2016 YJI Contest Winners

2016 YJI Journalism Contest Trophies

Global Journalism Contest Honors Teens     

WEST HARTFORD, Conn., U.S.A. – For the first time, a radio news report captured one of Youth Journalism International’s top prizes in this year’s 2016 Excellence in Journalism contest.

A student reporter – Francisco Martinez of Alaska Teen Media Institute in Anchorage – earned the Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News for his piece on a new drug sweeping through the community called spice.

Our judges called his conversational story “a nice contemporary take on the news” that shows how the growing multimedia field is capturing ever more attention from teen journalists.

Martinez is one of nearly 100 young writers, photographers and artists from across the globe who took home prizes in almost three dozen categories this year.

Justice Bennett, a senior from Malvern Preparatory School in Malvern, Penn., took top honors as this year’s Student Journalist of the Year, while David Flanary, a teacher at Sevier Middle School in Kingsport, Tenn., is the Journalism Educator of the Year.

A Houston teen, Eli Winter, got the nod for this year’s Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary for his stunning eight-part series on LGBT issues in his community.

A new publication in New Jersey, The Contour from Lawrenceville School, snagged the Courage in Journalism Award.

Competition was stiff in nearly every category, with winners in 19 U.S. states and nine nations on five continents.

“As a judge, I can say without a doubt this year my job was incredibly difficult,” said Zac Brokenrope, an English teacher in Boston and Youth Journalism International alum.

The annual contest, now in its seventh year, recognized student writing and reporting, art, photo and multimedia skills in news, sports, opinion and other categories published or broadcast in 2015.

A panel of experienced judges evaluated the entries, which came from high schools and individuals from around the globe who write for school papers, blogs or other media. A handful are students of Youth Journalism International.

Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri and Tennessee’s John Sevier Middle School took the most prizes of any school. They each won awards in 10 categories.

“We were especially wowed by the success of a middle school competing against older students from some of the nation’s most renowned high school journalism programs,” said Steve Collins, YJI’s board president. “Mr. Flanary is doing something right in Kingsport.”

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, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2015. Those eligible must be 19 or under and not working professionally.

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

A complete list of winners is below. Judges comments are in italics.





WINNER:  Justice Bennett, Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern, Pennsylvania

Called “a reporter to his core” by USA Today’s digital editor, Justice Bennett earned our Student Journalist of the Year award by displaying an amazing range of talents and a burning desire to learn more. Bennett turned his school’s newspaper into a must-read publication. His adviser, Kate Plows, said she’s never seen a student “raise the bar so high and fast” as Bennett, who also earned the respect of his classmates as he transformed the paper. He earned our admiration, too.

FINALIST:  Abigail Wade, Hickman High School, Columbia, Missouri

FINALIST:  Gowri Tumkur, John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee

FINALIST: Camden Metheny, Buffalo Island Central, Monette, Arkansas


WINNER:  David Flanary, John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee

Mr. Flanary’s students – in their letters about him and the work they did – made a compelling case. “He truly believes that we can write about anything,” said Molly Turner, sports editor of the school paper, The Sequoyah Scribe. “If there is an article we want to write, he always tries to make it happen.” Mr. Flanary, the first middle school teacher to win this award, oversees a topnotch student paper that reaches out beyond the school’s walls but doesn’t neglect what’s happening close to home. It’s a model middle school publication that only a compelling, caring teacher could guide.

FINALIST: Brian Panepinto, Hillcrest High School, Jamaica, New York

FINALIST: Matthew LaPorte, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada

FINALIST: Rob Lindquist, Thomas Jefferson High School, Council Bluffs, Iowa

FINALIST: Tracey Yates Thompson, Buffalo Island Central, Monette, Arkansas



WINNER:  The Contour News, The Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, New Jersey

In the past, the Courage in Journalism awards went to a student in Egypt writing about its revolution during the Arab Spring and to another in Ethiopia determined to find out the facts behind the rape and murder of a teen. This year, we’re honoring a different sort of courage. The Contour, a publication at The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, earned the honor for its dogged efforts to create a news site with an international flavor. Starting something new in the face of all the challenges in the way takes guts, which is why The Contour wins this award.


