Contest W4: Feature Writing
You will be writing a feature story using the information below. The story should be approximately 500 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 16: contest materials available
- 11 p.m. April 19: 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 write a feature story with the information provided.
- 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 16
A few students at Sunflower High School are replacing their “traditional” jobs with jobs in the “gig” economy. The gig economy is a system for freelance workers to pick up quick jobs like making deliveries or completing online tasks for an organization or business. These short term jobs allow individuals the freedom to set their own hours and select what kind of short-term jobs they want to do.
From interview with junior Emma Alvares
- “I liked working for Frannie’s Frocks Boutique, but since COVID, they had limited hours and I wasn’t working as much as I wanted to be. I looked into jobs I could be completing online while at home in quarantine and found way more than I was expecting. Tons of companies and business owners were needing small projects completed for them and were willing to pay comparable rates to what I was making at the boutique.”
- “My first gig was for a private practice doctor’s office. Dr. Maria Sanchez, the primary physician, works in a mostly Spanish speaking community. She needed help spreading the word around the city that her office was providing COVID testing. She had created a few advertisements and written a few articles, but as a native Spanish speaker, she was looking for someone bilingual to proofread the work. I responded to her job posting and within the week I had made $300.”
- “Every few weeks, Dr. Sanchez reaches out to me to proofread or help write announcements in both english and Spanish. It’s simple work, but I know it really helps Dr. Sanchez and the community.”
- “After that, I found a virtual receptionist position for a local counseling center. People can request an appointment through an online portal, or via email. I go through the requests and refer them to the different clinicians in the office, then collect and digitally file any corresponding paperwork. Each week I spend probably three hours total doing that.”
- “This work feels so much more productive than standing around the boutique waiting for customers.”
- “I like the gig economy environment because I can complete work on my own terms and set my own schedule. In a week where I work 15 hours I can easily make $250, whereas before I’d only make about $120 for that same time”
From an interview with junior Amelia Dunn
- “When Rusty’s Burger Joint closed I had no clue what I was going to do. I really needed the money and no one was hiring. I tried to reach out to the moms I used to babysit for, but since everyone was working from home they didn’t need a babysitter.”
- “I started making profiles on all kinds of sites where I could pick up work. The first one I started making some money on was Rover, a dog walking app. A few of my neighbors saw my profile and paid me to walk their dogs a couple times a week. It was good, I just wasn’t getting consistent enough work.”
- “I never had any bad experiences with dog walking, but I’m definitely not a dog person. To be honest, I had no idea how much they pooped and having to pick it up in a doggy bag was so disgusting. I don’t think I’ll ever own a dog after that.”
- “I started researching the gig economy and found a site called TaskRabbit where people in your area just post what they need done that week and you can apply to do it. The tasks range from running errands, assembling furniture, sewing, yard work… and just about anything else you can think of. I applied to complete a few jobs and made a couple hundred bucks in a week!”
- “I’ve been on TaskRabbit now for five months and the work has been really consistent. I’m making way more than my friends who work in retail and I feel like I have more free time too. At some of my TaskRabbit jobs I can make $20-$25 an hour. That sounds way better than minimum wage to me.”
- “My sister works about 12 hours a week at the Clinton Clothery as a sales associate and only makes $7.50 per hour. I’ve been trying to get her on TaskRabbit, but she doesn’t think gigs are real jobs she could put on her resume.”
- “My hardest TaskRabbit job was assembling IKEA furniture for a family who had recently moved to the area. They let me into their house at 8AM and showed me about 25 boxes of IKEA furniture they wanted assembled before they got back from work at 5PM. It took me the entire 9 hours and I was so sore. They tipped me really well, though, and I could see it relieved a lot of stress for them.”
- “My weirdest TaskRabbit job was when someone paid me to wait in line for them at BestBuy on Black Friday. I camped out in front of the store for probably 5 hours and made $100 plus tip.”
- “I’d take working like this over a traditional job any day!”
From an interview with senior Joe Walter
- “Losing my job at the country club was a total bummer. I had worked there for two years and they cut me like it was nothing. I thought I was on my way to head server, but I guess not.”
- “After Clinton Country Club let me go I tried to apply for other serving jobs, but realized no one was hiring. I figured if more people were staying in to eat, then I could help get the food to them. I started out driving for DoorDash and then UberEats. Tons of people were ordering in food and I could do three or four deliveries in an hour, plus make tips on each order. It wasn’t bad cash.”
- “Calculating tips through the food service apps is pretty confusing. On a $20 order you have to add in the service fee, delivery fee, then tip on top of that so it really comes out closer to $30. The service fee is usually around $1.99 for most orders and that stays consistent. The delivery fee ranges on every order, though. On deliveries where I have to drive across town, the fee could be $9-$10, but on deliveries within a few miles might be $3. Tips really vary too based on the order total and how gracious the person is. Typically, I’d expect a 20% tip, maybe 30% on a day with bad weather. That usually comes out to be between $5-$8 per order.”
- “The food delivery service hasn’t slowed down a bit since October when I started, but it got really monotonous for me. In December I started doing grocery shopping for people through Instacart. With the combination of the cold weather and COVID still being so present, people started using personal shoppers more and more.”
- “It did kind of frustrate me to be out shopping for people, risking exposure to COVID, just to make a couple bucks while these people got to stay in. Most people were pretty gracious and tipped well, but the others who didn’t say anything and didn’t tip really irked me.
- “I would get about three orders a day with Instacart. Each order took me probably an hour to shop and an additional thirty minutes to deliver. I made a couple hundred bucks in a week, so it wasn’t too bad.”
- “Now that I’m getting close to graduating I’ve cut down my gig hours. I really want to live up every last minute of senior year. I’ll definitely pick it back up in college, though. I’ll need the cash for sure.”
Facts from your research
- There were a total of 15 students who responded that they had replaced their “traditional” job with a job or jobs in the gig economy in a poll from the Sunflower News Staff on March 24th. The poll was sent out to 300 students and received 233 responses. The poll was a random sample of students taken during advisory time. See results below:
- The Sunflower News Staff defined “traditional” jobs as “any job where a student is on a set payroll, for example food services, retail, lifeguard, receptionist, etc.”
- The Sunflower News Staff defined gig economy jobs as “any short-term task or job picked up from a company or person where the student receives compensation, but is not a part of a set payroll.”
- Three students volunteered to be interviewed about their work in the gig economy: junior Emma Alvares, junior Amelia Dunn and senior Joe Walter
- Emma Alvares quit her job at a local boutique in July 2020 to pick up gig work
- Amelia Dunn worked at a local restaurant that closed in August 2020 due to the economic effects of COVID. She has been doing gig work ever since.
- Joe Walter was let go from his job as a server at the Clinton Country Club in September 2020 due to county restrictions on indoor dining. He decided to pick up gig work rather than work as a server elsewhere.