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Florida High School Student Wins SPJ National Essay Contest


Bobby Deckard, SPJ awards coordinator, 317/927-8000 ext. 215 or awards@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – Jonathan Ross Kaplan, an incoming senior at Nova High School in Davie, Fla., is the winner of the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual essay contest, “What a Free Media Means to America.”

Kaplan, whose essay was selected from more than 525 entries, will receive a $1,000 award for his winning composition. His sponsoring teacher was JoAnn Miles, also of Nova High School. The South Florida SPJ Pro Chapter submitted the student’s entry.

Citing the First Amendment in his essay, Kaplan wrote that “in order to safeguard individual liberty and domestic security, a free people must have an unrestricted wealth of available information.” He further added, “The vital role of the media cannot be understated; it makes the world conscious of itself.”

With the Freedom of the Press High School Essay Contest, SPJ hopes to increase high school students’ knowledge and understanding of the importance of the First Amendment to American life. National winners receive scholarship awards of $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place and $300 for third place. There is no charge for students to enter the contest.

The prize for second place was awarded to Emily Quanbeck of Charlottesville, Va. Her sponsoring teacher was Patricia Vandever of Charlottesville High School. The Virginia Pro SPJ Chapter submitted Quanbeck’s essay. Quanbeck will be a senior this fall.

Third place went to Edward S. Chan of Potomac, Md. Chan’s sponsoring teacher was Sarah Lanahan of Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., and his essay was submitted by the Washington, D.C. Pro SPJ Chapter. Chan will also be a senior this fall.

The annual contest is open to all high school students in the United States. Complete texts of the winning essays are available at www.spj.org. For more information or to learn how to participate in the annual contest, visit the Web site or contact SPJ at (317) 927-8000 or awards@spj.org.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists is the nation's largest and most broad-based journalism organization. SPJ is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism, stimulating high standards of ethical behavior, and perpetuating a free press.


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