2012 YJI Contest Winners

Connecticut charity honors world’s best young journalists

(May 3, 2012) WEST HARTFORD, Conn., U.S.A. – A 19-year-old reporter from Mumbai, India who produced an astonishing array of compelling and important stories is Youth Journalism International’s 2012 Student Journalist of the Year.

During the course of 2011, Pushkal Shivam questioned the Dalai Lama, interviewed survivors in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist bomb attack, lived for a week on a handful of rupees a week to see how the poor scrape by and much more, impressing the judges with his drive, initiative and talent.

Though Shivam’s portfolio was unusually packed, YJI’s annual contest also honored many other talented students who captured awards for everything from news to reviews, with photographers, cartoonists, columnists and others winning awards for an astonishing range of material published last year. There were winners from 18 countries and 11 U.S. states.

Pushkal Shivam, YJI’s 2012 Student Journalist of the Year

Shivam, though, had it all. For one of his stories, for example, Shivam talked his way inside a women’s prison and discovered many children locked away there along with their convicted mothers, tiny inmates, totally innocent, living behind bars.

“I do not claim to have exposed anything. That would be sensationalism,” Shivam wrote. “On the contrary, it was merely an effort to highlight what the society sometimes takes for granted: an issue like hunger or the loss of childhood. My efforts are simply a speck in the page which records change. The spirit of change will spread like a contagion the day that page is filled with words which make a society truly conscious of its problems. I am happy to have contributed even a speck to that page.”

“Pushkal is a young reporter who clearly has ink in his veins. He has all the right instincts and a burning desire to dig into critically important stories that clearly shows in his work,” said Steve Collins, YJI’s board president.

Shivam said he wants to tell “the stories of the deprived and the disadvantaged” in a country where so many suffer from grinding poverty and a lack of opportunity. Is there anything more a reporter can, or should, do?

For Shivam, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable is second nature. That’s part of what makes him a great young journalist whom we are proud to honor.

The Student Journalist of the Year category had one finalist: Cynthia Mao from Monta Vista High School in Cuppertino, Calif. Mao, who lives in Saratoga, Calif., and writes for the school paper, El Estoque.

In this year’s contest, 19 judges, many of them professionals in the field, helped narrow down a wide field of solid entries in dozens of categories. This marks YJI’s third annual contest.

The 2012 contest awards crystal trophies in four major categories: the Student Journalist of the Year, the Journalism Educator of the Year, the Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News, and the Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary. An additional award for Courage in Journalism was not given this year.

Eighty students on five continents – winners in the many other categories – will receive custom-made certificates.

Educator of the Year

The 2012 Journalism Educator of the Year is Mark Ionescu, captured the top honors on a tidal wave of support from his students at The John Carroll School in Bel Air, Md.

Nominating him in secret, 10 student staffers of The Patriot, the school paper, wrote glowing letters attesting to his humor, skill, care and enthusiasm as well as to their paper’s lengthy list of achievements. He was a finalist in the category in 2010 and 2011.

For Grace Kim, the paper’s online editor, “the grandiose feats Mr. I has helped us accomplish certainly mean a lot, but the smaller things he does mean more sometimes. Like that shoulder pat he’s always giving me when I’m at my lowest and I don’t deserve it. Or when he bought a new stuffed manatee for The Patriot room because he knew I was upset that the old one got stolen.  Let’s also not forget how many camera memory cards he’s bought to replace the ones staffers have lost. I’ve seen him forgive us over and over again.”

Kim, who organized the student effort, said that Ionescu is always there “in the midst of all the beautiful madness,” ready to lend a hand. “The secret ingredient to our success will always be his guidance,” she said.

Keegan Award

This year’s winner of the Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News goes to Soo Ji Lee, the editor-in-chief of the Riverdale Review at Riverdale Country School in New York. As a member of the paper’s staff Lee has “made clear from her first day that she had no interest in maintaining the status quo” in her quest to make the paper better, according to her teacher, Michael Sclafani.

