The range of important stories tackled by student reporters, editors and photographers last year was astounding.
In entries for Youth Journalism International’s 13th annual contest, they tackled issues such as sexual assault, immigration and racism with a seriousness and skill that should leave even the most cynical old editor feeling like the future of news will be in good hands.
Take Hudson Fox, for example. Fox, a young journalist at Carlmont High School in Belmont, California, won this year’s Frank Keegan Award for News for his in-depth, probing coverage of the presidential election in Nicaragua.
Fox journeyed to Nicaragua last summer as a part of a service group and took advantage of the opportunity to talk with people all around him. That inspired him, he said, “to take a deep dive into the upcoming elections” in the country.
He snapped some pictures with an old, cheap camera, found some sources and turned out a great story.
It’s that kind of journalistic gung-ho that we saw time and again from the hundreds of students around the world who entered the contest.
Meghan Wysocki of Grosse Point South High School, honored as Student Journalist of the Year, learned during a second period class that about 50 teachers in the district had conducted a sickout that day, spurring her to action. By the end of her last class, she had a story ready to go that included an interview with a student across town that she conducted during her economics class.
Nothing against economics, but that’s the spirit of a journalist chasing down a story.
Spurring on that kind of energy are teachers like Erin Coggins of Sparkman High School in Harvest, Alabama, who won the coveted Journalism Educator of the Year award after her students painted a picture of a remarkable teacher.
All you need to know is that 14 of the last 18 Alabama high school journalists of the year were her students. She said she regularly gets great students. No doubt that’s true, but it helps even the best students to have a great mentor, cheerleader and teacher pushing them on. Coggins clearly is just that.
In the contest’s other major category, the Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary, a student in Istanbul, Lina Köksal of Çevre College, won for her piece on what it’s like to be a woman in a world where men can stare lustfully at a confused 13-year-old. It’s a smart take on a difficult and all-too-common experience.
After eyeballing so many terrific entries from so many students aged 19 and under, YJI’s board president, Steve Collins, said, “It is a comfort to see in the work of young people around the globe that the future of this profession is bright. There is such amazing work out there. I wish that YJI could honor all of it.”
Those earning awards for work done in English during 2021 hailed from 18 countries on six continents and 17 states within the United States.
The nonprofit Youth Journalism International has been educating the next generation of news professionals since 1994. It is a 501(c)(3) educational public charity. Its website can be found at youthjournalism.org.
The contest covered work published in English during 2019 by non-professional student journalists aged 19 and under.
A complete list of winners, with comments by judges in italics, is below the video of the awards ceremony.
Student Journalist of the Year
WINNER: Meghan Wysocki of Grosse Point South High School, Grosse Point Farms, Michigan, USA
Meghan Wysocki, the Editor-in-Chief of Grosse Pointe South High School’s newspaper, The Tower, compiled an impressive pile of solid material that shows her passion for journalism over and over again. She said that “being a journalist is about the chase: to create, to think, and to cause good trouble.” And she has done just that. She has both a nose for news and the storytelling skills to put life into her work. As an example, she wrote a story last spring after nearly 50 Grosse Point teachers conducted a sickout, something she learned about during her second period class. “Before the bell rang at the end of the day, I had written and published a three-source story on our website,” she said, including one call in the middle of her economics class from a student at a different high school sitting in a gymnasium “because of the dire sub shortage.” That’s how journalism is done: fast, thorough and accurate stories on things that matter. Wysocki gets it.
Eshaan Mani of The Kinkaid School, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
Chuying Huo of London Central Secondary School, London, Ontario, Canada
Journalism Educator of the Year
WINNER: Erin Coggins of Sparkman High School, Harvest, Alabama, U.S.A.
In two decades of teaching, Erin Coggins has been the force behind 14 of her students winning statewide honors in Alabama as the best high school journalists in the state. Fourteen! She pays contest entry fees, she nudges and pushes with unfailing good cheer, her students said. Neela Cole of The Senator painted a little picture of Coggins: “We laugh along with her as she tries to dance, understand our music or gives us relationship advice. She always leads the staff in Happy Birthday when one of us is celebrating. And if we need a shoulder to cry on, she is always there.” Tess Warren of The Crimson Crier said Coggins “always says that she is blessed with great students.” And no doubt she is. But it takes someone to help them soar. And Coggins obviously does just that.
Frank Keegan Award for News
WINNER: Hudson Fox of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, U.S.A.
Hudson Fox pulled together a well-written, well-researched and solidly professional news story about the presidential election in Nicaragua, explaining the rise of Daniel Ortega and the ongoing peril he poses to a free press and freedom more generally. He spent time in the country, interviewed experts and others, and put together an attractive package that helps hold readers’ attention.
Sreehitha Gandluri of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, Olney, Maryland
Maddison Ball of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee
Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary
WINNER: Lina Köksal of Çevre College, Istanbul, Turkey
In a piece about what it’s like to be a young woman, Lina Köksal cuts to the heart of the problem. “You are just 13 or maybe younger when a man stares at you. It’s not something you are used to, so you don’t get it at first. Why would an old man stare at me, you wonder. You’re too young to understand and too old to forget it ever happened.” She wonders why she cannot be safe and why men pose such a danger. She insists that girls should “be able to walk on the street, ride a bus and feel safe.” It’s men and society that are broken, she notes, and women who must be, and are, strong.
Usraat Fahmidah, Rajuk Uttara Model College, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Sreehitha Gandluri, Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, Olney, Maryland, U.S.A.
Solomae Getahun, C.K. McClatchy High School, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.
Bilge Nur Güven, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey
Sophia Lindberg, Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, U.S.A.
Lyat Melese, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology,
Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.A.
Laura Zhang, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology,
Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.A.
