fresh word that you might not necessarily think of without some added thought.”

Stephen will attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall, where he says he may write for its daily newspaper, The Observer, but his real passion will be pursuing a degree in computer science.

Elias, meantime, spent three hours scouring the EIU campus for vibrant photos in which to submit as part of the photo storytelling event. He wound up taking 200 photos and ultimately chose three for judging. All three showed art students at Eastern teaching a class to visiting middle school students on sketch art and figure drawing.

He strung them together into a story with clever captions, but it was his composition work that earned him praise from the judges. Elias is an award winning filmmaker, who intends to study film and television at New York University in the fall.

“I loved being able to wander the campus of Eastern for three hours,” he said, “trying to capture the human experience.”

Mr. Chris Paolelli, moderator of the Voice and a Saint Viator alum, said the two editors competed against 20 other students in their respective divisions and they were the best of the best from across the state.

“Just to get to state was an incredible achievement,” Mr. Paolelli said, “but they really outdid themselves today.”