Marcelino Benito, Jr. named 2006 Student Journalist of the Year

Marcelino Benito, Jr. named 2006 Student Journalist of the Year

Marcelino Benito gives his adviser, Lisa VanEtta, a hug as the results of the national high school journalist of the year are announced in San Francisco. Photo by Chris Hanewinckel

High school journalist of the year competition was begun by JEA to award outstanding high school journalists from all over the country.

The competition this year attracted hundreds of entries in some states and none in others. When the 32 state JOY portfolios were perused by the 19 members of the scholarship committee in San Francisco, one thing was abundantly clear. The committee members were in awe of the quality of work presented in some of the portfolios and inspired by the depth of the student’s involvement in their communities through their journalistic endeavors.

Over the years the JEA Board has increased the number of awards and the amount of the awards presented to these outstanding students. The committee chose to honor five students for their work at the JEA/NSPA San Francisco Convention in April.

Benito had strong work in the section of his work for community/international work with the media, including photography. He did free-lance work for the EFE News Service, Spani’s International News Agency similar to the Associated Press, incluidng covering the Tennis Masters Cup season ending championship held in Houston in November of 2004.
Benito said he worked as assistant editor of the newspaper and with the yearbook in 2002-2003. “This design shows an all-around aptitude in both design, writing and interviewing as well.” He said he selected this front page “because I consider it one of my strongest front pages.” This same issue won Best of Show at the 2003 convention. “I feel it is very clean, concise, yet simple layout which follows all rules of design without restraining creativity.”


Judges agreed this portfolio was one of the best ever presented to the committee for consideration. They said, “Each submission was properly labeled and the entire portfolio was well organized and professional looking. The student followed each direction perfectly and proofread the submissions and portfolios to insure there were no errors.”

This student’s portfolio included yearbook designs, newspaper designs and photography. His examples of indepth reporting included coverage of sensitive issues and topics important to his student population and community.

Examples of this student’s impact on his community included his stories and photos on the ESPN Spanish website and wire stories written in Spanish for a Spanish international news agency.

Comments from Marcelino’s letters of recommendation included:
“Every activity this student does is done with excellence.”
“He has developed an excellent sense of news judgement as well as a sophisticated sense in writing and publication design.”

Marcelino Benito, Jr., of Cypress Falls High School (Houston, TX) is the JEA Journalist of the Year.


The committee enjoyed reading this submission and said, “It was a joy to examine. The portfolio was extremely neat and all the directions were followed.”

Christopher explained his purpose in journalism in his self-evaluation. He said, “My career in journalism is built upon two qualities – my fascination with technology and my passion for telling the real stories of real people.”

His portfolio included examples of his work in print to an overview of his school’s newest publication, the Podcast. His involvement in the new publication at Annadale High School “pushes the frontiers and boundaries of journalism for the students at the school.”

Runner-up for JEA’s JOY is Christopher K. Sopher of Annadale High School (Annadale, VA).


This student’s portfolio included a broad range of journalistic experiences from writing news stories to lecturing CEOs and publishers about improving teen content and readership in their newspapers.

While Hannah just “fell” into journalism at her mother’s urging, her involvement and impact have gone far beyond the high school campus.

The honoree said, “We have all discovered that no matter the cost, journalism has been, and will continue to be. one of the most worthwhile, defining, beneficial factors in our lives.”

Hannah Miller of Badger High School (Kinsman, Ohio) is a runner-up for JEA’s Journalist of the Year.

North Carolina

The judges agreed this portfolio was one of quality and included a wide variety of journalistic examples. They were impressed with the significant amount of work done by this student with the community media.

One of Dani’s letters of recommendation said, “This student’s commitment to open government, her stance against censorship, plus the ability to convey ideas in a clear and concise manner have helped the school paper garner awards. This student leaves me with ahope for the future of the integrity of our industry.”

Runner-up for JEA’s JOY is Dani Landskroener of First Flight High School (Kill Devil Hills, N.C.)


According to the judges, “This portfolio included excellent examples of the student’s work showing a wide variety of journalistic experiences.” The submission was well done and was appealing in its presentation.

The writer had this to say in his personal essay, “I think about people and how my words touch them. I want mine to put hope in people, to help them live better lives.”

Roman Stubbs of Great Falls High School (Great Falls, Mont.) is a runner-up for the JOY.

Judges’ Comments

These five students represent the “best of the best” in regards to high school journalists in our country. Their submissions were neat, easy to read and they followed all the directions.

Suggestions from the judges for future submissions included:

  • Follow the directions.
  • Be neat in your presentation.
  • Select only your best work for the portfolio, not everything you have done since third grade.
  • Exhibit a wide variety of journalistic experiences.
  • Proofread your self-evaluation for errors.

For students interested in getting some recognition for long hours selecting photos, days in the newsroom editing and rewriting leads and headline, or hours spent trying to locate the football coach for an interview for a fact box on the yearbook spread, the Journalist of the Year compeittion is an appropriate venue for recognition.

Password Reset
Please enter your email address and press [Return] or [Enter]. You will receive a new password via e-mail.

If you don't receive it within a few minutes, please call (785-532-5532) or email us (, and we'll be happy to assist you.