By Aaron Soliz, Clarion Staff
On May 8th, a group of the Clarion writers and photographers attended the 6th Annual Student Journalist Awards Dinner, an event funded by the California Scholastic Journalism Initiative that recognizes superb work composed by student journalists from ten local high schools. Honored guest Matt Perry, Assistant Superintendent delivered the keynote speech.
The evening began with writing coach Sharon Ito addressed the importance of student journalism. Ito emphasized that high school newspapers are an integral part of our community for encouraging citizenship and preserving the free press. She also discussed the strong significance of the free press as well as how it should be defended during a time when free press is facing strong criticism.
A delicious dinner was prepared and served by students from Leo A. Palmiter High School, with assistance Chef Jeffery Zahniser. The meal consisted of a chicken covered in cream sauce, fresh vegetables, mashed potatoes, a spring salad, and whole-wheat rolls.
Joyce Terhaar, Executive Editor and Senior Vice President of The Sacramento Bee, proceeded by announcing the Journalist of the Year. Against a dozen competing high schools, C.K. McClatchy student Kainoa Lowman achieved the title. Clarion staff member Saeri Plagmann earned fourth place.
Soon after, Sharon Ito and Walt Jost (another writing coach) presented other awards in other categories in journalism such as Best News Writing, Best Sports Writing, and Best Photography, to name a few. By the end of the evening, Clarion staff members had earned several awards for their outstanding work.
In addition to fourth place in Journalist of the Year, Saeri Plagmann also earned second place in Best Graphic Art/Design for “Time Spent on Social Media,” a statistical chart that accompanied her story “Teens Oblivious to Effects on Social Media.”
Writer Natassia Aleman-Teweles won second place in Best Cartoon/Editorial Cartoon for her cartoon “Hacking America.”
Christopher Wong and Dominic Larsen won third place in Best News Writing for their co-writing “Going Once, Going Twice, Kennedy Senior Auction Gone.” Christopher Wong also second place in Best Editorial Writing and first place in Best Column/Opinion Writing for his work in “We Need Our Restrooms Available” and “Students Claim Second Amendment ‘Right to Bare Arms,'” respectively.
Clarion Photographer Alex Ng earned first place in Best Photography for his work in “Student Art Month”, depicting a student focused on creating chalk art on the campus. He also won first place in Best Editorial Newspaper Art for “Dandelions,” a satirical piece created to poke fun at McClatchy’s mascot.
The event was a memorable one, to say the least. Not only were talented journalists, from John F. Kennedy High School and other high schools, recognized for marvelous work, but the speakers also reminded student journalists of a timeless issue that affects the nation. The speakers encouraged students to support the idea that the first amendment should be upheld by journalists everywhere, and defend the right when others seek to silence the voice of the free press, and continue to write the truth so that all readers may benefit.