One of the changes that Lee promoted was to “better her own skills” by seeking out conferences and summer workshops to hone her abilities, he said, including one at the Missouri School of Journalism.

While there, the 17-year-old Lee wanted to write a news story about a controversy involving the expansion of a local mosque – a story that echoed the larger national one about a proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. Lee “went against her supervisor” to cover the story, her teacher said, and it was ultimately one of the few from the program published in the Columbia Missourian.

Kate Carlisle, managing editor of The Washington Post News Service, was Lee’s mentor and coach during her stint at the Missouri Urban Journalism Workshop last summer. She said Lee suggested a story on the Columbia mosque and wondered if it was facing the same sort of opposition Muslims in New York City were dealing with. The problem, Carlisle said, was the utter lack of evidence that the local mosque planned any expansion. Lee, though, started digging. And in the zoning office at City Hall, Lee found a horde of public documents that showed the mosque did indeed plan an enormous expansion – a story the city’s two daily newspapers, three television stations, two popular radio stations or numerous outlets at the journalism school somehow missed. Lee churned it out on deadline because it was too hot to hold, Carlisle said.

Lee’s “unwillingness to back down from what she truly believed was a good story idea, her flexibility in approaching it from different angles, and her unflagging ability to see it through all speak so highly of Soo Ji.  This smart, tough, savvy young woman is ready for bigger challenges,” Carlisle said.

“She grabs an idea and will not let go until the story is written,” Sclafani said, even if it means stepping on toes. As a journalist, he said, Lee’s tenacity shines. “Her articles have substance; they carry meaning for both her classmates and the greater community.”

The Keegan Award category has one finalist: Cresonia Hsieh lives in Delray Beach, Fla., where she attends Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton. Her story, “9-11 Survivor: I Thought I Was Going to Die” is also the sort of gripping, tough-minded journalism that Keegan, a legendary editor, always sought.

Bunnell Award

Snagging top honors for the Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary was Jasmine Wang, a 16-year-old student at her hometown East Brunswick High School in New Jersey. The category, named for a Connecticut woman who died too young, aims to reward students willing to take a stand.

Wang was chosen from among stiff competition for an essay she wrote for The Windsor Heights Herald headlined, “Curiosity, Creativity and the Curse of Education” that castigated the lack of creativity in schools. Flabbergasted by a friend who got a C+ on an AP English essay because it was “too creative,” Wang assailed the “rote and robotic formula of education” and the “close-minded educators and the pressure to do well, which often overrides all motivation to learn.”

Wang called on educators to focus on opening minds, but she also urged students to chart a new course. “Students, raise your hands, and keep your heads up high. For striking out is far better than cowering in fear. Shake the cage, break the mold. You are free, you are creative and curious and confident.”  There’s no doubt that’s at least true of Wang herself, who’s obviously not afraid to break the mold.

Finalists in the category were Tasman Anderson, a student at the University of Queensland who lives in Brisbane, Australia, and Saachi Sharma, a student at Lady Shri Ram College for Women in New Delhi, India. Anderson wrote a column about virginity for Q Magazine. Sharma wrote about “The Hijab: From the Side That is Covered” for The Saltlist.


Youth Journalism International has been educating the next generation of news professionals and talented teens since 1994. Formally incorporated in 2007, it is a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit public charity. Its website can be found at www.youthjournalism.org.

The contest covered work published in English between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2011. Those eligible must be 19 or under and not working professionally. Results were announced on May 3, 2012.

For more information, please contact Jackie Majerus, Youth Journalism International’s executive director, at (860) 523-9632 in Connecticut or write to yjicontest@gmail.com.

A complete list of winners follows.