WINNER: Francisco Martinez, University of Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska, for “Spice hits Anchorage hard.”

This piece has an incredible depth of sources and was able to explain a complex issue. Bravo! We also liked the relaxed style of the reporter. A nice contemporary take on the news.

FINALIST: Sarah Verschoor, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Student brings gun to Stevenson, removed before causing any harm.”


WINNER: Eli Winter, Carnegie Vanguard High School, Houston, Texas, for his series “On Discrimination Against LGBT People.”

In a series documenting the discrimination that occurs in the Houston, Texas area against LGBT people written for the Houston Chronicle and Out Smart magazine, Eli launched a call to action to support some of the most vulnerable among us. In the first piece, he wrote of a troubled transgender teen who killed herself. Here’s the first paragraph: “Imagine living in a body that doesn’t fit you. Not in the literal sense: Your skin fits snug against your bones, and all your various parts work. But something doesn’t feel right deep inside you: Your conception of your gender doesn’t match up with the physical gender you have.” It’s powerful work on an important issue.

FINALIST: Sabrina Szos, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Senior reflects on competitive nature of Stevenson culture.”

FINALIST: Akhil Vaidya, Johns Creek High School, Johns Creek, Georgia for “South Asians in Media.”





FIRST PLACE: Alauren Harris of Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Red and Scout.”

SECOND PLACE: Brenda Reyn of Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Editorial Cartoon.”


Joan Collette of Hickman High School, Colombia, Missouri, for “Hatred.”

Aaron Salinas of Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern, Pennsylvania, for “When the Wifi is out.”

Valerie Fung of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Islam.”



FIRST PLACE:  Abigail Wade of Hickman High School, Columbia, Missouri, for “Peace of My Mind.”

Abigail’s piece starts with a personal story about her clash of personalities with a peer, then expands to discuss the larger issue of fighting stigmas using education and acceptance.  In something as simple as a quote she read in a magazine, Abigail found inspiration to write a column that everyone can relate to and learn from, in high school and the “real world” alike. 

SECOND PLACE: Summer Thomad of Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada, for “Excessive Police Force in Schools:  Inexcusable.”

Summer uses this column to speak out about the conduct of a school resource officer in South Carolina.  Where she saw wrongdoing and reason for concern, she used her platform as a journalist to denounce the injustice. 

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Sarah Verschoor of Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Social Commentary.”


FIRST PLACE: The Harbinger, Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “The Table(t)s Have Turned.”

The editorial team takes adults’ thoughts about today’s students to task, using a clear, thoughtful, yet fun approach that was engaging beginning to end. It would have been easy for the writers to let loose a rant and overwrite the piece, but instead they used restraint to make an argument their intended audience, adults, cannot ignore. Clever headline sets the tone and the ending surely had more than a few readers nodding in agreement.

SECOND PLACE:  Statesman, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Choice of bathrooms should be given to transgender students.”

A good job taking a very newsy topic and bringing it into the school, urging open discussion and better understanding of the challenges of transgender students. Excellent writing helps make the point. 


The Blackfriar Chronicle, Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern, Pennsylvania, for “Remembering 9/11.”

Not the most controversial opinion taken in this category, but the editorial board presents a clear, strong and passionate argument. 

The Sequoyah Scribe, John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Learning about Islam is an important part of education”

A well-paced argument that shows the writing team did its research.


FIRST PLACE: Arina Filippenko of Alaska Teen Media Institute, Anchorage, Alaska, for “On the Bus.”

This piece was very well organized and engaged the listener from the beginning. It told three different stories with interesting perspectives and had a wonderful use of “take home” messages. Arina Filippenko has a great radio voice!

