Awards The Tattoo

City teen adds top journalist award to list

Danielle Ouimet, left, and Amanda Lehmert at the 1996 presidential debate in Hartford, Connecticut. *YJI)

Amanda Lehmert feted for her work writing for The Tattoo.

BRISTOL — Four years ago, a Bristol Central High School freshman named Amanda Lehmert struggled for months to write, with a friend, a forgettable little tale about skateboarding in the Mum City.

It was her first story for The Tattoo, the student-written page focused on teens and published in The Bristol Press on occasional Mondays.

In the years since, Lehmert pounded out dozens of stories and opinion pieces that described everything from the scene at the 1996 presidential debate in Hartford to the dusty air at Central last fall that made teachers and students sick.

Her wide-ranging, hard-hitting reporting ability recently earned her the title of Connecticut’s “High School Journalist of the Year” from the state’s Journalism Education Association.

The 18-year-old Lehmert, who graduates next month, said Sunday she never expected to be cited for “anything of the year” and finds it “very cool” to win the honor.

Lehmert, who is heading for Emerson College in Boston this fall, captured a number of journalism prizes during the four years she’s written for The Tattoo. She plans to pursue a career in the press.

In today’s paper, on page A-6, The Tattoo devoted an entire page to Lehmert’s pictures and writing about the upcoming Balloons Over Bristol festival. She said it is “very exciting” to have her work
showcased so prominently.

Today’s Tattoo page, said Lehmert, “is just great because I do a lot with writing but I also love taking pictures.”

Lehmert is a four-time National Gold Key award winner for high school journalism from the Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists and the National  Newspaper Association.

She also won a second place award for in-depth journalism from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists for her work on a teen suicide package that ran in The Tattoo in 1996. It was the first time high school students had ever won anything in the statewide professional contest.

The Connecticut Committee for Youth Suicide Prevention also cited Lehmert and The Tattoo for its annual Distinguished Service Award for the 1996 stories on teen suicide.

The Tattoo staff — all teenagers — works under the supervision of volunteer advisors Steve Collins and Jackie Majerus, both veteran reporters for The Press.

The Tattoo is in its fifth year and is accepting new members. Any teenager interested in writing or photography is welcome.

Questions or comments about The Tattoo, or inquiries about joining the group, should be directed to Majerus or Collins at 589-5316 or via e-mail to [Editor’s note; This number and email address are no longer in service.]

Nearly all of Lehmert’s stories — though not yet her skateboarding piece — can be found on The Tattoo’s web site at: {Editor’s note: All of her work can be found at]

The Kansas-based Journalism Education Association, Inc. is an independent national scholastic journalism organization for teachers and advisers. It is 75 years old.

Reprinted with the permission of The Bristol Press.

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