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Empowering Student Voices

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of speech, religion, and the press. Student run media gives our youth a platform to exercise their First Amendment rights and support fellow student voices. 

Recently, student members of the Brightonian newspaper and Reflections Yearbook at Brighton High were among 14 schools to be awarded the 2021 First Amendment Press Freedom Award. 

The 14 winning schools will be honored on April 10 at the National High School Journalism Convention hosted by the Journalism Education Association (JEA) and National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA).

This First Amendment Press Freedom Award recognizes private and public high schools that actively support, teach and protect First Amendment rights and responsibilities of students and teachers, emphasizing student-run media where students make all final decisions on content. 

To apply for this award, schools submitted questionnaires answered by an adviser and at least one student editor. Those who advanced to the next level were asked to provide responses from the school principal and all media advisers and student editors about their support of the First Amendment. Semifinalists then submitted their publication editorial policies.

Receiving this national recognition means a lot for adviser of the Reflections Yearbook, Justin Daigle and adviser of the Bightonian newspaper, Kathy Gustad. It represents the culmination of 15 years of student participation on both publications and a dedication to upholding the First Amendment. Both of these publications are run 100% by students, and this award celebrates that achievement. 

Reflections Yearbook Editor-in-Chief and graduating senior, Jespyn Bishop has been a part of the yearbook staff since his freshman year. “Student journalists have the right to publish things about topics we feel matter without an advisor having to read it and approve it first. It shows the freedom and openness we have to find and tell the stories we feel are worth telling to our community.”

Although Jespyn was the editor to have received this distinction for the yearbook, he recognizes how it represents all of the prior editors and staff over the years that have worked to make so many amazing yearbooks and mentored him to become the editor he is today. 

Congratulations to our future leaders for receiving this highly distinguished and selective national award for the first time! We are #27JProud of your dedication in empowering students' voices.