SRL’s Student Journalism Challenge Winners Announced
Winning stories celebrate students’ perspectives on education in their communities
Arlington, Va.— Six projects by teens from across the United States won the 2022 Student Journalism Challenge, a national contest for teens to report stories from their communities. The theme was “My Education, My Future” and the winning stories bring to light educational issues as students see them, exploring topics from the lasting impacts of COVID and how to make school feel more relevant, to school board decisions and an investigation of why one school has no windows.
“These stories are windows into how students experience their education and what is happening in schools, communities and our country,” says Leah Clapman, SRL’s Executive Director. “Student journalism is the power to explore and question adult decisions that directly impact young people’s lives for generations to come.”
The Student Journalism Challenge is a project from Student Reporting Labs (SRL) in partnership with WETA, PBS NewsHour, and Well Beings, made possible with funding from the XQ Institute.
The submissions came from 36 states, and the 165 entries were evaluated by a panel of professional journalists. Two winning stories were selected from each format: video, audio, and print. Watch video interviews with the winners, and see the full list of winning stories here.
Winning student work is published on Student Reporting Labs YouTube Channel (video + audio), the Forbes.com Well Beings Blog (print), NewsHour Classroom’s Student Voices page (print), and select excerpts may also be featured on the On Our Minds podcast later this spring.
- How CTE classes are preparing students for the future by Brianna Schmidt and Alexis Schmidt, 12th grade students at Frederick V. Pankow Center in Clinton Township, Michigan.
- Airless, ugly places by Brilee Hurley, Andrew Barnett, Gracie Yoder, Makayla Payne, students at Elizabethton High School in Elizabethton, Tennessee.
- Moving forward: How the effects of a global pandemic changed education’s future by Precious Foreman, 9th grade student who attends online homeschool in Waldorf, Maryland.
- Unengaged, uninterested, but why? by Kara Cole, Sydnee McClellan, Makaylah Crowe, Shaylee Mathes, and Morgan Compton, students at Elizabethton High School in Elizabethton, Tennessee.
- Colonial, PMHS PTA leaders call on school board to do more to fight hate and bias After swastika found at high school by Isabella Caruso, 12th grade student at Pelham Memorial High School in Pelham, New York.
- Making “back to school” better than ever by Sriya Tallapragada, 10th grade student at the Pingry School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
Two additional stories in each category were awarded Honorable Mentions. See those stories, and those from additional finalists at studentjournalismchallenge.com.
“The Student Journalism Challenge winners have demonstrated powerful perspectives, and highlighted the importance of student voice in shaping their education, making them a perfect example of the impact that can be achieved when students are empowered to take an active role in transforming their schools,” says Russlynn Ali, XQ Institute CEO and Co-founder. “XQ collaborates with communities, individual schools, and school systems nationwide to reimagine high school and ensure all students are prepared for their futures upon graduation. We are proud to support the Student Journalism Challenge because transforming our education system requires students to have an active voice in their learning and the power to shape it.”
Winning student stories are available for republication — please contact Christine Zirneklis at email@example.com for more information.
See outreach kit for additional photos and graphics here.
About PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs
Now in over 180 middle and high schools, Student Reporting Labs (SRL) is a national youth journalism program and public media initiative that trains teenagers across the country to produce stories that highlight the achievements, challenges and reality of today’s youth. SRL creates transformative educational experiences through video journalism that inspire students to find their voice and engage in their communities. Since 2009, SRL youth media producers have helped students place over 100 video news reports on PBS NewsHour’s nightly broadcast and more on local media outlets. Visit www.studentreportinglabs.org and StoryMaker to learn more.
About XQ Institute
XQ is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to rethinking the high school experience so that every student graduates ready for good jobs, successful careers and real life. XQ works with communities throughout the country—with schools, school systems, and entire states—to help them dream big about what equitable and rigorous high schools can be and turn their innovative ideas into action. Visit xqsuperschool.org for more information, and join the #RethinkHighSchool conversation on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
About PBS NewsHour
PBS NewsHour is a production of NewsHour Productions LLC, a wholly-owned non-profit subsidiary of WETA Washington, DC. Major corporate funding is provided by BNSF, Consumer Cellular, Fidelity, Johnson & Johnson, and Raymond James, with additional support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Kendeda Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Skoll Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Friends of the NewsHour and others. More information on PBS NewsHour is available at www.pbs.org/newshour. You can watch and find NewsHour on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. NewsHour Productions also produces PBS News Weekend and Washington Week.
About Well Beings
Well Beings launched in July 2020 with the Youth Mental Health Project, engaging youth voices to create a national conversation, raise awareness, address stigma and discrimination, and encourage compassion. Well Beings was created by WETA Washington, D.C., the flagship public media station in the nation’s capital, and brings together partners from across the country, including people with lived experience of health challenges, families, caregivers, educators, medical and mental health professionals, social service agencies, private foundations, filmmakers, corporations and media sponsors, to create awareness and resources for better health and well-being. The documentary Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness is part of the Well Beings Youth Mental Health Project, the first major focus for Well Beings. Other featured Well Beings projects address rural health care, caregiving, survival of childhood cancer, and more. For more information, visit https://wellbeings.org. The public can join the conversation on youth mental health by using #PlainSightPBS and #WellBeings, visiting WellBeings.org or following @WellBeingsOrg on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
Founded in 1961, the Washington Educational Telecommunications Association (WETA) is the second largest producing-station of new content for public television in the United States, with productions and co-productions including works by filmmaker Ken Burns and Florentine Films, such as The U.S. and the Holocaust; and by scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., including the series Finding Your Roots and the forthcoming documentary Making Black America: Through the Grapevine; as well as PBS NewsHour, PBS Washington Week and The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.
Tom Chiodo, WETA Executive Director, Special Projects firstname.lastname@example.org
Christine Zirneklis, SRL Sr. Manager, Communications + Partnerships email@example.com
Nick Massella, PBS NewsHour Executive Director, Communications firstname.lastname@example.org
Carri Schneider, XQ Institute Head of Editorial+Publishing email@example.com