Homemade guitars and high school fights: the last two weeks on Best of SNO

After weeks of sleeping, binge watching and holiday-ing, coming back from winter break is hard. Motivation can be low, and AP style rules have likely fallen to the back of your students’ minds — we get it. Nonetheless, you wouldn’t know that by looking at some of the submissions we’ve received lately!

These are some of the best we’ve read over the last few weeks:

Fighting for change: examining the combative culture at West High, by Alex Carlon and Joe Goodman, Iowa City West High School

While typical high school students flock to see fights when they break out in their school, cell phones often in-hand, leave it to students journalists to step back and analyze them. It turns out there’s a lot that goes into the lead-up, theatrics, and aftermath of fights that take place on school grounds. This piece breaks each of these down, going beyond the rumors that are left behind in a fight’s wake and examining how to deter future physical violence.

The struggle home, by Preston Burrows, Seward County Community College

While interviews are usually just conducted as an avenue to collect quotes, skilled interviewers know that noting the atmosphere of the interview itself can add color and context to a story. This story does that beautifully. Although the subject’s quotes on being abandoned by his family after coming out as bisexual are already emotional, observational lines from the reporter like “Tears escaped his rich chocolate eyes and his heart, once sheltered, was now unprotected, left vulnerable, from all the events that lead to this exact moment,” really seal the deal.

Service academies: Risk vs. Reward, by Cori Nicholson, Carlmont High School

A while back, we challenged you to make sure your college-related coverage does justice for students at your school that aren’t planning on jumping right into a two- or four-year institution. This story rose to the challenge. For many students, joining a service academy may represent an attractive alternative to college. By breaking down these five academies through the use of infographics, and demystifying the experience of attending them through interviews with graduates, the article successfully accomplishes what it sets out to do: Laying out the risks versus rewards for readers.

Back to Bassics, by Edison Geiler and Connor Robb, Millard West High School

We’ll be the first to admit that it’s really challenging to produce a good video. It requires planning, production, and usually plenty of post-production editing. It’s clear that all of these factors went into this one. The video features a logical storyline, three interviews, nice shot variation, natural reporter voice-over, and a generally interesting subject, all coming together to hold a viewer’s attention for a solid, entertaining three minutes.

Coloring in the lines, by Sally Parampottil, Coppell High School

This sports story represents enterprise reporting at its finest. Instead of covering a particular sporting event, or checking in on where a certain winter team stands mid-season, it takes a deep dive into racial, ethnic, and regional trends among different sports. Then, it goes even one step further and analyzes how these historical trends have manifested within Coppell High School itself. While the story includes multiple interviews, the number of hyperlinks alone also highlight the amount of research that went into this piece. Well done.

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO

Impeachment, At Home: a new Best of SNO prompt

On Dec. 18, President Donald Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be formally impeached after the House of Representatives approved articles of impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

While Trump’s impeachment is officially in the history books, his trial is far from over. According to the Constitution, the impeachment trial now moves to the Senate, where a two-thirds majority is required to convict the president and remove him from office. However, when that trial might begin, who will testify, how long it will last, and how it will be conducted, all remain unknown.

Here’s what we do know: This news has gripped the attention of Democrats and Republicans alike across the country, and people in your local community likely have opinions.

That brings us to this month’s Assignment Desk topic:

Impeachment, At Home


We want to get a feel for the political climate in your community right now, in the midst of the impeachment proceedings. Talk to people outside of your school — people who have voted before, at least in the last election. Track down that die-hard Trump supporter who proudly wears his MAGA hat each day, that staunch Bernie-Bro who was anti-Trump in the first place, that first-time voter who casted their vote for Trump (or not for Trump) in 2016. What’s going through their mind right now? What about the students in your school? Maybe they haven’t voted before but are about to have the opportunity in 2020 — How is this impeachment affecting them? Do your classmates understand what’s happening? Do they care? What do they think?

