9 schools win First Amendment Press Freedom Award

9 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 nine First Amendment Press Freedom Award winners for 2020.

The award recognizes private and 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 distinction 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.

2020 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.
— Kirkwood (Missouri) High School.
— McLean (Virginia) High School.
— Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, California.
— Mountlake Terrace (Washington) High School.
— St. Louis Park (Minnesota) High School.
— Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia.

These schools will be honored April 16 at the opening ceremony of the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

Ann N. Bonitatibus, principal of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, wrote on her application, “As principal, I am a staunch defender of student voice. I expect student journalists to take an ethical and balanced approach to reporting. Our journalists have had broad latitude to write/broadcast content of their choice: walkouts, dissatisfaction with administrative decisions, controversial topics such as mental health and gender identity, use of social media sites not recognized by the school, etc.”

This is the 20th year for the award.

First-round applications are due annually by early to mid-December. Downloadable applications for 2020 will be available on the JEA website in the fall.

For more information about the First Amendment Press Freedom Award, please contact sprc@jea.org.

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