The Journalism Education Association has named Breanne “Bree” Hunter of Parker, Colorado, its 2014 Aspiring Young Journalist Award honoree. JEA presents this award to junior high/middle school students to acknowledge and reward their work, and to encourage them to continue their journalistic studies in high school.
Alessandra Fama of Altoona, Pennsylvania, was selected as runner-up.
Hunter served two years on the Eagle Eye yearbook staff at Sierra Middle School in Parker, Colorado. She was editor-in-chief during the 2013-2014 school year. Her adviser, Jed Palmer, said that Hunter stood out as a journalist and as a leader.
“Bree has taken on every possible role and responsibility during her two years on my staff and has always done so with passion, energy, commitment and success,” Palmer wrote.
Her fellow staff members echo Palmer’s opinion of Hunter as a hard-working and dedicated yearbook editor. Her staff wrote, “Bree was a huge part of our book this year. She not only provided excellent work, but also was a leader to us. She never let anyone do work that wasn’t up to her standard and also didn’t allow work to not get done.”
“What stood out to the judges about Breanne was her progress over time,” said Rebecca Pollard, chair of the Aspiring Young Journalist Committee. “Through reflection, she is constantly looking for how she can better herself as a journalist, and it was evident her peers respect her for it.”
Hunter won awards for her photography and yearbook page designs from Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the Colorado High School Press Association. She plans to continue her journalistic work as a high school yearbook staff member.
“Journalism is a great, healthy way for kids to express themselves. It is an outlet for students to get their ideas onto paper,” Hunter wrote in her Aspiring Young Journalist portfolio.
Alessandra Fama was a writer and blogger for Livewire News at Altoona (Pennsylvania) Area Junior High School. As a member of the school online newspaper she wrote news, sports, edited copy, took photos and maintained a blog.
Her adviser, Wanda Pletcher, wrote, “Her stories are polished and show the maturity of an experienced journalist, although this is her first year writing for the paper.”
In her Aspiring Young Journalist entry, Fama wrote, “Middle school journalism programs give students the opportunity to learn the valuable life skills that come along with working in a group. They also help to teach students about punctuality by requiring them to complete their work on time so it can be published.”
Founded in 1924, JEA supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, by promoting professionalism, by encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and by fostering an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity. It is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.