FIRST PLACE: Sim Khanuja of Kirkwood High School in Kirkwood, Missouri, for “The Covid-19 gap.”
“This article is extremely well-written, with a large variety of quotes and statistics to back up the narrative. The author identifies and explains a critical issue in education and posits solutions that are being considered to tackle it. Overall, a brilliant piece and a worthy winner of the category.”
Enterprise Reporting by a Team
FIRST PLACE: Sreehitha Gandluri of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Olney, Maryland; Emily Fromant of Bristol, UK; Purnima Priyadarsini of Bhubaneswar, India; Norah Springborn of Pekin Community High School, Pekin, Illinois; Amy Goodman of Syddansk universitet, Ebeltoft, Denmark; Chuying Huo of London Central Secondary School, London, Ontario, Canada; Lina Köksal of Cevre College, Istanbul, Turkey; Manar Lezaar of Fez, Morocco; Ana Fadul of Colegio San Jorge De Inglaterra, Bogotá, Colombia, Bilge Nur Güven of Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey; Regina López of Liceo Mexicano Japonés, Mexico City, Mexico; Holly Hostettler-Davies of Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK; Viktorie Anna Goldmannová of PORG Ostrava, Ostrava-Vitkovice, Czech Republic; Frida Zeinali of Tabriz, Iran; Chinalurumogu Eze of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria, Annalena Stache of Maria Ward Schule Mainz, in Mainz, Germany, Matty Ennis of Maghull, UK, Daisy Wigg of London, UK, Thet of Myanmar, Burak Sanel of Cevre College, Istanbul, Turkey, and Parnian Shahsavary of Tehran, Iran, for “No one is safe, A global project on sexual assault.”
This comprehensive, worldwide project takes a deep look at sexual assault, including interviews with victims and experts, and highlights an issue that’s painfully pervasive everywhere. Incredible work.
SECOND PLACE: Lexie Bordenkecher, Mary Adams, Raelynn Hughes, Jalen Flowers and Brooklynn Sharp, Zoe Harris, Anniah Wright of Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis Indiana, for “Friday Night Lights.”
The “Friday Night Lights” package of stories that students pulled together is terrific, comprehensive work on something near and dear to many high schools in many places: football. This team effort by young journalists helps show why it all matters so much. Well done!
Megan Glasgow, Kate Schreiber and Graesen Joyce of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “In-depth: Safety in numbers.”
Feature Writing, Individual
FIRST PLACE: Hudson Fox of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “The American dream: A journey to the land of opportunity.”
This is an incredibly well-crafted feature about a young man’s journey from Guatemala to escape a dismal fate of poverty, criminal cartels and worse. What makes it so great is that reporter Hudson Fox skillfully centers it as a study of how one person represents the enormous dangers and difficulties of immigration for anyone trying to escape to North America. There is just enough solid research to make a reader feel anguish at the present and a full measure of hope for a better outcome in the future.
SECOND PLACE: Sophie Henschel of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “A New heart for a new start.”
Sophie presents the story of Ella, a high school student suffering from heart disease. She has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a swelling of the heart walls and often results in an early death for young people. In this feature, Ella’s positive outlook, family and network of friends help her to navigate a difficult condition. She loses out on the youthful adventures that girls her age hold dear, but this is not a weepy story. The author makes certain that readers rejoice with an incredibly happy ending.
Tom Mueller of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Rated E: Esports for everyone”
Much of what appears in the press and popular culture about mobile gaming and video games represent attacks on the anti-social content or addictive aspects of this activity. Most adolescents shrug off the negativity by looking up from their games with a “who cares?’ expression and go back to playing. Tom describes gaming as a sport and a discipline that has a place in our classrooms. Players can win cash, but they can also gain skills in strategy and leadership which is why games have a place in schools. Teachers and players are sources for support and the result is a thoughtful feature that sheds light on the enormous popularity of competitive gaming.
Feature Writing, Team Reporting
FIRST PLACE: Bayarmaa Bat-Erdene, Helen Oriatti-Bruns, Surya Sethi and Advay Voleti of Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Saluting Service.”
Well written and poignant. We learned about a certain type of student who believes strongly that service to their country is a primary part of their education. We were struck by the dedication and the practicality of these young people – paying it forward – and paying it back.
SECOND PLACE: Christina Chang and Jonathan Si of Saratoga High School, Saratoga, California, for “Chess Champion Andrew Hong earns elite grandmaster title.”
So young – and already a Grandmaster! We really felt the power of this story. The hours and hours – the tournaments, the travel – the epic fails. The glorious wins. This young man came to chess by accident, but now it’s his purpose in life.
Lindsay Augustine and Carolina Cuadros of Carlmont High Scholl in Belmont, California, for “Female Empowerment in STEM starts with education.”
When even female math teachers share their anxiety – what’s a girl to think? Excellent writing and a fascinating topic. Explores the very beginnings of the problem of too few women in the sciences. It makes a good argument for change. A great combination of metrics and anecdotal evidence. Powerful.
Nick Corso, Victoria Feng, Alison Wade and Dayna Roberts of Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Stepping into Stress.”
Well-written with a great arc that starts with the personal and then moves on to larger facts.
FIRST PLACE: Claire Mooney of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Major teacher staff changes strike Sevier Middle.” This is a masterful deep-dive on staffing challenges in school. Claire takes a comprehensive approach, looking at this issue from many angles. She also surveyed students on their opinion of staff turnover. This was an interesting and educational read, and it left us wanting to learn more about the topic.
SECOND PLACE: Kate Becker of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, for “Demanding Drives: BCPS experiences bus driver shortage; drivers unhappy with wages.”
Kate Becker delivers a well-structured report on school bus driver staffing challenges.
