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11 schools win First Amendment Press Freedom Award

A committee with representatives from the Journalism Education Association, National Scholastic Press Association and Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society chose 11 First Amendment Press Freedom Award winners for 2017, including one school that had never entered before.

The award recognizes public high schools that actively support, teach and protect First Amendment rights and responsibilities of students and teachers, with an emphasis on student-run media where students make all final decisions of content.

As in previous years, schools competed for the title by first answering questionnaires submitted by an adviser and at least one editor; those who advanced to the next level were asked to provide responses from the principal and all media advisers and student editors, indicating their support of the First Amendment. In addition, semifinalists submitted their printed policies.

2017 First Amendment Press Freedom Award winners are as follows:

The Archer School for Girls, Los Angeles
Chantilly (Virginia) High School
Convent of the Sacred Heart High School, San Francisco
Grosse Pointe North High School, Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan
Francis Howell North High School, St. Charles, Missouri
Harrisonburg (Virginia) High School
Kirkwood (Missouri) High School
Mountlake Terrace (Washington) High School
Smoky Hill High School, Aurora, Colorado
St. Louis Park (Minnesota) High School
Whitney High School, Rocklin, California

These schools will be honored April 6 at the opening ceremony of the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle.

Kathryn Murray, principal of first-time recipient, Grosse Pointe North, wrote on her application, “I deeply value the adviser and student leadership of all our publications. They are committed to supporting the First Amendment and honoring our school and all we stand for. They are a fantastic example of what not just school media should be, but all media.”

“We had more schools apply than ever before, but some operated like open forums with board policies that allow for – even seem to encourage – censorship,” John Bowen, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee chairman, said. “With their current administrators, they have been OK, but a change in board or administration would be dangerous.
This is the 17th year for the award.

First-round applications are due annually by Dec. 15. Downloadable applications for 2018 will be available on the JEA website in the fall.


For more information about the First Amendment Press Freedom Award, please contact John Bowen, FAPFA committee chair, at jabowen@kent.edu or 330-672-3666.

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