Auburn, Maine, U.S.A. – One thing the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t shut down is Youth Journalism International’s 11th annual contest honoring the work of teen journalists around the globe.
More than 165 teens from public and private middle and high schools, colleges and journalism programs were honored, including 2020’s Student Journalist of the Year, Jack Ward in Ararat, Australia.
With the recent closure of the town’s 163-year-old paper, a victim of the economic decline caused by COVID-19, Ward is now “the only news source with a reporter on the ground in his hometown,” as a reporter for the regional Australian Broadcasting Corporation noted.
“Jack’s home community of Ararat, Australia isn’t the only beneficiary of his work,” said Youth Journalism International co-founder Jackie Majerus. “He’s been wowing us as a YJI reporter since 2016. We’re proud and excited that the judges honored him as this year’s Student Journalist of the Year.”
Ward, 16, is one of many aspiring journalists throughout the world who are using their time and talent to inform both their peers and the public about what’s going in their community, something that’s rarely been as important as it is now.
More than two dozen contest judges – including many media professionals – selected winners in 40 categories. Year after year, judges say they’re impressed by the quality of work.
Dr. Mariechen Puchert, a South African anesthesiologist and YJI alum who took time during the pandemic to again serve as a judge, said she always enjoys reading the entries.
“It was really pleasant for me to see that the act of writing is alive and well,” Puchert said.
A complete list of winners and comments from judges is below.
Those earning 2020 awards in YJI’s Excellence in Journalism contest represent seven countries on five continents as well as 21 U.S. states. Winners of the top five categories received crystal trophies and all winners get custom-made award certificates.
The Journalism Educator of the Year is Dean Bradshaw, who teaches aspiring reporters at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois and pushes students to excel with kindness and insight.
The Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News honored Ethan Peter of Kirkwood High School in Kirkwood, Missouri, for “’Sectored Off:’ Meacham Park,” a comprehensive look at a racially divided town.
The Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary went to Anastassia Dardenne of Homestead High School in Belmont, California for her piece decrying society’s fascination with serial killers.
Tapped for the Courage in Journalism was the PLD Lamplighter, the student newspaper at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky for its dogged refusal to slink away when authorities turned aside its effort to report on a public forum with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
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.
For more information, please contact Jackie Majerus, Youth Journalism International’s executive director, at (860) 655-8188 or write to email@example.com. More photos and information can be found online at youthjournalism.org.
A complete list of winners is below. Comments by the judges are in italics.
STUDENT JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR
WINNER: Jack Ward of Ararat College in Ararat, Australia
In a field of strong contenders, Australian Jack Ward stood out, not just because he’s got talent and smarts, but because his drive to capture the news is so overwhelming. He created a podcast for local news that quickly became an absolute necessity for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ararat. His principal, Ellie McDougall, said it’s commonly known in the community that news breaks first at AC News, which Ward initiated and runs. It’s regarded, she said, as both professional and respected. She said she is “sure he is the world’s best student journalist!” It helps, too, that Ward “is endearing, relatable, professional and mature beyond his years and an absolute joy to teach and to work alongside,” said his teacher, Melissa Murnane. We’re especially happy to honor him because Jack has also been a terrific reporter for YJI since 2016.
Anna Eggers of Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, Indiana
Julie Heng of Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ben Henschel of Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas
Maddie Meyers of Kirkwood High School in Kirkwood, Missouri
JOURNALISM EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR
WINNER: Dean Bradshaw, Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois
Several of his students said Dean Bradshaw – who oversees the journalism program at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois – pushes them to excel, to tackle tough stories and to do great work. He does it, they said, with kindness and insight.
Anjini Grover, an editor at the school’s newspaper, Statesman, praised Bradshaws’s “humor and comforting words” that helped her “through rough days and elevated the good ones.”
Ben Bowler, also an editor at the Statesman, said Bradshaw “creates a positive environment” that makes everyone on the staff “feel more passionate not only about journalism, but quality journalism, making me want to push myself to my fullest potential and make him proud.”
Ellie Baden, a first-year student at Michigan State University, said the four years she spent under Bradshaw’s guidance were like joining a big family. “Every member of the staff was allowed to take on a leadership role in some capacity, and every staffer thrived as a result,” she said. He encouraged teamwork, she said, so that no one at the Statesman “struggles in silence” and every story is a group effort. “Because of this teaching style, Mr. Bradshaw’s students are quick thinkers who can be confident in their words and actions, an invaluable attribute,” Baden said.
FINALIST: Melissa Falkowski, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida
COURAGE IN JOURNALISM AWARD
WINNER: The staff of the PLD Lamplighter, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Lexington, Kentucky.
Last spring, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos held a roundtable discussion on education at a community college. Students with Paul Laurence Dunbar High School’s PLD Lamplighter decided they ought to cover it. So they went across town in Lexington for the “open press event” and were told they couldn’t attend. For most students, that would have been the end of it. But not for the Lamplighter’s journalists. They tried again, and got turned away again. They just couldn’t get in. So they went home and did what good journalists do: they wrote about what happened in a fierce editorial that’s worth quoting from: “How odd is it that even though future generations of students’ experiences could be based on what was discussed, that we, actual students, were turned away? We expected the event to be intense. We expected there to be a lot of information to cover. But not being able to exercise our rights under the First Amendment was something we never thought would happen. We weren’t prepared for that. It was heartbreaking to us, as young journalists fired up to cover an event regarding the future of education, to leave empty-handed.”
