June 15, 2021
MINNEAPOLIS — Alam Alidina, of St. Mark’s School of Texas, Dallas, Texas, has been selected as the 2021 winner of the $1,000 Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership from the National Scholastic Press Association.
The national scholarship includes a $1,000 award given to a high school senior on the staff of an NSPA-member newspaper with a minimum 3.5 grade point on a 4.0 scale or equivalent. Wally Wikoff, the scholarship namesake, was NSPA executive director in the 1970s. NSPA has offered the Wally Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership since 1998.
Alidina was a four-year member of the The ReMarker staff, the school’s newspaper. He served as Focus magazine editor his junior year and opinions editor his senior year.
His responsibilities, according to ReMarker adviser Ray Westbrook, included organizing two-to-three editorials each issue, ensuring that personal opinion columns were balanced and pertinent, as well as coordinating other assorted opinion pieces for the three or four pages of opinion content.
Alidina hit the ground running after his selection.
“I went back through years of past editorials to find the ones that stood out. The ones that did, the ones that were enjoyable to read years later, reached beyond the school community to address issues of local and national importance,” he said.
“Through the use of detailed evidence and a measured tone, they were able to convey the unique perspective of students on the cusp of adulthood in a way that was both respectful and direct. But those editorials were few and far between.
“I learned from previous opinion editors that the Editorial Board spent most of its time on on-campus issues, leaving broader topics untouched,” Alidina said.
Before school began, Alidina sent emails to the 12-person Editorial Board asking them to send two pitches — one campus-related and one that had broader social or political implications and to consider a third issue, one which Alidina had selected and which often became the main editorial. He then consolidated those pitches and the initial thoughts on the main topic on a shared document. This served as the agenda for editorial meetings.
Alidina said he felt that move and a shift to evening meetings was a positive one.
“We always had time to select a broader issue for the main editorial, which became a package that used graphics and photography to make the editorial itself more approachable,” he said. “I think my changes resulted both in a more enthusiastic Editorial Board and in editorials that introduced complex topics to the community and stimulated discussion around them.”
Westbrook lauded Alidina for his work. “With each issue of our publication, Alam brought a broad world view of experiences to the table. It was because of his awareness and deep sense of justice that The ReMarker had an opinions section with a clear voice and distinct purpose and inclusivity.”
NSPA, the nation’s largest association of scholastic media, provides training and recognition of achievement to high school and middle school journalists. It serves hundreds students and their advisers with two national conventions each year. NSPA’s renowned Pacemaker Awards honor the top scholastic newspapers, yearbooks, magazines, websites and broadcasts, and its individual awards celebrate student work through dozens of specific categories.