High school journalists honored with writing awards

High school journalists honored with writing awards

High school journalists honored with writing awards
Meredith Edmonston of Clayton Valley Charter won first place in the photography category of the annual Lesher Awards for Contra Costa high school student journalists. Her image titled “Homework” demonstrated that “distance learning has brought a new set of challenges for students. Many spend late nights swamped by their homework.” (Meredith Edmonston photo courtesy CVCHS)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA — There is so much talk about the death of newspapers and the news now being circulated in Twitter messages of 280 characters, that it’s very refreshing to hear about the 2021 Lesher Awards for high school journalism excellence.

More than 60 students from 13 Contra Costa schools were honored and the Northgate and Clayton Valley Charter journalism programs garnered a dozen awards between them.

Northgate came away with eight awards, including first place in overall publication excellence for schools with journalism clubs. Clayton Valley Charter was second in that category, among the four honors won by the Concord school.

The California Scholastic Journalism Initiative announced the awards and honored the winners in a video ceremony last month. The competition is organized by CC Spin, a collaboration of CSJI, Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation and Contra Costa County Office of Education.

The Lesher Awards recognize excellence in news reporting, feature, sports, opinion writing, photography, editorial cartoons, design, podcasts and overall news publications. The competition is open to Contra Costa high schools as part of the CC Spin newspaper program and is judged by five professional Bay Area journalists.

Sophomore Meredith Edmonston of Clayton Valley Charter’s The Talon won first place photo of the year for “Homework.”

Northgate freshman Mia Allyson Montifar took first place in arts and entertainment category for “Madrigals and Belle” in the Northgate Sentinel.

Mia Allyson Montifar. Northgate High School. More than 100 high singers from eight county high schools including Northgate join together in “Lean on Me,” by Bill Withers, in the finale of High School Notes: A Digital A Cappella Concert, which is playing on the Diablo Regional Center for the Arts’ YouTube Channel.

Editors receiving outstanding awards included junior Jason Shin of CVCHS and sophomore Adelaide Berrett of Northgate. Karen Jenkins of Northgate was cited for adviser recognition as she helped keep journalism alive at the Walnut Creek school by creating a journalism club on campus.

Other local award winners

News – Freshman Natalie Villard of Northgate took second place for her story on Michelle Alas “First student member of the 70-year-old MDUSD governing board.”

Feature – Shin’s story “Diversify” tied for third place.

Sports – Freshman Alex Hong of Northgate was given honorable mention for “Spectacular sports moments, movements and memories leave their mark in 2020.”

Editorial “Choosing a language? Northgate’s shrinking selection leaves much to be desired” editorial by sophomores Vivian Tanforan and Gabriella Toranski took third place.

Investigative/Enterprise – Toranski was third for her article “Should we re-elect, recall, or at least review the electoral college?”

“While we look forward to in-person events in the future, that we were able to bring students together remotely and have them recognized for their hard work was important,” said Steve O’Donoghue, CSII Director and a Lesher Awards judge. “They produced remarkable journalism in the face of incredible challenges, and their work deserves to be read, viewed, heard and celebrated.”

Devorah Levine, Executive Director of the Lesher Foundation, said, “High school journalism participants play an essential and powerful role, contributing their voice to helping our community thrive and engaging in civic dialogue.

We are proud to continue supporting student journalism in Contra Costa County and we congratulate this year’s Lesher Awards honorees.”

The mission of California Scholastic Journalism Initiative’s CC Spin program is to assist Contra Costa County high schools in training students to better understand and appreciate the role of a free press in our democratic system, the ethics and appropriate behaviors of journalists, and to protect and value the First Amendment in our society.

“Our goal is a student newspaper in every Contra Costa County high school that is a voice for student concerns and measures up to the highest journalistic standards,” O’Donoghue said.

Jay Bedecarré
Jay Bedecarré
Sports and Schools Editor at The Concord Clayton Pioneer | sports@pioneerpublishers.com | Website

Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.