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Alexandra Marquez wins High School Journo of the Year

Commitment to journalism and an ability to engage and motivate her peers, coupled with talented writing propelled Montgomery Blair High School senior Alexandra Marquez to being named the 2017 Michael S. Powell High School Journalist of the Year.  Alexandra is currently the editor-in-chief of Silver Chips, the student newspaper of Silver Spring, MD high school Montgomery Blair.  The runner-up was Caroline Cooney, of John Carroll School in Bel Air, Maryland.

A panel of MDDC editors and reporters, including Angie Price of the Bay Times, Dan Divilio of the Kent County News, Ben Penserga of The Daily Times, and Brian Karem of The Sentinel Newspapers reviewed 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. 

The judges were impressed by Alexandra’s writing, saying that she “shows a real knack for news reporting.”  She writes about diverse topics and handles each of them well.  One of the editors on the judging panel remarked that Alexandra “…could show up in our newsroom someday.”  

Alexandra thrives on the “fast-paced, active environment” of the newsroom, where stories pop up and need to be addressed at a moment’s notice.  She takes her role as editor in chief seriously, saying, “I have the responsibility to my school community to report on what they deserve to know.”  Montgomery Blair High School is in Silver Spring, Maryland and Silver Chips publishes five times during the school year.  Alexandra became editor in chief for the 2016-17 school year after having served as a staff writer the previous year.

Her advisor, Jeremy A. Stelzner, writes “This is a young woman who stuck around late into the evening hours with senior staff editors long after her peers had gone home simply to ensure the paper was perfect before going out to print.  It was this unwavering commitment to quality student journalism that led to her unanimous election as Editor in Chief.”  Alexandra plans to continue that commitment, having applied to journalism programs at several schools.  No matter where she attend college, Alexandra dreams of being a print or online journalist, saying “whether I work at a local publication and inform a small community, or write for a large, national publication, my goal is to educate readers and maintain an informed public.”

Caroline, as runner-up, showed great promise in her writing.  She is currently the editor in chief of The Patriot, which publishes five issues each school year.  Caroline was deeply influenced by journalism, citing the publication as a helping her to give "a voice to the student body as well as exploring my own voice as a leader."  This attitude was tested by attempted school censorship at the beginning of this school year.  The publication's staff, along with their faculty advisor fought back to protect their rights.  Caroline notes that her advisor's "persistent emphasis on the value of the First Amendment taught me to stand up for what I believe in and helped me refocus on our role as the student newspaper."

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