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.

Baby, it’s cold outside and learning foreign languages: last month on Best of SNO

It’s very cold and snowy outside but it has been warming on Best of SNO, where we’re seeing record numbers in daily submissions littered with excellent stories. These are some of the best from the last month or so, written and submitted by students just like yours.

Super teachers, super moms, by Eugenia Dominguez-Chaires, Cathedral Catholic High School
“Women who excel professionally and personally pervade the CCHS community. In the last year and a half, four CCHS teachers have given birth and then returned to their beloved teaching.”

Speaking multiple languages helps students in school and business worldsby Connor Del Carmen and Shon Sayfuddinov, Marquette High School
“Daniel Guardado, sophomore, has a skill that puts him at an advantage over many of his peers: he speaks both English and Spanish fluently.”

Sophomore AZ Anderson doesn’t let past experiences have a negative impact on himselfby Kylah Woods, Francis Howell North High School
“At the time, he didn’t really have a grasp on the concept of death, and he didn’t take much time to grieve because he returned to school soon after. ‘I didn’t know I was depressed because I was seven years old and I didn’t really know how to interpret it,’ AZ said.”

How cold is too cold for school?by Grace LeGars, Tyrone Area High School
“Freshman Kaila Moon often walks to and from school and knows there is a limit to how cold it can be before it’s just too cold.”

Swim team’s difficulty retaining African American girls: hairby Tyler Jones, Henry W. Grady High School
“However, after the 2016 Rio Olympics, the narrative because to change. ‘The first thing people said (about Simone Manuel) is, ‘Oh, her hair,’’ Wesley said.”

Fighting for Frenchby Kate Fernandez, Granite Bay High School
“In addition to being regarded as a significantly difficult language, students often think French isn’t as useful in California — one of four U.S. states that border Mexico.”

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.

Midterm Election coverage and your next Assignment Desk: last month on Best of SNO

OK, we concede. You guys are good!

We asked you to get out there and cover your local elections. Your response? Overwhelming. You had it covered from all angles, so much so that we’ve re-published close to 30 stories so far and still have more to review — and more being sent in.

Thank you for the outstanding response to this first Assignment Desk prompt of the school year. You should be proud of yourselves. It was difficult to choose, but these are some of the best stories on the topic, written and submitted by students just like yours.

Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke talks politics with CPHS Newsby Deana Trautz, Cedar Park High School

“While she was quickly jotting down questions on her phone, O’Rourke tried to get to know Mick by asking about her plans after high school. ‘He paid attention to what I had shared with him (and that made) me feel valued as a person.’”

Georgia governor’s race undecided as Democrats gain in the U.S. Houseby Joe Earles, George Lefkowicz, Dana Richie, Ellie Winer and Sam Huray, Henry W. Grady High School

“It’s troubling because Kemp was Secretary of State, so any broken voting machines or voter suppression looks bad on him.”

20-year-old runs for school board, by Sophie RylandMcCallum High School

“Zachary Price burst into Thunderbird Cafe, out of breath, in a crisply-ironed purple shirt and black blazer. The 20-year old had just come from a lecture, and to all observers he seemed like a normal college student.”

Democrats hope to pass new policies after the Midterms, by Liam Lee, Woodside High School

“At Woodside, a reassuring theme among students and staff alike was a hope that the midterms will bring positive change for issues that continue to plague the country.”

Will SCCC students vote in midterms? by Michelle Mattich, Seward County Community College

“Yet with the governor’s race being so close, young voters could make a massive difference — if they show up. Both liberals and conservatives are calling on them to do so.”

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.

And now … you’re next Assignment Desk topic: California Wildfires.

Rule No. 1: This is not a permission slip to put yourself or others in danger with irresponsible, on-the-ground reporting. Be smart.

Although this topic may give California schools a home-field advantage, other schools around the country should push themselves to find a local angle. When it comes to reporting on national stories, we preach localize, localize, localize at Best of SNO.

Dig into it. See what’s there. Good luck!

Crazy Rich Asians, Homecoming elections and your first Assignment Desk prompt: last month on Best of SNO

Aw, shucks, you guys! You have overwhelmed us with your rampant participation in Best of SNO. And, boy, have you all been busy reporting already this fall.

From what we have gathered, every school in the country is under construction, all of them revamped their security procedures, and all of you saw the movie Crazy Rich Asians.

Sure, it’s not fair to lump everyone together like that, but how far off are we really?

Alas, we’ve had the privilege to recognize tons of terrific work so far, based on the unique news and people in your communities. These are some of the best stories of the past month or so, written and submitted by students just like yours.

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

“There’s a sense of pride (walking out of the movie theatre) because it’s so cool to come out of a movie and say, ‘I totally understood that, I can really relate. I felt super close to that movie.”