SECOND PLACE: Derrick Johnson of Thomas Jefferson High School, Council Bluffs, Iowa, for “BLink and you’re connected.”

A well-constructed piece on an interesting topic that told the story in a compelling way. The work, which included a good mix of interviews, made the issue noteworthy and relevant.


FIRST PLACE: Celia Hack, Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “A City’s Struggle: Graham Murphy and the Rise of the Struggle Party.”

Celia’s story was well-written, engaging, and dealt directly with a universal topic through a local angle. Her ability to engage the reader is not just first-class student journalism, but first class journalism period. 

SECOND PLACE: Angelia Yoo, North Hollywood High School, North Hollywood, California, for “Media Tackles India’s Rape Crisis.”

Angela’s work was engaging and well-researched, but her clear passion for her topic never outshone the information she presented. Her ability to create an engaging narrative while presenting the straight-forward facts is first-rate. 


Justice Bennett, Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern Pennsylvania, for “Redefining Grades as Upward Trends Continue.”

Molly Turner, John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Divorce Affects Students Day to Day Lives.”

Lauren Peller, Half Hollow Hills High School, Dix Hills, New York, for “Stumped by Mr. Trump’s Bump.”

Emily Rasmussen, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “It’s a Woman’s Job.”

Emma McNail, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Hayes Helps”


FIRST PLACE: Migi Contreras and Alexis Drevetzki, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada, for “The innovation of video games”

Interesting and well written. 

SECOND PLACE: Natalia Kome and Fatima Krgo, Hickman High School, Columbia, Missouri, for “Hijab is not a prison.”

Interesting perspective on a very important issue. 



FIRST PLACE: Cadyn Qualls, Buffalo Island Central High School, Monet, Arkansas, for “The day I met royalty.”

A touching perspective on how it feels to grow up and realize what being a mother – and a daughter – really feels like.

SECOND PLACE: Sydney Hallett, Park University, Oakville, Missouri, for “National Holocaust Museum delivers painfully sad lessons.”

An honest and raw but gracefully written report.

HONORABLE MENTION: Amber Shakil, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan, for “It’s Hard To Focus On Studying When Terrorists Threaten Your School.”

An extremely touching and honest tale of a dark moment of our history.


FIRST PLACE: Asia Koter of Fyling Hall School in Fylingdales, UK for “Tour de Yorkshire”

SECOND PLACE: Laura Jara Espinoza of Colegio Britanico Internacional in Quito, Ecuador, for “Flying Swings”


FIRST PLACE: Karen Sacta, Hillcrest High School, Jamaica, New York, for “Borough President Speaks to Hillcrest About Value of Education.”

On a site that is attractive and inviting to the eye, the story has a nice mix of still and moving images that keep the overall presentation interesting. The text of the story, and the audio-visual package, complement each other well. The team on this project gets points for bringing to the public a story that shows students of color engaged in learning and excited about future opportunities in education. There is no lack of stories about black and brown students. Unfortunately, a disproportionately high number of those stories are often about students failing in schools; suffering as the result of bad choices, or in the role of a victim. This story highlighted students of color, and a passionate teacher of color, engaged in and excited about learning. 

SECOND PLACE: Gowri Tumkur, Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Roof repairs at Sevier Middle.”

Gowri Tumkur has the instincts of a journalist. She took this story about roof leaks beyond just being an infrastructure issue, by exploring how this infrastructure failure harms learning. Students were distracted in class, and forced to weave their way around the u
nsightly buckets of dirty water. Gowri also cited their concerns about health issues, and included comments from an environmentalist who addressed them. She reached out to a mix of students – girls and boys – and did a good job in documenting a problem and bringing it to the public’s attention.

HONORABLE MENTION: Alison Ramirez, Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Language Barrier at Work.”