But they didn’t even stop there. They researched how it happened and discovered “we were not the only ones who were disappointed and frustrated.”
They identified issue after issue that kept students away, from the poor timing of the event to the small venue to the secretive process involved in figuring out who could go. “The bottom line is that we do not think that it is fair to have a closed roundtable about education when it affects thousands of Kentucky teachers, students, and parents,” the Lamplighter wrote, pointing out that “when public school students can’t attend a roundtable discussion about what’s best for students,” it is no surprise people get upset.
“There was a lesson in this experience, though. We learned that the job of a journalist is to chase the story by any means necessary. We learned to be resourceful and meet our deadline even if it wasn’t in the way we initially intended. And we learned that although students aren’t always taken seriously, we have to continue to keep trying to have a seat at the table,” the editorial concluded.
We’re glad to see a student paper go head-to-head with a governor and a U.S. cabinet secretary. It takes real courage to turn disappointment into a lesson that goes way beyond the classrooms of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.
FRANK KEEGAN “TAKE NO PRISONERS” AWARD FOR NEWS
WINNER: Ethan Peter of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “’Sectored Off:’ Meacham Park.”
Ethan did a fantastic job framing the community’s racial divide at both the beginning and end of his story through the eyes of high school students. He dug into the background of this “sectored off” part of town and showed how many people still view it differently than the rest of Kirkwood. His interviews with teen residents of Meacham Park made clear the pain and isolation that they feel about their neighborhood, especially when friends are afraid to visit. The piece covers a lot of local political and economic history on a complicated topic, and Ethan did a great job making it all relevant to the audience.
Zachary Khouri of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “A light in the darkness: How different Carlmont students cope with struggles.”
JACINTA MARIE BUNNELL AWARD FOR COMMENTARY
WINNER: Anastassia Dardenne of Homestead High School, Cupertino, California, for “What do you think of when you walk to your car at night?”
Stumbling across a YouTube video of serial killer Ted Bundy, California high school student Anastassia Dardenne wondered who he was. So she searched online and found out. Horrified, she wrote, she closed the tab on her browser and cleared her history to erase the existence of her curiosity. Later, though, she watched a show about him on Netflix. Her piece explores that strange fascination. And what Dardenne ultimately recognizes is that “simply telling his story glorifies his life and his crimes. We are left terrified of a man who, in his very essence, is nothing but a cowardly and sick individual. His crimes take no wit, no cleverness, no ruse. What they take is a darkly lit alley, an isolated woman and brute force.”
Dardenne writes with passion and skill. She turns the focus on society’s morbid interest in serial killers and finds fault with it. She said the glorification of men like Bundy needs to come to an end. It’s a solid example of a young writer giving voice to an important issue about something that’s become so routine that most of us don’t even think about it as we peruse what’s available on Netflix and the like. Our choices, Dardenne reminds, have consequences.
Montana Lee of The Bronx High School of Science, New York City, for “The NYCDOE Overstepped Its Authority By Openly Supporting the NYC Climate Strike.”
Lili Connell of Hong Kong Academy, Hong Kong, for “Love elephants? Don’t ride them.”
Erin Kim, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts for “Our Solution to the Modern Healthcare Crisis.”
Ella Miller of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee for “A wall on the southern border is the wrong policy.”
Lina Temzini of the French School of Bahrain, Bahrain, for “New Quebec law on display of religious symbols hurts Canada.”
FIRST PLACE: Aishwarya Jayadeep of Homestead High School, Cupertino, California, for “Natural Hair is not a crime.”
This is a fantastic editorial cartoon as it excellently communicates the subject at hand and is thought provoking.
SECOND PLACE: Yunkyo Moon Kim of Northwestern University for “A valentine for Parkland.”
An excellent cartoon with great storytelling and powerful execution.
Maggie Burton, Grace Carroll and Grace Ferguson of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “The 6 steps of approaching your crush.”
Great little comic, lovely idea and color palette.
River Hennick of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Thanksgiving.”
A great idea and good execution. Instantly getable.
Leah Ronkin of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, for “Climate change is a real, serious issue that needs to be addressed.”
Great idea and powerful cartoon.
Eriyale Williams showed wit, critical thinking, and a personal writing style. There is no reason to doubt that we may read her articles in a major newspaper or magazine soon.
SECOND PLACE: Yunkyo Moon Kim of Northwestern University for “A message about democracy in the federal shutdown.”
Yunkyo Moon Kim wrote a strong article, showing a good political knowledge, critical thinking, and a good writing style that goes way beyond her age.
Ahmed Ahmed of Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada, for ‘It doesn’t add up.”
Andrew Ngo of Sunny Hills High School, Fullerton, California, for “Helicopter parents need to expect less from their kids.”
FIRST PLACE: The Spotlight, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Time for a change.”
This editorial does exactly what an editorial should do, convey the editorial board’s opinion but then it goes beyond by providing real solutions in order to spur action or, at the very least, discussion. It’s easy for students to feel powerless in any discussion of education reform, but this editorial shows the newspaper’s editorial board understands its audience, speaking directly to the problems students are discussing over the cafeteria table. The writing is straight forward, concise, compelling. The editorial board is confident in its opinion.
