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2021 "Unleashed" Awards presented to students in Yakima Herald-Republic teen journalism program

13 students from Unleashed team in Unleashed T-shirtsThe Yakima Herald-Republic’s “Unleashed” student journalism program recognized some of its most outstanding contributors of the past year during the annual summer presentation of the section’s student awards on July 7.  The awards were announced during the student program’s monthly meeting.

The newspaper’s teen journalism program is supported through an association administered by ESD 105 involving several of the region’s public school districts and private schools.  The 2020-21 Unleashed team has involved 21 students from the Highland, Selah, Sunnyside, West Valley, and Yakima school districts, as well as La Salle High School and Riverside Christian School.

During a 12-month period from July 2020 through June 2021, the high school students in the Unleashed team produced 157 articles published in the newspaper, 75 photos printed in the newspaper, 23 online-only articles, 39 online-only photos, and 20 illustrations.  The 2021 Unleashed awards recognize the most excellent student work from those 12 months of output.

Winners of the 2020-21 Unleashed Awards are listed below, ordered alphabetically by school district:

Highland High School:

  • Maria Jacobson, a 2020-21 sophomore and first-year member of the Unleashed program:
    • Illustrator of the Year for producing the best overall quality and consistent production of illustrations from among the Unleashed staff during 2020-21.
    • Best Feature Story for “Pegasus Project and its volunteers offer life-changing therapy,” published May 23, 2021.
    • “Greatest Unleashed Art Team Ever” award recognizing the outstanding quality and depth of the current group’s five illustrators.

La Salle High School:

  • Eva Sanez, a 2020-21 senior and second-year member of the Unleashed program:

Riverside Christian School:

Selah High School:

  • Natalie Keller, a 2020-21 sophomore and second-year member of the Unleashed program:
    • Reporter of the Year for producing the best overall quality of written material among all the Unleashed program members during 2020-21. Keller also received this award last year as a freshman.
    • Photographer of the Year for producing the best overall quality and volume of photography among all the Unleashed program members during 2020-21. Keller similarly received this award last year as a freshman.
    • Most Contributions for producing 68 total items that appeared in print or online for Unleashed from July 2020 through June 2021. Keller provided 21 articles, 24 photos that were published in the newspaper, plus 23 other photos that appeared online-only.  The 68 total also set the all-time single year record for published contributions by any Unleashed student from the entire course of the program’s 22-year history
    • Best Business Story for “Local DJs get creative with an outdoor movie business,” published Aug. 23, 2020.
    • Best Team Coverage, shared with Eisenhower High School reporters Anabelle Kollman and Mary Mickelson, for “Remote learning stirring anxieties,” published Aug. 23, 2020.
  • Mary-Frances Ballew, a 2020-21 senior who has been a member of the Unleashed team during 2 1/2 years:
    • Spirit of Unleashed Award , a special award presented each year to one graduating senior for overall contributions to or impact from the Unleashed program. Ballew was recognized for her supportive leadership to the group during the past year, for sharing her community involvement activities through Unleashed, and for her expanded sense of eloquence in writing since returning to the program following her involvement as an overseas exchange experience in Sweden.
    • Best Book Review and Staff Choice Award for Favorite Review for “Traveling through novels even when stuck at home,” published Oct. 25, 2020, examining the geography aspects of “Frankenstein” and “My Brilliant Friend.”
    • Best Staff Bio for her introductory writeup that was published Sept. 27, 2020.
  • Indiana Hilmes, a 2020-21 freshman and first-year member of the Unleashed program:
  • Ballew, Keller, and Hilmes also collectively received the Superstar School Award for the Selah trio’s collective high-achieving excellence in their writing, photography, and production level in their contributions to this past year’s Unleashed pages.

Sunnyside High School:

  • Olivia Puente, a 2020-21 senior and first-year member of the Unleashed program:
    • Excellence for Innovative Reporting for “Area teens share hopes,” an article published Dec. 27, 2020, that examined perspectives from high school students about 2020 and the year ahead. Puente used social media to publicly solicit contributions by students for this article, generating comments by teens from numerous high schools including some not involved in the Unleashed program.

West Valley High School:

  • Ruby Hoeger, a 2020-21 sophomore and first-year member of the Unleashed program:

Yakima School District: Davis High School:

  • Maya Crowder, a 2020-21 senior and first-year member of the Unleashed program:
    • Year’s Best Illustration for a color artwork of music artist SZA that will accompany an article about the singer and other musicians that will be published with an article by fellow Unleashed member Ella Crowder later this summer.
    • Staff Choice Award for Favorite Illustration for a color artwork of Ruth Bader Ginsburg that was published with an article titled “Four life lessons RBG left us” by fellow Unleashed member Ella Crowder on Sept. 27, 2020.
    • “Greatest Unleashed Art Team Ever” award recognizing the outstanding quality and depth of the current group’s five illustrators.
  • Ella Crowder, a 2020-21 senior and first-year member of the Unleashed program:
    • Best News Photo and Staff Choice Award for Favorite Photo for her photograph of fireworks above the Davis High School graduation ceremony, published on June 27, 2021.
    • Best Column and Best Senior Farewell Column for her article titled “A sweet experience? It’s all in the ingredients” that was published on June 27, 2021.
  • Morgan Greene, a 2020-21 junior and second-year member of the Unleashed program:

Yakima School District: Eisenhower High School:

  • Gracie Miller, a 2020-21 junior and second-year member of the Unleashed program:
    • Best Columnist for her highly thought-filled and well-analyzed writing in Miller’s essays about entertainment and on issues of the 2020-21 school year.
    • “Greatest Unleashed Art Team Ever” award recognizing the outstanding quality and depth of the current group’s five illustrators.
  • Mary Mickelson, a 2020-21 sophomore and second-year member of the Unleashed program:
    • Best Team Coverage, shared with Eisenhower High School reporter Anabelle Kollman and Selah High School reporter Natalie Keller, for “Remote learning stirring anxieties,” published Aug. 23, 2020.
    • “Greatest Unleashed Art Team Ever” award recognizing the outstanding quality and depth of the current group’s five illustrators.

The application period for incoming 9th-12th graders who are interested in joining the 2021-22 Unleashed team is expected to begin later in July and continue through August.  Application announcements and details will be published this summer in the Yakima Herald-Republic and on the newspaper’s Unleashed web page.