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Aspiring Young Journalist

About the Award

This award encourages junior high/middle school students to continue with journalistic studies in high school. This award will acknowledge and reward the work of junior high/middle school students. One overall winner and up to five runners-up will be selected each year.

Award Recognition

Winners in attendance at the Sunday morning JEA awards ceremony at the spring convention will be recognized. Winners not in attendance will receive a mailed certificate.

Entry Criteria

The applicant must:

  • Be in eighth grade (ninth grade for 7-9 middle school programs) and at least 13 years old.
  • Be planning to continue the study of and participation in journalism in high school.
  • Have been in a junior high/middle school journalism program for at least one year.
  • Be a student of a JEA member adviser.
  • Submit a digital portfolio. Limited to one per school.

Portfolio Checklist

The applicant must include the following in a portfolio:

  • Aspiring Young Journalist official application form, which asks for the following to be completed in the form or uploaded.
    • Photo of the applicant.
    • Letter of introduction from the applicant.
    • Resumé. (Suggestions include address, education, journalism experience, extracurricular activities, hobbies/interests, clubs/sports, community service, references)
    • One to three letters of recommendation. (One must be written by the publication teacher/adviser. The other two may be written by current or past teachers or community members who know the student [other than the parent].)
    • Three to five examples of the applicant’s journalistic work with an explanation of each written by the applicant. Written explanations should include why the student chose the example, what the student did to create the example, what the student learned while creating it, what the student might do differently in creating a similar piece in the future. (For broadcast, submit clips on video with explanations on paper.)
    • Writing sample answering the question, “What is the importance and benefit of middle school journalism programs?”


Must be received by  11:59 p.m. CDT, March 15.


Contact Rebecca Pollard at pollardr@friscoisd.org.

Judging Criteria

The following categories will be given a score (1-4) based on quality, scope and impact.

  • Skilled and creative use of media.
  • Inquiring mind and investigative persistence.
  • Courageous and responsible handling of issues.
  • Variety of journalistic experiences.
  • Sustained and commendable work with school media.

4 = Exemplary
3 = Excellent
2 = Fair
1 = Adequate

Quality — Does the material presented in this portfolio demonstrate superior quality of work in the category over a period of time?
Scope — Does the material presented in this portfolio demonstrate a wide range of quality work in the category over a period of time?
Impact —Does the material presented in this portfolio document the impact of this student’s journalistic work in the category over a period of time?

Past Winners


Benjamin Raskin Garcia, Westfield Middle School, Westfield, Ind.

Madeline Bogard, St. John Paul II Catholic School, Houston, Tex.


Declan Palmer, Sierra Middle School, Parker, Colo.

Emily Blunt, Richland R-1 School, Essex, Mo.


Breanne Hunter, Sierra Middle School, Parker, Colo.

Alessandra Fama, Altoona (Pa.) Area Junior High School


Ashton Leberfinger, Altoona (Pa.) Area Junior High School


Veronica Gordo, Nativity School, Hollywood, Fla.


  • Alyssa Fasolo, Altoona (Pa.) Area Junior High School
  • Savannah Smith, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Louisville, Ky.


Gabrielle J. Eyl, St. John the Evangelist School, Encinitas, Calif. (Teresa Roberts, adviser)


  • Emily R. Biffinger, Sierra Middle School) Parker, Colo. (Jed Palmer, adviser)
  • Angela Chen, Charles W. Young Junior High School, Arlington, Texas (Anna Barrett, adviser)
  • Danielle Ledgerwood, Maranatha Christian School, San Diego, Calif. (Pamela Pachmayr, adviser)
  • Madison March, Berry Middle School, Hoover, Ala. (Cheryl Thomas, adviser)


Marinda McKenzie, Lincoln Academy Charter School, Pleasant Grove, Utah (Mary Seal, adviser)


  • Torey Freter, Marantha Christian School, San Diego, Calif. (Pamela Pachmayr, adviser)
  • Jennifer Forsberg, Young Junior High School, Arlington, Texas (Anna Barrett, adviser)
  • Cameron Van de Graaf, Middlesex Middle School, Darien,  Conn. (Tim Sorensen, adviser)
  • Katherine French, St. Francis Episcopal Day School, Houston, Texas (John Grube, adviser)


Allison Siegel, Nativity School, Hollywood, Fla. (Lynne Moore, adviser)

Runners Up

  • Chloe Davis, Maize South Middle School, Wichita, Kan. (Mary Patrick, adviser)
  • Anjali Menon Krishnamachar, Middlesex Middle School, Darien, Conn. (Tim Sorenson and Katherine Boulier, advisers)


Rachel Plumley, Scott Johnson Middle School (McKinney, Texas; Louis Plumley, adviser)

Runners Up

  • Lauren Florence, Young Junior High (Arlington, Texas; Anna Barrett, adviser)
  • Michael Boulter, Westland Middle School (Bethesda, Md.; Reginald Ragland, adviser)
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