The year in review: accolades and new editors


Chuy Benitez

While in Washington D.C. for the NSPA convention in November, Review editors visited the Newseum for the last time before it closed in December.


During Spring Break, four Review editors were supposed to travel to New York to attend the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Spring Convention. When the convention was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, the awards were given out in a virtual ceremony in which The Review received its second-ever Gold Crown award for the 2018-2019 school year.

Accompanied by advisers Shelley Stein (’88) and Chuy Benitez, nine editors attended the National Scholastic Press Association convention in Washington, D.C. in November. The Review was one of 49 newspapers named as a Pacemaker Finalist, NSPA’s “preeminent award,” according to executive director Laura Widmer.

Also receiving recognition from NSPA were assignments editor Noura Jabir, who placed third for her opinion piece “You’re not racist? Then stop using the N-word,” and Sophia Kontos (‘19), who placed fifth for Multimedia Journalist of the Year. Alex Tinkham (’19) was a finalist for Broadcast Journalist of the Year.

“I was honored and very surprised,” Jabir said. “I also felt validated, in a way—it was really powerful to have this national organization say, ‘Hey, your opinion matters.’”

Kontos and Eli Maierson (both ‘19) won honorable mentions for best blog at NSPA. The fall semester multimedia package “Midterm Mayhem: The impact of politics at St. John’s” also received an honorable mention from NSPA.

“Working on the online packages was one of the greatest joys of running The Review Online with Ryan last year,” said Kontos, one of last year’s Online Editors-in-Chief, who is currently working for KUTX in Austin. “Through these projects, in particular the political package, we highlighted pressing issues while harnessing the full collaborative power of the team that made online great.”

For the third year in a row, The Review Online was named a Distinguished Site by School Newspapers Online. As of May 14, The Review Online has won 18 Best of SNO awards, including three each from Indrani Maitra, Ella West and Julia Smith. While at NSPA, Online editors Fareen Dhuka, Laney Chang and Ashley Yen redesigned the website’s home page to complement the new logo.

In February, every Upper School student began receiving email notifications whenever new online content was published, which proved useful once students left for Spring Break and did not return. 

The Review Online has been pretty unbelievable during Remote Learning,” Head of Upper School Hollis Amley said on May 4. “I couldn’t believe there was a story in my inbox every day last week. The articles have been excellent, interesting and keeping everyone connected.” 

In April, Julia Smith won the Sweepstakes Award, or first place, in Health, Science & Agriculture Writing for her story “How vaping trends threaten teen health,” part of the contests sponsored by Quill and Scroll. 

Copy editor Ella West received an honorable mention from Quill and Scroll for a podcast featuring Mariam Matin (‘11) from her new podcast series, Impact, which features SJS alumni who are changing the world. The online 2019 spring semester multimedia package, “Going Green: Environmentalism and its role at St. John’s,” also won an honorable mention in the Health, Science & Agriculture Writing.

“It’s great to see that Quill and Scroll recognized the hard work of all the writers, photographers, illustrators and videographers that worked on the environmental package,” last year’s Online Editor-in-Chief Ryan Chang said. “The changes to the environment are incredibly serious, and I’m glad to see such great reception to our coverage of this important issue.”

Several writers also won individual CSPA Gold Circle awards.  Copy editor Indrani Maitra won third place for her feature “Rough Rider: Kindergartener wins Mutton Bustin’.” West was commended for “After loss of Coach Kensinger, team vows to play on” in Sports News. Lilah Gaber (’19) was also commended for commentary for her piece “Softbois: the weaponization of being woke.”

In design awards, Administrative Editor-in-Chief Mia Fares received second place for her illustration for the article “Stringent dress code enforcement has potential to stigmatize young girls.” Stephen Kim, Amelie Perrier and Siena Zerr (all ’19) won second place in News Page Design for “E-cig frenzy.” Caitlin Ellithorpe (’19) was commended for her cartoon portfolio.

NSPA Digital Media awards were announced this year. Visuals Editor Celine Huang won first place for her Cartoon Portfolio, as well as second place for “Uncloistered: LGBTQ+ Day of Silence” and commended for “Uncloistered: Therapy Dogs Visit SJS.”

“I’m really grateful that my work as an editorial cartoonist has been recognized,” Huang said. “I don’t really know how to articulate my thanks, so I guess I’m back to the drawing board.”

Additionally, Online Editor-in-Chief SJ Lasley, Jack Shea (‘19) and Alex Tinkham (‘19) won first place in the Photo and Audio Slideshow category for “McKone embodied spirit of selfless service.” West was awarded third place for the podcast “Pod on the Quad (Ella’s Edition): Women Runners,” and Shani Israel (‘19) was recognized for her article “Community Rallies After Racist Incident.”

Editorial Board restructured for next year

To match the growth of The Review and to better address specific coverage needs, there will be five Editors-in-Chief: Laney Chang and Fareen Dhuka (Online), and Noura Jabir, Abigail Poag and Grace Randall (Print).

Megan Chang and Ashley Yen are next year’s Assistant Online Editors.

Assignments editors and copy editors will work on both Print and Online. They are Julia Smith (News), Ella West (Features), Indrani Maitra (Culture) and Russell Li (Sports). The copy editors will also work on a specific section and include Ella Chen (News), Ethan Kinsella (Features), Gabrielle Solymosy (Culture), Afraaz Malick (Sports) and Max Beard (Opinions).

Design Editors for next year are Matthew Hensel, Celine Huang and Bailey Maierson.

Maxx Shearod will be Photo Editor and Rahul Rupani will be Business Manager.

The Review advisers are David Nathan, Shelley Stein (‘88) and Chuy Benitez.