The SNO Report: Best of SNO Superlatives

We’ve almost made it through another school year, and with that, another record-breaking nine months of Best of SNO submissions. Don’t believe us? Check out these stats.

As of mid-May, Best of SNO had…

  • More than 20,000 stories submitted to it, since September
  • Published approximately 3,500 pieces (an overall publication rate of 18%)
  • 477 participating schools, worldwide
  • 317 schools published at least once

While the end of this particular school year has been anything but normal, we’re clinging on to any sense of normalcy we can by handing out Best of SNO superlatives. So without further ado, here’s a sampling of some of our favorites:

Best (Aptly Named) Investigative Reporting
Digging Up Dirt, by Lillian Metzmeier, John Woodhouse, and Sky Carrol, On the Record Magazine at duPont Manual High School

Best Assignment Desk Stories
From the assignment desk prompts we gave you this year, Vaping, Impeachment, and Student Entrepreneurship, special mentions go to:

Best Bilingual Reporting
Latin-o? -a? -que?, by Kimberly Medina and Brisayd Muniz, Paschal High School

Best of Colleges

Best Community-Based Reporting
“Welcome to Portland”: A Look Into the Lives of Three of Portland’s Homeless, by Maddie Khaw and Carlie Weigel, La Salle Catholic Preparatory High School

Best Continuous COVID-19 Coverage
Props to the staff of The Shield at McCallum High School for some of the most creative Coronavirus coverage angles we’ve read this year:

Best Female Empowerment Story
Troop Four: A look inside one of the first all-girl Scout troops, by Holly Adams, Walt Whitman High School

Most Inclusive Reporting
Shedding Light on Special Education, by Kaitlyn Piggott, Troy High School

Best Coverage Involving a Speedo
Wacky hall passes keep students on their toes, by Julia Golovey, Granite Bay High School

Best Opinion Writing
How Do You Choose to Remember Kobe Bryant?, by Amanda Brauchler, Rock Canyon High School

Best Photo Essay
Final Countdown: Friday Night, by Meg Rees, North Allegheny Senior High School

Best Photo Illustrations
Unsustainable, by Annabel Hendrickson, Natalie Katz, and Marta Leira, Iowa City West High School

Best Review
American Dirt Lacks the True Migrant Experience, by Karen Portillo, Santaluces High School

Best Sports Story
Nine years in the making, senior gets his one shining moment, by Aaron Boehmer and Kirthi Gummadi, Liberty High School

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

Best Video Feature
Chinatown cookie company delivers good fortune for 58 years and counting, by Kiana George, Carlmont High School

Best “Yang Gang” Coverage
Politics meets streetwear as presidential candidate Andrew Yang comes to Fairfax, by Sam Rubanowitz, Shalhevet High School

Most-Read Story
A Leader in Stars and Stripes, by Ianne Salvosa, Wentzville Liberty High School (2,961 views since February)

And there’s more where that came from. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading it all as much as we have.

Soccer uniforms, scuffed-up referees, and senior night: Sports on Best of SNO

From the submissions we’ve received recently, we’ve gathered that winter sports seasons are wrapping up, and spring sports are kicking off (pun-intended). Therefore, what better time than the present to reiterate the type of sports stories we like to feature on Best of SNO. Hint: They usually don’t revolve around game coverage. We hope these will give you some inspiration and get you thinking about new ways to cover your school’s array of sports teams over the coming months. In the meantime, these are some of the best we’ve read over the last few weeks:

Defining a sport, by Sally Parampottil, Angela Yuan, and Nicholas Pranske, Coppell High School

You know all of those activities that often spark heated debates over whether they are a sport or not? Marching band, chess, and dance, to name a few. Well, those all exist at Coppell High School, and The Sidekick staff decided to put an end to the arguing. To achieve this, they laid out the defining traits of a sport, conducted interviews with participants of those aforementioned activities, and topped it all off with a hint of personal opinion. The result is an interesting three-piece series that challenges the reader’s preconceived notions about athleticism and pushes the boundaries of sports writing for the better.

Beneath the jersey: the 20-year history of sports uniforms at West, by Joe Goodman and Natalie Katz, Iowa City West High School

When thinking about sports coverage, uniforms may not be the first thing that comes to mind. To spectators, uniforms are a way to identify a team. To athletes, they may be a sweaty piece of clothing that has been passed down for years. But what if there was more to them than that? For West Side Story writers, there was. They did a deep dive into the budgeting for team uniforms, design progression over time, and the meanings behind color choices; all coupled with photo illustrations and a video. From the piece, readers are left with a greater knowledge of the decision-making process surrounding uniforms, while future players gain “respect and nostalgia deserved for 20 years of unmatched athletic talent.”