Here’s what we’re not looking for: Your personal rants, columns or other opinion pieces about it. It’s likely that you have them, but for Best of SNO it’s time to step outside of your comfort zone and talk with those who may or may not share your political views.

Prepare and publish them on your site. The submission process doesn’t change. We’ll be on the lookout for your impeachment coverage.

Rare illnesses, absent parents, achievement gaps, and more: the last two weeks on Best of SNO

We’re approximately halfway through the school year, and we can tell based on the submissions we’ve received recently that your students are learning a lot. The writing is stronger, editing is tighter, and design elements are being created with intention.

That being said, here are some of the best pieces we’ve read over the last few weeks:

Principal proves successful with high scores, equitable schools, by Katherine Esterl, Henry W. Grady High School

We’ve gotten hundreds of profile submissions so far this year, and out of all of those, this one ranks pretty high. The reason? It is incredibly well-rounded. Out of those hundreds of profiles we get, about half only include one interview — the person being profiled. On the contrary, this story includes quotes from not only the principal herself, but teachers, parents, other administrators, and even her own child, all familiar with her personality and career history, giving the reader a multi-faceted idea of who Dr. Bockman really is.

One in a Million, by Aala Basheir and Shoshie Hemley, Iowa City High School

At SNO, we’re always looking for stories that stand out from the crowd. That being said, the two interviewees in this story literally stand out in a crowd of 100,000 people. It’s not everyday that two female students with extremely rare chronic illnesses are found under the roof of the same high school. That caught our attention. Therefore, in this case, it’s the creativity from the story idea itself that helps the piece shine.

Black students nearly two times as likely to be suspended as white peers in the ICCSD, by Nina Lavezzo-Stecopoulos, Iowa City High School

As we’ve mentioned in the past, we like stories that are based on data. And this story is. By combining both quantitative data (in the form of statistics and infographics) and qualitative data (student anecdotes), the reader gets an idea of the treatment black students frequently experience, and is able to confirm these experiences based on numerical evidence.

How absent parents affect students’ lives, by Jewels Zeiler, North Platte High School

By detailing the experience of having an absent parent under three different sets of circumstances, this piece captures the variety of emotions that come with the territory. The author also manages to talk to students about some really difficult topics all on the record, not anonymously — a feat in and of itself.

“You’re One of Us,” by Olivia Perron, Troy High School

In a way, this piece is almost investigative. It takes local readers somewhere many have likely never been before: through the doors of the “alternative school” in their own community. By interviewing the school’s students and staff, the writer helps shut down rumors and stigma surrounding the school, creating a more educated readership base overall.

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.

Picky eater, ‘Walking Dynamite,’ tall girls and more: the last two weeks on Best of SNO

At this exact time last year we had received 4,004 submissions to Best of SNO. Fast forward to now, and we’ve almost hit 8,200. In other words, you all are killing it.

There have been countless great stories among those. These are some of the best from the last few weeks, written and submitted by students just like yours.

Mr. Kuhn bites down on biggest fear with new Instagram account, by Jacob Casella, Downers Grove South High School

Oddity. It’s one of the traditional elements of news, and almost a surefire way to draw readers into your story. And this piece has it. I mean, a 40-year-old picky eater trending on Instagram; who wouldn’t want to read about that?

‘Walking dynamite’ lights up community, by Cheyenne Miller, Seward County Community College

Best of SNO passes on a lot of profiles because they’re not that interesting to people outside the writer’s school or town. However, by profiling a Ugandan refugee in their local community, especially at a time of various refugee crises taking place around the world, the writer provides both education and insight into an experience that many readers will never know.

San Ramon housing crisis prices teachers out, by Sraavya Sambara, Vivian Kuang, Sanjana Ranganathan, Michael Han, and Sneha Cheenath, Dougherty Valley High School

Like we said in our last report, we like stories where the topic has an inherent interest that extends beyond the walls of your school. While this piece focuses specifically on San Ramon and the Bay Area, affordable housing and gentrification are topics that many readers can likely relate to, making this an ideal piece to cater to Best of SNO’s national and international readership.

