By Dayna Woodruff, news editor
Panther Press editor in chief Sam Shelenberger and staff writer Brennen McWright have received second place in the Public Service/Enterprise Package category from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association (PNA) in this year’s Student Keystone Media Awards.
The Student Keystone Media Awards recognize high school and college journalism that provides relevance, integrity, and initiative in serving readers. The Panther Press coverage focused on the 2019 PENNCREST School Board election. Shelenberger, a senior, organized and conducted a candidate forum on Oct. 30 that brought together student media from all three PENNCREST high schools and provided vital information to the community ahead of the election. The forum was covered by both The Titusville Herald and The Meadville Tribune.
“This is my second year as a Student Keystone Press Award winner, and it’s good to cover something that is so important for the community,” Shelenberger said. “The school board makes decisions that govern everything about our programs, so it is critical that the public is informed.”
Shelenberger also wrote about anonymous campaign flyers that were released one week before the election, which caused some confusion in the community. Last year, Shelenberger won PNA awards for video story and review writing.
McWright, a freshman, covered the candidate forum as the reporter of record from the Panther Press, and he wrote a column about the candidates’ support for press freedom. “It took a long time to get my column right, but in the end, I was happy with it,” McWright said. “If candidates don’t support school press freedoms, then that can really change the way student journalism organizations operate.”
Adviser Stacey Hetrick noted that this is the first time the Panther Press has won an award in the public service category. “This year the journalists really stepped up for the election. Running a candidate forum takes a major commitment of time and resources, and they stuck with it,” Hetrick said. “I am incredibly proud of Sam, Brennen, and the rest of the staff for their level of civic engagement.”
The winners will be honored at the Student Keystone Media Awards on April 8 in Harrisburg.
Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School