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.