No Labels Attached: Breaking Gender Stereotypes in Sports, by Morgan Fischer, Alison Pataky, and Karen Ramos, Dominion High School

We’re not only looking for written pieces here at Best of SNO. We also want to see what your staff can do within the realms of photo, audio, and video. This video about gender stereotypes in sports has it all. By combining a compelling story line with multiple interviews, reporter voice-over, a combination of shots, b-roll, and natural sound, the piece checks all the boxes we’re looking for.

How’s The Weather Up There?, by Zara Tola, Marquette High School

For every new movie that hits theaters, we at Best of SNO probably receive at least five different reviews, all usually saying more or less the same thing. The movie “Tall Girl,” released earlier this fall by Netflix, was no exception. That being said, by using the movie plot as a base to work from, this piece comes up with a fresh angle. By talking to girls that the protagonist is supposed to represent, they point out the film’s flaws through firsthand experience, replacing the need to write a standard review.

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.

“Ok boomer,” forgotten youth, California fires and more: last month on Best of SNO

There are multiple factors that come into play when deciding if a story is Best of SNO-worthy. From engaging writing and unique angles to well thought out multimedia elements, more considerations are made than it might look.

So, this week, we’re introducing a new format to this email. Instead of picking a handful of our favorite stories from the last month and linking to them without any rhyme or reason, we’re explaining why we selected them. Welcome inside the mind of a Best of SNO reviewer. We hope this offers a good idea of what we’re looking for in future Best of SNO submissions.

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On the outside looking inby Reuben Stoll, Walt Whitman High School

We receive a ton a game-coverage stories on a daily basis, and quite frankly, most of them don’t make it onto Best of SNO. The reason: A reader in Pennsylvania isn’t all that invested in how your high school volleyball team in California is doing. That being said, this piece on racism in sports has much wider appeal and paints a narrative picture that many Best of SNO readers may not otherwise be able to relate to.

Finding the Light: Students find ways to cope with mental health issuesby Anna Owsley and Ben Wieland, Mill Valley High School

A piece of advice we often give to those vying to be published on Best of SNO is that the topic of the story needs to have an inherent interest that will extend beyond the walls of your school. By choosing a topic with national relevance, yet localizing it by talking to four students within their high school, this piece by the Mill Valley News staff accomplishes this to a T. The infographics they’ve incorporated throughout the story don’t hurt either.

Bound in a Bodyby Megan Percy, Faith Jacoby, Natalie Walsh, Anna Carroll, and Lanie Sanders, Francis Howell Central High School

This piece tackles an incredibly sensitive subject matter in an exceptional way. However, it is not the touchy subject matter that deemed this article worthy of Best of SNO publication. We are not necessarily looking for controversial topics in coverage. In this case, it’s the interviews that stand out. By integrating the stories of six students with eating disorder experiences throughout the text, the writers demonstrate solid interviewing techniques, adding a sense of depth and purpose to the article.

A Northern Lensby Kayla Carpenter, Lafayette High School

Something else we like to see in Best of SNO submissions is especially strong and engaging leads. The lead in this story, detailing the desensitization of a student to hearing gunshots echo throughout their neighborhood, draws the reader in right away.

Forgotten Youth: when college is not your first choiceby Kelly Tran, Kamryn Harty, and George Lefkowicz, Henry W. Grady High School

College admissions season is upon us, and we’ve received more stories than we can count about the overall admissions process. However, there’s likely a portion of your student body that’s not planning on jumping right from high school into a traditional two- or four-year institution. Is your coverage doing these students justice? This article and its unique angle about these “Forgotten Youth” does just that.

