ARLINGTON, Va. — Two students from Everett High School in Washington state and Principal David Clark of Columbus North High School in Indiana received the 2006 Courage in Student Journalism Awards presented by the Newseum, the Student Press Law Center and the National Scholastic Press Association.
The Courage in Student Journalism Awards are presented each year to student journalists and a faculty administrator who have demonstrated exceptional determination and support for student press freedom, despite resistance or difficult circumstances.
Students Claire Lueneburg and Sara Eccleston, former co-editors of Everett’s school newspaper the KODAK, will share the $5,000 student prize. Clark received a $5,000 award in the adviser category. Lueneburg, Eccleston and Clark accepted the awards at the National Scholastic Press Association/Journalism Education Association Fall Convention in Nashville, Tenn., on Nov. 11.
“We salute this year’s Courage in Student Journalism Award winners for their efforts to make the principles of the First Amendment a reality for young people,” said Newseum Programs Director Rich Foster. “It is through the commitment and determination shown by individuals like Claire Lueneberg, Sara Eccleston and David Clark that the free flow of information will remain a cornerstone of our democracy.”
Lueneburg and Eccleston are being recognized for their commitment to journalistic principles and defense of press freedom in the face of resistance.
In 2005, Lueneburg and Eccleston began their senior year as returning co-editors of the KODAK — a school newspaper that had won many awards during its 106 years of publication. That same year, Everett came under the direction of a new head principal who sought to revise the editorial policy of the KODAK. In disagreement with the publication’s long-time practice of student-controlled content, the new principal — with the support of the school district — required the right to review and approve of articles prior to printing.
Believing that such demands would violate their First Amendment rights, the students refused to comply, and for the first time in its long history, the KODAK was not printed. Although appeals to the school district’s assistant director and superintendent were unsuccessful, Lueneburg and Eccelston continued their campaign. Reaching out to the local media, the girls quickly found support within the community.
Despite these efforts, the school board voted unanimously against the students’ right to editorial control and supported administrative review of the newspaper’s content. Faced with threats of disciplinary action, Lueneburg and Eccleston met with an attorney and filed a lawsuit against the district for a violation of First Amendment rights.
While awaiting their May 27, 2007, trial date in the U.S. Federal District Court, Lueneburg and Eccleston began drafting their own off-campus, student newspaper, published outside the jurisdiction of the school district. The Independent KODAK is funded through advertising, donations and the students’ own contributions.
Lueneburg is currently a freshman at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. Eccleston is attending Capernwray Bible School in northern England.
During his three-year tenure as principal of Columbus North High School, David Clark has been an enthusiastic advocate of the school’s student publication, The Triangle. The staff alerted him to an upcoming story on the inherent dangers of oral sex and the casual attitude of youth toward the act. Although he expressed his discomfort with the issue and questioned the students’ motives, he agreed to stand behind their decision to publish the controversial piece.
The negative response to the story was almost immediate. Letters from parents requested his termination and senior school board members turned against him. But Clark continued to speak out on behalf of The Triangle staff and the quality of their work.
His advocacy of The Triangle‘s press rights earned him a Ball State University Department of Journalism special media citation. He has been asked to speak at Oklahoma State University’s First Amendment Convention in November 2006.
“Our 2006 award winners provide shining examples of how important student press freedom is to our schools and what a crucial role students and administrators can play in defending it,” said Mark Goodman, Student Press Law Center Center executive director.
The Courage in Student Journalism Awards are sponsored by the Newseum, the Student Press Law Center and the National Scholastic Press Association.
The Newseum, the interactive museum of news under construction in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to open in 2007. Newseum operations are funded by the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people.
Since 1974, the Student Press Law Center has been the only national organization exclusively devoted to providing free legal advice and assistance to student journalists and advisers and serving as an advocate for their free press and freedom of information rights.
Founded in 1921, the National Scholastic Press Association and its college division, the Associated Collegiate Press, provide rating services and critical analyses for print and electronic student news media and sponsor the largest annual national conventions for student journalists and their advisers.
Student Press Law Center
(703) 807-1904, email@example.com