This story took me behind the scenes of an actual factory where women perform difficult, but honest work. At a time when we see so much hostility towards those who do not speak English, it was refreshing to see an environment in which workers looked for ways to communicate with one another to get their tasks done.  Alison has good storytelling skills – she may be a future filmmaker. The tone of the story is gentle and patient. I could tell she cares about this issue and the workers featured. Alison should considering do a second part to this story – one where she follows one worker and explores with greater depth the types of obstacles not speaking English presents. For instance, the bosses said they like workers who show up on time and work hard, but the reality is, it is hard for the non-English speakers to move up into higher-paying positions without speaking English. It is also difficult for non-English-speaking people to defend themselves or get help with problems at work. There are many areas to explore there, especially at this time in American history. Alison is off to a good start.


FIRST PLACE: Chloe Chaobal, Alaska Teen Media Institute, West Anchorage High School, Anchorage, Alaska, for “Karaoke leads to full-time gig.”

Well-presented, with a firm command of splicing and highlighting aspects of the interview that are of interest to listeners. A short and pleasant segment from a promising reporter.


FIRST PLACE: Isabel Hanewicz, Robinson High School, Tampa, Florida, for “School Board Terminates Superintendent’s Contract”

A strong spot news story.

SECOND PLACE: Kayla Guo, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “District guilty of discrimination.”

HONORABLE MENTION:  Mariana Prince Cardoso, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil, for “Brazilian state police protesting teachers and other public workers.”


FIRST PLACE: Justice Bennett and Tyler Pizzico, Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern, Pennsylvania, for “Twitter Impersonation.”

Justice and Tyler hooked me from the beginning with the compelling lead and did a nice job pulling in different perspectives. I’m sure this piece was a talker at their school.

SECOND PLACE: Sofia Tong and Rosa Stern Pait, Brookline High School, Brookline, Massachusetts, for “Want to teach part time? It’s complicated…”

Sofia and Rosa did a great job muckraking at their school to explore why teachers are being denied an opportunity to work part time.



FIRST PLACE:  Samm Leal, Hickman High School, Columbia, Missouri, for “Empathy >> Prejudice.”

Very moving, based on experience and sensitivity. Great job on a thought provoking opinion piece.

SECOND PLACE: David Reynolds, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “How to avoid another Ferguson.”

Well thought out and well presented. Good use of statistics. A thoughtful look at a very complex and controversial issue.


Akhil Vaidya, Johns Creek High School, Johns Creek, Georgia, for “South Asians in Media: A love letter to Aziz Ansari and South Asians.”

Well written and well thought out. Very organized. Many contemporary references. Made its point in an effective but not overly strenuous way. Good food for thought. Well done.

Julia Wunning-Zimr, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “I’m a stalker.”

Well written and thought provoking. Identifies a little hypocrisy in all of us. Fun opinion.

Trevor Cleveland, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “The agony of Apple.”

Very well constructed, thought out and researched. Multiple ideas reinforce the writer’s point. A couple of sentences with tough structure but overall well done.



FIRST PLACE: Hailey Hughes, Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Hazing or Horseplay.”

SECOND PLACE: Kishan Patel and Anish Patel, The John Carroll School, Bel Air, Maryland, for “Senior Prepares For Last Season.”

HONORABLE MENTION: Isabel Hanewicz, Robinson High School, Tampa, Florida, for “Humans: Vivika Sheppard.”



FIRST PLACE: Rahul Krishnaswamy, Forsyth Country Day School, Lewisville, North Carolina, for “A Visit to Chennai, India.”

Excellent use of color, lighting and composition. Narrative was brief and to the point, descriptive and clear. The photos were sequential and took the viewer on a journey, carefully arranged to tell a story. It was informative, diverse subject matter and included nature, people, buildings and scenery for a balance of the area’s offerings. The title was appropriate, as the viewer did feel as if they had a visit to the region, complete with examples of food and means of travel. Lovely images.

SECOND PLACE: Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan, Bukit View Secondary School, Singapore, for “Hong Kong: A Bustling City In Pictures.”