Youth Journalism International 2012 Excellence in Journalism Contest


Student Journalist of the Year

WINNER: Pushkal Shivam, Indian Institute of Technology, Tamil Nadu, India

FINALIST: Cynthia Mao, Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, CA

Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News

WINNER: Soo Ji Lee, Riverdale Country School, Bronx, NY, for “Mosque Expansion Would Accommodate Growing Community”

FINALIST: Cresonia Hsieh, Spanish River Community High School, Boca Raton, Florida, for “9/11 Survivor: ‘I Thought I Was Going To Die’”

Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary

WINNER: Jasmine Wang, East Brunswick High School, NJ, “Curiosity, Creativity and the Curse of Education”


Tasman Anderson, University of Queensland, Australia, Q Youth, Q Magazine, for “Virginity”

Saachi Sharma, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Gurgaon Haryana, India, for “The Hijab: From the Side That is Covered.”

Journalism Educator of the Year

WINNER: Mark Ionescu, The John Carroll School, Bel Air, Maryland


Comments by judges are in italics


News Story, individual reporting

FIRST PLACE: Aviva Hirsch, West Anchorage High School and the Alaska Teen Media Institute, Anchorage, Alaska, for “Advertising in schools”

Though extensive interviews with superintendents, teachers, advertisers and others, Hirsch’s radio report delivered a comprehensive look at the financial reasons why school districts consider allowing advertising and the ethical arguments against the practice, providing important information as ever more districts look for ways to cut costs and raise revenue.

SECOND PLACE: Emma Bally, Bronx, New York, for “9/11 Memorial: Mourners, Merchants, Singers, Skeptics Gather Near Ground Zero”

Bally’s story deftly described the atmosphere at the former site of the World Trade Center on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Her interviews with survivors, protesters, firefighters and others put the story in context for readers of all ages, but especially for younger ones who didn’t have their own memories of that day.


Jamie Jones, Borah High School, Boise Idaho, for “Walk shows clothing doesn’t mean ‘yes’”

Jones went beyond the boundaries of her high school in this solid piece. She included the voices of several students from her school and also tied the local event to an international story. Well done.

Nyno Ortiz, Hartford Journalism & Media Academy, Hartford, Conn., for “City teens Say Illegal Tats No Big Deal”

Ortiz explored a timely and serious topic through interviews with students, parents and tattoo artists to show a potentially dangerous trend in her community.

News Story, team reporting

FIRST PLACE: Yaamini Venkataraman and Emily Vu, Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, Calif., for “A scarred community”

Kudos to the writers for taking on such an important topic.

SECOND PLACE: Sanjana Baldwa, Samantha Hoffman, Michelle Lo, Priyanka Mody, Jennie Xu, and Laura Yau, The Harker School, San Jose, Calif., for “Harpa symbolizes a turning point for Icelandic culture: A Monumental Resurrection”

This was a thoroughly researched piece.

Enterprise Story, individual reporting

FIRST PLACE: Moses Kim, Tenafly High School, Tenafly, NJ, for “The Aftermath of Kim Jong Il’s Death”

Kim interviewed senior members of the Korean community personally impacted by the North-South divide and ably presented their poignant memories and hopes for the future.

SECOND PLACE: Kosette Isakson, Dimond High School and Alaska Teen Media Institute, Anchorage, Alaska, for “Graduation Requirements”

Enterprise Story, team reporting

FIRST PLACE: Lama Tawakkol in Cairo, Egypt; Jessica Elsayed, Ghada Abdelhady, Farah Nemr, Miran Elleithy and Yasser Alaa in Alexandria, Egypt; Mehran Shamit in Toronto, Canada; Gokce Yurekli in  Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A.; Caroline Nelissen in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Celeste Kurz in West Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A.,  all students of Youth Journalism International, for their collaborative series, “Egyptian Revolution: From Tahrir to the World”

Writers and photographers together presented a sweeping view of the revolution in Egypt as it unfolded as well how the story played outside the country.