SECOND PLACE: The Kirkwood Call, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Call Ed: One hit wonder.”
Vaping was not a unique topic in this year’s entries, yet this one stands out on the strength of the writing. Its solutions are bite-size but actionable.
The King’s Courier, El Camino Real Charter High School, Woodland Hills, California, for “Asking all students for pronouns: a positive step.”
Nice job on taking an issue that impacts a few and making it a topic all students and teachers should care about. Hopefully it caused positive discussion throughout the school. Be careful in using your lead to simply restate the news story; this is your opportunity to come out strong with your opinion.
The Epitaph, Homestead High School, Cupertino, California, for “The tragedy of apathy overpowering action.”
Way to go in writing about a topic that confronts students more often than we’d like to think – when to step in to be an upstander instead of a bystander. Nice ending with a call to action.
The Paw, Tigard High School, Portland, Oregon, for “A New Kind of Counselor.”
The case made for a college counselor is compelling, well thought out and researched. This shows a kind of awareness to not just take the administration’s opinion that no one else in the area has a college counselor and proves them wrong by finding a nearby school offering just that.
Southwest Shadow, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada, for “Not chickening out.”
Clear writing, solid argument.
ENTERPRISE, INDIVIDUAL REPORTING
FIRST PLACE: Phoenix Stroh, Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Does Staff Diversity Matter?”
Very effective use of statistics, and a fair and sensitive balancing of viewpoints in what could be a controversial topic.
SECOND PLACE: Jared Debban of Tigard High School, Tigard, Oregon, for “Accounting for Athletics.”
Excellent topic about the costs to participate in school sports. Making a stronger connection between that and whether some students are shut out would have made the story more powerful.
Caleb Valverde of Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Bug-Borne Diseases.”
ENTERPRISE, TEAM REPORTING
FIRST PLACE: Anna Eggers, Amina Dalal, Adrian Reese, Ellen Bain, Mariangel Morales-Aparicio, Emily Atwell and Xavier Holmes of Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Ben Davis Declassified School Survival Guide.”
The best journalism informs, enlightens and entertains all at once. This package does it all, showing students what they need to know to thrive at school in a conversational and fun tone, and with an effective mix of copy, photos and graphics. It made the school seem like a family – just a warm, happy reading experience.
SECOND PLACE: Jack Anderson, Izzy Colón, Ally Ortmann, Maddie Meyers and Molly Higgins of Kirkwood High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Gunning For a Solution.”
This package effectively advances and localizes the story, looking at efforts to mitigate the school-shooting issue and how the local district specifically is working to keep students safe. It also blends human interest, with an account of a family who lost a child to gun violence, and advice on how students can get involved. It has just about everything a package like this should have. Well-done.
Anna Eggers, Amina Dalal and Adrian Reese Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Oh So Close”
This package nicely combines copy, graphics and fantastic photos, and content includes effective recaps and even a story on the fans’ perspective. It’s a complete and creative approach.
Lina Temzini, Mariama Barry, Danish Bajwa, Hanna Johal and Joanna Koter of Youth Journalism International, with reporters from Bahrian, The Gambia, the U.S., the UK and Poland, “Youth on Climate Change.”
The story on how young people are personally taking action to combat climate change paired well with and enhanced the lead story on opinions on the issue. This package was interesting to read.
FEATURE WRITING, INDIVIDUAL REPORTING
FIRST PLACE: Ella Miller of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Music parodies of historical events help students learn the importance of history.”
This was a brilliant piece of writing on a unique topic. The writer did a fantastic job with the interviews and delving into all the different angles of the story. It was also a highly enjoyable read, which beautifully echoed the fun nature of the topic it was covering.
SECOND PLACE: Emily Stull of Tamalpais High School, Mill Valley, California, for “Baby Monitor.”
Parental leave is a complex topic, but the writer effectively broke it down in a way that made it approachable. The article was extremely well-researched, but the beauty lay in the way the writer took the data (and lots of it!) and made it personal, highlighting the experience – and emotions – of teachers impacted by their district’s parental leave policies.
Julie Levey of The Spence School, New York, New York, for “Pioneering Chasidic Woman Returns To Israel As Tenure-Track Professor.”
This article told a very personal story of someone in a unique position. The writer did a good job of hooking us into the piece – we ultimately felt like we had a conversation with the subject of the article herself.
Charlie Jin of Joseph Wheeler High School, Marietta, Georgia, for “The Future of Digital Entertainment | Unreal Engine 4.”
This was a very detailed article by a budding “subject matter expert.” The topic chosen was very niche, but the writer made it relatable with his highly engaging writing style. One could read (and even feel) the writer’s sheer enthusiasm for the tech platform described in the article, and could see through the writer’s eyes (and screenshots) the potential unlocked by this product.
Chloe McConnell of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “World Health Organization declares gaming addiction a health disorder.”
The chosen topic was interesting and highly relevant when there is an increasing focus on mental health disorders. The article was well-written and the writer’s coverage of the topic was insightful and nuanced.
Zachary Khouri of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Halloween haunts cultural minorities.”
The issue of cultural appropriation is an important one, and the writer did a great job capturing and verbalizing his own emotions and those of his interviewees. The article also offered good insight into the fine line between cultural appropriation and appreciation.
FEATURE WRITING, TEAM REPORTING
FIRST PLACE: Southwest Shadow staff, Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada, for “Utterly Overbooked.”