“Ok boomer” meme reveals generational dividesby Cheyenne Miller, Seward County Community College

Like we said before, the topics of your coverage don’t always need to be hard-hitting. Light-hearted stories are equally warranted and welcomed. This story capitalizes on this: A trending meme. While the meme itself has divided members of different generations, the reporting brings these two constituencies back together through incredibly balanced interviewing and quotes.

When a Tower Fallsby Zachary Khouri, Brianna Cheng, Auva Soheili, Maddy Ting, and Miki Nguyen, Carlmont High School

While the reporting in this article on the recent California wildfires is extremely solid, in this case it’s the overall story packaging that pushed it through to Best of SNO. By pairing the text with interactive timelines, infographics and photo illustrations, the piece helps hold the reader’s attention from start to finish.

Same School, Different Levelsby Carrington Peavy, Beachwood High School

We rarely come by data-driven stories from our high school and college Best of SNO participants, so when they pop up on our screens, they stand out. This article, driven by district-specific data on standardized test-scores, AP enrollment, suspension rates, and staff diversity, helps break down the concept of the achievement gap, educating readers each step of the way.

Heavy rain and cold temperatures impact homeless residentsby Jose Tobar, Juan Miranda, and Cameron Woods, El Camino College

Giving a voice to the voiceless. It’s one of the longstanding clichés of journalism, but in this story it rings true. By interviewing encampment residents, these journalists clearly pushed themselves to get out of their comfort zones and helped elevate the often overlooked voices of the homeless in the process.

Voicelessby Kailey Gee and Jenna Wang, West High School

By not only incorporating interviews, but also writing samples from each of the girls profiled in this piece, the sense of intimacy created between the writer and the subjects is heightened. The story also takes advantage of the SNO Long Form template, allowing each interviewee to have their own “chapter” and tell their story on their own terms.

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Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.

Vaping, climate change, football and more: last month on Best of SNO

Another month down, another 2,700 stories submitted to Best of SNO, and some really great content. While we’ve received tons of pieces related to our Assignment Desk topic — vaping — we’ve also seen students coming up with some really unique story angles to stories and taking advantage of our more advanced story page templates to help their content shine.

Remember, Best of SNO is highly competitive. So far this year, we’ve received 100 to 200 submissions per day and only about 10 percent are selected for publication. Therefore, that Best of SNO distinction is a true challenge and an honor to receive.

Here are some of the best from the last month or so, written and submitted by students just like yours:

The Vaping Experiment: Are We the Guinea Pigs? by Nina Lavezzo-Stecopoulos and Noah Bullwinkle, Iowa City High School

“Even with widespread grave concern about the dangers of e-cigarette use, the inescapability of addiction has kept students from trying to quit. ‘I could die,’ Gilbert said. ‘This could kill me out of nowhere, and that’s kind of scary. Even if I stopped for a couple days, I could still just like die, so it’s scary. I feel like I don’t have enough willpower to stop immediately.’”

Humanitarian pushes through traumatic past to help othersby Fernando Haro, El Camino College

“‘Watching children die is probably one of the worst things I’ve seen,’ Pensado said. ‘Moms would come up with their young daughters telling [us] to take them to the United States where they would have a better opportunity at life.’ But he couldn’t.”

Unsustainableby Annabel Hendrickson, Natalie Katz, and Marta Leira, Iowa City West High School 

“I think it’s really important not to rivet your attention on how bad things can be, but to instead focus on the opportunities created by the need to avoid those damages,” Throgmorton said. “If we face a climate crisis, we should respond as if it were a crisis.”

First Amendment Challenged at Cam Highby Marcella Barneclo, Adolfo Camarillo High School

“Supreme Court Case Tinker v. Des Moines in 1969, ruled that students have the freedom to wear politically affiliated attire with the exception of any material that incites fear or concern in staff or the student body and results in a disruption, making it impossible for learning to take place. The OUHSD district policy requests that all clothing with political affiliation should not be worn to school in prevention of any possible disturbances.”