Features Story, individual reporting

FIRST PLACE: August Mckernan, Borah High School, Boise, Idaho, “Submarine crew visits physics class”

Mckernan writes about a normal school visit in such a way that it becomes informative to any reader. Mckernan does a good job of extracting valuable information. Just as a question comes to mind, (“Nuclear? Is that safe?”) the author responds. The feature is a pleasant and easy read and a good length for such a piece.

SECOND PLACE: Yaamini Venkataraman, Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, Calif., for “With the Rhythm”

Though this is quite a lengthy feature, Venkataraman does a good job of getting the reader’s attention – and keeping it, a rather unusual feat for a sports feature. A good combination of fact and quotes, this piece is easy to grasp even to those who know nothing of the sport. The focus on the coxswain is interesting, and gives this piece a unique touch.


Justin Kirkham, Borah High School, Boise, Idaho, “Bridge students find refuge at Borah”

Kirkham does an impressive job of fielding so many interviewees and putting together a coherent illustration of their experiences.

Monica Blaze, Walled Lake Western High School, Wixom, Mich., for “Rapper Tinie Tempah Is Defeating The Label

A unique interviewee for a pressing issue, Blaze finds a wonderful symbiosis of popular culture and anti-bullying efforts. The dialogue is effortless and the subject matter relevant.

Rebecca Shaw of New York City, attending the Horace Mann School in the Bronx, for “Students Bend Over Backwards For Yoga Workshop”

Shaw captures the wit and experiences of her young subjects well. A good look at this art form.

The judges noted that the writing style and vocabulary were excellent for all entrants.

Feature Story, team reporting

FIRST PLACE: Michelle Deng and Alison Kiang of The Harker School in San Jose, Calif., for “Celebrating Survivors: Tales of two women and their victories against breast cancer”

Deng and Kiang’s piece was more about the story of cancer collectively than about a single individual. It was well researched and involved human experiences to tell a bigger story. The range of ages of the featured individuals was great, too.

SECOND PLACE: Alisha Mayor and Samar Malik, of The Harker School in San Jose, Calif., for “Great White at Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Well written piece with a good beginning and ending on a topic that may be unfamiliar to readers. It’s refreshing to read about something that just isn’t talked about all the time.


Priyanka Mody and Meena Chetty, of The Harker School in San Jose, Calif., for “Self-acceptance: Conquering an eating disorder”

The piece had the emotional element that can sway the reader.

Soo Ji Lee and Lovia Gyarkye, of Riverdale Country School, The Bronx, N.Y., for “Extended Time at Riverdale: Are Special Accommodations for Students During Exams a Positive or a Problem?”

A lot of thought and many viewpoints went into the piece, which tied the story of one community back to the real world.

Profile Story

FIRST PLACE:  Arianna Anchustegui of Borah High School, Boise, Idaho, for “Artist turns dreams into abstract drawings”

  • Very well organized and well written – with a beginning, middle and end
  • Captured the reader’s attention with the opening quote
  • Conveyed abstractness of the artist’s work and how she sees herself
  • Provided robust descriptions which captured the essence of the artist
  • Added key details from friend and teacher to provide texture and interest
  • Used quotes well to develop story line (though there were a few too many)

Note: A one line definition of “XX” and “Modest Mouse” (music groups) and Kurt Vonnegut (author) would have been helpful to those unfamiliar with their work.

SECOND PLACE: Joshua Zietcer, of Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School in London, England for “A Profile of Junk Jewels, Portobello Market”

  • Well written and well arranged – especially for such a short piece
  • Used the opening quote quite effectively
  • Communicated the designer’s story in a creative and imaginative way
  • Built the story line in a logical manner
  • Added interesting language such as “going halves” and “quirky fashion accessories”
  • Enhanced the uniqueness of the designer by repetition of her name

Note: A few more details about the jewelry would have been interesting.


