Working vacation

I found myself on a redeye flight to Orlando last Wednesday for the National High School Journalism Convention at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel.

And, since it’s already 30 degrees and snowing in the Salt Lake valley, I knew it wouldn’t be too terrible coming home to 90-degree weather, sunshine and palm trees. In the past as a professor, I traveled with my students to conferences in Atlanta and Miami, but college students are adults, so this is my first time accompanying minors to an out-of-state event, which is a bit nerve-wracking, in addition to finding a dog sitter – thank you, student – submitting substitute plans for two days of school that I’m missing – I miss you guys! – and making sure I bought gum for the flight, which was one of the worst flights EVER due to a screaming baby; I barely slept a wink.


Fiesta’s face every morning when I tell I have to go to work


Looking west at the Oquirrh Mountains


Driving east to the Wasatch Mountains

We arrived in Orlando around 5 a.m. on Thursday to pick up our minivans, my hair instantly frizzy, and drove to the 7-bedroom house we rented just minutes away from Disney World. It was some of my student’s first time in Orlando, so I made sure to prep them about the high humidity and daily afternoon thunderstorms, which never happened.


One of the parent chaperones and I hit up Publix to stock up on groceries – always a must whenever I come back to Florida. After that, it was off to Disney World where we hit 3 parks in one day with the park-hopper pass, starting at the Magic Kingdom, stopping by Hollywood Studios (formally known as MGM?) and ended our night at Epcot. By then, I was wired and could not fall asleep until midnight having been up for more than 40 hours.


Main Street at the Magic Kingdom



Front row on Splash Mountain


The Tower of Terror was closed due to “technical difficulties”


Christmas in November at Hollywood Studios


Epcot lit up at night

Friday kicked off the first day of the convention and I was excited to arrive to the Dolphin Hotel having not been since the last dirt bike banquet a few years ago.

Arriving that morning, I walked into chaos with more than 5,000 high schoolers trying to find the desk to check-in, where to find coffee and what session they would attend first.

I picked my first session on online teaching tools and was saddened to find out there was no wifi at this convention because apparently it was too much money – I heard something like $30,000 for just the speakers to have internet access, which is absurd. In 2015, I think it’s a reasonable expectation for wifi to be provided at a journalism conference. I was not happy.


One of my favorite sessions was using your device for video journalism

“The only way to stay and get to be a good producer and creator is to constantly create content.” – Don Gable of Ladue Horton Watkins High School talking about how he continues to stay relevant in his field by producing videos.


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