(Copyright 2000 by The Bristol Press. All rights reserved.)

April 10, 2000

Tattoo writers clean up in national competition

For the fourth straight year, student reporters for The Tattoo -
- The Bristol Press' teen page -- raked in writing prizes
recently from the nation's top high school journalism contest.

Seven student journalists collected awards in four categories
in the annual competition sponsored by the National
Newspaper Association and the Quill and Scroll International
Honorary Society for High School Journalists.

Bristol Eastern High School seniors Joe Wilbur and Merissa
Mastropiero each took home two National Gold Key prizes.

The Tattoo's coverage of school violence in the wake of the
massacre at Colorado's Columbine High School nabbed
honors in the contest's in-depth team category. It recognized
a full page that ran last May that took a hard, skeptical look
at local schools' emergency plans and included a story about
young people who knew one of the Columbine shooters.

Winners for the team coverage were St. Paul Catholic High
School senior Courtney Pendleton, Bristol Eastern senior Hila
Yosafi, Wilbur, Mastropiero and two students who graduated
last year, Amanda Lehmert and Jessica Majerus. Majerus
attended Mayo High School in Rochester, Minn. and Lehmert
earned her diploma from Bristol Central High School.

Bristol Eastern sophomore Jen Rajotte captured top honors
for her March 29 news story about legislative efforts to raise
the dropout age. It marked her first journalism award.

Two students won in the general columns category of the
competition, Mastropiero and Wilbur.

Four of the winning students -- Lehmert, Wilbur, Yosafi and
Mastropiero -- were prior National Gold Key award winners.

For Lehmert, who attends Boston's Emerson College and
serves as news editor of its campus paper, the prize marked
the fourth straight year she earned honors in the contest. She
collected five Gold Keys in all.

This is the third time The Tattoo, now in its seventh year,
has captured the in-depth team category. In 1997, a package
on teen suicide took the top honors and last year a story
about a local teen who killed himself won.

In Mastropiero's Oct. 25 column "In defense of teen apathy,
cynicism," she decried the unwillingness of political leaders
to pay attention to young people.

"The problem is not that teens don't get involved,"
Mastropiero wrote, "it's that when they do, nothing is done.
The candidates can say all they want that teens should get
more involved in government, but if they don't pay attention,
we aren't going to respond."

Wilbur's column, "Crash victim mirrors mortality" examined
the lessons other students should learn from the death of
Cassi Boutwell, a popular Eastern teen killed in a car crash a
year ago.

"Her death so affected the entire community, and particularly
its young people, that we're still rubbing our eyes and
squinting at the impossibility of it all," Wilbur wrote. "Now
we're looking for answers and, of course, there aren't any."

"No one so young, with so much possibility still before them,
should leave so much undone," Wilbur wrote.

He wrote, "We're human and fragile, and there's nothing
more that can be said about it. Limiting our senselessly
destructive decisions is the only power we have over our
lives, and, at times like
these, it doesn't seem like much of a defense."

To read more, check out the group's web site at
www.ReadTheTattoo.com. All of the winning pieces are
available online.

The Tattoo also has a page in today's paper, on page A6.

The Tattoo, which is free to join, works under the
supervision of volunteer advisors Steve Collins and Jackie
Majerus, both veteran reporters for The Press. It meets
weekly at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays at the newspaper.

Any teens interested in writing, graphics or photography are
encouraged to come. Even teens who can't make the meetings
can participate if they have e-mail, whether they live locally
or across the globe.

Questions or comments about The Tattoo should be directed
to Majerus or Collins at 523-9632 or via e-mail to Majerus-

To read any of the winning stories, check out The Tattoo's index page and look up the stories by writer. The school violence stories are all available at the following link:

Click here for school violence stories