Shilpa Nataraj, of Cupertino, Calif., and The Harker School in San Jose, Calif., for “Japanese musician shares traditional instruments and music”

  • Very well constructed and well researched
  • Arranged story in an organized manner
  • Provided much detail about Japanese music and instruments
  • Communicated using  concrete and familiar terms
  • Used consistent language throughout the article
  • Added good quotes from other students

Note: More variety in word order and sentence structure would have added interest. 

Justin Kirkham of Borah High School, Boise, Idaho, for “Student creates new language, fictional world”

  • Dynamic introduction into the world of Nation States
  • Provided a memorable sense of the creator’s skills and experiences
  • Used evocative phrases to develop the story
  • Defined some of the unfamiliar terms and concepts of simulation browser games

Note: Segues between sentences and paragraphs would have made the article less disjointed



FIRST PLACE: Andrew Adams, Borah High School, Boise, Idaho, for “Santa Illustrations”

High marks for image, content, layout, communication and creativity.

SECOND PLACE: Thuy Le, Hanoi, Vietnam, for “Back to School”

High marks for creativity and communication.

HONORABLE MENTION: Mehran Shamit, Toronto, Canada, for “Outrage: Bangladeshi Girl Killed By Indian Border Patrol; Politicians Ignore It”

High marks for content and creativity.


FIRST PLACE:  Thuy Le, Amsterdam High School, Hanoi, Vietnam, for “Hanoi drawings”

Le’s lovely and realistic sketches take the viewer right to the streets of Hanoi.


SECOND PLACE: Jason Chung, Seoul International School, Seoul, Korea, for “Drawing of Kemba Walker”

Chung’s well done drawing of athlete Kemba Walker adds visual appeal to the story.

Feature Photo

FIRST PLACE: Mercedes Chien, The Harker School, San Jose, Calif., for “Homecoming rally enthusiasm”

Chien’s photo conveys great emotion and composition

SECOND PLACE:  Thuy Le, Hanoi, Amsterdam High School, Hanoi, Vietnam, Rice toy Le’s photo has great composition and the color is striking, bringing the viewer right into the image


Sonya Shekhar, Los Altos, Calif., The Harker School, San Jose, Calif., for “Beginning of the End”

Shekhar’s shot conveys great emotion

Emilee Rivers, Borah High School, Boise, Idaho, for “Submarine Visits Physics Class”

The photo tells a good story and has great composition.

News Photo

FIRST PLACE: Yasser Alaa of Alexandria, Egypt, for “Fog of protest.”

The photo  is not only a strong news image but also a beautiful picture. The ideal news photo assignment is to record the event, make it clean and easy to read and show it graphically interesting. Alaa has done all three, not an easy feat for a hard news event.

SECOND PLACE: Megan Prakash of Saratoga, Calif., and a student at The Harker School in San Jose, for her picture ‘Pull!’

Good emotion shown, plus the angle of crop help leads the viewer’s eyes through the photograph.

HONORABLE MENTION: Lama Tawakkol of Cairo, Egypt, for “Cairo’s Christians And Muslims Unite”

Good design for this photo of a brunch. Very nice idea shooting this image from up high.

Sports Photo

FIRST PLACE: Megan Prakash of Saratoga, Calif., a student at The Harker School in San Jose, for her water polo image “Desperate Save”

The photo is excellent. Timing and anticipation are important elements for a sports photographer and Prakash has both in this picture.

SECOND PLACE: A tie between Devin Nguyen of The Harker School in San Jose for his photo “Varsity Football” and Laura Yau of The Harker School for her football shot “Running the ball.”

Both have good timing and excellent focus on the running backs.

Photo Essay

FIRST PLACE: Yasser Alaa, Alexandria, Egypt, for “Parkour”

Alaa’s photos were direct but very artful, which Parkour is as well. The final photo is an especially outstanding photo. The form of the subject, Ashraf Abd-El Gabar, is absolutely perfect. And the juxtaposition of the young person watching from the left as well as the construction site and cranes in the background brought the entire story together in one image. Extremely well done.