This was a finely selected topic with a wide scope of coverage that included interviews with multiple generations, practical advice, and sources.
SECOND PLACE: Anjini Grover, Humza Qazi, and Greycen Ren of Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Veiled in Vapor.”
The team thoroughly covered a timely and sensitive topic, which included an addicted student’s perspective and solutions.
Sraavya Sambara, Daniel Shen, Elisa Fang, Taylor Atienza and Michael Han of Doughterty Valley High School, San Ramon, California, for “SRVEA and SRVUSD “strike” up a conversation.”
This in-depth article provided very detailed explanations and provided the reader insight on a negotiation process.
Gianncarlo Hernandez and Andrea Zagal of Jersey Village High School, Houston, Texas, for “1991 graduate receives second Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News.”
The reader can understand how difficult a professional photographer’s career can be thanks to this insightful interview.
Katelynn Ngo, Alfonso Pitco III, Andrea Sun and Renee Wang of Homestead High School, Cupertino, California, for “The iceberg metaphor.”
The team maturely dug into several highly sensitive and timely topics with intimate interviews.
FIRST PERSON ESSAY
FIRST PLACE: Julie Heng of Huron High School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, for “People-watching.”
This essay is enchanting. A coming of age that most people have experienced: the entry to adulthood. This young adult expresses the joy juxtaposed with anxiety that is the first real job. Ms. Heng manages to take the random moments of life into a framework of thoughts that cross a keen young mind. Her prose has the rhythm of poetry.
SECOND PLACE: Luke Ashworth of Bristol Eastern High School, Bristol, Connecticut, for “My Methodist church suddenly feels a lot less like a family.”
A powerful argument against the hypocrisy of a church that embraces fellowship yet denies gay marriage and appointment to the clergy. The author shows the evolution (or lack of it) in the formation of the doctrine and how decisions were made. As an “insider” the criticism of church doctrine reflects deep sincerity; embodied in this essay is a balanced cry for reform.
HONORABLE MENTION: Natalie Fraser of Alaska Teen Media Institute for “Hard to Shut Up.”
This was a deeply personal journey into teen depression and an account of how it was conquered. The prospect of losing a voice was a reminder of how life is worth living. Very capable writing!
MULTIMEDIA FEATURES, INDIVIDUAL REPORTING
FIRST PLACE: Ally Tauber of McKinney High School, McKinney, Texas, for “Barney’s Ring.”
Really beautiful piece. The video quality and cinematography were great, narration was paced well, interviews were well done and helped us understand the story. This is close to broadcast news quality – just need some refining and polishing on the lower third graphics and some other elements. Congratulations!
SECOND PLACE: Mandy Hitchcock of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “The Plight of the Bumblebee.”
Kha’ Lea Wainwright of Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Choir.”
Cornilius Nelson of Alaska Teen Media Institute, Anchorage, Alaska, for “Sound over silence.”
Ava Richards of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Passions ignored while choosing a college major.”
Bella Reeves of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch leaves its community feeling gourd.”
Kate Schrieber of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “KHS students discuss Synesthesia.”
Ayah Ali-Ahmad of Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, California, for “Selfie factories.”
MULTIMEDIA FEATURES, TEAM REPORTING
FIRST PLACE: Kimberly Mitchell, Miles Ozorio, Emma Romanowsky, Molly Donaldson, Emma O’Connor, Anna Feng, Maddy Ting, Miki Nguyen and Veronica Roseborough of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Save the Music 2019.”
A complete package and great collaboration telling the story of how an effort to save music education has become a community tradition in the form of a festival. Good mix of reporting, photography and video.
SECOND PLACE: Khera Goss and Tierra Williams of Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Jerrian 7.”
Excellent job getting compelling interviews with the athlete and his family, including photos from his harrowing time in the hospital.
Leni Steinhardt and Ivy Lam of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, for “A day in the life of an MSD freshman.”
MULTIMEDIA NEWS INDIVIDUAL
The reporter focused on three students who led a small group of young people who took part in the Kansas City climate strike. The story included individual interviews with the three as well as footage from the strike. Good mix of interviews and visuals.
SECOND PLACE: Ryan Gossick of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Harmon Skatepark Rebuilding.”
Excellent job of covering a story out in the community with great footage of the park – even drone photography – and coverage that captured the public meeting. Good interview with the skatepark builder, but we missed out on hearing the critical voices of the young people who will use the park.
MULTIMEDIA NEWS TEAM
FIRST PLACE: Brianna Cheng, Maddy Ting, Zachary Khouri, Miki Nguyen and Auva Soheili of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “When a Tower Falls.”
SECOND PLACE: Laynee Spidell and Airamee DeBoodt of Thomas Jefferson High School, Council Bluffs, Iowa, for “Iowa Caucus and the candidates visiting CB.”
Zachari Khouri and Rachel McCrea of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Carlmont Students Shed a Light on the Abortion Debate.”
Ashley Ferrer and Darian Williams of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida, for “High School Nation hosts ‘Pop-up pep rally’ in the courtyard.”
MULTIMEDIA SPORTS INDIVIDUAL REPORTING
FIRST PLACE: Hannah Baines of Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “Football hype.”
This is a tough category to judge because both entries are very good. The reason Hannah is receiving my decision for first place is the way she handled the audio. Audio is 50% of a good video. Both entries had good live audio, a good choice of music, and a steady camera for good visuals.
