NSPA announces 2016 Wikoff, Honor Roll scholarship recipients

MINNEAPOLIS – Three scholastic newspaper journalists will receive scholarships from the National Scholastic Press Association for their accomplishments in academics and journalism.

Madison Pohlman of Omaha North High Magnet School in Nebraska has been selected as the winner of the $1,000 NSPA Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership from among 25 entrants.

To start her letter of recommendation, Pohlman’s adviser Hillary Aerts-DeVoss said, “Madi is the best newspaper editor I’ve ever had in my 13 years advising and it’s not even close.” She believes it’s her responsibility to tell the important stories of her community regardless of whether or not administrators are pleased.

Nebraska is part of the New Voices movement but the proposed free speech legislation applies only to college students. “Madi will have none of this ridiculousness,” said Aerts-DeVoss. Pohlman reached out to other student editors in her area and they’ve drafted points for the senator who introduced the legislation, arguing the proposed law should include high school students. According to an SPLC article, Pohlman testified in support for the bill in February.

Here’s what the scholarship judge had to say:

In an extremely competitive and diverse field of applicants, Madison Pohlman’s application rose to the top for several key reasons. Aside from her writing skill, which was excellent in terms of clarity, focus and strength, her topic selection demonstrated her understanding of how strong editorials should take on local issues. Her work on school-based topics, such as grading and snow days demonstrated that she’s not afraid to tell truth to power, especially local power, which can be quite scary.

She has demonstrated proficiency and excellence on the state and national level, according to her letter of support. She has earned honors and accolades, ranging in topics from free press contests to NSPA staff awards. She has repeatedly challenged herself to improve as a writer, a leader and a journalist.

Above all, the passion with which her adviser spoke of her was unlike anything I have seen before. The true integral nature of this young woman to her staff, her publication and this field emanated from every word in this letter of support without once bordering on bragging. This is truly the kind of student every adviser wishes he or she could have and as such is worthy of the Wikoff Scholarship.

Read Pohlman’s story submissions:

In recognition of Wally Wikoff’s service to the National Scholastic Press Association as its executive director in the 1970s, NSPA has offered the Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership since 1998. Entrants must submit three published editorials and must also possess at least a 3.5 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale. A recommendation letter from the publication adviser is also required.

Fidelity Ballmer, editor-in-chief of The Foothill Dragon Press at Foothill Technology High School in Ventura, California, has been named the winner of the $1,000 NSPA Journalism Honor Roll Scholarship among 31 entries. She has also served for two years as a member of the Association Society of News Editors Youth Journalism Initiative Board. In her essay, Ballmer wrote about covering a bomb threat at her school: “Situations like these have defined my high school experience. They’ve gone on to define me.”

Alexandria Stroh, editor-in-chief of The Mustang Post and Mustang Milestone at West Fargo Sheyenne High School in North Dakota was chosen as runner-up in the Journalism Honor Roll scholarship contest and will receive a $500 scholarship to the University of North Dakota, where she plans to double major in Graphic Design and Communication.

Journalism Honor Roll scholarship applicants must possess a cumulative 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale and also submit an essay on why they plan to pursue a career in journalism. The publication adviser must recommend the applicant.

View 2016 Honor Roll Listing.

Scholarship recipients will be recognized at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention on Saturday, April 16 in Los Angeles.