Six reporters receive 2015 Distinguished Journalist Award

June 2015…Six eighth-grade Healthy NewsWorks reporters have received this year’s Distinguished Journalist Award for their outstanding work for their healthy newspapers. The winners are Cecily Ritchie of East Norriton Middle School, Alyse Nichols and Isaiah Outlaw of Hope Partnership for Education, Jordan Wright and Lawrence Richardson of St. Martin de Porres, and Julia Olszewski of James Dobson Elementary School.

All reporters have been leaders on their school papers, and all have participated in the “Leading Healthy Change” book project. They have gone above and beyond in their participation of the Healthy NewsWorks program.

Cecily Ritchie – East Norriton Middle School (shown above)

Cecily Ritchie has served for four years on her school paper, the Bulldog Bulletin. She has also worked on “Leading Healthy Change” for the past three years. “It isn’t just Cecily’s flair for writing that makes her stand out on the Bulldog Bulletin newspaper staff, it is also her strong leadership qualities,” said Victoria Strickland, the paper’s faculty advisor. “Cecily has a knack for stepping into situations where people need help and offering whatever support they need. There have been multiple times in the past where I have noticed her assisting other journalists on everything from story ideas to interview tips.”

Alyse Nichols and Isaiah Outlaw – Hope Partnership for Education

Alyse Nichols and Isaiah Outlaw have each spent three years on their school paper, the Healthy Hope, plus have worked on “Leading Healthy Change” for the past three years. Alyse and her grandmother were interviewed by WHYY-FM based on a story she wrote about helping her grandmother with diabetes, and Isaiah was a 2-year presenter at the book-signing event.

The school’s CEO, Sister Rose Martin, and the paper’s faculty advisor, Brittany Holiday, have noticed that since Isaiah has been a part of Healthy Hope, he takes initiative, is never reluctant to ask questions or share experiences and is a much better conversationalist. Also, he has improved tremendously in public speaking skills.  They said, “The warmth of Isaiah’s personality has really been enhanced by the communication skills that he has learned. A great example of Isaiah becoming a journalist is an experience that we all had at Overbrook Country Club. Isaiah posed a relevant question to the speaker, an accomplished author. Isaiah was one of the few people in the room filled with over 100 guests, who had the courage to ask a question. Healthy NewsWorks has given Isaiah the confidence that will accompany him through his high school years.”

They also commented on how Alyse is a “go to” student at Hope, and how she knows how to communicate with adults and how to conduct herself in a variety of situations with grace.  “The high point of Alyse’s involvement with Healthy NewsWorks,” they said, “was the opportunity to share her family story on WHYY’s progam The Pulse. This experience is a touchstone for her. She refers to it whenever she talks about journalism and what inspires her. As someone who is interested in history and who wants to be a brain surgeon, Healthy NewsWorks has given her the impetus to pursue her goals.”

Jordan Wright and Lawrence Richardson – St. Martin de Porres

This was only St. Martin de Porres’ first year with Healthy NewsWorks, but they certainly had some terrific reporters for their paper, the Healthy Saint. Jordan Wright drew four pictures that appeared in the 2015 “Leading Healthy Change” book.  And Lawrence Richardson was focused and attentive throughout the year, serving as a leader and role-model for his fellow reporters. The faculty advisor for the Healthy Saint, Maria Dana, said, “Jordan was the consummate young reporter this year. Our highly gifted, ‘go-to’ illustrator, he never declined a request – often at short notice – to create an illustration. His illustrations capture the essence of an idea or theme. Moreover, he contributed to news stories and met deadlines.” And of Lawrence she said, he “demonstrated a level of professionalism beyond his years. Always attentive, on-task, and respectful, Lawrence modeled an unparalleled example of courtesy in his work as a reporter. He worked conscientiously in pursuit of interviews and then produced timely articles.”

Julia Olszewski – James Dobson Elementary School

Julia Olszewski has spent two years on her school paper, the Fit Fin. She also illustrated the cover of the 2015 “Leading Healthy Change” book and was featured in a newsletter produced by the School District of Philadelphia’s Strategic Partnership Office.  Kathleen Turner, the newspaper’s faculty advisor at James Dobson Elementary School said, “The thing that I admire most about Julia is her creativity and drive to learn new things. She isn’t afraid to ask questions and challenge herself to her highest potential. Julia’s artistic talent was a true asset to the entire book initiative because that talent gave the book its amazing cover!”

Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners for their exemplary work.


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