Contest F: News Writing
You have 32 hours to write a news story. The story should be approximately 300 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. April 17: contest materials available
- 11 p.m. April 18: 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 the 32-hour window closes.
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. April 17.
Facts from your research
- According to National Public Radio, 30 million children in the United States depend on schools for all or most of their meals and the school lunch program is the second-largest anti-hunger initiative in the country behind SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often known as “food stamps”).
- One-third of all students in the Clinton School District qualify for free or low-cost school meals.
- Schools being closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak means many Sunflower High students are at home, many without meal options.
- On Tuesday, May 17, 2020, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly closed all K-12 schools for the remainder of the spring semester.
- Carrie Smithson teaches physical science, chemistry and botany at Sunflower High.
- The U.S. Agriculture Department oversees food programs in schools, but it has restrictions on how students can get their subsidized meals, and currently can offer only limited waivers to states that allow schools to offer grab-and-go options.
- Since schools closed, volunteers have delivered over 1,000 meals to Clinton School District students.
- Around 20 volunteers work Monday through Friday to make and deliver meals.
- The meals are assembled and put into paper bags in the school kitchen, then organized in the school cafeteria.
- Volunteers organize the meals by neighborhoods or general areas of Clinton. Different sections of the city are given to various volunteers who deliver the meals from their personal vehicles.
- Meals are delivered on weekdays Monday-Friday.
- Simon Daley
From interview with Larry Napier, superintendent of Clinton School District
- “This is an unprecedented time. We’re trying to do the best thing we can for our students.”
- “We tried to hold off closing school as long as we could, but the safety of our students is our number one priority.”
- “Ms. Smithson has been a great asset to helping our team and our board organize meals for our students who depend on school for meals. We’d be a mess without her.”
- “Our Nutrition Services Division of our school district was proactive in reaching out to the USDA (United States Dept. of Agriculture) to request the necessary approval in anticipation of local educational agencies potentially having to close due to the coronavirus. That advanced planning, combined with the rapid response from the USDA, will allow districts to continue to provide their most vulnerable students with nutritious meals. They reached out to the USDA on the same day that governor Kelly closed the schools.”
From interview with Carrie Smithson, science teacher at SHS
- “When I heard schools were shutting down, my first thought was worrying about the kids who don’t have food at home. I immediately wanted to try to help them.”
- “Basically me and a few other teachers and counselors set up a food delivery system for the students. The students or their parents fill out an online form we posted with their names, number of children in the household, their address, things like that. We use the form to determine how many sack meals we need to make for breakfast and for lunch. Then we have volunteers deliver the meals to the student’s houses.”
- “It’s mostly basic sandwiches and non-perishable items like granola bars, chips, fruit cups. We want it to be nutritious but also inexpensive and easy to transport.”
- “We’ve talked to local farmers and grocers about supplying some fresh fruit and vegetables to incorporate into the meals. However, we haven’t been able to accomplish that part of the program yet.”
- “We have what we call packaging lines. So I can pull all the items together, put them all into one container, wrap that through the packaging machine. Then we take those, put them in racks, and volunteer drivers pick them up to be delivered.”
- “We were originally going to have students who were in need just come by the school to pick up their meals. But we realized that it was an issue with the social distancing precautions that have been put in place. We also realized some students may not come out of shame, lack of transportation or their hope for anonymity. So we decided to do the deliveries. It’s a bit more work, but it’s better for the students and all of us organizing.”
From interview with Simon Daley, junior at SHS
- “My family depends on the free lunch program at school. My mom can’t afford to feed me and my little brothers and sisters every day. I’m really glad the school is doing food deliveries. I don’t know what we’d do without it.”
- “My brother Aiden is in seventh grade at Sunflower Middle and my sister Julia is in second grade and my other brother Caleb is in kindergarten at Sunflower Elementary.”
- “When the school first got closed, we tried to go buy some basic items for lunches at the grocery store. But everyone was panic buying things and hoarding items. The only things left were the overpriced stuff that we can’t afford.”
- “I’m not ashamed that I’m on the free lunch program. My mom works really hard, but there are four kids and she’s a single mom. There’s only so much she can do.”
- “I think it was rash of Governor Kelly to shut down schools for the rest of the semester. This virus could die down sooner than we think.”
- “I really appreciate Ms. Smithson for running this whole thing. It’s a very selfless act. But if you know Mrs. Smithson, then it’s no surprise.”
From interview with Kayla Rolf, senior at SHS and volunteer
- “I’m not on the reduced-price meal plan, but I know a lot of people who are. I just think it’s good to help when I can.”
- “It’s heartbreaking to think about young children not being able to eat because of all this coronavirus nonsense.”
- “I’ve been helping deliver the meals to students and families. Most of them have been pretty young. Most of their parents still have to work, so they’re home alone. It just makes me feel so sad.”
- “My mom, [Karen Rolf], has been volunteering with me. We help pack the sack lunches and breakfasts and we deliver them. Ms. Smithson is really organized, so it’s never confusing and there’s always something to do.”