Lemont’s Tess O’Brien earns medal at 2024 IHSA Journalism State Finals

Tess O'Brien

For the fourth straight year, a Lemont High School student brought home hardware from the journalism state finals. Senior Tess O’Brien placed third in Editorial Cartooning at the 2024 IHSA Journalism State Finals, which were contested at Heartland Community College on April 26. Senior Ella Murray made her second state finals appearance.

Murray competed in the Newspaper Design category for the second straight year, while O’Brien was making her state finals debut. Each won sectional titles in their respective competitions in Sectional 7, marking just the second time in school history Lemont had multiple sectional titlists in the same year. The top three finishers in each category in sectional competition earn state finals berths.

IHSA Journalism Website

Lemont has advanced qualifiers to the IHSA Journalism State Finals 15 consecutive years dating back to 2009 (not including 2020, when the IHSA State Series was cancelled). Multiple Lemont students have qualified for the state finals 14 straight seasons (not including 2020), and Lemont tallied a school-record seven qualifiers in 2014.

Andrew Kula ‘23 is Lemont’s only two-time journalism state champion, winning in Broadcast News in 2022 and Radio News in 2023. Lemont’s other state champions include Charmaine Balisalisa ‘12 (2012; Info Graphics) and Heather Miller ‘17 (2016; Editorial Writing). Miller, who also placed sixth in Advertising in 2016, is the only Lemont student to earn multiple state medals in the same year.

Lemont’s previous state medalists also include Avary Blazevich ‘24 (2021; 4th - Info Graphics), Reanna Comiso ‘16 (2016; 4th - Feature Writing), Madeleine George ‘12 (2012; 4th - Feature Photography), Laura Harding ‘13 (2013; 3rd - Editorial Writing), Peyton Jay ‘18 (2018; 5th - Editorial Writing), Emily Krivograd ‘18 (2018; 3rd - Feature Writing), David Timm ‘10 (2010; 4th - Headline Writing), Caroline Vranas ‘24 (2023; 5th - Headline Writing) and Kristin Washagan ‘15 (2014; 5th - Feature Writing).

In addition to Murray and O’Brien, Lemont’s sectional champions include Miller (Advertising, 2017), Natalie Barowsky ‘22 (Photo Story Telling, 2022), Erin Bendle ‘14 (Editorial Cartooning, 2014), Janelle Fennessey ‘11 (News Writing, 2010), Jordan Gembara ‘13 (Info Graphics, 2013), Kelly Lyons ‘11 (Editorial Writing, 2011), Marisa Mars ‘13 (News Writing, 2013), Morgan Page ‘18 (Editorial Cartooning, 2018), Leila Rexhepi ‘24 (Photo Story Telling, 2023), Alejandra Rodriguez ‘16 (Headline Writing, 2016), and Josh Traynere ‘14 (Info Graphics, 2015).

The IHSA Journalism State Finals includes contests in 18 newspaper- and yearbook related categories, with students being asked to meet a different challenge in each competition. The top three finishers in each category from each IHSA Sectional advance to compete at the IHSA State Finals. Lemont’s Journalism advisor is Brandon Hillary, and its head Yearbook sponsor is Cara Forde.