By Douglas Moser
---- — METHUEN — Just a couple months after its funding was in question, the high school newspaper won an award for editorial writing in a statewide competition.
The Blue & White, a newspaper written and edited by high school students with help from a faculty adviser, placed in the Excellence in Editorial category for its writing in the Winter 2013 edition. The paper is printed four times per year, and is in its second year as a broadsheet newspaper.
“I’m excited, since we had such a rough year, that we get rewarded,” said Kayla Baglione, a senior and editor of The Blue & White. “It’s confirmation that the paper isn’t bad.”
Students feared in December that the high school administration had pulled the funding for printing the paper in retaliation for a controversial editorial about student dress and behavior, and a disputed quote attributed to principal James Giuca. Editions of the paper also disappeared in October.
Giuca said in December the funding was just on hold and never was in jeopardy. He announced to students Dec. 21 that funding was available for the winter issue, and said students had destroyed the newspapers in the fall, promising it would not happen again.
The paper is printed by JS Printing. Students in December began planning to raise the money themselves.
Students, however, still feel the administration pulled the papers and the funding because of the editorial.
“Hopefully (the award will) give us a leeway, too,” Baglione said. “Hopefully he won’t criticize us as much and let us be, write what we want to write.”
Vanessa Guthrie, the English teacher who oversees The Blue & White, said she pushed students in the fall and winter to not give up on ideas for stories and columns just because they felt they would be unpopular.
“They would say they have ideas, but they didn’t think they could do that,” she said. “I told them they can write whatever they want to write. They have a First Amendment right.”
The winter edition included timely and topical editorials, including a point-counterpoint package of opinions on affirmative action, which is getting a major review in the U.S. Supreme Court, and the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn. It also included opinions on the picayune, like the pitfalls of senioritis.
Guthrie said she hopes the award will attract more students to write for the paper, which has a dozen writers. And Baglione said she hopes it will open teachers up to talking to the student reporters.
The paper placed in the 43rd Annual Greater Boston High School Newspaper Contest held by the Department of Communication and Journalism at Suffolk University and judged by a panel of writers, said journalism professor Richard Preiss.
Places and awards will be announced at a banquet on April 4 in Boston. The banquet was rescheduled from March 7 because of a snow storm.
Preiss, who coordinates the competition, said it is open to public and private schools statewide despite its name. “It’s to foster high school journalism,” he said.
The students involved in the paper are Baglione, Kelvis De Castro, Kelsey Davis, Tomas Matos, Amber Paul, Taylor Pitari, Magdalene Kwakye, Angelica Torres, Emma Limperis, Skylar Shaw, Rony Marcano and Rachael Bergeron.
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