Headliners in Education honored two Watertown High School seniors for their work in high school journalism, and presented them with $500 awards.
Sarah Vail and Toni Carlton each received Headliner in Education Honors, and were the first two to garner the awards from the non-profit organization which supports journalism in schools.
The group received official approval to be a 501 3(c) non-profit organization in March. The same month, founder John Vitti, a Boston Globe editor who lives in Watertown, received a Community Service Award from SXSW (South by Southwest), which came with seed money for Headliners in Education. He was due to go to Austin to accept the award, but the conference was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vitti still received the money, and the first thing the group used the money for was to give the two HiE Honors to Vail and Carton.
“We thought Sarah and Toni did a thousand different things in their time at Watertown High to help and support the journalism program and what grew to become Headliners in Education. It is our hope that, in the process, they also learned a thousand different things about the world and themselves,” Vitti said. “There are certainly other wonderful and worthy student journalists in Watertown and in many other schools that HiE works with, but we thought they were the two best examples of the cross-curricular learning that is possible.”
Vail will attend Columbia College in Chicago, while Carton will be going to Ithaca College.
“Neither are going into journalism. But that’s absolutely fine with us. Headliners in Education is all about the educational opportunities and real-world skills that every student gains while working in school journalism,” Vitti said in his announcement for the awards.
Vitti first started working with school newspapers when his children were in the Watertown Public Schools. He started at Cunniff Elementary School, moved to the Middle School and then took over advising the Raider Times at WHS. With Hosmer and Lowell elementary schools adding newspapers in recent years, all five Watertown schools have newspapers.
“I think journalism in schools is a wonderful thing, and that every school should have a journalism program of some sort. Any student, any grade, any school. I hope to promote and encourage all of that through Headliners,” Vitti said.
Along with writing and editing, students learn about page layout, web design, photography, research, ad sale and interviewing, planning and meeting deadlines, Vitti said.
At last count, Vitti said, Headliners in Education works with more than 300 schools in 29 states. The group continues to offer opportunities for students over the summer.
“This week, we are putting on two (online) journalism summer camps, featuring 25 campers from 20 schools in six states,” Vitti said. “The camp awarded $3,600 overall in scholarships to students to attend the camps.”