Photos told a clear story, and were very descriptive of the scene. Descriptions were informative and also gave a narrative of the city that would appeal to visitors and those looking for information about the city. The different perspectives used told a story of the city from the street to the rooftops, giving a good variety of viewpoints. It was nice to see the city from within, from outside looking back, and from above. 



FIRST PLACE: Camden Metheny, Buffalo Island Central, Monette, Arkansas, for “The difference is Black and White.”

Very impressed with the use of black and white. The twins clothing, Jessie in a black top and Joey in white, is in stark contrast to our view of twins. Set against a blended background, this contrast is a knockout. This was a perfect juxtaposition on a subject that highlights the differences between twins. Outstanding technical execution, excellent composition and use of text on the board make this the only choice for first place.

SECOND PLACE: MJ Ivy, Buffalo Island Central, Monette, Arkansas, for “Photo of the week Nov 16-20.”

I can feel this little girl’s pain as she gets her flu shot. The timing to get the teardrop flowing down her cheek was on spot. Spontaneity is hard to capture, this was very well done.


Callie McPhail, Shawnee Mission East, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Here Comes the Bride.”

Wonderful. The lighting, the blood, the blank expression on the subjects face, all immediately brought to mind the rarely mentioned other side of matrimony. Great photo. 

Greydon Williams, Buffalo Island Central, Monette, Arkansas, for “Bucket List.”

This was a fun, technically well executed image of a popular pastime of the ice bucket challenge. I could feel the freeze and the fun.

Isabel Hanewicz, Robinson High School, Tampa, Florida, for “Band Performs at MPA.”

Love the intensity 

Noah Frick-Alofs, Hickman High School, Columbia, Missouri, for “Alofs – Chicago Gay Pride and Caffeinated Club.”

With the onslaught of campaign rhetoric and states’ pushback since the Supreme Court ruling on the validity of same sex marriage, this photo is appropriate
to current events. 

Shelby Jenson, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Popcorn face.”

Perfectly illustrates teen fun

Shyla Clayton, Buffalo Island Central, Monette, Arkansas, for “Desiree Lancaster.”

Great black and white of the happenings backstage at the beauty pageant. Good job.


FIRST PLACE: Bella Greenspan, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois,  for “Color Fun(D) Run.”

Nice images. A lot of action in each pictures. The photographs look just like the title says, Fun(D)

SECOND PLACE: Noah Frick-Alofs, Hickman High School, Columbia, Missouri, for “Living Windows.”

I enjoy looking at this image. Reader does not have to read story, they can just study the pictures and imagine.


Isabel Hanewicz, Robinson High School, Tampa, Florida, for “Elia Supporters.”

Photograph shows a lot of people but other than that I am not sure what it captures.

Megan Carroll, Thomas Jefferson High School, Council Bluffs, Iowa, for “BTS of Swarm TV.”

The photographer did find a different angle to capture a general image.

Frida Zeinali, Youth Journalism International, Tabriz, Iran, for “Tourist favorite.”

Photo is a bit too general. I would have liked to see the photographer move in closer.



FIRST PLACE:  Andrew Cameron, Thomas Jefferson High School, Council Bluffs, Iowa, for “Together We Stand.”

Andrew was really thinking about camera position, exposure and storytelling when he captured this photograph.

SECOND PLACE: Noah Frick-Alofs, Hickman High School, Columbia, Missouri, for “Defeat.”

Good emotion, good timing, right place at right time. This football image tells the whole story.


Caroline Cooney, The John Carroll School, Bel Air, Maryland, for “Football preview.”

Nice action image. This has a clean background which is sometimes hard when photographing sporting events. Good timing.

Isabel Hanewicz, Robinson High School, Tampa, Florida, for “Swim Breaststroke.”

Photographer positioned herself correctly and caught a really good expression as the swimmer was coming up for air.

Kishan Patel, The John Carroll School, for “Turf field shapes community’s future.”

A nice action picture. Image was captured at the right moment.