We appreciate the inclusion of the perspectives of school bus drivers and a local union president. This piece interrogates the financial causes of the issue while also revealing the emotional impacts on bus drivers.
Mya Copeland of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Positively Beautiful.”
Mya Copeland successfully provides an incisive report on social media engagement, exploring youth perspectives on the body positivity movement from the perspective of her peers. Taking a nuanced approach, she also sought input from a health teacher.
Katelyn Burrell of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Depression and other mental health problems are on the rise among teens.”
Katelyn Burrell takes on the tough topic of mental health. Her reporting extends beyond the challenges of this issue and delves into solutions that her teachers and school are exploring. This is an important subject worth exploring.
Nicholas Whittington of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Controversial Freedom.”
Nicholas Whittington does a great job reporting on a historical controversy and exploring its relevance today. The piece highlights well the struggle student journalists face in protecting freedom of speech.
In-Depth Reporting by a Team
FIRST PLACE: Campbell Wood, Sydney Newton, Celia Condon, Peyton Moore and Greyson Imm of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “A Worker’s Worth: The impact of minimum wage on the East community.”
This package was informative, insightful and covered all angles.
SECOND PLACE: Vaasu Kakuturu, Kelly Liu, Surya Sethi and Ava Winber of Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Making Ends Meet.”
An excellent topic that incorporated statistics well. The interviews helped bring to light an issue for a minority at the school.
Megan Glasgow, Kate Schreiber and Graesen Joyce of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “In-depth: Safety in numbers.”
It was interesting to learn about students in one neighborhood split into three elementary schools. The artwork was telling.
Ahmed Ahmed, Hannah Paine, Kayla Thomas, Farhad Yazdani, Rhamil Taguba and Kristin Bernasor of Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada, for “Building the Bridges to a Covid-Free World.”
Travis Newbery and Haley Jackson of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, for “More Stop Than Go.”
Solid, informative reporting about a major school traffic issue.
Christina Chang and Lynn Dai of Saratoga High School, Saratoga, California, for “Fall means fire season – and preparation for potential emergencies.”
The story fittingly covered how kids have been impacted by devastating fires and included advice.
Multimedia Feature Story
FIRST PLACE: Arielle Kouyoumdjian of Potomac School, McLean, Virginia, for “Bears Ears National Monument, Climate Change and Tribal Sovereignty.”
Arielle chose a great topic. She shed light on the plight of native Americans who rely on their land for medicine and many other uses but are now facing a threat from the U.S. government. This is the kind of stuff that good journalism is about, putting a spotlight on injustices committed against the weak or marginalized. She did a good job explaining the effects of climate change. Arielle’s opening, “In the scrubby Southeastern part of Utah…” made us want to know more about this faraway land in the U.S.
SECOND PLACE: Payton Zolck, Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Climate Change Sparks Students to Take Action.”
Multimedia News Story, Individual Reporting
FIRST PLACE: Joziah Rizzo of Archbishop Riordan High School, San Francisco, California, for “New condos to premier at vacant El Rey Theater.”
A detailed, clearly researched history of the El Rey theater.
Multimedia News Story, Team Reporting
FIRST PLACE: Yule Zhang, Quinn White, Daisy Carter, Danielle DuClos, Cornilius Nelson, Chloe Chaobal, and Sam Bernitz of Alaska Teen Media Institute for “Homeless in a pandemic.”
A strong podcast exploring youth homelessness in Alaska during the pandemic. The podcast wove insightful interviews, personal stories and a vibey soundtrack to create a highly listenable and thought-provoking experience.
SECOND PLACE: Nanaka Takahashi and Yukiko Fujimura of Miyagi University of Education Junior High School, Miyagi, Japan, for “The Olympics are Underway in Tokyo.”
Nanaka had an impressive on-screen presence with her stand-ups, clear script and nice interviewing skills. Good job including the concerns interviewees had about holding the Summer Olympics amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This strong package included stellar photography, video interviews in Japanese with English subtitles, and a highly readable and fun story. You can tell how much fun they had putting this irresistible package together.
News Story by an Individual
FIRST PLACE: Chuying Huo, London Central Secondary School, London, Ontario, Canada, for “Experts argue that economic recovery from pandemic relies on global vaccine distribution.”
Solid reporting on a complex topic that’s beyond the scope of what many student journalists are covering but will certainly have impacts on a generation of young people.
SECOND PLACE: Cesca Stamati, Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “The RIght to Read.”
A terrific look at censorship and how it impacts the learning environment featuring a diversity of good sources. Shows the real, on the ground consequences of a hot-button national issue.
Ahmed Ahmed, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada, for “Debate over anti-racism agenda ignites firestorm at CCSD Board Meeting.”
A dive into an issue facing many communities that even many professional news organizations are handling inadequately. Since students will be most impacted, it’s good to see them taking the lead on reporting these stories from public meetings and on public bodies.
Jasmine Zhen of International Community School, Kirkland, Washington, U.S.A., for “Left out of climate summit talks, youth are skeptical.”
Great reporting centering the voices of young people, which are not taken seriously enough on this important issue.
News Story, Team Reporting
FIRST PLACE: Christina Chang and Lynn Dai, Saratoga High School, Saratoga, California, for “Member of city Planning Commission resigns over comments widely seen as xenophobic.”
The story is about an official resigning over uncalled for comments, but highlights how despite living in foreign lands for years, some communities are still considered outsiders. The judges were impressed with the writer’s story choice and that they included what other residents thought of the issue.
SECOND PLACE: Ari Jacob and Clare Hong of Pioneer High School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, for “Mold discovered in Pioneer theaters disrupts Music Department and PTG.”
Interesting report on how measures taken to control the spread of covid-19 led to a closure of a theater space and disrupted other plans.
Christina Chang and Carolyn Wang of Saratoga High School, Saratoga, California, for “City and community support local historical Japanese garden during COVID-19.”
