Contest W5: News Writing
You will be writing a news story. The story should be approximately 400 words. With the aid of computers this year, we are able to enforce this. Please do not write longer than the word limit.
Please use the information provided below. The writer should determine which information is relevant and important to the story. Students may use dictionary, thesaurus and/or the Associated Press style manual. Only entries submitted online will be accepted. No exceptions will be made to this rule.
When you submit, you will simply be submitting plain text. Formatting such as italics, bold and underline will not transfer. Also, paragraph breaks will not transfer. To show the judge your intention to create a paragraph break, please use this double-backslash symbol: // For instance, a passage with two paragraph breaks would look like this:
The school board reversed the policy with an 11-1 vote. // “I disagreed with the decision, but I lost this time,” said board president Yvonnes Nulton. // The policy will go into effect at the start of next school year.
- 3 p.m. Feb. 19: contest materials available
- 11 p.m. Feb. 22: contest submission due
This contest is meant to be completed individually. Please refrain from seeking help from others while completing this contest.
Failure to follow these directions may result in disqualification from the contest without refund. Please read and follow carefully.
- Read over the prompt presented below. The writer should determine which information is relevant and important to the story.
- While writing, you may use resources like the AP Stylebook, an online style guide or a dictionary/thesaurus.
- Use whatever technology works best for you while writing your draft. This could be pencil and paper, your cell phone, your computer, etc. Do whatever you’re most comfortable with.
- Do not include your name or your school’s name anywhere on your final draft.
- Type up the final version of your story and submit it here.
- Please do not share your draft, notes or ideas about the prompt with others until after the competition deadline.
Here is a link to this contest’s judging rubric.
You are a member of Sunflower High School’s journalism staff. Your editor has asked you to edit the following story and coverage.
- Name: Sunflower High School
- Location: Clinton, Kansas
- Mascot: Mighty Buffalo
- Enrollment: 800 (grades 9-12)
- School colors: yellow and brown
- Yearbook: The Sunflower
- Newspaper: Sunflower News
- This is an on-site contest.
- Do not put your name on the entry. If you do, your entry will be disqualified.
- Students must not request help or advice from any person other than the KSPA Executive Director Eric Thomas at [email protected], and that advice must be requested before the start of the contest.
- All work must be solely that of the contestant.
Prompts will be visible at 3 p.m. Feb. 19.
Facts from your research
- Three nurses from Sunflower High School were infected and tested positive for COVID-19 in a three week period
- Nurse Sophia Hybl was the first to be inflected. She received her positive test result on Saturday, January 30th.
- Nurse Gabriella Heibeck filled in for Nurse Hybl starting on Monday, February 1st. Nurse Heibeck received her positive test result on Sunday, February 7th.
- Nurse John Weatherly filled in for Nurse Heibeck starting on Monday, February 8th. Nurse Weatherly received his positive test result Friday, February 12th.
- All three nurses confirmed these dates. All three consented to have their medical information public because they are employees of a public school and they think it’s important that the community knows about the disease.
- The school is unclear on how to staff the nursing position while the three are quarantined
- Throughout the school year, 26 students have tested positive for COVID, 6 of them being in the last three weeks
- The nurse’s office is adjacent to the cafeteria in the school
- In the Clinton School District, there are ten certified school nurses and five schools to cover
- Besides the nurses, the there have been 3 faculty members who have tested positive for COVID-19 during the school year
- Many of the nurses in and around the Clinton school district participate in a book club that meets on Wednesday nights. They are currently reading The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. They started holding their clubs over Zoom, but some still choose to gather in person. It is unclear which nurses chose to participate virtually or in person.
- There is a large group of outspoken parents who want Sunflower High School to transition fully online.
- There is also a large group of parents who want Sunflower High School to remain fully in person.