Cinthia Aguirre, Thomas Jefferson High School, Council Bluffs, Iowa, for “Relax.”

Nice moment taken right after the action ended. Photographer kept her camera up to her eye and waited for the storytelling image.



FIRST PLACE: Emily Rasmussen, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Who Wears the Comic Crown?”

The reporter shows herself to be in control of this profile with her crisp, clear writing. The piece is factual but interesting, concise but satisfying. The subject becomes a three-dimensional being to the reader, despite having no prior knowledge of him. A well-written, well-planned profile.

SECOND PLACE:  Alexis Drevetsky, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Last Vegas, Nevada, for “Zealous Photographer: Meet Carlos Leyva.”

Half of the success of this profile is that the reporter lives in a world filled with smartphone cameras, and found a young photographer with a unique perspective. Good work.


Maddilyn Rimer, John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Male Cheerleader is the core and strength of squad.”

Ben Yankelitis, Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern, Pennsylvania, for “Alum makes splash in Philly sports.”



FIRST PLACE:  Morgan Biles of Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas, for “MASTER OF NETFLIX.”

Morgan’s review of Aziz Ansari’s television show “Master of None” was thoughtful, insightful, and masterful at placing the show in modern context.  Morgan’s writing was mature and felt like it could be immediately picked up by an online media outlet like Salon or HuffingtonPost.

SECOND PLACE: Hafsa Ahmed of Beaconhouse Defence Campus in Lahore, Pakistan, for “Inside Out Captures the Emotional Rollercoaster of Growing Up.”

Although I feel every critic should go into a film or play with an open mind, Hafsa admitted to being dragged to the film.  Kudos for admitting that it exceeded expectations and would make viewers think.  Make sure to proofread your work thoroughly before publishing as there were a few typographical errors.


Sydney Hallett of Park University, Oakville, Missouri, for “Avengers: Age of Ultron a disappointment.”

First, I totally agree with Sydney.  Second, Sydney did the best job at maintaining a forceful viewpoint throughout the review without delving too much into plot exposition.  A few grammatical errors were found in the review; no one wants to review your review for grammar!  Let’s hope the next AVENGERS is better, Sydney!



FIRST PLACE: Chris Wang, Mission San Jose High School, Freemont, California, for “The Debate on Healthy School Lunch – A Year in Review.”

This is a timely and important topic, with good summaries from other articles. Yet a direct opinion of students or parents incorporated into the piece would make a more meaningful piece for me. The writing is clear and well structured.

SECOND PLACE: Anna Waldzinska, Newington High School, Newington, Connecticut, for “Readers who loved ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ may balk at Harper Lee’s new novel.”

I liked how Anna put in different perspectives, quotes from a college student and a mom. This was almost my top pick, but I felt that there could have been a stronger emphasis on the impact of the book and the writing style could use more cohesion.


Caroline Heitmann, Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Finding the Perfect Fit.”

Informative and ties in well with her first-person perspective as a cross country runner.

Sydney Hallett, Park University, Oakville, Missouri, for “The Great Gatsby – Still Fresh at Age 90.”

Nikki Molina, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada, for “Gelatology: a succulent synthesis of science and sweets.”


REVIEWS, Team Writing

FIRST PLACE: Apoorva Sajan, Mugdha Gurram, Mary Majerus-Collins and Laura Espinoza Jara of West Hartford, Connecticut and Quito, Ecuador, all of Youth Journalism International, for “See ‘Van Gogh and Nature’ at The Clark.”



FIRST PLACE:  Deven Eckels, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Tyler the Creator Entertains With Cherry Bomb.”

This review is a clearer and more helpful illustration of what the listener should expect from this record than most professional reviews of Tyler the Creator’s work since he first broke. This is descriptive, it feels critically even-handed, it puts the record in context with the rest of the subject’s work and the pop landscape at large, and it’s just lively, entertaining writing.