FIRST PLACE: Allison Mi of Huron High School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, for “Michael Sumerton’s Heartwarming Journey: Doing it Right”
Great opening and closing lines, story arc and characterization. The author used excellent quotes, structured the narrative in a way that was both clear and compelling, and humanized the characters using relatable anecdotes.
SECOND PLACE: Ashley Harris of Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada, for “Teenage Drag Queen: Meet Karim Abd-Elmalek.”
Wonderfully engaging, substantive, great storytelling – we loved how it went into the ups and downs and gave a strong sense of the subject from his own quotes as well as from friends. The story let the subject’s personality shine.
Kaylyn Riggs, Ritenour High School, St. Louis, Missouri, for “Madisyn Travis Profile.”
We loved the arc and the way the writer used quotes to tell an emotionally gripping story of resilience.
Ava Duggin of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Not For the Money.”
Substantive. We appreciated the depth and complexity of the questions and the way the writer probed her subject for insights and a deeper look into the field of dance.
Franciely Chaves, Cape Tech, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Roberts Bids Cape Tech Farewell.”
Tight opening lines, clear delivery and strong legwork sourcing quotes.
Arielle Kouyoumdjian, Potomac School, McLean, Virginia, for “Expert Series Part 2: The Scientific Aspect of Climate Change in National Parks.”
Probing questions and excellent production value. The opening remarks were concise, engaging and informative.
FIRST PLACE: Chuying Huo, London Central Secondary School, London, Ontario, Canada, for “’People will always disagree’: HAI researchers tackle hate speech moderators.”
This is a very timely topic that is of growing importance.
SECOND PLACE: Nathanael Sanborn, Cape Tech, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “iOS 14.5 Offers A False Sense of Security.”
It is important to remain critical of what is commercially developed and offered, since privacy is now a marketing buzzword as well as a critical concept.
FIRST PLACE: Jasmine Zhen of International Community School, Kirkland, Washington, for “Seattle is ‘buzzing with excitement’.”
Writing about a foreign city or country is hard, but writing about your own city can be even harder. Jasmine offered an original perspective on how the place you call home can sometimes feel strange and unknown. We’d really love to see where her search for a home – and her writing – will lead her.
SECOND PLACE: Ana Fadul of Colegio San Jorge de Inglaterra, Bogotá, Colombia, for “An ordinary, amazing place.”
Ana’s article is as colorful and vivid as the city she’s describing. While reading her story you can feel the colors, smells, and sounds of Santandercito. A brilliant piece from a promising young journalist.
Norah Springborn, Pekin Community High School, Pekin, Illinois, for “Having a whale of a good time.”
Norah makes a whale watching trip sound like an exciting movie. Her article is well documented, and well written.
FIRST PLACE: Annalena Stache of Maria Ward Schule Mainz, in Mainz, Germany, for “Pope Francis turned his back on LGBTQ people, and it hurts.”
The author made a compelling and emotional argument while also providing the reader with all the necessary context and background. We were really impressed with how well-researched and articulated this piece was.
SECOND PLACE: Nathan Sweeney, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Homework sucks and I’m done doing it.”
A funny take on a serious issue that students deal with. We were impressed with how effectively the author used humor to get the point across.
FIRST PLACE: Southwest Shadow, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada, for “Nevada Needs to End Period Poverty.”
Great writing, solid research and a true sense of voice makes this editorial stand out in an extremely strong group. This is a great example of quality editorial writing: A mature point of view, persuasive with good information that is easy to understand. The map was an especially nice addition to hammer the message home for visual learners.
SECOND PLACE: The Kirkwood Call, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Addressing the Dress Code.”
It’s nice to see how this newspaper places great value on sharing its views, with a strong display and even stronger writing. There is a clear call to action for the administration. The lead likely caught every reader.
Statesman, Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Connections, not Consequences.”
This takes a no-nonsense approach to tackling the issue of discipline and inequity. Interesting topic, nice writing.
Tech Talk, Cape Tech, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Keep Abortion Safe and Legal.”
Rather than divide, this piece seeks to unify and encourages all to have a voice. Well thought out point of view on what could be a controversial topic.
Spotlight, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Talk is good start.”
The mental health challenges for students is so very real. Good writing.
Scot Scoop, Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Being Conscious of Your Digital Footprint is More Important Than Ever.”
Engaging information and writing.
FIRST PLACE: Viktorie Anna Goldmannová, PORG Ostrava, Ostrava-Vítkovice, Czech Republic, for “We don’t talk about sexual assault here, but it happens.”
The author shows growth in their perspective on the topic, but also very clearly conveys vulnerability and remaining disappointment. They invite readers to identify with the frustration, even if they have not had a similar experience.
SECOND PLACE: Aryana Makati, Berkeley Preparatory School, Tampa, Florida, for “Indian Food Thursdays.”
We love how the author side-steps tropes that could very easily have slipped into this essay. They could have decided to make it “tidy” by showing that the friend grows to love Indian food, or that the author finally loves the family’s weekly tradition. Instead, they share their personal growth without sacrificing honesty.
Yuki Wang, Pymble Ladies’ College, Pymble, New South Wales, Australia, for “With natural beauty and tasty street food, Wuhan is wonderful.”
Lyat Melese, Thomas Jefferson High School, for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia, for “Crisis in Ethiopia: Our humanity is on the line.”
Chuying Huo, London Central Secondary School, London, Ontario, Canada, for “Fighting hate with optimism.”
Bilge Nur Güven, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey, for “Men have a crucial role in preventing abuse.”
FIRST PLACE: Katelyn Burrell, John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Schools need to address the problem of teacher turnover.”
