Jill's Journal: Watch out, American Idol, here I come!

Jill Meier, Journal editor

Now, don’t go and get any silly ideas that I’m a crooner. Actually, I’m far from it. Singing with fellow worshippers in church, in the shower, behind the wheel and once in a blue moon, a karaoke performance – of course, spurred by a hint of liquid courage – are my “stages.”

When it comes to American Idol, I’m more cut out for judging.

I came to that conclusion Friday while judging the finals of the weeks-long karaoke contest staged by the Double D Saloon. I’ve judged before, but not the finals, and I’m here to tell you, there’s some pretty stellar singers in our midst.

As the co-judges and I – two baby boomers, two millennials and one Gen Z – eliminated singers through the first two rounds, we, of course, felt terrible. After all, there was some substantial prize money on the line and I’m sure each singer came that night just hoping to bring home the cash.

One of the “millennial” judges turned out to be high school teacher, Carson Pruett. I remember him as a student at Brandon Valley and most recently got reacquainted with him after including a comment about him in Lynn Bartscher’s retirement story earlier this spring.

As one singer performed a song from the ‘80s, I let Carson know that the tune was from the decade that I was as young as he is now. I tossed in that I’ll be joining my classmates for our 40th reunion this summer, and he countered with, “I haven’t even had my 10-year reunion yet!”

Despite the differences in our ages, the baby boomers, the millennials and the Gen Z, could all agree that we know a good singer when we hear one.

Speaking of good, the Brandon Valley Journal scored a variety of awards in the 2022 Better Newspaper Contest. 

Former graphic artist Erin Ver Mulm won first place in the “Best Newspaper Promotion” category for her ad design, “News for Brews.” The judge commented, “What a fun take on the famous ‘free beer’ promo, and a bonus point for the rhyme ‘news for brews.’ Way to partner with an advertiser.”

VerMulm also won a third-place honor for her ad, “Father’s Day Brunch,” which featured an eye-appealing mustache ans bow tie.

Former Journal reporter Keeley Meier’s story, “A lesson in consequences: Tyrrell sentenced, Green recovers” won third place in the Best Feature Story-Profile category. The judge commented, “A powerful and well-told story all the way around.”

As your editor, I won a third-place award for Best Sports Reporting for my story on “Ladies Night Out.” It put the spotlight on ladies’ hockey night.

“How can you not love this story – moms playing hockey. Writer didn’t disappoint like many others in this category, who had great story ideas but didn’t come through.”

The Journal staff brought home first place for Best Special Section, which was the 2021 graduation special section, “Class of 2021 – A Year at the Top.” The judge noted it was “Creative from start to finish,” and the Best Special Publication, the 2021 Destination Brandon community guide. 

Lastly, the team took third place in Best Typography and Design and second place for Best Social Media.


The Brandon Valley Journal


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Brandon, SD 57005
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