2018 Social Justice Reporting

1. Ysa Leon, Ella Treinen
To all my friends who break the cycle
On the Record, duPont Manual High School
Louisville, Kentucky
This article concerns the Y-NOW Children of Prisoners Program, a program that strives to keep children with incarcerated parents out of the Justice System. The program has been 91 percent successful so far, but is in dire need of mentors as the amount of children facing this issue continues to grow. The article follows a bubbly 11-year-old Antonio and his mentor Eddie through Antonio’s journey away from the trap of the cycle. Because of the article, the reporters have spoken on local TV to educate people about the program and to recruit more mentors. The article has scouted more mentors, and increased education in Louisville on this topic that is rarely discussed. It was included in the publication for these purposes: awareness/education and to recruit mentors in Louisville.

2. Lauren Purdy
Pretty Privilege
The Lodge, St. George’s Independent School
Collierville, Tennessee
“Pretty Privilege” was inspired by the ongoing issue of colorism that exists in today’s society, specifically within the school system, the workplace, and the beauty and entertainment industry. Colorism reflects the subconscious views of society: the closer one is to having white skin, the more socially accepted one is. Advertisements and images portrayed in the media further divides the communities of people of color and foster the idea that light skin is more beautiful than dark skin. In regard to African-Americans living in a world of black and white, colorism is a byproduct of racism that is often overlooked. “Pretty Privilege” shared the experiences of students who were either directly affected by colorism or witnessed it, showing others that it is not a topic that should be avoided. This story was not only written to bring awareness to colorism itself, but also to allow the school community to question their own privilege and to see how much of an impact the color bias has on people of color.

3. Jessie Friedman, Imani McCormick, Siddarth Shankar, Jack Stenzel
Holding On
The Highlander, McLean High School
McLean, Virginia
On the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death, our magazine wanted to explore the ways in which his dream has not yet been fulfilled through the lens of stereotyping. Our school is a vibrant and diverse community with many different backgrounds, but many students opened up to us about their struggle with keeping their cultural identities intact in our scholastic environment. Because of our reporting, we were able to shed a light on racist comments and a lack of cultural appreciation in our school environment, contributing to the beginning stages of re-establishing our school’s international culture night.

4. Obsee Abbajabal
Breaking Barriers
The Black and White, Johnston High School
Johnston, Iowa
Historically, our school’s demographics have been white upperclass. The demographics are changing. Students continue to graduate and come back and tell us that they were “sheltered.” This piece was born of those conversations. We were enthusiastic that people new to the country and who are learning English would trust us with sharing their stories.

5. Noah Brown, Michael Melinger
A City Divided
The Globe, Clayton High School
Clayton, Missouri
Our coverage of the Stockley Protests in St. Louis for the piece “A City Divided” was truly a tone setting moment for the school year. The protests erupted on Sept. 15 in downtown St. Louis after police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of murder charges for the shooting death of the unarmed black man Anthony Lamar Smith. The acquittal activated a strongly connected and mobilized group of citizens who have been vocal about inequality in the St. Louis region since the shooting death of Michael Brown in 2015. The event, and our coverage of it, shaped the conversations that we had in our newsroom about inequality both in St. Louis and at Clayton High School for the remainder of the school year. It was this coverage that furthered our dialogues around the Black Lives Matter movement, the historical displacement of black people in our community, disparity in educational opportunities, the list could honestly go on and on.

HM. Tommy Chan, Devorah Porter
Black Like Me
The Mirror, Van Nuys High School
Van Nuys, California
With all of the violence against African Americans and racism making the news, The Mirror reported an on what it means to be Black at Van Nuys High School and in America today, featuring students who were given the chance to expound on their personal experiences and allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. The impact of the coverage within the school community was to create more debate within classrooms and among students about the current plight of African Americans and the challenges they face on a daily basis. The coverage, which also included interviews with African American faculty members, an article about the MIA Black superintendent of schools, the movies “Black Panther” and “Get Out” and a Black History Concert demonstrated that the publication is a voice for all students at Van Nuys High School.

HM. Hannah Hutchins
Is Eid Equal?
Drops of Ink, Libertyville High School
Libertyville, Illinois
This story was included in our November issue, which had a focus and theme of Diversity. The editors and staff believed it was an important story to include because of the efforts of one student in particular, the girl who is featured prominently in the story, to try and get recognition for the Islamic holiday of Eid by having it be an official day off on the school calendar. Our district recognizes Christian and Jewish holidays, but not the main holiday that Muslims celebrate. There has been no immediate impact of this story within the school community, in terms of the calendar being changed. Next year’s school calendar still does not officially recognize the holiday of Eid, but the group started by the student in the story, the Muslim Holiday Coalition, or Eid in Lake County, is still working on their efforts to receive this recognition.

HM. Macy Landes, Gary Schmidt, Connor Schmaus
Fight transphobia with education
The Budget, Lawrence High School
Lawrence, Kansas
When transgender students were mocked in a senior group message, students at our progressively-minded school were incensed. Students filled the rotunda for a sit-in that lasted nearly an entire school day and drew national attention. Emotions were raw, and covering it was incredibly difficult for this staff. They wanted to shine a light on the hurt and the need for focused attention while also discussing the limits that schools face in disciplining off-campus speech. It’s hard sometimes to cut through the raw emotions but the staff believes their coverage gave voice to the challenges. We have included a few of the stories (although there were more) that we published in print and online to help lead the discussion at LHS.

HM. Emet Celeste-Cohen
Extending the Power of Preschool
The Shakerite, Shaker Heights High School
Shaker Heights, Ohio
Shaker Heights was among the first public school districts in the U.S. to document and then endure scrutiny for a persistent difference in academic achievement among students that has since become known as the achievement gap. This story aimed to compel a conversation in Shaker Heights about what kind of investment in early childhood education might finally mitigate this persistent gap. The district has recently established a pre-school program for a handful of paying families. There is no evidence yet that this story has changed the district’s plans for the size of the program.

HM. Sam Gollob, Maria McHugo, Sam Gollob, Siddarth Shankar, Jeremy Siegel
A Gray Area
The Highlander, McLean High School
McLean, Virginia
In the aftermath of deadly protests by neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, our magazine felt an obligation to cover these events. Living in Virginia, more than 35 students at our school go on to attend the University of Virginia every year, where the protests were centered, and our community felt the impact of these protests very acutely. The ramifications of these protests continued through related controversies, such as the renaming of a high school in our area named after a Confederate general. Our coverage of these events impacted the community by giving a voice to activists campaigning for reforms in society.