14 named press freedom schools

14 named press freedom schools

By Kristin Taylor, MJE, Scholastic Press Rights director

A committee with representatives from the Journalism Education Association, National Scholastic Press Association and Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society chose 14 First Amendment Press Freedom Award winners for 2021. 

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. Today, on Student Press Freedom Day, JEA honors those schools for their support of student voices.

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.

2021 First Amendment Press Freedom Award winners are as follows:

  • The Archer School for Girls, Los Angeles
  • Brighton (Colorado) High School 
  • Chantilly (Virginia) High School
  • Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville, Maryland
  • Convent of the Sacred Heart High School, San Francisco
  • Harrisonburg (Virginia) High School
  • Kirkwood (Missouri) High School
  • McLean (Virginia) High School
  • Monta Vista High School, Cupertino, California
  • Mountlake Terrace (Washington) High School
  • South Salem High School, Salem, Oregon
  • St. Louis Park (Minnesota) High School
  • Stuart Hall High School, San Francisco 
  • Whitney High School, Rocklin, California

The 14 award-winners include three first-time recipients: Brighton High School, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School and Stuart Hall High School.

Jessica Nassau, the director of publications at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, said their first-time application was “truly a student-led initiative.” 

After being inspired by Mark Goodman’s presentation at the 2019 Spring JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in Washington D.C., student editors worked with their independent school leaders to develop an official Press Rights Protocol. This protocol follows Student Press Law Center guidelines and explains why ensuring student press freedom is in keeping with the school’s core values as a pluralistic Jewish Day School. 

Student editors joined their adviser and two administrators to present about this new protocol at the Virginia Association of Journalism Teachers and Advisers’ Media Championship Digital Resources

“I have to say that I am tremendously moved that my students had the desire to make a lasting contribution to their publication in this way and worked so hard to achieve it, especially during the challenging months of Covid-19,” Nassau wrote in her application. “They weren’t content to just keep their publication afloat — they wanted to change it for the better.”

This is the 21st year for the award.

The 14 winning schools will be honored as part of the Spring JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in awards presentation on Saturday, April 10. 

First-round applications are due annually by early to mid-December. Applications for 2022 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.

Founded in 1924, JEA supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, promoting professionalism, encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity. It is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

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