This opinion piece has everything an effective opinion piece needs: Relevancy to the outlet’s readers; loads of factual information and data; and an impressive call to action with several suggested approaches to fixing the issue. This piece stood out for its deft and straightforward tackling of a widespread and intractable issue.
SECOND PLACE: Ana Fadul, Colegio San Jorge de Inglaterra, Bogotá, Colombia, for “Colombia is haunted by ghosts of the ‘false positives.’”
This piece grabs your attention from the lede — explaining quite literally that the situation it addresses is more controversial than ever — and never lets go. It effectively uses numbers to outline why the controversy has grown and uses those facts to build a moral case for what must change. Its call to action, exhorting two of Colombia’s highest-ranking people to account for their past actions, gets to the very heart of why journalism exists: To hold the powerful to the highest standards of civic behavior and insist they do better.
Solomae Getahun, C.K. McClatchy High School, Sacramento, California, for “Black Vaccine Skeptics Have Valid Concerns.”
Jasneh Sasan, Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Biden’s first-year progress report is alarming.”
Holly Hostettler-Davies, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK, for “Women Are Not ‘Ovary-Acting’ When It Comes To Their Health” and “It’s about time at-home abortions were legalized.”
Laura Zhang, Thomas Jefferson High School, Alexandria, Virginia, for “Stop idolizing elite colleges.”
Claire Mooney, John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Sevier’s grading policy puts student learning at risk.”
Sabia Irfan, Colonel By Secondary School, Gloucester, Ontario, Canada, for “Shortcomings in COVID plans are making high school a struggle.”
Zaliea Mae Flores, Archbishop Riordan High School, San Francisco, California, for “Communities must unite to fight against anti-Asian violence.”
Katie Murphy, Shawnee Mission High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Not Your Punchline.”
FIRST PLACE: Usraat Fahmidah, Rajuk Uttara Model College, Dhaka, Bangladesh, for “Almond: When two monsters become friends.”
We loved the language and the flow of this review. It definitely made us want to read the book and contemplate the questions raised.
SECOND PLACE: Nadia Khan, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, for “Why Is Everybody Yelling?”
A quick read that gives us plenty of reasons to pick this book up. Balances the writer’s personal touches with informing about what the book is about at its core.
Chyna Silva, Cape Tech, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Hazelwood’s Hypothesis.”
A great synopsis and insight into this book. We really appreciated the analysis of tropes and how it charts the character development.
FIRST PLACE: Aryana Makati, Berkeley Preparatory School, Tampa, Florida, for “Air Force 1s: Evidence of Gen Z’s Basic Taste in Shoes.”
This checks all the boxes of what makes an excellent review. It is lively and engaging, and more importantly, it is not just a mere description of the writer’s personal experience with a pair of shoes: the writer provides a wonderful insight into the trend of this “downright boring” pair of shoes. The writer flawlessly meshes her personal experience with her ideas, and uses vivid imagery and a tone appropriate to her target audience (members of Gen Z) to effectively deliver her message.
SECOND PLACE: Drake Johnson, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Ten scary video game moments.”
This was highly entertaining! It is no easy feat reviewing 10 different “scary video game moments” in one article without bogging it down with too much detail. This writer manages to strike the perfect balance to deliver 10 different bite-sized reviews with just enough detail to provide context and with hilarious commentary to lighten the mood.
Nathanael Sanborn, Cape Tech, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Cyberpunk.”
Michael Fanning, John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Play the Game: Paper Mario.”
General Reviews by a Team
FIRST PLACE: Andrei Lynch and Josiah Rizzo, Archbishop Riordan High School, San Francisco, California, for “Van Gogh Exhibit Transports Visitors to Starry Night.”
Informative, with interesting facts on the technical aspects of the exhibit, as well as the life history of Van Gogh. Good quotes from faculty members.
FIRST PLACE: Ian Brownville, Cape Tech, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Piano Concerto.”
SECOND PLACE: Lucas Cohen-d’Arbeloff, Harvard-Westlake School, Studio City, California, for “Emerging Anew: ‘Easy on Me’ by Adele.”
Mia Williams, King’s College London, London, UK, for “Culture Choices 2021: Music.”
Anjola Fashawe, London, UK, for “Adele’s New Album, Heard by a Fan Half Her Age.”
Nargis Babar, International English Gymnasium in Sodermalm, Sweden, for “ABBA’s Latest: A Love Letter to the Past that Welcomes the Future.”
Theater and Film Reviews
FIRST PLACE: Eshaan Mani, The Kinkaid School, Houston, Texas, for YouTube Reviews of Roadrunner, Star Trek Prodigy, Own the Room and The End of Blindness.
Although Eshaan submitted four reviews for the YJI competition, he is the winner in this category due to quality, not quantity. His brisk and engaging review style shows both a keen assessment of each film and an understanding of the importance of storytelling. Each film comes with a content warning (if required), acknowledging that his viewership may skew toward younger audiences. This is a very responsible choice. Of course, like any smart YouTuber, he encourages viewers to like, comment, subscribe and ring the bell for notifications. Eshaan’s professionalism bodes well for an exciting career as a culture critic.
SECOND PLACE: Nadia Khan, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, for “Scandal: A gritty snapshot of corruption within the capitol.”
Nadia’s writing is masterful, complex, and shows an incisive approach to criticism. Her dissection of this political drama utilizes a rich vocabulary and made this reader want to watch the show. Her thoughts on the ways that Scandal succeeds as quality television shows that this critic has a fantastic sense of character, story, plotting, and writing. We’re excited to read more by Nadia!
Christine Marinho, Jordan High School, Fulshear, Texas, for “Poking Holes in Pocahontas.”
Christine uses an astute cultural lens to examine how Disney’s Pocahontas may make for fun children’s entertainment, but bad and insensitive history. More of an assessment than a review, this essay makes the reader realize how we can be complicit in whitewashing colonialism.