SECOND PLACE: Althea Gevero, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada, for “Feel the ‘Dopamine.”

I have no idea who this B0RNS guy is, but Althea gives us a solid feel for what the listener to expect of this record. She describes his music clearly, and she’s done her research into where this guy came from.

HONORABLE MENTION: Markus Meyer, Belmont Secondary School, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, for “Single R
eview: Casey Musgraves – Dimestore Cowgirl.”

This comes off as both descriptive enough to make the reader understand why he or she could care, and authoritative about its subject matter. And it’s good writing.



FIRST PLACE: Maya Doll, Sydnie Sobaski and Emily Hicks, Hickman High School, Columbia, Missouri, for “We Have the Sport, Just Not the Score.”

A good approach to a tough subject, covering several angles in the same theme.

SECOND PLACE: Mike Droogan, Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern, Pennsylvania, for “Mills has high hopes for Malvern Sports Medicine.”

Droogan took a dry topic and made it of interest to students.


Kishan Patel and Anish Patel, The John Carroll School, Bel Air, Maryland, for “Senior prepares for last season.”

Ryan Eggers, Christain Hausaman and Zuri Rojas, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “The Art of the Swing.”

Isabel Hanewicz, Robinson High School, Tampa, Florida, for “Path to #GetBack.”



FIRST PLACE: Makenzie Clark, Hickman High School, Columbia, Missouri, for “Not-So-Free Throw.”

The story examines the extra expenses of playing a high school sport. Very good use of quotes and a great ending:  “Once you’re on the field, no one can tell if you’re rich or poor, they only know how hard you hit.” Story is nicely told with facts and quotes, no editorializing.

SECOND PLACE: Ellie Booton, Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Let’s Talk About Hazing.”

Great lead, really sucks the reader into a controversial topic. Good use of quotes, but would have liked to have heard from current students. Some great scene setting that would have benefited from a quote.


Harrison Barnes, John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “New athletic grading policy changes the game.”

Headline is juicier than the story as no real “changes” described.  Good lead that makes you want to read on.

Alyce Collett, Aquinas College, Melbourne, Australia, for “Push For National Women’s Australian Rules Football League Is Gaining Ground.”

Nice effort by Alyce of providing accompanying photos. Story could be improved by taking photos of key plays and writing descriptive captions and identifying players. Keep opinions out of the story. Quotes from players, coaches, insiders, always help a writer make his/her point more effectively and colorfully. This piece crosses between being a game report – providing play-by-play – and a column encouraging the growth of the women’s sport. Two stories – one describing the game, and one a column on the bigger picture, promoting the growth of women’s football, would have helped Alyce display her game reporting, and her obvious passion for the growth of the women’s sport.

Max Cohn, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Play Smart, Play Hard offers new Illinois football safety regulations”

Interesting subject but with a lot of extra verbiage. It could be tightened and more focused.



FIRST PLACE: Aubrey Vincent, John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Throw Like A Girl Is Demeaning And Untrue.”

Aubrey points out that the old slur that someone throws like a girl isn’t really about hurling a ball. It implies that female athletes are “less important, less skilled and less successful” than their male counterparts, just as a silly an assertion at her middle school as it is anywhere else. She’s got the “can-do attitude” that she points out is more important than a competitor’s sex.

SECOND PLACE: Ryan Eggers, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “What Constitutes a Sport?”

Ryan deviates from his normal coverage of sports to ponder what seems to be a hot topic at his school: whether marching band is a sport or not. Though he comes down on the “not a sport” side, he makes a convincing case that it shouldn’t matter.

HONORABLE MENTION: Felicity Rodger, Clifton Hall School, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, for “Excitement Building Among Rugby Fans.”


Note to student journalists: We’ll be doing this contest again next year for stories written in English between Jan. 1, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2016 by students 19 and under. Think about what you can do to win and then do it! There are a lot of categories – and we’re open to creating new ones – and plenty of opportunities to bring your work to our attention.