SECOND PLACE: Kristin Bracewell, Borah High School, Boise Idaho, football

Sports are difficult to photograph, especially when the photos need to convey more than a statistic, and Bracewell was not afraid to get up close. She caught the intense emotion in her photo of player looking at the coach and that photo really cinched 2nd place for her. In her story she quoted, “I feel like the team really came together. And the coaches are really good.” The photo mentioned above captured that quote perfectly.

HONORABLE MENTION: Arooj Khalid, of Lahore, Pakistan, for “Bazaar Adds Richness To Ramadan”

Khalid definitely deserves Honorable Mention. The photos were bright and attractive and, while it would have been better for her get closer to some of the merchants as well as the customers, she did connect the story well with the photos of the bright and rich products being sold at the bazaar. Khalid’s potential is very apparent.

Additional comment from the judges about the photo essay: All three are incredibly talented young people and deserve kudos for stories well written and outstanding photography. Their work is truly enjoyable and we look forward to seeing so much more from all of them.



FIRST PLACE: Ronald Novak, Baldwin, MD, of The John Carroll School in Bel Air, MD, for “Pro Choice’s Time to Scream”

The piece showcases a strong point of view and rhetorical skill. More impressively, Novak has the courage to write such a column for a publication at a religious school where, as he notes, he’s likely writing from a minority perspective to an audience who may not be terribly receptive. All three of his entries offer passion, research and attention to craft.

SECOND PLACE: Erica Rasquinha, Mountain Vista High School, Highlands Ranch, Colorado, for “United We Stand”

Rasquinha offers a moving personal story that also gives the reader a look into her generation’s perspective of one of America’s greatest tragedies. She lets readers in on her experience as a young Indian-American woman and reminds us how 9/11 brought us all together before its aftermath deeply divided us.

HONORABLE MENTION:  Christie Corn, New York, N.Y., of Riverdale Country School, Bronx, NY, for “Republicans May Be A-Pauling”

Corn gives readers an interesting, informative and witty look at the Republican field at the beginning of the election season.


FIRST PLACE: Borah Senator, Borah High School, Boise, Idaho, for “Rick Perry’s presidential run is a cautionary tale”

The editorial did a nice job of introducing the issue, then taking a clear position early on: “Rick Perry quickly buried himself … he shot himself out of the running, insulting people across America.”

The writer effectively used quotes from a student and a teacher to bolster the editorial’s position; and gave further support of the idea that candidate Perry’s commercial was controversial by noting the rise in comments left on the student’s Facebook page.

The editorial also gets high marks for relevance and interest. Whether one supports the writer’s position – or that of conservatives like former candidate Perry – most readers will agree that the editorial strikes at a culturally sensitive topic. Indeed, for many voters, the upcoming presidential election hinges on just where the candidates stand on gay marriage and gays in the military.

Some reference to whether there were any comments from students in favor of Perry and how the writer would have responded to them would have improved the editorial. But overall, this editorial’s strength was it took a position early, and built its case without veering off course.

SECOND PLACE: Eagle Eye, Mountain Vista High School, Highlands Ranch, Colorado, for “We Are Vista: Why to embrace being an Eagle”

The editorial allows the reader to experience the excitement and spirit in that first assembly of the school year, then goes on to list the high achievements at Mountain Vista, and finally encourages the student body to show support. While it would have been nice to see the admonition to show support mentioned higher in the piece, the tone of the editorial was in keeping with the topic; it was spirited.

The editorial was written with conviction and, though it was slightly self-aggrandizing, it managed to stay a step above being just a rah-rah piece by actually reporting the list of achievements Mountain Vista students have made over the years. It’s also laudable that this editorial did not just urge support of the sports teams, but of the arts and academic activities as well.

