Libby Nelson named 2005 Student Journalist of the Year

Libby Nelson named 2005 Student Journalist of the Year


Libby Nelson
Shawnee Mission East High School
Prairie Village, Kansas

According to her adviser, Libby Nelson leads a staff of 43 to produce a paper every two weeks. Her efforts as a writer have earned her a national Federation for Women Press Award for feature writing, and she also won second place in the National Design of the Year contest.

Whether attacking writing assignments on campus or working for the Kansas City Star during the presidential election to turn out a fill page of night coverage of the election.  She even reworked an issue of the school paper ad deadline when she discovered that one of her school’s alumni was a key player in the NASA Mars Rover program.

She also got to the heart of the matter as she interviewed a teacher who was part of the jury of a murder trial when parents killed their 9-year-old son by wrapping him and suffocating him with duct tape.

Bob Norton of the Kansas City Star tells it like this. “When Libby cracks an ideas, the explanation is different. She understands impact. She understands focus. She understands how to quickly get tot he point. It’s as if she has a slightly different news dimension.”

She even checks legal sources when she writes about controversial issues like the story she wrote about a girl at her school who passed out drunk at a school dance and was taken to the hospital. This was complicated story to write because the girls was a member of her who newspaper staff. She contacted the Student Press Law Center to determine what her rights and the rights of the girl were before the story was published.

Annalyn Censky
Salpointe Catholic High School
Tucson, AR

Hard-hitting stories about illegal immigrants and high crime rates in her school’s neighborhood demonstrate an inquiring mind and investigative persistence.

Tackling anti-gay sentiments in her Catholic high school pushed the envelope. School administrators censored her story on abortion. Yet, she pursued the censorship issue by interviewing administrators who shared their rationale for pulling the story in order to explain to her readers about the censorship.

In addition to working on several newspapers in her high school career, Annalyn Censky has also worked as a reporter for the Green Valley News in Tucson.

Anna Kleinsasser
Bakersfield High School
Bakersfield, CA

Following the transfer of a high school basketball star, which resulted in the dismissal of the assistant dean and the school’s athletic director, the dean called to thank this student journalist for writing the story. Anne Kleinsasser stated, “With a return to detail and investigation, America’s media will be able to salvage themselves from the partisanship and sound-bites that characterize them today. I hope as a professional journalist to be part of that movement.”

Christopher Newton
Grand Junction High School
Grand Junction, CO

The most outstanding issue he covered was the problems surrounding his state’s mandatory Pledge of Allegiance policy. No only did he cover the story about his school’s decision to change its policy, he also covered the legislature’s decision to repeal the law.

He wrote all types of stories from news to features to opinions for his school newspaper. In addition, he has written for two commercial daily newspapers and has worked as a copy editor for a book and a monthly movie magazine.

Tricia Bobeda
Haslett High School
Haslett, MI

A well-rounded student journalist must demonstrate a variety of story ideas, clarity of design, and strong journalistic writing skills. This editor-in-chief of her school newspaper has all of these qualities, plus the ability to enliven her stories with wit and emotional impact.

Story ideas ranged from a moving portrait of the tragic death of a classmate to a series of carefully detailed descriptions of a Global Village outdoor adventure and an analysis of affirmative action and its implications for high school students. The strong control of journalistic skills in clear attribution, effective usage of quotes, and coherence of story line make Tricia Bobeda of Haslett High School, Haslett, Mich. another of our runners-up in the scholarship competition.

Emily Barnes
Oxford High School
Oxford, MS

She writes about hope. She writes about love. She writes about the terrors of her piano recitals. Whatever the topic, Emily Barnes exhibits a tenacious drive for excellence, a passion for AP style, and a sense of humor that makes readers anticipate her columns in every issue.

According to her adviser, “Few times in today’s world do true leaders like Emily come along.”

Amanda Blakely
Crandall High School
Kaufman, TX

Newspaper stories must have impact and lead readers to action. This student journalist moves readers to care, not just about issues, but also about people.

As her adviser says, “She is a true muckraker and humanitarian. She knows how to lead. She knows how to maintain reader interest and build credibility through her use of sources.” Amanda Blakely knows how to work hard and make every word count.

The student journalist of the year will receive $5,000 and the six runners-up will receive $2,000 each toward college tuition that will lead to a major in some aspect of journalism once they have matriculated.

Sixteen judges from all seven JEA regions reviewed 39 state portfolios to determine the winner and six runners-up.


Alabama • Danielle  Fortner
Arizona • Annalyn Censky
Arkansas • Andrew Appleton
California • Anne Kleinsasser
Colorado • Christopher Newton
Florida • Matthew Presser
Georgia • Katherine Hagan
Hawaii • Aria Juliet Castillo
Idaho • Jasmine Linabary
Illinois • Erin Wood
Indiana • Janna Brancolini
Iowa • Meghan Keck
Kansas • Libby Nelson
Kentucky • Beverly Hill
Maryland • Daniel Chou
Michigan • Tricia Bobeda
Minnesota • Mike Peden
Mississippi • Emily Barnes
Missouri • Sarah Handelman
Montana • Jeffrey Paul
Nebraska • Elizabeth Granger
New Jersey • Mark Milian
New Mexico • Kristelle Siarza
New York • Janet Aronica
North Carolina • Adam Playford
North Dakota • Kim Ekart
Ohio • Matthew Faig
Oregon • Lindsay Schnell
Pennsylvania • Emily Tarconish
Rhode Island • Marissa Lizotte
South Carolina • Melissa Rhodes
Tennessee • Janice Diehm
Texas • Amanda Blakely
Virginia • Alexander Troung
Washington • Hilkka Ehlers
West Virginia • Kristin Steele
Wyoming • Nicole Lebsack

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