The Ballotby DJ McInturff and Bryndle Burks, Herrin High School

“‘It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or a boy, you look up to those girls,’ says Elliot, whose sister and mother were both on the court when they were in high school. Elliot, who wants to take part in this Herrin High School tradition, says he doesn’t feel as if he belongs with the escorts.”

Painted pianos bring peace to Atlantaby Tyler Jones, Henry W. Grady High School

“I think Pianos for Peace (puts) people in places they haven’t been in the past as recently, and it’s immediate. A lot of public art can be ‘don’t touch,’ and this is the opposite.”

How will you be remembered?by Ella Sinciline, North Allegheny Senior HIgh School

“This point interests be because when I look around at my classmates, who are the same age as (and even younger than) Kavanaugh was when he allegedly committed those actions, I do not see kids. I see people who are eloquent, decisive and intelligent. I see people who have control over their thoughts and actions. I see people who have self-awareness and can decipher right from wrong.”

Wanting Mooreby Mason YIngling, Bellwood-Antis High School

“Jordan was starting both ways for Bellwood-Antis’ varsity football team in 2017 … And yet tonight, after three months of rehab, he will make a miraculous return to the football field.”

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.

And now … you’re first Assignment Desk topic: Midterm Elections.

Perhaps this Assignment Desk topic is something to start planning for, instead of having something to submit right now; after all, the Midterms aren’t for another few weeks.

We don’t so much care for a list of your local, state or national candidates or your polling places — those stories won’t get re-published — but maybe you interviewed a candidate, talked to students who’ve interned with campaigns (we’ve re-published some of these already) or covered a campaign rally. What we’d also want to see is how you covered the day of the election, the voters’ experience, campaigns awaiting results on election night. It’s a good idea to cover the lead-up to the big day, too, how your community is preparing for it, voter registration drives… that kind of thing.

Prepare and publish them on your site. The submission process doesn’t change. We’ll be on the lookout for your political coverage! Here are some pro tips.

The SNO Report: Best Of SNO Is Back, With One Major Difference

Alright, we’ve tortured you long enough. Best of SNO is back, baby!

But wait… There’s nowhere to submit my story! Ahh! Am I going crazy? Why are you doing this to me! WAS THAT A GHOST I JUST SAW!

Frankie says “relax.” Gone are the days when you had to fill out a submission form on the site to submit your article. Welcome to the future!

We’ve added a feature in the dashboard of your site that allows you to press a button that sends your article our way. Right there in the toolbar where you click “Stories,” “Breaking News” and more, you’ll click “Best of SNO” — that’s how you’ll get started.

This new feature is constantly sifting through all of your content, marking stories as eligible or ineligible for submission based on several factors, listed below (and listed on your site’s “Best of SNO” section under the “Submission Guidelines” tab).

  • Stories must be at least 300 words in length, with the exception of videos, which are eligible when that video’s embed code is pasted into the proper Video Embed Code field.
  • Stories must have a featured image.
  • That featured image must have a photo caption and photo credit.
  • Stories must have a byline with the writer’s first and last name.

All of the other ideological requirements, like the story being engaging, concise and relevant, standing out from the crowd — that kind of thing — remain the same.

Eligible stories will be listed under the “Eligible Stories” tab of the Best of SNO page in your dashboard and ineligible ones will be listed under, you guessed it, the “Ineligible Stories” tab. View your list of ineligible stories and there’ll be a note there explaining what’s making it ineligible.

Before you do any of that, please review the “Site Data” tab, which should be the first thing that shows up when you click “Best of SNO” in your toolbar. The site data lists important information for us like the adviser’s name and the school’s name. Verify that all of it is correct; if not, fix it.

Now, a few things about submitting…

  • Everyone can view the page to see if their story is eligible, but only site “administrator” accounts will have the ability to submit.
  • Only three submissions are permitted per day, per site. We read all submissions, so cut us some slack on this one.
  • When you hit “Submit” on an eligible story, it goes to the “Submitted Stories” tab and also is added to our master list for review.

At that point, it’s all out of your hands, but you can see the status of each submission (it’s either Pending, Accepted or Rejected) in that “Submitted Stories” section. You can also retract a submission if you change your mind about it.

Your overall progress toward the Excellence in Writing badge is tracked in the middle of the page. There, you’ll see how many stories you’ve submitted this year, how many are being reviewed, how many were published, and how many you’ve submitted (out of three) that day. You still need three stories published on Best of SNO to earn the badge.

OK. You’ve heard enough from us. Now show us what you’ve got!