The Parent Trapby Abby Pingpank, North Allegheny Senior High School

“School entails enough stress as it is, and the last thing students often want is to have their parents get too involved. For some students at NASH, though, that is not an option, as their parents are here daily to witness it all.”

Flipping the narrative, Band receives unexpected support at local competitionby Alishba Javaid, Coppell High School

“Surprised smiles and sparkling eyes of Coppell Band members could be seen as shouts of support from varsity football players from the stands pierced the air.”

Mill Valley’s LGBTQ population finds acceptance and faces new challengesby Ben Wieland, Tanner Smith, and Aiden Burke, Mill Valley High School

“‘Every time I walk into church, I feel like there is this huge target painted on my back. All it takes is one wrong word,’ Augustine said. ‘I don’t know what they could do to me. But it’s going to be bad.’”

JMac: Back to where it all startedby Hayden Davidson, Kirkwood High School

“For the past decade, people across the country, especially Kirkwood residents, have turned on the TV every Sunday in the fall to see the name “Maclin” on their screen. But before all the fame, Jeremy Maclin, 2006 KHS graduate, walked the same halls KHS students do today. Now, he is back as a football coach, serving the team that built the foundation of a nine-year-long NFL career.”

She Speaks for All of Usby Casey Murray, Lake Forest High School

“Greta speaks for all of us. Her every word and turn of phrase rings true in our hearts like a billion resounding bells…”

Final Countdown: Friday Nightby Meg Rees, North Allegheny Senior High School

“Each Friday night during the fall, thousands of spectators witness the Marching Band’s performance. Significantly fewer, however, see what the group does before and after the big night.”

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.

Pokémon, refugee resources, and the first Assignment Desk: last month on Best of SNO

Heading into week three of Best of SNO, we’ve already received more than 1,300 submissions from 161 different schools. Haven’t hit that “submit” button yet? Time to jump on the bandwagon.

From vaping to climate change protests to local TikTok celebrities, there are definitely some common coverage areas coming at many of you. However, we’ve also read a ton of unique submissions breaking out of those categories. These are some of the best stories of the past few weeks, written and submitted by students just like yours:

HB 126: A timeline of the abortion billby Emma Lingo, Kirkwood High School
“Within the last three months, Missouri passed one of the most restrictive laws in the country regarding abortion, blocked several attempts to initiate a state referendum and has been torn on renewing the medical license of the last Planned Parenthood that can perform abortions. For those not constantly glued to the news or just tired of reading it all, it can be nice to have stories broken down into bite-sized pieces — so here’s a timeline along with input from pro-life and pro-choice activists to guide you through the thicket of Missouri’s new law.”

Sexism in speech and debate: competitive speakers’ fight for their voiceby Tyler Kinzy, Parkway West High School
“It is the conversation that speech and debate coach Cara Borgsmiller is forced to have several times each season. ‘I talk openly about it, especially the first time they get a ballot that says something about it.’ You were rude to your opponents. Your tone of voice was annoying. Your skirt was too short. ‘It’ is the bias that women must confront at every speech and debate tournament.”

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? by Lucie Flagg, North Allegheny Senior High School
“‘I often say the true goal of Hello Neighbor is to help the refugees feel more comfortable and confident in their new lives here,’ said Davidson. ‘In particular for the moms, who struggle with taking care of little kids and many of whom lack the language to communicate in English, this is huge towards feeling independent and feeling like they’re contributing to the success of their families.’”

Mirror, Mirrorby Lizzie Kayser, Liberty High School
“Many students struggle to reconcile the reality of their bodies to an unattainable image. Five of Liberty’s girls have decided to share how this battle has affected their lives. Five athletes, scholars and leaders are embarking on an everyday journey to break past idealism and love themselves.”

