Alderman wins student journalist of the year

Mayah Mumpower | news editor

Senior Emma Alderman was honored last week as the best 1/2A student journalist in the state.

The Kansas Scholastic Press Association student journalist of the year recognizes high school journalists for their work throughout an academic year. The application process includes a portfolio, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal narrative essay. 

“It was a fun challenge to see if I could get all my work to fit into the categories they had and to see how I stood against other students in the state,” Alderman said.

Alderman’s letters of recommendation came from superintendent Brad Starnes, principal Jan Hutley and newspaper adviser Brendan Praeger.

“Emma has not shied away from ‘controversial’ issues she believes her fellow students and the school needs to discuss,” Starnes wrote in his letter. “When these articles have been published, she’s taken some ‘heat,’ however during these stressful times she’s maintained her professional attitude, listened to others’ points of view and remained true to the newspaper’s mission.”

Alderman put in the extra work to build her portfolio. Alderman said she wanted to show the wide range of work she has done this year, from opinion and sports stories to hard news coverage.

Adviser Brendan Praeger said he encouraged her to apply because of the quality of her work throughout the year.

“I encouraged her to apply because I knew her work was worth recognition,” Praeger said. “Especially at the 1/2A level, the work that the Charger staff does is pretty impressive, and her leadership and work ethic is a big part of that.”

Three judges from around the country ranked Alderman’s application, and KSPA shared some of their comments in a press release last week. “You present a wide range of content across the platforms at your disposal,” one judge said. “Strong ethics coming from Emma here: fighting the new prior review policy and teaching her staff,” and “I grew up in a small Kansas town like yours. I admire your courage in telling the stories of LGBTQ people in your school and community — and in responding to the backlash with journalistic maturity,” the other judges wrote.

The 3/4A winner was Savannah Athy from Sedbrook High School, and the 5/6A award went to Cuyler Dunn from Lawrence High School. The award includes a plaque and a $750 prize. 

You can view her portfolio here.

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