JOY at West

JOY at West

From the time she was a baby, if Ali put her mind to it she was going to do it! She has worked countless hours for the Insider, yearbook, and on the portfolio she submitted for journalist of the year. Her whole family is SO proud of her and we are all eager to see how far she goes.

— Tai Parkhurst

Ali Parkhurst named 2024 Journalist of the year:

On Feb 18, 2024, West High’s very own Ali Parkhurst was named Iowa’s Journalist of the Year, Earning a $500 reward and a chance to represent Iowa in the National Journalist of the Year conference in April. Parkhurst is the sports and news editor for the Wahawk Insider and the editor and chief of the West High yearbook program. The ISHPA judging committee said that “Alisyn displays a passion for reporting, editing and leadership that helped her play an instrumental role in reviving high school journalism in her school. Her writing is sharp and entertaining and her devotion to journalism that represents and informs her audience is strong. Her initiative and enthusiasm produce some big shoes to fill when she leaves West.” Ali is incredibly involved and determined with over 24 awards under her belt, including four Best of SNO awards and a major role in helping the Wahawk Insider become an All Iowa news team of the year. With hundreds of applicants qualifying for the award and with nine judging categories, Ali was very carefully chosen.

Parkhurst started her journalism journey as soon as she could pick up a pencil, but her true step towards the program started at 10 years old as part of the Kittrell Cougars Newscast, a broadcast presented by Kittrell Elementary School where she was cast as the sole journalist for the 2017-2018 school year. Parkhurst adds “My first few years in journalism are something I will cherish forever. Journalism, while it is so permanent, is also so forgiving and emotional. I felt empowered with my ability to write the way I did and cover the amazing stories I was able to. I created so many unbreakable bonds and faced challenges that pushed me to be a better writer, student and overall human.”

Over the last four years, Parkhurst has pushed herself past the limits and created a name for herself, winning over twenty-four national awards including Journalist of the Year. Parkhurst’s awards consist of four Best of Sno articles, A seventh-place award in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. After winning the Journalist of the Year title, Parkhurst accompanied four other journalists while they attended the NSPA/JEA national journalism conference at the beginning of April. Following this trip to Kansas City, Parkhurst says “The Kansas City trip allowed us to network with other journalists around the country and learn so many new things. Each of us was able to submit to win awards and I was awarded an honorable mention for feature writing as well as seventh place for equity, inclusion and diversity. I was also recognized as the Iowa High School Journalist of the Year.”

Parkhurst has committed to Wartburg College in Waverly IA, continuing her athletic and academic career. There she will continue to study journalism and will cheer for Wartburg’s football and competitive program. Parkhurst says that Wartburg is “Similar to West, journalism at Wartburg took a hit after the pandemic so I will have the chance to help rebuild another program which I am looking forward to. Wartburg has amazing sports teams which will allow me to grow in sports journalism which is one of my biggest passions.”

Coming from her sister and her coworker, I’ve never seen her more devoted to something than her writing. it takes up all her time, it’s like her child. She genuinely is the most deserving person to receive this award because no one is more committed to writing than she is. She has worked so hard to get to the point she is in now, and no one will ever be able to take that from her. I couldn’t be more proud to call her my sister.

— Sydney Parkhurst

Alisyn Sue: My inspiration

My first photo featuring Ali Parkhurst, Terez Smith, and Cavelle Fay. (C/O 2023) (Karma Goodson)

Kittrell Elementary School is where I first heard the name Ali Parkhurst. Kittrell Cougars News Cast (KCNC) a news broadcast our small elementary school created where students would do informational segments on events going on inside and outside of the classroom, usually featuring a majority of older students. First hand, I was able to witness Ali’s love for journalism at a very young age. As time continued, Ali and I connected while I was in the seventh grade.

As Ali and I began to grow, so did our friendship. During my freshman year, the friendship between us became inseparable. Every event, every meeting, every practice, Ali and I were there hand in hand. As Ali’s involvement in the Wahawk yearbook began to take off, she invited me to one of the largest track meets of the 2021-22 season. Gaining special access, Ali and I ran around the UNI dome photographing and interviewing students. This is where Ali first put a camera in my hand, asking me to photograph herself and two soon-to-be West High alumni. 

The moment I felt the camera in between my fingers, my love for photography was rekindled. My entire childhood I daydreamed of becoming a professional photographer, stealing my mom’s phone and creating social media accounts for my toys, posing and angling them making sure I had the perfect shot. As time continued and life passed, my love slowly faded but my appreciation for the act never left.

I loved the beauty and the comfort I could find behind a camera even at a young age and in that moment, Ali was the one who let that love blossom again, which is something I will forever be grateful for. I have watched Ali come a long way, from the fifth grader on the newscast in 2017 to the senior who was officially named Journalist of the Year by the IHSPA in 2024.

Parkhurst celebrating her 100th piece. (Ally Knight)

As the school year ends, and the class of 2024 has graduated, Parkhurst has hit her 100th published piece on Wahawk Insider. A multimedia piece where Wahawk Insider seniors reflect on their time as staff members and their favorite moments on staff.

Parkhurst has left a legacy and blueprint for what is to come next. From her devotion to the program and countless nights spent working on the yearbook and publications program, she is an inspiration for all, and with inspiration comes success. To follow Ali’s journalism journey, check out her website.



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About the Contributors
Karma Goodson
Karma Goodson, Reporter
(She/her) Karma who is a second year reporter for the Wahawk insider and is a Junior at West High. Away from the classroom Karma can be seen by the water, working on her photography skills, reading, or having long social and political conversations with her friends and family.
Ally Knight
Ally Knight, Feature and Multimedia Editor
(She/her) Ally Knight is a Senior at West High and this is her second year on the Wahawk Insider staff. Outside of Wahawk Insider, she is on the varsity cheer squad for football and wrestling. You can often see her going on runs with her dog, shopping with friends, or taking a nap!
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