Oakland student newspaper takes fourth place in national contest

Jack Mejia-CuellarPHOTO CAPTION: Gloria “Jack” Mejia-Cuellar, a junior at Media Academy, won “Honorable Mention” during the National High School Journalism Convention’s write-off contests in editorial writing. Thousands of high school students from across the country attended the event, which was held in Anaheim last month.

Student newspapers are few and far between in Oakland, but one of them — Media Academy’s Green & Gold — is thriving. Last month, the paper took fourth place in a national journalism contest of the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association, which drew thousands of student-journalists nationwide.

Lisa Shafer, the paper’s advisor, wrote to share the news, saying, “It beat out schools that have APIs in the 800s and 900s and private schools whose students pay $35,000 a year in tuition to attend.”

Shafer said Kim Mejia-Cuellar, a junior, was one of 15 students at the convention to receive an “Excellent” ranking or higher in the newswriting category of the write-off contest. “In my 10 years of newspaper advising, including five at a suburban school, I have never had a student win an “Excellent” in this competition,” Shafer wrote.

Kim’s twin, Gloria “Jack” Mejia-Cuellar, received an “Honorable Mention” in the editorial writing category. Both sisters are members of Dave Eggers’ 826 Valencia’s writing program and their school’s debate team.

Both girls wrote their pieces about the “Parent Trigger” proposal, which would allow parents to force the conversion of a public school into a charter school if it fell below an 800 on the API.

You can read the winning edition of the paper yourself, here:

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Christopher Scheer

    Congrats to the Mejia twins and Ms. Shafer! The Green & Gold rocks!

  • Karen Larson

    Congratulations to Ms. Shafer and all the students who make this such a vital paper. I can’t wait to read every issue cover to cover because it really gives me a sense of what the students at Media, Mandela and Architecture are thinking about important and controversial issues that affect them.

  • http://www.writercoachconnection.org Robert Menzimer

    What a tribute to the students and Ms. Shafer, for leveraging the abundant classroom talent to such a well-deserved honor. Bravo!

  • http://www.writercoachconnection.org Kathleen Kahn

    Hey, Kim — I knew you were headed for great things, when we worked together last year! I’m so happy to see you succeeding in journalism — they need the brightest people and the best writers, and that’s you.

    Best wishes always,

    Kathy Kahn
    (your old writing coach, remember?)

  • Kim Mejia-Cuellar

    Thank you so much Ms. Kahn! It was an honor working with you last year; you absolutely helped make my writing assignments ten times better. Thank you Mr. Sheer! I’m definitely proud to be the news editor of the Green & Gold.

  • Lisa Awrey

    Hi Jack,
    I’m also not surprised you and Kim’s work is getting recognition. Your sharp mind, writing talent and sensitive, asute observations all pointed to great things. I’m so glad you both got involved at 826 Valencia, also. I’m so proud of both of you!

    Please keep us posted! Can’t wait to hear where you decide to go to college.

    Keep writing!
    Lisa Awrey
    (your old writing coach in Ms. T S’s class)

  • Russell Ward

    Discovered your paper after hearing about your success at the convention and your connection with the brilliant 826 Valencia. What an excellent paper you’re producing… great range of reporting and editiorial.