Scarcity of striped shirts: Why there is a lack of referees, by Drew Boone, Parkway West High School

Another component of sports coverage that is frequently overlooked are those facilitating the games themselves: the referees. While many attendees may pay no attention to these individuals, for others, such as heated parents, coaches and players, arguing with a referee is a common occurrence. And it turns out, in the Parkway West community, this is a big problem. The area is experiencing a referee drought, in large part due to mistreatment from spectators. With this in mind, the article moves beyond game coverage itself and looks at the potential future consequences of argumentative attendees. It analyzes a trend that could have a huge impact on school sports and that, ultimately, more people should be paying attention to.

For the love of the game, by Will Hanson, De Smet Jesuit High School

Surprisingly, for the amount of action and visual opportunities that exist in the realm of sports, we don’t get many sport-related video submissions at Best of SNO. That being said, this one from De Smet Jesuit High School would have to be the A-standard. If it wasn’t clear enough from simply watching it, we’ll break it down for you. The videographer uses a wide variety of well-composed shots and camera angles, the camera work itself is incredibly smooth and clear, the lighting is perfectly balanced, it contains two interviews conducted in a logical and relevant setting, the music choice does not detract from what the subjects are saying, it is an appropriate length, and the editing is spot-on. It’s clear that a lot of thought and preparation went into the production of this video, and the results speak for themselves.

Nine years in the making, senior gets his one shining moment, by Aaron Boehmer and Kirthi Gummadi, Liberty High School

Sometimes sporting events are about more than the numbers on the scoreboard at the end of the game. Sometimes, it’s more about those feel-good moments that will be remembered for decades to come. That was the case on Feb. 21, senior night, at Liberty High School. After six years of watching the Redhawk basketball team from the bench and hoping to play, team manager Matthew Philips got his shot –– and he crushed it. But not only was the emotional moment captured through intimate interviews. The embedded social media posts and video take it to the next level, transporting the viewer to the Texas gymnasium as Philips was swarmed by supportive teammates and documenting the storybook moment for all to see.

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO

Kobe Bryant, Coronavirus, Valentine’s Day, and more: the last two weeks on Best of SNO

As this newsletter was written, the windchill at our Minnesota SNO headquarters officially dropped down to -20°F. In other words, we’ve reached the point in the winter where all we want to do is stay inside, bundle up, and read. And what better reading material than Best of SNO submissions! These are some of the best we’ve read over the last few weeks:

How Do You Choose to Remember Kobe Bryant?by Amanda Brauchler, Rock Canyon High School 

Since Kobe Bryant passed away on Jan. 26, social media websites, and our Best of SNO submission vault, have been inundated with expressions of sorrow. Based on the number of stories and eulogies we read, it’s clear that Bryant made his mark on Gen Z. That being said, out of all the submissions we received, only one mentioned a significant part of the basketball legend’s legacy — his felony sexual assault charge. As the piece itself states, while you can revere Bryant’s domination of the NBA and respect his dedication to his daughters, with that “needs to come the nuanced realization that Bryant hurt someone.” Especially in the era of #MeToo, we hope these conversations are occuring in your newsrooms in order to produce comprehensive and balanced coverage. It’s clear that took place at Rock Canyon High School.

Aromantic and Asexual Awareness Week broadens the impact of Valentine’s Dayby Kasey Liu, Carlmont High School

On a lighter note, Valentine’s Day was last week, and with it, lots of corresponding coverage flooded Best of SNO. While we learned about many different ways schools embrace the holiday and picked up some good tips on celebrating without breaking the bank, what we liked about this story is the antithetical angle it takes. By moving past the flowers, boxes of chocolates and romantic dinners, the author shines a light on Aromantic and Asexual Spectrum Awareness Week and those who do not feel any romantic attraction to others. Not only is this topic interesting, it is also a prime example of producing inclusive coverage, in this case surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community.

As 2 cases of new coronavirus confirmed in Southern California, public health measures ramp up worldwideby Kathy Fang and Eric Fang, The Harker Upper School

Over the past few weeks, the death toll from the novel coronavirus has continued to climb. The virus first originated in Wuhan, China, and it’s impacts are now being felt around the globe — including in California. While no cases of the virus have been reported in Santa Clara County, multiple members of the Harker community have ties to China through recent business travel and family. By interviewing these individuals, the authors are successfully able to localize the issue and produce a story that goes beyond simply regurgitating information from national news outlets, something we love to see at Best of SNO.

