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