New Trier, Prospect students earn high school journalism awards
A passion for telling people's stories connects the two student editors who will receive scholarships from the Northern Illinois News Association for their extraordinary work and commitment to journalistic excellence.
Sarah Lin of Glenview, co-editor-in-chief of the New Trier News, won the 2023 John Etheredge Award for Northern Illinois High School Journalist of the Year. Ella Mitchell, of Arlington Heights, co-editor-in-chief of Prospect High School's The Prospector newspaper, will receive the 2023 Recognition for Excellence in High School Journalism award.
Both high school seniors were selected from among applicants throughout northern Illinois.
"We are delighted by the level of talent and dedication represented in the applications for NINA's annual scholarship competition," said John Lampinen, NINA board president and retired Daily Herald editor "It was difficult to choose from the list of qualified candidates, but Sarah Lin and Ella Mitchell represent the best of the best. We are excited to support their news aspirations and look forward to the contributions they will make in the future to the journalism community, and through it, to the public good."
A three-year veteran with the New Trier News, Lin will receive a $1,000 scholarship as the winner of the John Etheredge Award, named in honor of former longtime NINA board member John Etheredge, editor of the Record Newspapers and KendallCountyNow.com.
In her cover letter, Lin said she was encouraged by her mother, a native of China who raised her to cherish the First Amendment because "free press doesn't exist there."
Lin rallied the paper's staff and the student body against a school administration's plan to reduce the print frequency of The New Trier Times from weekly to quarterly. It went from a 100-year-old weekly paper to fully digital in the 2020-21 school year to printing five editions in 2021-22 and four this school year.
Lin also is co-captain of New Trier's women's foil team and chess team, and the founder of its Biology Club. She plans to study journalism next fall at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
Mitchell will receive a $750 scholarship.
In her time on The Prospector staff, Mitchell swiftly moved from executive entertainment editor -- writing stories about milk, astrology and a 5-part series on M & Ms -- to copy editor and then co-editor-in-chief with Kevin Lynch. She tackled more serious topics such as the Highland Park shooting, reproductive rights and teen activism.
"I want to continue telling more people-focused stories," said Mitchell, a captain of Prospect's speech team who will compete in humorous interpretation at the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament in Phoenix, June 10-13.
"Throughout the year I've had the opportunity to interview and talk to so many people and learn about them," she said. "I think that having people share their version of events and their stories is really at the heart of what storytelling is and what journalism is," she said.
Headed to George Washington University in Washington, D.C., to study journalism and political science, Mitchell also writes a book blog, "Booked Till Midnight." She regularly donates her time and talents to worthy causes including support for the "Make the Magic" fundraising gala, which provides yearlong support and a free summer camp for kids whose parents have been affected by cancer.