American Dirt Lacks the True Migrant Experienceby Karen Portillo, Santaluces High School

Many reviews we read at Best of SNO seem to follow a common formula: They only include the perspective of the author, they tend to over-explain the plot of the work, and they are often over-praising. This review challenges those norms. American Dirt, the newest release from Jeanine Cummins which tells the story of a Mexican mother and her son fleeing to America after their family members were killed by a drug cartel, has prompted nationwide controversy. This is mentioned in the article. Latinos have criticized how a white, non-immigrant person could write an entire novel about the struggles of crossing the border without having any experience. Their voices are included in the article. And excessive praise? You won’t find it in the article due to the lack of authenticity and stereotypes used to describe members of the Mexican community that the author points out. By breaking these trends, this article is critical, authentic, and ultimately extremely refreshing.

“They just held so much power over me,” by Bella Grumet, Walt Whitman High School 

In any given week, we read a handful of great long-form Best of SNO submissions. This one, on harassment that students face in the workplace, was a topic we hadn’t seen before. By interviewing three different students who have experienced or witnessed workplace harassment, as well as a professor of women’s and gender studies for an expert perspective, readers are left with a better understanding of how these power dynamics are manipulated and how other students can protect themselves from similar situations.

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.

Impeachment, memes and World War III? A very political last few weeks on Best of SNO

The atmosphere across the United States has been politically charged lately, to say the least. From President Donald Trump launching an attack killing Iranian general Qasem Soleimani on Jan. 3 to the Senate impeachment trial, it seems that conversations about politics have become practically unavoidable.

While both of these events took place on a national level, we’ve seen student journalists doing a great job approaching them head-on from more unique local angles.

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

Impeachment reverberates locallyby Noah Orloff, St. Louis Park High School

We don’t come across podcast submissions often for Best of SNO, but this one checks off all the boxes in terms of elements we typically look for. It is interview-based, the audio is clear, it contains a proper intro and outro, it is an appropriate length, and the transitions between the different audio clips are seamless. From a non-technical perspective, the podcast breaks down the impeachment process with the help of a social studies teacher and presents a variety of different reactions from multiple student interviews, providing both an educational and topical experience for listeners.

Students feel the impact of current state of governmentby Calen Moore, Seward County Community College

As the author of this piece makes evident to readers, the population demographics around Seward County Community College, in southwest Kansas, are unique. Many residents living in the area are Hispanic or farmers, two demographics that have been targeted by the Trump administration for vastly different reasons. In the author’s own words, it’s the perfect “pocket of cultural clash.” By including interviews with an avid Trump supporter, a Trump critic, and a student unaware of the current political climate, the different sides of this cultural clash are well represented in a balanced, unbiased way.

Iranians deal with the effects of Trump’s actionsby Khalid Kishawi, Carlmont High School

Living in the United States, it’s easy for news coverage to be written and analyzed from a Western perspective. This piece combats that norm. From speaking to three different Iranians living in the Bay Area, topics such as cultural site destruction, xenophobia, economic warfare, and digital insensitivity (AKA World War III memes) are brought to light, challenging readers to reconsider the far-reaching effects of the killing of Qasem Soleimani.

Looking back: Changes in the Selective Service Systemby Amelia Stevens, Iowa City West High School

Given the events of the last month, teenagers are talking about the probability of World War III or the re-implementation of a national draft. What we love about this piece that touches on these topics is that it’s creative. By digging deep into their newspaper archives to when President Jimmy Carter reactivated the Military Selective Service Act, the author is able to compare the opinions of students in the 1980s with students today — something we definitely haven’t seen before at Best of SNO.

Integration of memes and politicsby Anvitha Reddy, Coppell High School

We received a lot of Best of SNO submissions about World War III memes, most of them opinion pieces taking a side on whether the memes are culturally insensitive, or whether they are a humorous coping mechanism for members of Gen-Z to turn to in the midst of political turmoil. This story takes a different approach. Instead of choosing a side, the author focuses on the inherent nature of memes which often blur what’s fact and what’s fiction. They form a coherent argument around how memes have become a substitution for real news and often perpetuate a climate or misinformation and fear, all without letting their emotions get the best of them.

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.