Regina López, Liceo Mexicano Japonés, Mexico City, Mexico, for “Eternals: Too much story, not enough time.”
Although we thought Marvel’s Eternals was ennnnnnndless, we appreciated that Regina understood how an epic with this many characters needed to expand its vision to adequately reward audiences. Maybe longer would have made it better! She had our single favorite sentence in all of the reviews: “I will not accept such a thing in a movie if its title doesn’t start in Star and end in Wars.”
Kaleigh Washington, Cape Tech, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Seaspiracy is Disturbing, Timely.”
Kaleigh tackled a tough film filled with difficult subject matter. By skipping past cinema blockbusters and instead focusing on an environmental disaster, Kaleigh smartly uses her platform to focus intelligently on a worthy film. Bravo!
FIRST PLACE: Ricardo Torres, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Marching to their own beat.”
Spontaneous moment with excellent composition taken by a talented photographer.
SECOND PLACE: Ridhima Kodali, Huron High School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, for “After Effects.”
Olivia Long, Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Carlmont sophomore Lilli Haggard applies makeup in the school bathroom.“
Nice reflection and framing.
Macy Crosser, Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “A Source of Strength” and “Cap Toss.”
Excellent angle and nice timing.
Emily Pollock of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Future Lancer Dancer.”
The photograph is full of peace.
Campbell Wood, Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Soaring in Support.”
FIRST PLACE: Elise Madden, Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “The Remaining Light.”
What a powerful and moving photo this is. We can feel their pain and sorrow, yet also admire the comfort the students are providing each other as evidenced by the two girls to the right of center. The lighting and composition are excellent and really brings this image home to our hearts. Heartbreakingly beautiful.
SECOND PLACE: Bilge Nur Güven, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey, for “A Man Staring at the Author on a Bus in Istanbul.”
Bilge has captured the leering stare that many women have had to deal with over the course of their lifetimes and the mask makes it no less uncomfortable or safe. Her image captures perfectly the silent stare. Composition is perfect and is a great illustration for the No One is Safe project.
Maggie Dunworth, John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “On Their Own.”
Nice portrait of the violinist – the focus on one player emphasizes the separateness of the music program and our lives in the age of Covid.
Grayson Salomon, Archbishop Riordan High School, San Francisco, California, for “Schools open doors.”
Great angle to show the throngs of students working their way back to normalcy.
Danielle Haynes, Ritenour High School, St. Louis, Missouri, for “Restart Day Boxing.”
Great action shot!
Ella Davies, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Behind the Scenes of Quarantine.”
Another great example of the work to make students safe during covid.
Laura Zhang, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia, for “Garba Celebration.”
Great colors that really brings the dancing to life.
FIRST PLACE: Rachel Bingham of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, in for ‘Pop-Up Football’
Perfect timing. This shows us that the photographer was anticipating what might happen and stayed with the action all the way.
SECOND PLACE: Jill Rice of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “The Twister.”
We like the way this photographer can see an art-form during time of action. Nice way to show sports.
Macy Crosser of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Got That Goal.”
The photographer captured the moment and the expressions. You know that the team scored a goal without seeing the goal itself.
Audrey Condon of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “JV Homecoming Game.”
The photographer stayed with the action during the play. The difference between this image and the second place image was the angle of the shot.
FIRST PLACE: Christine Marinho, Jordan High School, Fulshear, Texas, for “What colors will fill my 2022?”
This essay by Christine is simply incredible. Dynamic, bold and beautiful storytelling in the images. Great angles and wonderful use of color to bring life to the text and tell a story on their own.
SECOND PLACE: Matty Ennis, Ormskirk School in Ormskirk, UK, for “Liverpool light show lifts spirits.”
We love Matty’s skill in documenting the night lights around Liverpool. Night photography not being a simple task, we especially loved the clothes on the line and the angles.
Bilge Nur Güven, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey, for “Fairy Chimneys, Balloons in Flight”
We had no idea Turkey looked so magical. Bilge definitely highlighted the beauty of the Turkish landscape in a fun and wonderful way.
Photo Essay by a Team
FIRST PLACE: Ella Davies, Annie George, Tess Hubbard and Marianthe Meyer of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Turkey Day Game.”
Excellent series with harmony and great timing.
SECOND PLACE: Shannon Moser and Kyla Smith, Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “World’s Fair.”
HONORABLE MENTION: Sophia Carrasquilla, Matthew Mendoza and Sean Reyes of Archbishop Riordan High School, San Francisco, for ‘Seniors play final football game on Mayer Family Field.”
Sports Feature Story, Individual Reporting
FIRST PLACE: Katie Murphy, Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Inspiring Their Confidence: Chemistry teacher’s relationship with his professional baseball pitcher brother impacts his teaching style.”
Katie proves that a “palm-sized bobblehead” on a shelf next to a pencil sharpener can serve as an effective lede for an award-winning story. It only gets better from there as she traces the interwoven lives of two brothers – one from batting a ball at the age of one to becoming a major leaguer, the other from being his mentor and sharing that teaching skill with his students today. Quite an effort from the sophomore, first-year staff writer.
SECOND PLACE: Eshaan Mani of The Kinkaid School, Houston, Texas, for “Drive, Chip, Putt.”
Eshaan made the story relatable by giving the reader great background on his upbringing and by describing in detail the uncommon nature of his journey. The writer set the scene in way that helped transport the reader. It was powerful use of imagery. Consider quoting others such as golf officials, family members, etc. Let them tell us what makes your subject so special.
Campbell Wood of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Switching Up Seeds: How junior Jahir Contreras’s support system helped him win state.”
