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LNP|LancasterOnline’s special Schools section celebrates student perspectives

By Alexandra Henry

LNP Media Group

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA

After all the ups and downs of this school year, there has never been a better time to celebrate students, teachers, and parents.

As a local newspaper, the idea of honouring members of our community is not new. Each week, we help families celebrate engagements, births, weddings, anniversaries, and the lives of loved ones who’ve passed away. We also celebrate honour roll and dean’s list students, career promotions, and military service.

We connect and celebrate important events and give the community a chance to celebrate along with their family, friends, neighbours, and co-workers.

2021 marks the 37th year that LNP|LancasterOnline has produced a special section dedicated to celebrating exemplary work by Lancaster County students. The special print section, called Schools, highlights two contests that are run concurrently, the Design an Ad contest and the Student Journalism contest.

The winning essays and artwork from each category of each are published in Schools near the end of the school year.  This year, we also awarded a US$25 cash prize to each category winner. The section was available in print and online on May 25. 

The special edition includes winning essays and artwork from students.
The special edition includes winning essays and artwork from students.

The LNP|LancasterOnline Student Journalism contest encourages Lancaster County students to contemplate and express their opinions about the issues of the day.

A special theme for a special year

In the past year, as Lancaster County and the world navigated through the COVID-19 pandemic, our journalists reported on those serving our community. There are a vast number of roles within our community that have provided leadership, guidance, and assistance under these unprecedented circumstances. 

From teachers rising to meet their daily challenges to law enforcement officials making extra effort to safely police our streets to the leadership shown by our elected officials, it was not only timely but necessary to have the students of Lancaster County consider the role public servants play in our community.

To that end, this year, the theme of the Student Journalism contest was: What does it mean to be a public servant?

While the contest theme was the same for all grades, the assignment is grade-specific, so entrants are judged next to other students with similar abilities. The older the student, the longer the essay — and the more complex the subject. Younger students were asked to draw a picture expressing their opinion, while older students submitted written essays.

This year's art and essay contest focused on the role of public servants.
This year's art and essay contest focused on the role of public servants.

High school students also had the option to submit a short video as an alternative to writing an essay. The video entries were all judged together, and a winner was chosen in a category separate from the essays.

Teachers welcome the opportunity for their students to participate. 

“It’s important to give kids authentic opportunities to present their work,” said fourth-grade teacher Cassie Rumbaugh. “This contest provides a chance for students to engage with an audience beyond their teacher and parents.”

Picture-perfect opportunity

A second opportunity for Lancaster County students to show off their skills lies in the Design an Ad contest. The contest provides students in kindergarten through grade 12 an opportunity to showcase their artistic talents.

Students are paired with companies for the Design an Ad contest, and the winners are featured in the special section.
Students are paired with companies for the Design an Ad contest, and the winners are featured in the special section.

Each group of students is paired with a Lancaster County area business. The students create an advertisement that conveys their partner business’s message to the public. The contest winners, selected by the sponsoring business, have their ads published in the Schools section. 

For students, the Design an Ad contest allows them to activate their creativity. For teachers, it’s a chance to encourage students to think independently, express themselves through art, and inspire healthy competition among their peers.

The special sections we produce, like Schools, appeal to a wide and diverse swath of the LNP|LancasterOnline audience — including local advertisers, families, educators, and students — and they help underscore our position as a community connector. For readers, it’s fun, lighthearted content, and a chance to see some of the best work from the students in Lancaster County. 

About Alexandra Henry

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