Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Friends of The Spoke recaps past year, announces new co-directors

Around this time last year, you received a package in the mail from an organization called "Friends of The Spoke" -- an emergent group whose goal was to fight a policy proposal in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District. This policy, if passed, would have had a chilling impact on scholastic journalism at The Spoke, essentially prohibiting students from covering any topic that might "reflect poorly on the district."

Because of
your invaluable support and commitment during this time, our organization succeeded in reversing the proposal, keeping intact a system that we believe gives student journalists the opportunity to write and report the truth, regardless of what that might be.

And now, nearly a year after last summerʼs student publications policy dispute, Friends
of The Spoke is still going strong. Over the past few months, weʼve been working on transitioning our website, www.friendsofthespoke.org, into a resource that serves as a reminder of exactly what happened, giving future members of the newspaper staff the tools they need to be informed supporters of the First Amendment at Conestoga High School.

Looking ahead, it is our pleasure to introduce Liz Bravacos and Meghan Morris as co-directors of Friends of The Spoke for the 2010-11 academic year (see their letter below). Together, they bring to the organization a wealth of experience in the world of scholastic press. Liz and Meghan, who served as The Spokeʼs news editor and assistant managing editor this year, respectively, presented a seminar about Friends of The Spoke to 60 student journalists and advisers at the National Scholastic Press Associationʼs spring convention in Portland, Oregon. Additionally, Meghan participates in the Journalism Education Associationʼs Scholastic Press Student Partners program, a national censorship watchdog group that is dedicated to promoting student press rights nationwide.

Under the leadership of these two talented, passionate individuals, it is
our hope that Friends of The Spoke will continue to grow and expand as a resource that provides valuable tools for students journalists across the country. At the same time, Friends of The Spoke will continue its concerted efforts to educate future generations of Spoke reporters about the rights and responsibilities that come with the First Amendment, to ensure that reporters can provide the level of journalism you are accustomed to for years to come.

As always, none of this would be possible without your considerable commitment to the
paper. We sincerely thank you for all you have done, and hope that we will have your continued support as we move forward.


Seth Zweifler
Editor in Chief 2009-10

Henry Rome
Editor in Chief 2008-09

Jonathan Yu
Co-Editor in Chief 2007-08
Nearly a year after the founders of Friends of The Spoke launched a campaign against a proposal of censorship, we are looking forward to taking over as co-directors of Friends ofThe Spoke.

So far, the Friends of The Spoke website has served as a valuable resource for
students across the country, providing helpful strategies for preserving a free press in high schools. We hope to continue to expand upon such open and helpful communication. By providing students with a model for successful campaigns against censorship, we seek to aid fights for press rights.

In the next year, we hope to broaden
the scope of Friends ofThe Spoke, reaching out to more students struggling against censorship, both nationally and locally. We will continue to educate others about our fight through presentations at national and state conventions.

At the local level, we hope to share our story with area schools to promote a greater understanding of the First Amendment and its application to scholastic press.

As we continue to expand Friends of The Spoke, we greatly appreciate any feedback to
understand how we can better serve both our local community and the national scholastic press community.

Thank you for your continued support.


Liz Bravacos
Co-Editor in Chief 2010-11

Meghan Morris
Co-Editor in Chief 2010-11
In the past year, the journalism in The Spoke and the work of Friends of The Spoke have been honored with top national awards. Among the recognition:

Pacemaker Award
The Spoke received its first-ever Pacemaker, the highest commendation presented to a student publication nationwide. From the National Scholastic Press Association.

Top Overall Newspaper Article 2009: Obligation to Report
The investigation detailing state background check policies also was named the National News Story of the Year for 2009. From National Scholastic Press Association/American Society of News Editors.

National Feature Story of the Year 2009: Carrying Hope
Special report looked at the role teen pregnancy plays in the Conestoga community. From National Scholastic Press Association/American Society of News Editors.

Runner up, National Diversity Story of the Year 2009: Coming Out in the Classroom
Special report looked at the lives of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender high school students. From National Scholastic Press Association/American Society of NewsEditors.

National Multimedia Story of the Year: On the streets
Multimedia report followed a Saturday morning ridealong with Tredyffrin police. From National Scholastic Press Association/American Society of News Editors.

Courage in Student Journalism Award: Seth Zweifler and Henry Rome
Awarded for fighting back against censorship. From Student Press Law Center, National Scholastic Press Association, Kent State University.

Zweifler named top Pennsylvania student journalist
Seth Zweifler was also named as a runner-up to the National Student Journalist of the Year.

Morris chosen to serve on national censorship watchdog group
Meghan Morris, The Spoke's co-Editor in Chief, was chosen to serve on the Journalism Education Association's new Scholastic Press Student Partners program.

Editors tackle censorship at national convention
Current and former Spoke editors presented a seminar about fighting back against censorship at the National Scholastic Press Association's spring convention in Portland, Oregon.

In speech to convention, Rome calls censorship "a challenge to democracy"
In an address to thousands of student journalists, Henry Rome said that censorship not only poses a direct threat to journalism but a direct threat to the ideals that define America.


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