SECOND PLACE: Tierra Williams of Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “AJ Hassel.”
Tierra comes in second because of the loudness of the music when Alijawon was being interviewed. If the music level was a bit lower, viewers could better understand what Alijawon was saying. We liked Tierra’s use of words keeping to the beat of the music. Both girls did an excellent job with their entries.
MULTIMEDIA SPORTS TEAM REPORTING
FIRST PLACE: Dalton Reck and Ben Henschel of Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Face-Off S3: Episode 2/Memphis”
Great interview with the coach. You can see that there is a reason for interviewing him, a story behind this video piece. Good visuals. We would have liked to hear less music in the background during the interviews. Music is a bit loud. Please shorten future video pieces. Just because you have content does not mean you need to use it all. Looks like you were trying to fill in visuals to match the songs. After 3-4 minutes people tend to stop watching these types of pieces. Otherwise, Dalton and Ben did a really good job.
SECOND PLACE: Camden Frankfather, Drew White and Ryan Pierce of Franklin Road Academy, Nashville, Tennessee, for “FRA Winter Sports 1 & 2.”
This would have been better with a story line.
NEWS STORY, INDIVIDUAL REPORTING
FIRST PLACE: Aubree Puckett of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “KCS discovers lead in water fountains.”
An important health story well researched, well crafted, with quotes from students and teachers.
SECOND PLACE: Aylin Salahifar of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Thanksgiving in the Tenderloin.”
A community feature that doesn’t shy away from exploring all sides of the issue.
Bethany Hardy of Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Alumna Fights Trump Ban.”
A story that takes on a complex national issue and localizes it by finding an alumna source and giving her voice a platform.
Bronte Roltsch of McKinney High School, McKinney, Texas, for “District Takes on Vaping Problem with Prevention Measures.”
A good policy explainer with a thorough overview of the positive and negative effects. Takes a national story and gives a local on-the-ground view.
Henri Robbins of William Mason High School in Mason, Ohio, for “School Board Unanimously Votes to put new levy on 2020 ballot.”
Government coverage is not always glamorous. But it is important and it’s vital that it be done well. This story gets it right by making a complicated issue understandable even for readers unfamiliar with the topic.
NEWS STORY, TEAM REPORTING
FIRST PLACE: Sraavya Sambara, Vivian Kuang, Sanjana Ranganathan, Michael Han and Sneha Cheenath of Dougherty Valley High School, San Ramon, California, for “San Ramon housing crisis prices teachers out.”
We were blown away by the scope of this piece, the clear writing and use of graphics. This is simply excellent journalism.
SECOND PLACE: Kaitlyn Sabb and Julie Heng of Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for “I was so scared.”
A riveting story that brings home how America’s immigration policies affect students and families. The details really snapped in this story, the woman with the pink hair speaking English, the dad running an errand to the Home Depot. You could see it and feel it.
Dara Rosen, Brianna Fisher and Hannah Kapoor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, for “Students and teachers protest after four faculty members are reassigned and replaced by Superintendent Robert Runcie.”
In another year, this story might have won the category. Strong spot news reporting with good quotes and sharp detail.
Anne Brandes, Erin Choi, Daniel Chen, Suan Lee, Mai Hoang and Rachel Won of Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire, for “College Counseling Process, Privilege Examined.”
This is another strong entry, examining whether the college counseling office at an elite boarding school serves students equally. The story asks whether students assigned to a particular counselor have an advantage over the others, and how choices are made for assigning counselors. The authors never really find the answer, but they point to a troubling lack of transparency at the school.
FIRST PLACE: Danielle Amir-Lobel of La Jolla Country Day School, La Jolla, California, for “Coding Bodies and Hip Size.”
This op-ed covers a topic that often appears in student publications, but Amir-Lobel’s is original and unique. She approached the topic from the perspectives of racism, sexism and the hypocrisy of teachers using flawed standards to judge student appearance. She employed a powerful personal anecdote that is so relevant and invoked professional sources to support her claims; this is important even in an opinion piece. Ms. Amir-Lobel will be a valuable journalist if she chooses to become one.
SECOND PLACE: Henri Robbins of William Mason High School, Mason, Ohio, for “Science Humanizes Us.”
This talented writer employs a very novel approach to opinion writing; a sermonic style. We could hear him recite this as we read! He so rightly reminds us of the value of perseverance in the exploration of space. He uses the Rover vehicles as a metaphor for the amazing success of the space program. In 2020 we need some of the optimism embodied in this op-ed. Above all, this man can write!
Montana Lee of The Bronx High School of Science, Bronx, New York, “The NYCDOE Overstepped Its Authority By Openly Supporting the NYC Climate strike.”
This op-ed is the product of a fine mind. The author makes a powerful case for a poor example of administrative meddling. We hope she has time to read The Prince by Machiavelli; her opinion of the worth of committees reminds us of that book. The argument that it is possible to subvert protest by a false embrace of principles is a lesson we need to learn.
Lina Temzini of the French School of Bahrain for “New Quebec law on display of religious symbols hurts Canada.”
This article is a refutation of the law banning displays of religion enacted in Canada. It is argued with restraint and logic. It has the power to wake readers up and make them see another side of secularism. It is supported by sources and will make a reader think. Bravo!