HONORABLE MENTION: Eagle Eye, Mountain Vista High School, Highlands Ranch, Colorado, for “How the election affects us”

This editorial captured the sense of confusion and distress the student body was left with after voters denied the school district funding it sought, and hit on a topic that districts around the nation can relate to – how to fund education without harming students.

It would have been nice for the writer to explain Proposition 103, 3A and 3B for readers not familiar with local races, including what passage of the ballot issues would have done.

First Person Essay

FIRST PLACE:  Nayeon Kim, Saratoga, Calif., The Harker School of San Jose, Calif., for “Musicality, The Beauty of Chamber Music”

There are two things to really like about this piece:  First, it was impressive how well the writer used descriptive language to capture the images and sounds of her experience of watching chamber music performed.  Secondly, it’s wonderful  how the story builds on itself, starting out with one very personal experience, and then expanding out to touch on the larger themes of cooperation and unity. 

SECOND PLACE: Evan Pogue of Saudi Arabia, for “Living in Saudi Arabia and Honoring Sept. 11”

This story offers perspective on 9/11 from a young person with unique insight.  Having grown up in the U.S. and then moved to the Middle East years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Pogue is able to share what he learned during that transition.  His efforts to correct misunderstandings about Arabs and the Islamic faith are commendable, and are a great example of how giving young people a global voice will help foster peace and understanding between cultures.


Jasmine Wang, East Brunswick High School, East Brunswick, NJ for “Swallow the Red”

Conrad Sloane, Kennesaw, Georgia, for “Life as a Military Brat”

Vasudha Rengarajan, The Harker School, San Jose, Calif., for “Embracing the Name of Little Pavitra,”

Riya Godbole, Cupertino, Calif., The Harker School, for “Real Girls Face Real Pressure”

Samantha Hoffman, Palo Alto, Calif., The Harker School, San Jose, for “The Mysterious Snobby Stereotype”

News Analysis

FIRST PLACE:  Line Hellem of Norway, for “Norway Suffering Bottomless Grief”

Smooth flowing style of writing here. This writer did an excellent job of drawing the reader into the story and blending personal feelings and news reporting. An occasional run-on thought and ‘the innocence that our country has been dulled in…’ could not dampen the overall feeling that the writer not only reported the story but felt the story as well. A mature writer. Good concluding paragraph.

SECOND PLACE: Jack Tae Hyun Yoon, Seoul International School, Seoul, South Korea, for “World Must Support Change in North Korea”

This writer did a good job of making the case for world unity during changing times in Korea. The writer listed several obstacles that might impede progress for the new leader, Kim Jong Un. Included are internal strife, older party leaders and the prior leader’s wife, Kim Ok.

HONORABLE MENTION:  Robert Guthrie, Wallace Hall Academy, Dumfries, Scotland, for “Embattled Murdoch Says He’s Sorry”


FIRST PLACE: Eugenia Durante, Milan, Italy, for “Realitaly, A Country That Has Lost Its Grip On The Remote Control”

A powerful indictment of Berlusconi’s rein and a convincing call for women to rise up in opposition.
SECOND PLACE: Evangeline Han, Melaka, Malaysia, for “Pro-Democracy in Malaysia”
Han hails the pro-democracy activists who challenge the government for more rights, insisting that as long as the people refuse to be intimidated, there is hope. Her piece is a clarion call for a more just government.


Monica Blaze, Walled Lake High School, Wixom, Michigan, for “Advertising in Schools Becomes a Major Issue”

Blaze surveys the state of advertising in schools and convincingly pleads for it to go away since it only adds pressure to already overburdened students.

Jack Tae Hyun Yoon, Seoul International School, Seoul, South Korea, for “The Politics of 2011 in Review”

Yoon surveys the surprising, hopeful developments across the globe in 2011 and sees in them a reason to hope for a safer, more democratic world. Let’s hope he’s right!


