Top student stories you missed in 2022

What were the top student stories of 2022? From attending school board meetings to overturning book bans in their school districts, students are at the forefront of major change in education. While dealing with mental health struggles, school shootings, toxic social media algorithms and more, young people continue to be resilient and share their stories.

Check out the top student stories within our network from this year. 

1. Why these student reporters wanted to go to school board meetings 

School board meetings, once fairly mundane places for parents and school leadership to discuss minor affairs, suddenly became an epicenter for very divisive political discourse this past year. Student reporters Makayla Lambert and Jeremiah Sudarmanto attended a meeting in their hometown of Leander, Texas to hear about issues that many students care deeply about. This piece was produced by Makayla Lambert and Jeremiah Sudarmanto at Rouse High School in Leander, Texas. With support from SRL educator Trina Moore and youth media producer Briget Ganske.

2. Baratunde Thurston’s new PBS show “America Outdoors” shows how people can share common ground

“With all of our differences, we still share common ground… literally.” Those were the words of writer and comedian Baratunde Thurston when he sat down with SRL reporter and co-host of On Our Minds Season 1 Zion Williams to talk about his new show, America Outdoors, which premiered on PBS this past July. The interview took place at the 2022 SXSW EDU conference in Austin, Texas.

3. Why is voter turnout so low in Arkansas? 

Gwen Ifill Legacy Fellow Insherah Qazi explores why her home state of Arkansas has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. Produced by Insherah Qazi and Arkansas PBS. With SRL support from Christine Zirneklis and Becky Wandel. Edited by Jason Miller of Arkansas PBS and Becky Wandel of SRL.

4. How a teacher shortage in Hawaii is impacting student learning experiences

One of the most covered education stories in 2022 was the staff storages that impacted many school districts across the country. The Maui Waena Intermediate School was no exception. Students at Maui Waena Intermediate School in Hawaii interviewed students and staff about how the teacher and substitute shortage impacts student learning. This piece was produced by Sarah Rosete, Aaron Omuro, Aleizay Angel and Capriana Noazki at Maui Waena Intermediate School in Kahului, Hawaii with support from SRL Connected Educator Jennifer Suzuki and SRL Youth Media Producer Chris Schwalm.

5. On Our Minds Season 2: Eating Disorder Recovery Stories 

“I lost 40 lbs but it was never enough. I continued to restrict, I weighed myself daily, if there was any change on the scale, any fluctuation, I would eat less and exercise more.” On Our Minds hosts Matt and Faiza heard from Alice of Austin, Texas who shares her story of eating disorder recovery and talks to British social media influencer Ro Mitchell about sharing her recovery journey online. Matt and Faiza also talk to psychologist Lisa Damour on how eating and food can affect the well being of teens. This episode was produced by Student Reporting Labs Digital Producer, Rawan Elbaba, with help from Briget Ganske.

6. Student activists overturn book ban in Pennsylvania school district 

When a school board in York, Pennsylvania voted to ban hundreds of books that were centered around stories of people of color, many members of its student body organized protests that soon garnered national attention. Student reporters  Lizzie Pegg, Kiera Miller, and Liv Anderson went to Landisville, Pennsylvania to hear what protesting students had to say about the matter. This story was produced by Lizzie Pegg, Kiera Miller, and Liv Anderson at Hempfield High School in Landisville, Pennsylvania. With support from SRL Youth Media Producer Marie Cusick and SRL Connect Educator Matthew Binder.

7. Why does music affect our moods so much? 

Have you ever wondered why a piece of music makes you feel a certain way? Student journalists John Barnes and Brigitte Bonsu explore the connection between our brains, music and our moods. This story was produced by students John Barnes and Brigitte Bonsu and aired on the PBS NewsHour’s broadcast for the Arts and Culture Series, Canvas.

8. How social media algorithms messed with our mental health 

Friends Rebecca Lewis and Lola Nordlinger wrote a letter to their middle school selves about the impact social media has on their mental health. Lewis and Nordlinger are producing a documentary on the effects of social media applications, like Instagram, on young girls’ mental wellbeing. This piece was produced by Rebecca Lewis and Lola Nordlinger at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda, Maryland. With support from SRL Connected Educator David Lopilato, student Camilo Montoya and SRL producers Rawan Elbaba and Becky Wandel.

9. Arizona camp teaches foster children cowboy skills 

There are more than 14,000 children in Arizona’s foster care system and every summer, a few get to spend a night at the Flying E Ranch, riding horses, shooting arrows and making new friends out of the city and under the stars. This story was produced at the 2022 SRL Summer Academy by fellows Giovanny Soriano, Akilah Lewis, Mariana Arboleda, and Caedmon Peterson. Support provided by Youth Media Producer Mohammad Pasha and educator Michael Kaufman.

10. On Our Minds Season 2: LGBTQ+ teens on coming out to their immigrant parents 

Coming out is hard, but add on the challenges of being another minority with parents or family members that may not be accepting, and the experience becomes all the more difficult. On Our Minds hosts discuss their own personal experiences and those of other teens in the same positions. Student producers include Nandita from Georgia. Other student voices include Ellie and Claire from Georgia; Eloise from Haldane High School in Cold Spring, New York; Phin from Howard Public School in Tampa, Florida; and Noah from Lebanon, Pennsylvania. This episode was produced by Student Reporting Labs Youth Media Producer Chris Schwalm with help from Briget Ganske.

11. Student reporters win editorial stand-off with administrators over story in school newspaper

Student reporters in Los Angeles recently found themselves in a difficult position. They were at odds with the administration at their magnet school, which specializes in journalism, over a report in the student-run newspaper. This story was produced by Autry Rozendal, Harrison Johnstone, Aidan Robertson, and Kaian Bates of John Burroughs High School in Burbank, CA. Instruction provided by SRL Connected Educator Ryanne Meschkat with support from SRL Youth Media Producer Chris Schwalm. Footage filmed by the Daniel Pearl Magnet High School Broadcast Production class under the guidance of CTE Instructor Mark Middlebrook.