(Copyright 2002. The Bristol Press. All rights reserved.)

March 14, 2002

Ten Tattoo writers garner eight awards for journalism

By Jackie Majerus

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Ten student writers for The Tattoo earned eight journalism awards Wednesday in the Scholastic Press Forum’s annual contest, including a special prize created to honor the group’s extensive coverage of ESPN’s X Trials in Bristol last summer.

“They did a great job,” said Professor Will Hughes, chair of the communications department at the American International College in Springfield, which sponsored the contest.

Hughes said he liked the combined effort put forth by the teens in The Tattoo , calling it “cool.”

“That’s never come up before, where there’s been team coverage,” said Hughes, who said he wanted to recognize the group instead of singling out individuals. “I thought it was appropriate to award the paper for that.”

The Tattoo ’s X Trials coverage included four full pages in the newspaper as well as other stories that appeared in other Tattoo issues, on the Tattoo website and in The Bristol Press and The Herald Press.

The teen writers who contributed to the award-winning entry were Bristol Eastern juniors Mike Nguyen , Sam Yosafi, and Kara Dumond , Chippens Hill seventh grader Jen Plonski, Eastern freshmen Katie Jordan and Sara Greene, 2001 Eastern graduate Sarah Jordan, Bristol Central High School freshman Cassie Nowak and Kaishi Lee , a 15-year-old student at Nanyang Girls’ School in Singapore.

Jordan, who won two medals in addition to the special team award, said she enjoyed working on the X Trials package. She concentrated on safety aspects of in-line skating, skateboarding and trick biking.

 “I’m not really interested in sports so it seemed like the obvious thing to do,” said Jordan, adding, “Everyone I talked to was really nice.”

Jordan and her colleagues said they enjoyed working together on the X Trials coverage and agreed that they’d like to tackle more group projects in the future.

“We had more of an understanding of what everyone else was doing,” said Jordan.

“It was a good team effort,” said Nguyen. “I don’t think we’ve ever worked so well together in our lives.”

Nguyen, who won a first-place medal and an honorable mention in addition to the team award, said what he liked best about covering the X Trials was “talking to all those famous bikers and skaters.”

“They were really cool,” said Nguyen, who wrote several profiles on athletes.

Plonski, who did her first work for The Tattoo on the X Trials coverage, said the project gave her a preview of what belonging to the group would be like – writing about what interests teens.

 “It was fun,” said Plonski.

Greene said the X Trials coverage was interesting because she didn’t know much about the sports until she began writing about them. She liked learning about the sports, Greene said, and gained “a new respect” for the athletes who practice them.

“I liked the fact that we were behind the scenes,” said Yosafi. He said he liked meeting the athletes he sees on television and “seeing how they really act.”

Writers for The Tattoo were among about 400 students who attended a high school journalism conference at the school Wednesday. The event drew teens from schools throughout New England, New York and New Jersey, said Hughes.

Hughes said the contest garnered 2,700 entries. About 126 awards were presented.

Because of the intense competition, Hughes said, “Even if you just got an honorable mention, that’s pretty good.”

The Tattoo claimed three first place wins and four honorable mentions in addition to the special award during a ceremony attended by several hundred aspiring journalists at American International College.

Katie Jordan captured the most honors among the group, nabbing medals for a feature story she wrote for The Tattoo about the strange hair style some boys at Chippens Hill Middle School adopted and for several cartoons she drew during the past year.

In the winning feature story, Jordan wrote, “An intriguing new doo has taken the school by storm. This hairdo is a perfect example of what a guy would look like if he ran into a door at top speed: the frontal portion of the hair is molded and shaped until it stands up on end.”

Mike Nguyen , a junior at Eastern, collected a medal for a news story that he wrote last spring about the events leading up to the March 12 arrest of a student for allegedly making threats against the school.

An accompanying piece by Sarah Jordan, a University of Connecticut freshman who graduated from Eastern in June, was also included in Nguyen’s winning award entry.

Nguyen and Sarah Jordan also shared an honorable mention in the reviews category for their dueling takes on the original “Survivor” television show, which Nguyen praised and Jordan trashed.

Lee, who wrote in December about the impact of the death of a young skateboarder practicing to compete in an ESPN event in Singapore, also won an honorable mention in the news category.

Lee said The Tattoo , which she found online, “is a great paper, written by teens for teens” that “actually shows that teens can write, and do write!”

“There's no preaching from adults about what's right and what's wrong,” she said in an on-line interview Wednesday using instant messaging.

Two Tattoo cartoonists – Plonski and Eastern freshman Joe Keo – nabbed honorable mentions for their work as well.

One of Keo’s cartoons addressed “American Taliban” John Walker Lindt. Keo said he felt compelled to comment on the issue through drawing.

“It was an issue that touched home,” said Keo. “As a citizen I must respond with my reaction.”

The Tattoo is a student-written page published in The Press on occasional Mondays. It is not affiliated  with any school, but accepts all teen writers, artists and photographers interested in learning the craft.

During weekly Wednesday night sessions at the paper, The Tattoo 's volunteer members learn about journalism from two veteran Press reporters who donate their time, Jackie Majerus and Steve Collins.

While it helps to live in the Bristol area, teens from all over the world can also be part of the group. For information, contact Majerus or Collins at (860) 523-9632.

During the past eight years, The Tattoo has collected a slew of reporting and writing awards. They include prizes from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists, the Quill and Scroll Society, the Suburban Newspaper Association and the Connecticut Committee for Youth Suicide Prevention. Several students have also won journalism-related college scholarships.

The prize-winning stories, cartoons and much more are featured on The Tattoo 's web site at www.ReadTheTattoo.com.

To see the award-winning work, check out these links:

Special award for X Trials coverage

The Tattoo X Trials Focus


Memo details school response to threats

Friend: Coons no threat

Teens skate on despite death


It's the hair, stupid


Roadkill or freshman?

John Walker

First Day


Survivor is cheesy, wonderful

Vote Survivor off television

Click here to see the story as it appeared online in The Bristol Press