Campbell Wood takes readers on a ride from a “No one expected him to win… He felt like quitting… he could not beat him…” beginning, to a state championship finish. The feel that the piece was penned by a talented fly-on-the-wall is revealed by the reporter observing the wrestler gazing at his state-winning bracket poster in his room and by the emotion-capturing photo she took illustrating his upset victory.
Jalen Flowers of Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “All about the fun. Unified team in its fourth year of providing opportunities.”
Very nice idea devoting a piece to Unified Flag Football. Jalen had to devote much of the space to explaining what it is. It “provides special ed students the opportunity to play with general education students” and “is meant to teach lessons of unity and sportsmanship,” Jalen wrote. But the story does provide the proper emotion from the team’s coach, and a player who notes, “Yeah we want to win, but that’s not the point.”
Tehya Thies-Tripp of Cape Tech, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Spring Sports Draw to a Close.”
Tehya sought out a lot of insight for this quote-driven piece. A plethora of players and coaches proved the points to be made, ending positively with a coach noting, “Even though it was a short season… We got to have fun and play a few matches. It was better than having no season at all.”
Sports Feature Story, Team Reporting
FIRST PLACE: Jennifer Huang, Jasmine Sun and Elizabeth Yuan of Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Coaching Potential.”
These reporters clearly took the time to merge the text with some visuals and the story and the reader benefits. Really excellent opening graph which sets up the story well. Nice work weaving in the different quotes from the director of athletics, the coach and player. We would have liked to know more about the team. How did it perform? What impact did he have on its success on and off the court?
SECOND PLACE: Kelly Liu, Shannon Moser and Sophia Ismail of Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Leveling the Playing Field.”
We liked how Kelly used graphics to emphasize key takeaways for the reader. Good job including supporting facts to back up what some of your interview subjects said.
Powerful quotes. Consider interviewing additional people such as male athletes and other coaches to provide context and balance on your story’s important topic.
Sports News Story
FIRST PLACE: Chuying Huo of London Central Secondary School, London, Ontario, Canada, for “Olympic fencer fights for sports.”
Nice flow to the story using quotes from the key subject, supplemented by his father. We feel invested in his plight – well done! Chuying grabbed the reader’s attention and now we are invested. We would have appreciated a bit more detail on how they saved Stanford fencing and if any of the other sports were saved.
SECOND PLACE: Hayden Davidson, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Jeremy Maclin named next KHS head football coach, pending board approval.”
A nicely put together sports news story that feels like something we would read in any established news outlet. The quotes are enlightening, both from the subject of the story and the one from the person who did the hiring. Nice job using them to illustrate the key elements of the story. The only thing that could have used more clarity is the fate of the coach. In the first graph it’s reported that he will become coach, yet later on the story says it will go to the Board of Ed. Readers may want to know whether that is just a formality or if there is a chance he won’t get the job.
Christina Chang of Saratoga High School, Saratoga, California, for “Return of Sports: Students share excitement and navigate new guidelines.”
Christina made great use of numerous voices to tell the story and did a nice job with the amount of detail in the narrative. It was smart to include subheads to break things up and guide the reader. A visual like a chart or graph, possibly focusing on the key dates, might have simplified all the details in the story.
Santino Woo of Archbishop Riordan High School, San Francisco, California, for “Posey puts glove down after 12 seasons.”
Santino wrote a really good news story that gets to the point and provides strong supporting detail. There is a nice declarative ending that punctuates the collective appreciation for the story’s subject. Perhaps quoting one or two additional people to get even more perspective would have provided even more helpful context.
Katie Carmon of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “New Coach Takes Charge of Sevier football team.”
A great collection of quotes from the subject. The full-circle ending is a nice payoff to the beginning of the story. Quotes from other people about the subject would have made the story fuller.
Sports News Story by a Team
FIRST PLACE: Natalie King and Shannon Moser, Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Fish Out of Water.”
A concise and clear reflection on the consequences of the pandemic on swim teams. Very well written.
Multimedia Sports News, Individual Reporting
FIRST PLACE: Chuying Huo of London Central Secondary School, London, Ontario, Canada, for “Alexander Massialas on Sports Advocacy and the Tokyo Olympics.”
Chuying was able to make an interesting listen out of topics not universally viewed as must-listen-to topics: fencing and Stanford athletics. The edited interview with the host’s segued questions flowed smoothly, and the guest, Massilas, proved a smart subject, casually tossing out phrases like “exasperated the problem” and “toiled near the bottom of the competition” and willing to share his opinions.
SECOND PLACE: Matt Dimech, Cheshire High School, Cheshire, Connecticut, for “The Breakaway with Matt Dimech.”
A one-hour plus sports-talk fest showed the young, quick-speaking host has otherworldly sports knowledge. But the opening segment matched him with veteran baseballer Rich Marazzi. (“You’re a bright, young man, I can tell just talking to you.”) and the NFL segment featured a pre-2021 season prediction that, “This has the potential to be the greatest Giants offense ever.”
Multimedia Sports News, Team Reporting
FIRST PLACE: Henry Chappell and Henry Joiner, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Picks & The Fix: Super Bowl Predictions w/ Mr. Eden.”
Great audio quality. Passionate discussion about the Super Bowl Predictions with fair and equal contribution from each participant.
Sports Opinion Writing
FIRT PLACE: Baylee Krulewitz, Hall High School, West Hartford, Connecticut, for “Dad runs NYC Marathon, gives daughter reason to cheer.”
Baylee Krulewitz’s memorable piece about her father’s odd but understandable decision to run the New York City Marathon is both well-written and surprisingly meaningful. It has a dash of humor and a deep appreciation for her father’s decision to try just one marathon, a big one, on his 50th birthday.
SECOND PLACE: Ana Fadul of Colegio San Jorge de Inglaterra, Bogotá, Colombia for “Love for Colombia’s football team transcends sports.”
