Published in The Bristol Press on March 31, 1997

(Copyright 1997. All rights reserved.)

Tattoo captures national journalism award


The teen page published by The Bristol Press
recently captured a National Gold Key award in
the country's top high school journalism

The in-depth journalism prize was given to nine
area students who worked for almost a year to
produce a project on teen suicide that ran in
the Dec. 30th edition of The Tattoo.

"We took a lot of time and effort because we
knew it was going to be something that turned
out really good and that it would be important
to the community," said Bristol Eastern High
School junior Brian LaRue.

Bristol Central High School sophomore Danielle
Ouimet said the project managed to get across
the message that suicide is no answer. "I was so
proud to see it all come together so well," she

LaRue said, "It was difficult but it was worth

The annual contest is sponsored by the National
Newspaper Association and the Quill and Scroll
International Honorary Society for High School

The students beat out more than 160 other
entries to claim the prize, which makes them
eligible to compete for college scholarship

The winners were Ouimet, Amanda Lehmert and
Aimee Lehmert of Central High; Bryan Pena,
Michelle Driscoll and LaRue of Eastern High; and
Mark Cyr, Paul Bartok and Shauna Fauchon of St.
Paul Catholic High School.

Press publisher Michael Vanacore and Editor John
DeSanto thanked the group for its hard work and
dedication during a small ceremony last week.

Members of The Tattoo spent days digging through
death records to
find every teen suicide that occurred in
Bristol, Plymouth or Plainville in the past 15
years - and then tracked down grieving parents,
friends, doctors, counselors and others who
could shed light on the problem.

"We took about 11 months and we immersed
ourselves in this massive project," said LaRue.

Ouimet said that calling the parents of teens
who had killed themselves was the toughest part.

"It was scary more than anything," she said,
"because I knew it must have the been the worst
thing on earth for them."

Though all nine students helped with the
project, four of them took on the tough task of
actually writing the stories that appeared on
the page - Amanda Lehmert, Pena, LaRue and

Entries in the in-depth reporting category were
judged on the quality of their subject matter,
use of sources, thoroughness of coverage and
writing style.

The entries were also required to explore
"existing weaknesses and/or better inform the

After the stories appeared, state Sen. Tom
Colapietro praised the project in a letter to
the editor for "opening my eyes to the realities
of the teenage years."

"The articles were written well enough to open
my adult eyes to what I call the forgotten real
world: the world of the youth. Every day our
children go through trials and tribulations that
are just as 'real' to them as the day-to-day
struggles we adults face," wrote the Terryville

Pena, a senior, is a two-time winner in the
contest. His news story for The Bristol Press
detailing the grief of a murdered girl's best
friend garnered a prize two years ago. 

The Tattoo is a student-written page published
in the Press on occasional Mondays. During
weekly sessions at the paper, its volunteer
members learn the ins and outs of journalism
from two Press reporters who donate their time,
Jackie Majerus and Steve Collins.

Click here for story on another award