- In a online Twitter poll of 300 people who responded to the survey, respondents have rated their feelings of safety in school as a 6 out of 10
From School Nurse Sophia Hybl
- “I’m just so shocked this happened. I went to visit my sister in Florida for the holiday, but I got a test the minute I returned and it was negative. I must have picked it up from a student who came to my office.”
- “I saw about twenty students during the first week back. None of their symptoms screamed COVID to me. Mostly stomach issues and injuries in gym class. They’re roller skating the next few weeks…always a busy time.”
From School Nurse Gabriella Heibeck
- “We really try our best to be the safest we can be, but sometimes these things happen. It’s a wild situation that three nurses would come down with this. I just hope everyone gets healthy soon.”
- “I saw a student in the nurse’s office a few days before I started feeling ill. The student didn’t have a fever but I could tell he was coming down with something. I recommended this student stay home and get a test if he developed a fever, but then saw this student in classes all week. I don’t want to say this might be our cause, but it’s a possibility.”
From School Nurse John Weatherly
- “I came to fill in as a favor for Gabriella and next thing I know I can’t taste my coffee. I’ve tried my best to be so careful but sometimes that’s just not enough.”
- “To be honest I hope my taste doesn’t come back anytime soon. It makes my wife’s cooking a lot easier to get down.”
- “Yeah, I’m in the nurses book club. I’m one of the few who still meet over Zoom. Most of the nurses like to go in person these days. It seems like they’re being safe about it, though.”
From Liz Silver, mother of Susie Silver, junior
- “I would consider myself one of the louder voices in the plea for Sunflower High to go completely virtual. I’ve been a big advocate since school began in August. At first, the administration told me they didn’t have the numbers to justify sending kids home, but now I’m sure they do. How can you let our kids keep coming to school when three school nurses, the people supposed monitoring for COIVD, all come down with it?”
- “Susie likes going to school in person. She’s finally made a good group of friends, but I keep telling her she won’t have many friends if they all get COVID and die, now will she?”
- “Susie said she went and saw Nurse Hybl on the Thursday before she tested positive. I kept her home for two weeks after I found out just to be sure, and in that time two more nurses tested positive. How can I justify letting Susie go back to school?”
Garry Gutierrez, father of Meghan Gutierrez, senior
- “I don’t understand all the fuss about keeping our kids in school. Letting them stay in person will be better for them both academically and socially. Plus, their immune systems are the best they’ll ever be. Let the kids go to school.”
- “Meghan is my daughter. She’s a senior on the softball team this year and is up for the captain spot. Of course I want her to have her senior season. She has schools like Oklahoma and Louisiana State looking to give her full rides. We could never afford to send her somewhere like that, so this could be huge! I’m sure lots of kids are in her same boat. Taking students out of school and cancelling things like their sports seasons could really impact their futures.”
- “Nurse Heibeck is a close family friend of ours. She is a wreck over what’s happened. It’s not her fault she got sick and we definitely don’t blame her. It could happen to anyone.”
From Principal Kaiser Kim
- “There are a lot of factors that go into making decisions during the pandemic. It’s not as simple as in-person or online. There are other things to consider like accessibility for our students who don’t have personal devices to attend online lectures, or students who rely on school lunches for one of their meals each day. We want to make sure that we make a safe decision that is inclusive of all of our students.”
- “The situation with our nurses has definitely made an impact in my decision. I will still collect more facts and have conversations with those involved so I am fully aware of what occurred.”
- “Right now, my priority has to be the health of our students and finding a nurse who can ensure that for the time being. We have called every certified school nurse in the county and none are willing to come after the incident with our previous nurses. We are at a standstill with who we can find to fill in.”
From Abigail DeGallant, County Health Official
- “Seeing three cases in three school nurses in three weeks could be a freak chance, but I believe they are connected. We will be closely monitoring the student infection rate before intervening.”
- “We are doing some investigation into the nurses history to see where they might have been infected. The easy answer would be at the school, but we can’t rule out any additional possibilities. We want to make sure our community is safe, so if there is a place we can intervene we will.”