Students honored for excellence in journalism

July 2014…Four Healthy NewsWorks journalists received awards for their outstanding work during the 2013-2014 school year. Eighth-graders Amaya Bankowski, Rebecca Morris, and Randee Wismer received Distinguished Journalist Awards for their leadership qualities and dedication to their respective school newspapers. Eleazar Hill, also an eighth-grade student, won Most Determined Player award for his numerous contributions to the Healthy NewsWorks program.

Kathleen Shallow, an instructional support teacher who works with Amaya, Rebecca, and Eleazar on Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy’s Healthy Panther newspaper, reflected on the students’ accomplishments this year. “It’s amazing how much they’ve done,” she said. “They are true leaders in this school.”

She pointed to Amaya’s work beyond her traditional reporting responsibilities as an example of the leadership qualities the award-winners possess. When Eisenhower fifth-graders received permission to start a jean drive for homeless shelters in the Norristown area, Amaya not only led the drive but also researched shelters and organized deliveries. She also wrote a story for the Healthy Panther to publicize the drive and solicit donations.

Ms. Shallow also praised Rebecca’s leadership on the Healthy Panther staff. “She was a quiet student when she joined the newspaper but has blossomed into a mature young adult over the last two years.” Rebecca worked diligently on an interview for a video segment about cholesterol. She researched the topic and the speaker, prepared interview questions, and spoke confidently on camera with Dr. Walter Tsou, a past president of the American Public Health Association.

Another key contributor to the Healthy Panther this year was Eleazar Hill, said Ms. Shallow. “Eleazar always follows through and is always prepared,” she said. As a relatively new member of the staff, Eleazar contributed regularly to the newspaper and was an active participant in the 3rd edition of Leading Healthy Change in our Communities.

The final Distinguished Journalist Award was presented to Randee Wismer, an eighth grader at East Norriton Middle School. As she completed her second year with East Norriton’s Bulldog Bulletin, Randee’s teacher praised her initiative and drive as a reporter. “She’s very creative and does a nice job of paying attention to grammar rules while being able to capture things in a creative way,” said Vicki Strickland, a teacher of gifted students at East Norriton and supervising staff for the Bulldog Bulletin. Randee conducted interviews for Leading Healthy Change in our Communities through Skype, demonstrating her command of technology and innovative approach to reporting. She also took on complex projects, such as a press conference about a watershed project that attracted local legislators. “She has so many different strengths in so many different areas,” said Ms. Strickland. “I really can’t wait to follow her and see what she’s going to do.”

Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners.


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