Students were honored with nine awards at the National High School Journalism Convention, including a breakthrough prize for one High School newspaper and a surprise honor for an upstart Middle Form publication.
In a crowded and competitive field of 5000 student journalists and advisers from around the country, three Convent & Stuart Hall student-run publications were honored for excellence, while staff writers picked up several individual awards at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco, April 12-14.
Convent High School was one of 11 schools nationally to earn the First Amendment Press Freedom Award for having student publication editors make all content decisions, with their judgment backed by the administration — even if they do not always agree.
To apply for this award, all editors of student publications, adviser Tracy Sena and Head of School Rachel Simpson were questioned about Convent's practice of allowing students to exercise their First Amendment rights. Only three private schools nationwide have ever received this prestigious award, and it is the fourth time Convent has received it.
Stuart Hall High School's student newspaper, The Roundtable, and its sister publication, The Broadview, were recognized for general excellence, receiving second and third place prizes, respectively, in the Best of Show category for newspaper tabloid. The Broadview has now placed in the top three 13 times since 2002.
"Placing in the top 10 in Best of Show has been a goal of Owen Fahy and Nick Hom for the past two years, so their hearts were really in this competition," Tracy, who is also the scholastic journalism & media director at Convent & Stuart Hall, says of The Roundtable editors-in-chief, both of whom are seniors. "Their dedication is amazing!"
In a surprise pick, the newly-launched Convent Elementary newspaper, The Red & White, placed second in the Junior High/Middle School Newspaper field. "I didn't know if a two-page in-house tabloid could compete in this category against more well-established programs, but evidently they can," Tracy says.
Five students garnered individual awards for outstanding achievement in their respective categories for work submitted at breakout sessions held during the conference.
- Claire Kosewic (Gr. 12): Editorial Writing, Honorable Mention
- Josie Rozzelle (Gr. 11): Sports Writing, Superior
- Cat Webb-Purkis (Gr. 10): Editorial Cartooning, Honorable Mention
- Asha Khanna (Gr. 12): Commentary Writing, Excellent
- Emily Kanellos (Gr. 11): Yearbook Copy/Caption Writing (Student Life), Honorable Mention
Seniors Asha Khanna and Claire Kosewic, The Broadview editors-in-chief, took the front of the room to lead a 45-minute session, "Breaking: Chaos Ensues," on covering news in real-time. They talked about their strategies for covering recent events, including the National School Walkout. "Our students have achieved success through their grit, determination and love of storytelling — both in words and visually," Tracy adds.
Student involvement in scholastic journalism and media — through newspapers, yearbooks and video production — has continued to expand, with the new Publications Lab acting as the hub. "There's a synergy that's taking place with the different publications together in the same space," Tracy says. This is the first year that students from all four divisions have together attended a national conference, another sign, according to Tracy, that the school as a whole values student voices and self-advocacy.
Photo credit: Tracy Sena