Catching Memoriesby Emily Davis, Starr’s Mill High School
“For Evan, remembering his father Allen, a 2006 graduate from Starr’s Mill, is a matter of like father, like son. Hundreds of Pokemon cards, toys, and characters leave behind favored memories and ease the ache that accompanies the death of his father.”

Female Football Player Breaks New Groundby Lexie Diekroeger and Connor Del Carmen, Marquette High School
“‘The other day, she had a really clean block that I used as an example when talking to the team about proper blocking,’ Dieffenbach said. ‘No one anymore thinks twice about her being a girl because she has proven her ability and work ethic can help the team in so many ways.’”

Sophomore Jacob Waterman Becomes First La Salle Athlete to Kneel During National Anthem, Inspiring Others to Join Himby Maggie Rasch, La Salle Catholic College Preparatory
“‘I just want to bring attention to the subject and create a community that’s more inclusive and more respectful towards people and their differences,’ said Waterman, who hopes that ‘people are going to realize that it’s not about disrespecting our military, but it’s more towards the greater problem that’s happening in our country.’”

Dear Americaby Nicolas Reyes, Coppell High School
“America, your loved ones are dying and while I often feel I cannot keep doing so, I will continue pleading with you every time more perish. Sadness and fury make clicking my keys more difficult. Your people cannot keep dying. Your people cannot keep living in fear. Your “silent majority” cannot keep turning their cheeks and enjoying their silence. You must stand for so much more.”

Marching band takes more than just walking in timeby Emma Hutchinson, Prosper High School
“So we don’t kick a ball or swing a bat. We still play on a field. We still get points. We still give our all. And at the end of the night, we still wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.

And now, for two important announcements:

  • Tuesday marked the first day you could apply for SNO Distinguished Sites badges. Already, 26 schools have earned the Excellence in Writing badge by having three stories published on Best of SNO.
  • The first “Assignment Desk” topic of the 2019-2020 school year is … Vaping. Much has changed since you covered the topic last year. Then, it was trendy, albeit an unknown, and Juul was a verb. Now, a much scarier picture of its risks is being painted — double-digit deaths have been linked to it, states are banning sales of e-cigarettes and the FDA is watching it all very closely. With growing amounts of new information, show us how you are updating your coverage now by submitting those stories to Best of SNO.

The SNO Report: Is your content Best of SNO?

We know we won’t have your attention for long after we say this, but here it comes:

Best of SNO season is upon us. Right now, you can go to the SNO Badges section of your website’s dashboard and submit eligible stories.

The baseline requirements separating eligible stories from the ineligible remain the same as they were last year:

  1. Stories must be at least 300 words long, with the exception of videos
  2. Stories must have a featured image that has a caption with at least 10 words and a photo credit
  3. Stories must have a byline with a writer’s first and last name
  4. Stories must be submitted within 90 days of being published
  5. A maximum of three stories can be submitted from your site on any given day

Then of course, the content must be good. It should stand out from the crowd (because it is awfully crowded up in here). It’s extremely competitive.

Last year, we reviewed close to 13,000 stories from 416 programs worldwide and published about 20 percent of them (more than 2,000). Only 269 of the 416 participating programs were published at least once.

Having three stories published to Best of SNO still gets you the Excellence in Writing badge, of the SNO Distinguished Sites program. The remaining badges can be applied for starting Oct. 1.

The SNO Report: Best of SNO Superlatives

Alright, so automating Best of SNO really worked. It created a project (new jobs!) for a full-stack developer and a few gray hairs (who’s counting!) for an education/training specialist. It had an MVP-caliber year. Here’s proof:

At the time of this email, Best of SNO had…

It was a highly-competitive year, with less than 20 percent of submitted stories being selected. That level of excellence made selecting these Best of SNO superlatives most challenging.

