Complete list of 2020 Lesher Awards winners

NEWS

FIRST PLACE –TIE: 

Racist Incidents | How a viral video on Twitter overshadowed a football game, homework assignment and two letters home” by Chaire Chu and Raquel Montelindo, Monte Vista High School. How the school responded to a series of racist episodes. 

Local fires and power outages shake the community by Emmerson Brown, Stella Heo, and Katrina Ortman, Acalanes High School. How the fires affected a school and its community. 

SECOND PLACE: 

School installs vape detectors by Liann Bielicki and Ronnie Gogoi, California High School. The school’s pilot program to catch vapers in the act might not do the job. 

THIRD PLACE:

Richmond High teachers introduce new elective classes by Vivianna Bejarano, Richmond High School. The school’s move to a seven-period day opens opportunities for new electives.

HONORABLE MENTION:  

New gun control law by Angelina Izmaylova and Seta Salkhi, Monte Vista High School.  A step toward removing guns from homes where teens might be a danger to themselves or others. 

FEATURE

FIRST PLACE – TIE:

Michael Schneider: A bohemian ultrarunner in the making by Eva Shen and Harshita Neralla, Dougherty Valley High School. Profile of a running-crazed senior and aspiring ultrarunner.

The Rise and Fall: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Jamie Lattin, Acalanes High School. Mark Twain’s classic novel falls off the schools approved reading list.

SECOND PLACE – TIE:

Northgate crowns a Homecoming king by David Allen, Northgate High School. The school recognizes a special senior with Down syndrome.

Instagram’s influence on teens, promoting toxic femininity by Jasmine Vazquez, Richmond High School.

THIRD PLACE:

Festivity for All: Student profiles on different holidays by Binti Sohn, Acalanes High School.  Educating readers about non-Christian holidays: a way to learn about diverse cultures.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Seniors organize coding event by Nick Harvey and Jett Gold, California High School. A coding event that focuses on introducing beginners to the field.

Out with the new, in with the old by Melissa Solis, Making Waves Academy.  An examination of our fascination with nostalgia.

SPORTS

FIRST PLACE

Freshmen stars shining bright on varsity by Michelle Kuperman, California High School. Seniors usually get the attention, but this story turned the pattern on its head by giving props to the frosh. 

SECOND PLACE: 

No freshman football this year by Ella Johnson, California High School. A trend catches up to Cal High – not enough students sign up for freshman football. 

THIRD PLACE: 

PE evolves over the years  by Paviter Randhawa, Monte Vista High School. Monte Vista puts the “education” in PE by emphasizing skills and fitness, not competitiveness.

HONORABLE MENTION:

 Managing the responsibilities of being a student-athlete by Adelio Orellana, Richmond High School. It’s not enough to play well. Academics count, too, and that puts pressure on athletes.

EDITORIAL/OPINION

FIRST PLACE — TIE: 

Is reading a fading hobby among teens? By Macie Calvert, Monte Vista High School.  The school lacks students who read for fun. 

Historical simulations bring real-life tensions into classrooms by Vivian Kuang and Kavin Kumaravel, Dougherty Valley High School.  Bringing history to life may make some students uncomfortable.

SECOND PLACE: 

Dougherty Valley writes off female authors by Sneha Cheenath, Dougherty Valley High School. Dougherty’s English classes focus on male writers. 

THIRD PLACE:  

Hiding in the ivory tower: Desensitization of violence in schools by Anne Thiselton-Dyer and Zoe Edelman, Acalanes High School. Students have become indifferent to violence around them.

HONORABLE MENTION

Is saying the n-word contributing to our learning, or just unnecessary? by Paviter Randhawa, Monte Vista High School. Whether there is a place for it in classrooms is a very controversial topic. 

‘O.K. Boomer’ meme fuels intergenerational clash by Cayley O’Brien, Miramonte High School. The phrase is a defense mechanism on the part of teens, but the different generations have more in common than they think. 

PERSONAL COLUMN

FIRST PLACE:

OCD: What you think you know – and what you don’t by Seta Salkhi, Monte Vista High School. A deep and personal expedition into obsessive-compulsive behavior. 

SECOND PLACE — TIE: 

The illusion of inclusive marketing by Sraavya Sambara, Dougherty Valley High School. Don’t be fooled: They’re just trying to sell you more stuff. 

Why I write by Jonathan Aldana, Richmond High School. A rich journey into the mind of a writer beginning to find his voice. 

THIRD PLACE:

Confronting conflicts of queerness, Mexican culture by Vanessa Macias, Making Waves Academy. The writer’s identity at the intersection of queer and traditional Mexican culture doesn’t make for a peaceful coexistence.

HONORABLE MENTION: 

We have a voice by Luke Shalz, Pinole Valley High School. A student faces real-life drama as a school board member.

 Life as a diabetic 16-year-old by Alyssa Wirt, De Anza High School. Balancing a life of fun and work is difficult anyway, but when you’re a teen and a type 1 diabetic, life can be a whole tougher.

BEST IN-DEPTH AND INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

FIRST PLACE:

Teachers Priced Out of San Ramon by Sraavya Sambara, Vivian Kuang, Sanjana Ranganathan, Michael Han, and Sneha Cheenath, Dougherty Valley High School. It’s increasingly difficult for Dougherty Valley teachers to find housing nearby.

