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2011 Michael S. Powell HS Journalist of the Year: Walt Whitman’s Stephanie Haven

Walt Whitman senior Stephanie Haven is the MDDC High School Journalist of the Year.
Haven, of Bethesda, Maryland, is the online editor-in-chief for The Black & White, the school's newspaper.
Haven was inspired to try journalism by a favorite character in the television series The Gilmore Girls. The character was a "Christiane Amanpour wannabe," and suddenly, so was Haven. But the journalism bug really got to Haven last school year when a Facebook post turned into a scoop on a story that would put Haven at the front of coverage.
"My mom is in lock down at Whitman," the post began, "What's going on?" There was a school meeting going on at Whitman High School, but no one knew why the people in the building weren't being allowed to leave. Haven checked the television and online news sources for information, but found nothing. A local reporter then informed Haven that a man had been shot two blocks from the school. As soon as Haven confirmed the tip, she posted the story online. Haven's coverage was the only source of updates for residents in the community while the siege was happening. The school's site had a record number of hits that night, and Haven scooped not only the local television affiliate, but The Washington Post as well, which didn't post news of the shooting and lockdown until the following morning.
"The entire experience energized my interest in journalism," Haven said. "My passion for journalism has been forever piqued."
Louise Reynolds, adviser at The Black & White, says Havens is "a whirlwind of energy and movement." As editor-in chief of the award-winning online newspaper, Haven has been responsible for assigning and editing stories, making sure breaking news is covered promptly, updating photos and videos, and informing readers of events of general interest. "She keeps things moving," said Reynolds. Calling her "innovative, enthusiastic and energetic," Reynolds said she has enjoyed watching Haven take over the website and make great strides with it in such a short time. The site, under Haven's direction, was named in January one of 20 finalists in the National Scholastic Press Association's pacemaker competition.
Haven recently attended the Journalism Division of the National High School Institute at Northwestern University where she learned from journalists from People Magazine and Newsweek and more. Haven says she learned the value of being an "all-platform" journalist who doesn't restrict herself to just one type of journalism. "I learned more about myself and about journalism...than I ever thought possible," she said.
Haven brought back the lessons of the immersion program and promptly went to work on theblackandwhite.net. The site is now the Internet home page for student and staff school computer accounts. It features Twitter and Facebook page links, live-stream video capability, polls and other multi-media features. Daily viewership of the site is roughly 1,800 hits per day, up from 300 hits per day last school year.
"Putting time into the newspaper never feels like work," said Haven, who aspires to one day be a foreign correspondent. "It's second nature. Something I love to do and never want to stop learning more about. The news never stops, and neither will I."
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