A relatable story that demonstrates how soccer is connected to her country’s psyche.
Ava Duggin, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Mind Over Medal.”
Ava effectively uses Simone Biles’ story as a window into mental health challenges all athletes face.
Calli Venzon of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Colleges should pay athletes for their efforts on the field.”
A young voice with a strong point.
Jonathan Kim of Culver City High School, Culver City, California, for “How the NBA should handle the surge in COVID-19 cases.”
Photo Illustration by an Individual
FIRST PLACE: Julia Ellis, Cape Tech, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Sexual Assault: Impact can be devastating.”
This photo illustration leaves a deep impression on the viewer. The image takes the topic and summarizes the long-lingering feelings that victims are left with after being attacked.
The viewer is instantly able to understand and empathize with the victim’s confusion, feeling of being out of place, isolated and fearful with spinning, out-of-focus elements surrounding the suffering subject on the ground. The accompanying text almost supports the image, instead of the other way around. This photo truly describes the topic, bringing a deeper understanding to the reader of what sexual assault may feel like, long-term. Before they even begin reading, the viewer is able to understand what this story is going to feel like. The image conveys emotion successfully. Well done.
SECOND PLACE: Bilge Nur Güven, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey for “Enduring sexual assault by an older student.”
This photo illustration is successful on multiple levels, as the image not only singly illustrates the topics the story will cover, but it also transforms images and creates a new work of art. The torn images are instantly relatable. This is effective in describing the fragmented life victims are left with, as well as showing the destruction of memories, innocence and connection due to sexual assault. It is beautiful in its composition, while showing how ugly the lingering feelings and memories can be for a survivor of assault. The emotional impact of the story is conveyed for the reader, helping them understand on a deeper level what they are about to read. Built together with the text, it helps dictate how the article will be received. Very well done, with true attention and care for a very sensitive subject.
Norah Springborn, Pekin Community High School, Pekin, Illinois, for “The cruelty of innocence lost to sexual assault.”
These illustrations did a good job showing lost innocence and tying the story to the photos. The white shoes, shown with a torn flower, near the edge of a bridge, create a level of tension that brings the reader into the story and relates the loss of innocence with color, composition and intent. Great use of multiple elements to address the emotional impact of the subject.
Burak Şanel, Cevre College, Istanbul, Turkey, for “Sexual assault: a plague on humanity: A woman walks alone in Istanbul.”
The illustration is successful as it gives another angle to the topic of assault. This image conveyed the way a woman can feel when alone, or alone at night, but the placement of the camera behind the unknowing subject gives the viewer the perspective of the attacker, which is an interesting way to capture the reader’s attention. There is an implied understanding of how these things can happen, and the viewer can put themselves in the shoes of the potential victim or the attacker in one image. It helps with a deeper level of understanding of the topic of sexual assault.
Adeline Lyttle, John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “No Place to Go: Homelessness remains a major problem in the model city.”
This image does a good job of telling the story to the viewer before they read it, creating interest and assisting with the topic of homelessness as it relates to isolation and not having anywhere to turn. The faceless subject also implies that it can happen to anyone, while also showing that the homeless are commonly ignored and unseen by the rest of society.
Photo Illustration by a Team
FIRST PLACE: Ellie Davies and Audrey Turley, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Viruses, vaccines and variants.”
This image earns first place due to the dual success of illustrating or showing what can be read in the text, but also using multiple media to create a new image. The addition of the needle and red mark on the subject’s arm is creative, and also technically well-executed. The story is understood and deepened by this image, adding to the impact on the reader and also transmitting a feeling of being present, perhaps even touching on the memory of having been vaccinated. Also, the use of a digitally-created needle could add an element of the unknown, as many wonder what is “made up” about the vaccinations we receive. It is compelling and well-executed.
SECOND PLACE: Regina López of Liceo Mexicano Japonés, Mexico City, Mexico, and Ana Fadul of Colegio San Jorge de Inglaterra, Bogotá, Colombia, for “Fearful families restrict girls.”
This is a very strong image. The viewer is instantly drawn to the text to see what is going on. It brings a new angle to the story of abuse, as the reader learns that the hands coming from behind may be there out of protection. This is a surprising angle to discover in the story, and the image lets you know that there will be a shock coming. It successfully conveys emotion and creates an immediate response in the viewer.
FIRST PLACE: Andrew Shu of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Missing White Woman Syndrome.”
Strong digital rendering skills, strong concise message.
SECOND PLACE: Morgan Hooker, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Harry Styles ad[dress]es controversy.”
Great detail with text on fabric, consolidated information in one image.
Strong commentary with solid cues.
FIRST PLACE: Atzel Nunez, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Pop culture through the years.”
A dense, colorful illustration that clearly involved a lot of research and planning. A wonderful cover and feature piece!
SECOND PLACE: Parnian Shahsavary of Tehran, Iran, for “The problems with Rowling’s Masterpiece.”
Lovely detailed pencil drawing – enjoyed the environment that the artist created and the concept conveyed.
Taishawna Davis of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Harmful Social Media.”
The artist used ink effectively to create a haunting image. It reminded us of some particular Japanese Manga in composition.
Sophia Ismail of Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Pursuit of Profit.”
Sharp, clean style. The graphic nature of the illustration shows a developing mastery of digital illustration software and editorial concepts.
Kelsey Baker of Cape Tech, Harwich, Massachusetts for “Social Media Ghost.”
Strong concept for the nature of the story. We didn’t even need the tagline underneath to understand what the artist is conveying.
It’s not too early to be thinking about the 2023 contest. Work done in the 2022 calendar year by writers, artists and photographers aged 19 or under at the time of publication or broadcast is eligible. Watch this website for more information in January 2023.