SECOND PLACE –TIE:

Does Cal High really recycle? by Jeana Lee and Isaac Oronsky, California High School.  Using a recycling bin doesn’t necessarily mean the stuff gets recycled. 

 AP World cheating scandal highlights academic pressure by Chloe Van Puffelen and Emily Ma, Monte Vista High School. It’s easy to cheat on AP tests using a cell phone camera.

THIRD PLACE –TIE:

Too Stressed at Dougherty by Nick Harvey, California High School.  More students are transferring to find a less stressful academic life.

Tragic Start to School Year by Angela Garcia and Alondra Ramirez with contributions from Heidi Carranza, Richmond High School. The school is roiled by death and allegations of sexual misconduct by a teacher.  

HONORABLE MENTION:

Self-medication: turning to substances to cope by Christian Cervantes, Hector Trujillo, Alejandro Duarte and Raul Manzo, Richmond High School. An inquiry into self-medicating while still in high school.

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT 

FIRST PLACE: 

Orange World by Eva Shen, Dougherty Valley High School. A review of the book of short stories by Karen Russell. 

 SECOND PLACE:

Joker by Zack Lara, Acalanes High School. Is the film’s focus on obscene violence socially acceptable? 

THIRD PLACE:

Jumanji II by Seta Salkin, Monte Vista High School. The newest Jumanji film reaches the next level as Danny DeVito and Awkwafina are thrown into the mix.

HONORABLE MENTION

Frozen 2 by Lauryn Leong, Monte Vista High School. The movie delivers a beautiful message of sisterhood and  empowerment.

PC by Mason Montano, Pinole Valley High School.  The legacy of the London-based record label PC Music. 

PHOTOGRAPHY 

FIRST PLACE – TIE:

Football by Nima Pendar, California High School. The photo captures a visceral moment of one player straight-arming another.

Protester by Natalie Seiler, Acalanes High School. The picture shows the anger and determination of a young immigration protester.

SECOND PLACE:

Rally by Lue Van Handel, Acalanes High School. A photographer turns the camera on another part of the sports action: the stands. 

THIRD PLACE:

Scooter by Teju Anand, Dougherty Valley High School. A photo captures a critical moment in a skateboard maneuver. 

HONORABLE MENTION

Roller Skater by Logan Visola, California High School. A roller skater in a colorful costume balances toe-and-heel.

Basketball by Lue Van Handel, Acalanes High School. A photo captures the action near the rim. 

PAGE DESIGN

FIRST PLACE:

Falling for these treats by Michelle Nguyen, California High School. A tasty layout of autumn treats at restaurants, shops and stores nearby. 

SECOND PLACE:

San Ramon Housing Crisis Prices Teachers Out by Sarah Kim, Anika Garg, and Riya Bindlish, Dougherty Valley High School. The design helped readers navigate a long and detailed story by incorporating info graphics and an attractive look.

THIRD PLACE:

District Teachers Strike Averted by Emmy Burrus and Christine Oh, California High School

HONORABLE MENTION

How to Register to Vote by Sydney Christensen, Acalanes High School. A helpful guide for students registering to vote. 

California Top 10 Songs of the Decade by Michelle Nguyen, Carol Chen and Rebecca Newman, California High School.  Looking back at students’ favorite music.

EDITORIAL CARTOON

FIRST PLACE:

Students Struggle to Find Seating for Lunch by Reese Whipple, Miramonte High School. It’s a battle zone in the quad when it comes to grabbing a table.

SECOND PLACE:

Teens navigating relationships and love through technology by Citlaly Estrada, Richmond High School. Technology advances but romance persists.

THIRD PLACE – TIE:

Only PG&E can stop wildfires by Ethan Walker, Acalanes High School. A contemporary take on the old saying.

What’s censorship? by Kelly Tran, Pinole Valley High School. By censoring political expression, did the National Archive commit political expression?

OVERALL NEWSPAPER EXCELLENCE

First (tie)  Acalanes High School and Dougherty Valley High School

Second: California High School

Third: Monte Vista High School

Honorable Mention: Miramonte High School

OVERALL WEBSITE EXCELLENCE

First: Dougherty Valley High School

Second: Acalanes High School

Third: Monte Vista High School

OVERALL PODCAST EXCELLENCE

First: Dougherty Valley High School, Wildcat: Rapid Reviews #1

Second: Acalanes High School, Double NPR, Episode 2: The Electoral College

Third: California High School, Bear With Us: Ghost of Homecoming Pass

2020 JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR SCHOLARSHIPS

First: Nicholas Harvey, California High School ($1,000)

Second: Sneha Cheenath, Dougherty Valley High School ($500)

Third: Vanessa Macias, Making Waves Academy ($250)

CC SPIN STUDENT EDITOR OF THE YEAR

Clara Stevenson, Ygnacio Valley High School

The mission of California Scholastic Journalism Initiative’s CC Spin program is to assist Contra Costa County high schools in training students to better understand and appreciate the role of a free press in our democratic system, the ethics and appropriate behaviors of journalists, and to protect and value the First Amendment in our society. Our goal is a student newspaper in every Contra Costa County high school that is a voice for student concerns and measures up to the highest journalistic standards.