The journalism team from Houston High School won the top award in its category in the statewide finals of the 2017 Constitution Project.
Competing last Wednesday at the former Missouri Penitentiary in Jefferson City, the group received the “First Amendment Team Award” for its performance in the finale. Sophomore Jaekan Moss received the outstanding achievement award in journalism and a $500 scholarship.
Houston won its regional to advance to the state finals as one of the final 12 teams remaining. Rolla High School won the state competition.
The HHS journalism team, mentored by Houston Herald editor Jeff McNiell, included Moss, Leah Otte, Janessa Foster and Vanessa Kirkwood. Two other students, Shelby Vasseur and Summer Albrecht, competed in previous rounds and were alternates for the finals.
Houston senior Taylor Chipps, a four-year participant and member of the CSI team, received the Scout Award.
The honor is named for the young heroine of the novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and given in recognition for a student’s exceptional diligence in seeking truth, justice and freedom.
The Constitution Project is an intensive, experiential competition in which high school students gain experience in the fields of journalism, crime scene investigation and trial advocacy. Individuals from 12 schools earned awards in this statewide competition, now in its fifth year, that is sponsored by the Missouri Supreme Court’s civic education committee.
“I am opportunistic about the future of our state and our country because it is apparent, based on these students’ participation, that they understand the importance of protecting our constitutional rights,” said Supreme Court of Missouri Chief Justice Zel Fischer.
Fischer was joined at the ceremony at the Missouri Capitol Building by Supreme Court of Missouri Judges Mary Rhodes Russell and Brent Powell; Judge Lisa Page, a judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, and civic education committee chair; and Army Staff Sgt. and Purple Heart recipient Robert Canine. The ceremony was the culmination of a rigorous daylong competition involving students representing 12 schools who advanced from regional competitions to compete in the finals in Jefferson City.
By winning the state finals, Rolla received the “Freedom Cup” as grand champions. It was the fourth time the school has competed.