FIRST PLACE: Maddy Ting, Zachary Khouri, and Miki Nguyen of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Queer Time S2E3: Who am I?”
Queer time’s episode on “Who am I?” added nuance to the concept of pigeonholing due to one’s gender or sexual identity preferences; often others’ labels work as the starting point for developing one’s identity. The podcast discussed this in an open and passionate way.
SECOND PLACE: Ben Bowler and Cheryl Chen of Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Standardized tests.”
This is a perennial issue that affects many students in considering their educational path. The article covers highlights of pro and con positions in a way that is relevant for fellow students, as well as potentially a larger audience. This is no easy topic to cover when it has been discussed already in so many ways.
HONORABLE MENTION: Emily Lu and Emily Kang of Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Plastered in Plastic.”
The opinion piece covers a very timely issue; our environmental protection efforts have not made a great dent on what we as humans have done to the Earth. Yet, as the article shows, just reducing plastic waste is not an easy issue. The need for a holistic initiative is important, and the article brings attention to that.
PHOTOGRAPHY, INDIVIDUAL PHOTO ESSAY
FIRST PLACE: Lina Temzini of the French School of Bahrain for “Beauty abounds in Venice.”
A delightful essay with absolutely beautiful imagery. Lina’s images, in addition to being technically excellent, are composed wonderfully and bring to the reader the essence of Venice. She took us along with her down the canals and we could almost taste the pizza and desserts. Beautifully executed.
SECOND PLACE: Ryleigh Emmert of Lewiston High School, Lewiston, Maine, for “Pride offers fun, food and information.”
Wonderful, fun Pride piece. We love the playfulness of the opening photo. Pride has always been as much about love and life as it is about activism. Great compositions, technically well executed and informative.
Rachel Lenchner of Dos Pueblos High School, Goleta, California, for “School Spirit.”
Lots of smiles and excitement, which is the very meaning of school spirit! Love “Homecoming” and all the images which perfectly describe school spirit in many different ways.
Bethany Hardy of Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Football.”
While we would have liked to have seen a photo of the spectators, this essay brings home the impact of high school football with a powerful lead photo.
PHOTOGRAPHY, PHOTO ESSAY TEAM
FIRST PLACE: Mariana Ramirez, Landry Raymond, Esmeralda Sosa and Branden Svevo of McKinney High School, McKinney, Texas, for “Lions defeat Broncos again, 10-7.”
What great photography! Excellent compositions captured amazing expressions and decisive moments.
SECOND PLACE: Esmeralda Sosa, Branden Svevo, Mariana Ramirez and Elizabeth Chan of McKinney High School, McKinney, Texas, for “That ‘70s Hoco.”
Angles are excellent and creative.
Kayla Thompson, Landry Raymond and Mariana Ramirez of McKinney High School, McKinney, Texas, for “Lions advance to round two of playoffs for first time since 1994.”
Ivy Hansen, Mariela Vargas, Jackie Orozco, Gianncarlo Hernandez, Nallely Govea and Andrea Zagal of Jersey Village High School, Houston, Texas, for “Fine Arts Festival showcases multiple talents.”
FIRST PLACE: Francesca D’Urzo of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Sam Stampleman dances into the hearts of the San Francisco Ballet.”
Shows the journalist took initiative to find a creative, timely and unique story angle. The strongest image from the collection was the main image with the striped window lighting. The dancer’s body is perfectly placed in its setting, striking in its composition, the contrast of the sun and shade and the seamless way the dancer fits into the background. There is a softness to it despite the harsh, contrasting lines breaking up the space. He was caught at a good moment, as the toes and fingertips are in a nice position, and body lines are exemplary of the dancer’s talent. The technical success is that there is detail in both the brighter areas and darker shadows, balanced like the dancer in his pose.
SECOND PLACE: Landry Raymond of McKinney High School, McKinney, Texas, for “Lions defeat Broncos again, 10-7.”
Excellent capture of emotional expression, very close proximity, viewer feels part of the energy. This is the kind of image that sells papers. It’s eye-catching, alive, crackling with excitement, well-lit, great color contrast and not only is there an intensely strong main subject, the eye travels through the image to find countless other great expressions. The moment was captured at just the right time, getting the story across instantly.
Mariana Ramirez of McKinney High School, McKinney, Texas, for “That ’70s Hoco.”
The juxtaposition of emotion in this photo gives such a subtle humor and sticks with the viewer. Very good storytelling, and brings an emotional reaction.
Christine Berberian of El Camino Real Charter High School, Woodland Hills, California, for “Make way for the king and queen.”
Excellent lighting, background and composition. Great color. The entire image evokes the feeling of the moment, and even feels nostalgic. Could almost be an advertisement for a show about high school.
Elizabeth Chan of McKinney High School, McKinney, Texas, for “Photo of the Week: 9.4.19.”
Great capture of expression and the moment.
David Dablo of El Camino Real Charter High School, Woodland Hills, California, for “Carnival celebrates 50th anniversary.”
Wonderful angle, very interesting to imagine where it’s taken from and how it was made! Emotional expression of the riders is great, a good range of feelings is shown. Eye-catching color, perfectly placed sun, it says summer, and fun and all nice things. Lovely bokeh blur in the background. Ideal time of day for lighting.
Kate Nixon of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Life is never a drag at Hamburger Mary’s.”
Excellent title to tell a story, and very strong image. The composition is unique in the angle and creates interest.