Sports News Story

FIRST PLACE:  Ishmael Streever, Dimond High School and Alaska Teen Media Institute,  Anchorage, Alaska, for “On the trail”

SECOND PLACE: Michael Hoi, East Brunswick High School, East Brunswick, New Jersey, for “Quidditch pro quo?”


Savannah Harrelson, Borah High School, Boise, Idaho, for “Varsity football opens with two wins, one loss, new coach”

Jason Chung, Seoul International School, Seoul, South Korea, for “Kemba Walker”

Kailey Tracy, Forest Hill, Maryland, The John Carroll School, for “Men’s volleyball remains optimistic”

 Sports Opinion

FIRST PLACE: Robert Guthrie, Wallace Hall Academy, Dumfries, Scotland, for “London Gets Ready For 2012 Olympics”

SECOND PLACE: Jason Chung, Seoul International School, Seoul, South Korea, for “Celtics vs. Lakers”

Sports Feature Story

FIRST PLACE: Narine Daneghyan, Yerevan State University, Yerevan, Armenia, for “Pan Armenian Games Unite Through Sports”

Scanning the history of Armenian sport, Daneghyan shows a clear love of athletics and a sense of what readers would be interested in. She rightly points out that in the Pan-Armenian Games, everyone is a winner, young and united in their love for sports and their homeland. That shines through in the prose of this gifted young writer.


Music Reviews

FIRST PLACE: Lennon Craig of Barton Peveril Sixth Form, Hampshire, England, for a review of Pete Doherty in Southhampton

Lennon’s piece was really solid, both demonstrating a deep understanding of Doherty’s work and communicating the intensity of the show. He conveyed a great sense of why this show — or any Pete Doherty show — mattered to Doherty’s fans, and connects the reader emotionally to the audience’s expectations, while also describing with clarity what was happening onstage. The pacing of his prose was perfectly suited for the experience he was describing. He did what the best reviewers do by writing in a style that fits how the music feels.

SECOND PLACE: Noah Kidron-Style, London, England, for “Red Hot Chili Peppers Cooling Off”

While it is difficult to contextualize a band that’s been recording for about 30 years, Kidron-Style does take into account 20 of those years. His writing has a lot of personality and a distinct voice.

HONORABLE MENTION: Alisha Mayor of The Harker School, San Jose, Calif., for “Justin Bieber Holiday Album Review”

Mayor’s  piece put a Christmas album — kind of a necessary token for any bubblegum pop star of the moment — in impressive context, extrapolating from the material Bieber’s possible future as an artist quite commendably. She took to the microscope with the eye of both a fan and a critic in her track-by-track review, and the result felt quite authoritative. She took a figure a lot of folks pass off as a passing trend, and treated him like an artist — while also taking Bieber on his own terms, not in the terms of broader popular culture.

Theater Reviews

FIRST PLACE:  Emily Couch, England, for “Master Class / ‘La Divina’”


Grace Kim, The John Carroll School, Bel Air, Maryland, for “New Sherlock Holmes film kicks it up a notch”

Sara Chatterjee, Sciences Po, La Havre, France, for “Tintin Catapults From Comics To Cinema”

General Reviews

FIRST PLACE: Eva Hong, Seoul International School, for “Cut the Rope”

Hong’s review stood out due to her creative writing style. Her review explained the basics of the game as well as the pros and cons. The review is well-structured and unique. A most enjoyable piece that may prompt a number of readers to seek out the game.

SECOND PLACE:  Madihad Hamid, Junyuan Secondary School, Singapore, for “’I am a chosen one”

Hamid possesses a brilliant writing style and her review exudes an excellent journalistic tone.


Tasman Anderson, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, for “The Unidentified”

Grace Kim, The John Carroll School, Bel Air, Maryland, for “Bertucci’s serves mediocre pasta”

Min Park, Seoul International School, Seoul, South Korea, for “Minecraft: Something Different”

Note: Some of these winning stories are available online. Links to at least some of them will be added here in the days ahead.