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JEA names Pennsylvania student Jenna Spoont National High School Journalist of the Year

A proponent for the First Amendment, Jenna Spoont works to raise awareness of the liberties most Americans take for granted through her work as a student journalist at Conestoga High School in Berwyn, Pa., but her determination in getting to the facts in her writing earned her recognition from the Journalism Education Association’s Scholarship Committee when it selected her as the 2013 National High School Journalist of the Year.

The announcement was made April 27 during the awards ceremony at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco.

Spoont will receive a $3,000 Sister Rita Jeanne Abicht Scholarship recognizing her outstanding work as a high school journalist.

“Jenna’s entry stood out to the judges because her design skills are excellent, her writing strengths were evident and the committee felt inspired by her determination and work ethic,” Wayna Polk, Scholarship Committee chair, said.

“Being a journalist is about telling students and the community what they need to know,” Spoont said, adding that journalism is “undoubtedly the most interesting, ever-changing, unpredictable career.”

During her three years in the journalism classroom, Spoont has told stories about aspiring dancers, adopted families, hopeful immigrants, talented musicians and insominacs and earned the respect of another JOY recipient.

One article in the portfolio stood out. After completing research about the dangers of sexting, Spoont said she wanted to create the most accurate article she could about this pressing issue.

“If I could change one teenager’s decision of sending inappropriate images, then I would feel rewarded for serving my community,” she said.

“Great reporters must not only have the technical ability to create content on different platforms, but also the journalistic know-how to tell the stories, and Jenna has excellent journalistic instinct,” said Henry Rome, 2009 National High School Journalist of the Year and Conestoga High School alumnus.

Her tenacity in getting interviews with some powerful people earned Spoont respect from the 14-member judging committee.

This submission included work in print, radio and television, social media and included examples of her skills in graphics and print design.

Other comments from the judges included:
— “Your videography is an amazing complement to your writing. You are on the scene and get amazing interviews. Inspirational!”
— “You have a clear energy for writing about justice and fairness.”
— “Congrats on a professional and extensive portfolio.”

Spoont’s journalism advisers at Conestoga High School are Susan Houseman, MJE, and Cyndi Crothers-Hyatt, CJE.

Runners-up

    JEA awarded six $1,000 runner-up scholarships to the following students:

  • Kelci Davis, Francis Howell Central High School, St. Charles, Mo.
  • Daniel J. Hersh, St. Mark’s School, Dallas, Texas
  • Micheala Sosby, Chesterton (Ind.) High School
  • Mehanaokala Lee, Kamehameha Schools Maui, Pukalani, Hawaii
  • Evelyn Wang, Palo Alto (Calif.) High School
  • Casey Waughn, MillardNorth High School, Omaha, Neb.
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