PHOTOGRAPHY, NEWS PHOTO
FIRST PLACE: Annakate Dilks of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Poppy.”
A great moment, strong composition, lovely interaction. It’s not easy to get the timing on something like this exactly right and in this case, the photographer nailed it.
SECOND PLACE: Chris Patino of El Camino Real Charter High School, Woodland Hills, California, for “Dry Town Water Park hosts rainy Senior Picnic.”
Good composition. The water slide curves through the frame guiding the eye and the people in the slide have a great expression.
Annakate Dilks of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Halloween” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”
Both images make excellent use of tricky light. We like the expression in “Halloween” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” is a very nice photo from a theatrical production.
Kayla Thompson of McKinney High School, McKinney, Texas, for “Photo of the Week” of a drummer.
It was smart to make the photo from the angle chosen, putting the reader right into the drum set. It is an excellent example of thinking outside the box. It’s a wonderful approach to photographing a drummer. Two things held it back – the lights on the right making contact with the drumstick and the drummer looking right into the lens.
PHOTOGRAPHY, PHOTO ILLUSTRATION
FIRST PLACE: Gracie Flanary of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “New books?”
Gracie put thought and creativity into how to present this image.
SECOND PLACE: ShayLeigh Honaker of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Raining money.”
A fun illustration.
PHOTOGRAPHY, SPORTS PHOTO
FIRST PLACE: Lauren Bocanegra of Jersey Village High School, Houston, Texas, for “Exuding a fierce demeanor.”
Powerful image of competitive spirit, exceptionally well composed. Lauren’s image allows the viewer to be the opposing player facing a mighty challenger.
SECOND PLACE: Elizabeth Chan of McKinney High School, McKinney, Texas, for “Lions defeat Broncos again, 10-7.”
The drive to win, regardless of the sport, is not limited to the players on the field as this image confirms. Just as powerful as a player taking the ball to the goal line, this well composed image demonstrates the investment the spectators make into winning the game. Fantastic emotion!
Landry Raymond of McKinney High School, McKinney, Texas, for “Photo of the Week 1.30.20.”
Terrific action image with all the right elements to let the reader know there is a face-off between the opposing players. Excitement builds as we wonder, who took possession of the ball!
Kate Nixon of Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas, for “Keeping Focus.”
Beautifully composed, this image demands our attention just as the gymnast focuses her attention.
Julia Knoll of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Top five photos of 2019.”
Well-executed action image.
Jullie Martins of Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Soccer Photo.”
Great action photo!
FIRST PLACE: Micah Maynard of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “Student looks back on brush with plague.”
Micah did a fantastic job here of building a captivating narrative arc that draws in the reader and pulls them through this fascinating profile of a student who was infected with the bubonic plague. The way Micah balances basic background information about the bubonic plague and the student’s personal story made this a great read. Well done!
SECOND PLACE: Eleanor Buskey of Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Dolan recovers and expresses gratitude.”
Eleanor wrote a touching profile of a teacher recovering after an accident. We were particularly impressed by the way the interviews with students and the teacher showed the impact of this accident on the class. Great job!
HONORABLE MENTION: Ally Ortmann of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Dogs of Kirkwood: Levi.”
Ally wrote a great piece about a service dog named Levi. The writing in this piece is crisp and clear and the piece does a wonderful job of illustrating what the job of service dog looks like. Well done!
FIRST PLACE: Ayah Ali-Ahmad of Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, California, for “Dessert Detectives: Icing on the Cake.”
The author clearly has an appreciation for food and baked goods, but they don’t write a review that is so filled with baking jargon that it is inaccessible to the average person who just wants to know if they’ll enjoy the dessert or not. We appreciate, especially, that even though the author obviously rates this bakery highly, they do not “gush.”
SECOND PLACE: Maya Kim, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Rush Bowls review.”
This review is balanced and takes into account why Rush Bowls may not be for anyone, while identifying the factors that make it a shop worth visiting for some.
Samyukta Iyer of Joseph Wheeler High School, Marietta, Georgia, for “Dragon-Con 2019 Parade Highlights An Electrifying Mixture of Fandom.”
Julia Jauregui of Southwest Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada, for “Piece together a dream zoo with ‘Wildscapes.’”
REVIEWS, INDIVIDUAL, FILM AND THEATER
FIRST PLACE: Yunkyo Moon Kim of Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, for “Roma is beautiful and cruel.”
Yunkyo’s review not only maps out the story of Alfonso Cuaron’s masterpiece, but insightfully sifts through the films themes surrounding race, class, and gender. Yunkyo’s incredibly thoughtful writeup of a complex and subtle film made me revisit Roma in my mind. Very well done and a deserved first place.
SECOND PLACE: Amina Dalal of Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “More than just music.”
The power of Amina’s review of Blinded by the Light comes not only from her astute assessment of the strengths of the film, but the personal slant that Amina deploys that personalizes her writing. The case made for representation in filmmaking was touching and insightful.
HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie Jin of Joseph Wheeler High School, Marietta, Georgia, for “The Rise of Skywalker” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
Charlie’s two reviews show that he is a quality writer and a passionate consumer of film. Both reviews were lengthy – not a crime – but often felt like they were reaching a closing and then kept going. Although a small complaint, we read both all the way through noting his contagious affection for filmmaking. Charlie is a talent to watch.