Of the thousands of stories published on Best of SNO this year, here’s a sampling of our favorites. And because news can be so angering, depressing and plain sad these days, let’s start here:

Best Feel-Good Video Story
Spreading the love on Valentine’s Dayby Rachel Hunter, Carlmont High School

Best New Reporting
Sizing Downby Nina Lavezzo-Stecopoulos and Jesse Hausknecht-Brown, Iowa City High School

Best Trendspotting
Cashless food services increase in numberby Zachary Khouri, Carlmont High School

Best Theater Story
One Act casts Inouye, Cummings as oppositesby Grace Miller, Harrisonburg High School

Best Photo Essay
24 hours across West Highby the Pathfinder Staff, Parkway West High School

Best Assignment Desk Story
46 collected articles about the midterm elections are all worth re-reading. Special mentions for:

Best “UGH!” Explained
How cold is too cold for schoolby Grace LeGars, Tyrone Area High School

Best of Both Sides
Missouri abortion bill strikes up controversyby Sabrina Bohn and Lydia Roseman, Parkway West High School

Best of Colleges

Best Opinion Writing
How will you be rememberedby Ella Sinciline, North Allegheny Senior High School

Best on Film and Culture
Asian-American representation in media trends upwardby Tyler King and Ella Chen, St. John’s School

Best Sports Story
Everyone has a roleby Noah Schwartz, Pascack Valley High School

Best on Teachers Striking
30,000 educators all over LAUSD strike in efforts to help schoolsby Itzel Luna, Casey Wanatick and Farah Faiza, Daniel Pearl Magnet High School

Best Body Art
Spilling ink: Teachers reveal the tales behind their tattoosby Megan Tsang and Sarah Kim, Dougherty Valley High School

Most-Read Story
Freshmen triplets are turning heads in varsity sportsby Nathan Wong, Pleasant Valley High School (more than 1,100 views since March)

Going Beyond The Game: Last Month On Best Of SNO

There’s a certain kind of sports story that’ll get you published on a national platform like ours, at Best of SNO, if it’s well done. It’s a feature. It isn’t often a game story. Three of the recent bests are linked below, along with more of the best stories from the last month or so, written and submitted by students just like yours:

Bond around the ballby Grace Nugent and Anna Schlett, McCallum High School
“It’s easy to show up and play when your team is obliterating the opposition. The 2017 Mac football team had it easy, enjoying a record-breaking season in which the team reeled off 14 straight victories. The road for the 2018-2019 Mac girls varsity basketball team has been much harder to travel: 24 games, three wins and 21 losses.”

Six for six, by Alexis Russell, Lovejoy High School
“In order to capture the essence of this year’s senior class of basketball players, one must take a look back to 2014, to where it all began: Willow Springs Middle School. There, basketball players were sorted into A, B and C teams, according to skill level. After two years of competition, a select group of players from all three middle school teams moved onto high school. Only six remain. And there’s at least one guy left from each of those teams.”

Everyone has a roleby Noah Schwartz, Pascack Valley High School
“Although Collins has only appeared in nine of 29 games and has scored just 11 points this season, she was willing to leave money on the table and not work.”

Adjusting to life without a sisterby Jules Pung, Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School
“Take this as a big heads-up: while it may sound like a dream to have everything to yourself, the truth is that it’s awkward and unsettling to have no one there, maybe even a little bit scary.”

Walking into a reputationby Fatima Kammona, Iowa City West High School
“This reputation has been heard by many that all the girls on the team do is party, drink and sleep around. Others have heard that they are stuck-up, privileged and think they are perfect and better than everyone else. That they are all the same: The poms.”

The top priorityby Thomas Birmingham, Kirkwood High School
“Aaron was absent for 21 consecutive school days in his first semester of junior year. That first day back, he walked into his seventh hour history class still using his cane for support. That’s when he got the slip from the principal’s office, which said Aaron had 19 hours of detention.”

From Colombia to the U.S.: Not exactly the American dreamby Laura Amador-Toro, Coppell High School
“After being in a country where you hug the security guard of your apartment complex on Christmas, life here felt very lonely.”

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.