High school journalists who fought censorship win award

FILE – In this Sept. 20, 2018, file photo, BHS Register editors, from left, Julia Shannon-Grillo, Halle Newman, Nataleigh Noble and Jenna Peterson stand outside the Burlington High School in Burlington, Vt. The students stood up to censorship in their student newspaper and won. The school paper was awarded the Courage in Student Journalism Award on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, for breaking a story online about a school employee facing unprofessional conduct charges. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke, File)

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Four Vermont high school journalists have won an award for fighting and conquering censorship.

The Burlington High School student newspaper, The BHS Register, was awarded the Courage in Student Journalism Award on Saturday. It is sponsored by the Student Press Law Association, the Center for Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University and the National Scholastic Press Association.

In fall 2018, the students broke a story online about a school employee facing unprofessional conduct charges. The students had sought the information through a public records request.

The principal asked the students’ adviser to take it down. The students removed it reluctantly but maintained links to it on social media that led to a page saying the story had been censored by the school administration.

The students talked to legal experts, and the newspaper cited its rights under a law passed in Vermont in 2017 that protects the First Amendment rights of student journalists.

Senior Julia Shannon-Grillo flew to Washington last week to attend the National High School Journalism Convention and accepted the award Saturday.

She thanked everyone who followed the story last fall and said “now more than ever journalism matters,” according to a video of her speech she posted on Facebook.

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