2015 Michael S. Powell HS Journalist of the Year: Rockville High School’s Greta Anderson
Sensitivity coupled with journalistic integrity and a healthy dose of chutzpah propelled Rockville High School senior Greta Anderson into being named the 2015 Michael S. Powell High School Journalist. Greta is currently the editor-in-chief of Rockville High School’s newspaper, The Rampage. She will be honored at the MDDC Editorial Awards program Friday, May 1. Tickets are available now.
A panel of MDDC editors and reporters, including Angie Price of the Bay Times, Dan Divilio of the Kent County News, Vanessa Junkin of The Daily Times, Steve Gunn of the Capital Gazette and Brian Karem of the Sentinel reviewed 23 applications for this prestigious $1,500 cash award. Students were asked to submit an autobiographical statement about journalism, a letter of recommendation from their journalism teacher or advisor as well as five published articles demonstrating their versatility and skill.
Greta’s breadth of experience impressed the judges. She covered sensitive topics such as the death of a classmate with empathy and integrity and reported with dogged determination a story about a string of thefts in the school locker room, even filing a Freedom of Information request to compel her school to provide a history of incidents. One of the editors on the judging panel remarked that Greta “…could show up in our newsroom someday.”
The skills and versatility Greta displayed in her application were honed by years working on her middle and high school newspapers. Greta remembers “asking no follow-up questions, blankly reading from a predesigned sheet of notebook paper. I remember feeling uncomfortable, impersonal, anything but conversational.” She continued writing and gaining experience. Her “perseverance” and “undeniable confidence” – in Greta’s mind, the two most important aspects of scholastic journalism – have come together in award-winning journalism. In her junior year, Greta covered a theft in the school locker room. She found, through interviews, that fear of theft was a common concern and went to the school administration to ask for the previous two years’ worth of reports on lost and stolen items. When the administration refused her request, Greta contacted the Student Press Law Center and “composed a formal letter, outlining why under the law they were forced to cooperate and compile the public records”. The administration then compiled the records and Greta was able to complete her article.
Her advisor, Jessica Nassau, writes “Greta inspires me with the passion of her ideas, her willingness to put in the work to achieve the best product, and the courage to tell the stories that need to be told.” As editor-in-chief, Greta has focused on the quality of the entire paper. She has focused on fundraising, helping to propel the Rampage’s biggest annual fundraiser to new heights. The Rampace 5K is being featured in curriculum materials by the Journalism Education Association. Additionally, Greta has improved the Rampage’s online publishing system. She writes “I took the initiative to change this bad habit [inconsistent online posting] by making a shared online calendar for the staff, [and] presenting an online publication schedule…” to ensure that every online article is published within 24 hours of the event. Under her leadership, the Rampage has also broadened the diversity of its reporting. Greta coached a junior reporter on an article about two Rockville High School students who fled violence in their home country of Honduras and are now enrolled in the school’s ESOL program. Additionally, Greta highlighted the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program at Rockville High School with a two-page spread on Deaf culture. She believes that “the Rampage will continue to improve if we include these diverse communities in our publication”.
Greta has been accepted and plans to enroll in Temple University’s School of Media and Communication, majoring in Journalism.