The SNO Report: Best of Best of SNO

It’s May, plants are finally blooming in Minnesota, promposals are yesterday’s news, and “Wrap it Up!” is flashing on the teleprompter out in front of us. So, this week we’re handing out some end of the year Best of SNO superlatives. And what a year it was for student journalism. Not unlike the national media, students had a lot to cover from all the people and events at your school to national movements that had especially local footprints this year. You crushed it.

Of the hundreds of great stories told this year, here’s a sampling of our favorites:

Best Strange But Still News Story
“Wild hawk spotted devouring squirrel on quad,” by Claire Furse, St. John’s School

Best In The Classroom Story
“Freshman English classes participate in privilege walk activity,” by Hadley Hudson, Vandegrift High School

Most Inventive Analysis 
“Anatomy of a teen movie,” by Blythe Terry, Starr’s Mill High School

Best Enterprise Reporting
“College-bound students weigh how far to fly the coop,” by Hannah Jannol, Shalhevet High School

Best College Edition Story
“Go big or go home: Colleges fight waning enrollment,” by the Jetstream Staff, Simpson College 

Best Sports Story
“A day in the life of a Whitman pom,” by Eva Herscowitz, Walt Whitman High School

Biggest Viral Hit
“Tesla’s Women Engineers,” with 10,450 views since March, by Ajooni Grewal, Day Creek Intermediate School

Best Unpopular Opinion
“Trump robbed of ‘Person of the Year’ award,” by Yianni Sarris, Mayfield High School

Best Editorial
“Commentary: Why I walked out of our ‘walkout’,” by Maya Wernick, The Archer School for Girls

Best Review
“This is what makes us girls: a ‘Sour Heart’ review,” by Luke Reynolds, Iowa City West High School

Best Exploratory Reporting
“Students torn over controversial net neutrality repeal,” by Mohini Rye, Sacramento Country Day School

Best Hurricane Coverage
“Surviving the storm,” by Katie Felton, Lovejoy High School, and “‘Life is definitely going to be different now’,” by Katelyn Spivey, Canyon High School

Best Localized #MeToo Story
“Not just Hollywood: The culture of harassment in schools,” by Julia Radhakrushnan, Abby Wheatley, Rebecca Chapman, Hannah Chambliss and Peyton Humphreys, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Best Video Feature
“Carnegie Hall awaits junior violinist,” video by Divya Murali and Neha Perumalla with story by Brooke Colombo, Liberty High School

There’s so much more excellent work to check out. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading it all as much as we have.

The SNO Report: Going in-depth on graduation gowns, private schools, startups and more: last month on Best of SNO

October was a loaded month for Best of SNO. While the other kids at school were out trick-or-treating, student journalists were going deep on interesting topics. The investigative team at Simpson College looked into the enrollment challenges of private schools. A change in graduation traditions caused a stir, original thinkers started projects of their own, and our Assignment Desk topic, Protests in Sports, yielded interesting returns. These are some of the best stories of October, written and submitted by students just like yours:

Go big or go home: Private colleges fight waning enrollment, Jetstream Staff, Simpson College
“The competition is stiff, and we’re all competing for a shrinking slice of the pie.”

Cam High to change more than 50 years of tradition with graduation gownsChloe Schicker, Adolfo Camarillo High School
“It is not about gender equality as much as it is about being respectful to everybody’s choice to select a gender or not select a gender, and we have students who choose not to.”

Senior creates community service projectEliza Benyaminova, Mayfield High School
“Haircuts for Care provides women and children in shelters with a way to feel confident and empowered.”

Let’s talk business: Student starts fashion companyNeelansh Bute, Marquette High School
“He created his fashion apparel company, Maestro, in October 2016, in the comfort of his own home, while sick with the flu.”

Standing up — or sitting or kneeling — for what’s rightStaff Reports, Watertown High School
“They are standing up for the right that people have died for, but as long as they don’t turn their back, I have no issue with it.”

Read more great stories like these on the Best of SNO high school and collegeeditions.

Assignment Desk: Everyone’s writing articles, and Best of SNO’s here to recognize the good ones. But this year, we want to see who’s doing more than that and still doing great work. Consider this our first push.

This month’s topic: Multimedia. Send us your best video stories and photo galleries, all of which should align with our requirements for the SNO Distinguished Sites Multimedia Badge. (That’s our primary requirement). These should be interesting. Videos shouldn’t be news broadcasts or two minutes of raw footage spliced together. They should be interview based… multiple camera angles… B-roll… you know the drill. Photos shouldn’t be blurry or pixelated, they should have captions and credits. Also, don’t send us any gallery larger than 15 photos.

We know these will be different to submit than a story. For videos, there’s your usual area for the embed code. For galleries, paste your link in the Body Text space. For both, attach a Featured Image and give it a headline and byline.

Any submission without all these elements, will not be considered.

And, as always, categorize it as Assignment Desk in the dropdown menu of the form.

Good luck!