FIRST PLACE: Lindsay McCarthy of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “’IGOR’ Review.”
SECOND PLACE: Sophie Chappell of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Songs of the Summer.”
FIRST PLACE: Ayal Meyers of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Bernice Orwig is not your average coach.”
A thorough look at the coach’s journey.
SECOND PLACE: Hayden Davidson of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “JMac: Back to where it all started.”
Jeremy MacLin’s life story is well told and helps the reader relate to the former NFL star.
Samantha Hennessy of Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Jennifer Hollis.”
Samantha got her subjects to open up, which led to an insightful feature.
Larissa Combs of Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, for “End of an era.”
An interesting look at how family dynamics can shape an individual.
SPORTS FEATURE TEAM
FIRST PLACE: Ben Bowler, Janice Lee and Myles Woodman of Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Play It Forward.”
Individual stories combined with good data effectively bring this issue to light.
SECOND PLACE: Nellie Maloney, Sailaja Nallacheruvu and Jasmine Sun of Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Running on Fumes.”
An important issued tackled through a local lens.
SPORTS NEWS INDIVIDUAL
FIRST PLACE: Benji Wilton, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Astronomical Fraud.”
Great scene-setting, three-paragraph lede – “Bang.” “Bang.” – to a clever (like the headline), insightful opinion piece. How strong is the opinion? In case you missed the point that the Houston Astros created, we get a simple, “There is no question.” sentence. Beyond opining, we get a solution: “MLB commissioner Rob Manfred must drop the hammer on the Astros.” In between is filled with facts detailing the entire situation from both sides. A great read.
SECOND PLACE: Henri Robbins, William Mason High School, Mason, Ohio, for “2019 Western and Southern Open.”
The lede simply and succinctly tells you what’s coming – a local story about a big-time tennis tournament impacting a small-town community. And vice versa. After getting the nuts and bolts out of the way – who won – the storytelling begins and covers all angles. A local high school student details becoming a volunteer “Ball Kid.” A tournament executive regales with anecdotes of players connecting with Mason by visiting the amusement park and restaurants. And one of the tournament’s biggest names calls the event, “…the closest thing I’ll have to a hometown tournament.” Perfect.
Esmeralda Sosa of McKinney High School, McKinney, Texas, for “Kaylee Lewis Swims Butterfly.”
This “Photo of the Week” gives credence to the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Kaylee’s arms are back, hands extended, and she’s caught gasping for air during that split second her head’s above water.
FIRST PLACE: Camille Carter of John Sevier Middle School, Kingsport, Tennessee, for “School spirit is about more than just making noise.”
Nice job of documenting examples of school spirit. You don’t just tell people that it goes beyond cheering at sports events, you list ways (including some that you dug deeply for) they can show
school spirit! This is a very good topic and a smart way to tackle it. Camille’s strong conclusion ties the opinion together. Effective use of studies to back up the points, but naming specific studies beyond the Harris one, would have made it even stronger.
SECOND PLACE: Hayden Davidson of Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Missouri, for “Making the case for a St. Louis NBA team.”
Well documented, constructed and well written. Hayden did an excellent job of laying out all the factors, separating sub-sections and using lists to explore all angles. Great use of maps and graphics to illustrate facts. Nice hyperlinking throughout the story to quickly provide the reader with supporting information. Since market size is such an important element of the thesis, consider including comparative market size information about all the other markets mentioned as possibilities for getting an NBA team and those current teams that might move.
Bayarmaa Bat-Erdene of Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Played, Not Paid.”
This opinion piece is framed very well. It’s an informative, thorough review of the topic. The graphics are a nice touch and a good supplement to the text. Knowing what advocates of the other side of the argument suggest would have been instructive for the reader.
Miles Ozorio of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, for “Opinion: Warriors make NBA boring.”
Miles used a nice creative approach and showed strong writing skill with choices of words and phrases. We enjoyed the accompanying tweets and graphics. This piece could have used historical sports examples – when have past dynasty teams in sports been boring – to better support the argument.
FIRST PLACE: Danielle DuClos, Daisy Carter, Devin Shreckengost, Zane Penny, Cornilius Nelson, Kendrick Whiteman, Logan Smith, Kelly Wages and Haaheo Kanohokula of the Alaska Teen Media Institute, Anchorage, Alaska, for “The Leo Network.”
This was a thoughtful and well-produced piece, and there was a good balance of narration, interview, live footage, and animation. The topic is relevant and the situation overall is pretty compelling. To take this piece to the next level, it would be good to look at the storytelling elements and try to highlight them so that the video doesn’t feel like an info session on Alaska and/or LEO Network.
SECOND PLACE: Myles Woodman of Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, for “Sensational Socials.”
HONORABLE MENTION: Jeremy Parke of Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Harwich, Massachusetts, for “Making the Right Call.”
Note to student journalists and teachers: We’ll be doing this contest again next year for stories written in English between Jan. 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020 by students 19 and under. Think about what you can do to win and then do it! There are many categories – and we’re open to creating new ones – and plenty of opportunities to bring your work to our attention.
Please be aware that while entries must have been published, they do not have to appear in a school newspaper. Especially in this time when so many schools are closed, it is important to note that pieces, pictures and cartoons published on blogs and other public venues are eligible. The only requirements are that stories must be in English, created someone 19 or younger who is not working professionally and have been published somewhere.