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March 10, 2005

Tattoo writer takes top award


SPRINGFIELD -- For her serious news reporting, thought-provoking columns and humorous commentary, Katie Jordan of The Tattoo on Wednesday won the highest individual honor in a regional high school journalism contest.

Jordan, a 17-year-old senior at Bristol Eastern High School, won the Professor Melvin Williams Award from the Scholastic Press Forum at American International College during a morning ceremony at the Springfield, Mass. school.

Katie Jordan
The award "recognizes an outstanding writer," said Professor Will Hughes, director of the college‘s communications department.

Given that "hundreds and hundreds" of teen newspapers enter the contest annually, the fact that Jordan takes top honors each year is significant, Hughes said.

"She won like every category," said Hughes. "That’s pretty amazing, considering there are thousands of entries."

Jordan said Wednesday she is honored the school chose her for the award.

Jordan joined The Tattoo, a teen-written newspaper published online and in The Bristol Press, as a seventh-grade student at Chippens Hill Middle School. She started winning first-place honors in the Springfield contest the following year and never stopped.

Since 2001, Jordan has won seven first-place awards from the Scholastic Press Forum and shared in a special prize awarded to The Tattoo in 2002 for its extensive coverage of ESPN’s X Trials in Bristol four years ago.

She has captured top awards in the cartoons, news features, opinion, features, sports features and first-person essay categories. She’s won for stories ranging from teen depression to the strange haircuts boys at Chippens Hill Middle School were sporting a few years back.

"What’s striking about Katie is the way she rises to every challenge," said Steve Collins, one of Jordan’s advisers at The Tattoo. "She can do it all -- and has."

"She’s tackled some awfully tough stories, from teen depression to the need for extreme athletes to wear helmets," Collins said, "and she’s also given us some terrific, quirky little cartoons."

This year, Jordan also won a first-place medal in the sports feature category for a piece she wrote last summer about a group of Afghan girl soccer players -- a story that impressed Collins.

"With only a little prodding, she headed off to Simsbury to spend an extraordinary day with a team of Afghan girls who had come to America to play soccer. She thought it was going to be a sports story but she found a terrific and heartwarming tale about so much more," Collins said. "What I really loved was not just the great news piece she wrote, but a sidebar where she told readers what she learned."

In that piece, which won an honorable mention Wednesday, Jordan wrote, "I spent the day feeling like I was witnessing the world at its best."

"There have been many days over the years where I’ve felt that way about Katie herself," Collins said.

Jordan said she enjoyed meeting the girls from Afghanistan.

"To be able to talk to them through an interpreter, that was really cool," Jordan said.

Jordan said her own idea for a 2003 series on teen depression was rewarding because she felt it may have helped someone.

"It was kind of special to me," she said. "I like to think that somebody’s read what I’ve written and it’s made a difference to them."

Jordan shared a first-place award in the opinion category with Katie Haire, a junior at Bristol Eastern, for a humorous piece about high-school gym class that ran last fall.

"I’m glad for the opportunity that The Tattoo has given me, not only to improve my own writing, but to work with other talented young writers," Jordan said.

Several of those writers, in addition to Haire, were also honored Wednesday.

Joe Keo, a senior at Bristol Eastern High School, won first place in the cartoons category for his "Daily Sketch" about airport insecurity.

Eric Simmons, a senior at Bristol Eastern High School, won an honorable mention in the profiles category for his story about accounting teacher Richard Ladisky.

Tattoo staff member Marese Heffernan, 13, of Ireland captured an honorable mention in the columns category for a piece she wrote called, "Teachers make or break us."

Staffer Minha Lee of Minn-esota took an honorable mention in the first-person category for a piece called, "My freshman love affair with The Wall" that ran in The Tattoo’s annual Insider’s Guide to High School last fall.

Teague Neal, a 17-year-old Canadian member of The Tattoo, won an honorable mention for his news story about the Second Harvest food program in Toronto.

Jordan’s work influences younger writers in The Tattoo, which was given a Newspaper of Excellence award at the Wednesday ceremony in Springfield.

Zach Brokenrope, a 15-year-old Tattoo staff member from Aurora, Neb., said that when he found the teen publication on the Internet, he read one of Jordan’s stories first.

"She’s awesome," said Brokenrope. "I read all of her stories before anyone else’s."

Brokenrope said he read everything Jordan wrote.

"It was an inspiration to me of how I wanted to be when I started writing," Brokenrope said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Hughes said he’d love to have had a scholarship go along with the engraved crystal trophy that Jordan will get for the award.

While many students distinguish themselves in the contest, said Hughes, Jordan showed she was very versatile by excelling in so many different kinds of work.

This is the first year that the school has made the award, said Hughes, and it is the only one in the wide-ranging contest given to just one person. He said it’s named in honor of Williams, a beloved English professor who died last year.

Jordan plans to attend the University of Connecticut next fall, studying writing and art.

"Those are the two things that I most like to do," she said.

All of Jordan’s work for The Tattoo and the other prize-winning pieces are available online at The Tattoo’s web site,

At the Scholastic Press Forum this year, Jordan captured an honorable mention for a column she wrote about her senior photo session and in the first person category for the article about what she learned from the Afghan girls.

In addition to her prizes from Springfield, Jordan has won three top honors in the annual news contest sponsored by the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists, where she competed against full-time reporters from across the state.

In the professional contest, she won in the arts and entertainment category and twice shared wins with other Tattoo writers in the feature series category, for her work on the X Trial and The Insider’s Guide to High School.

Also in the SPJ contest, Jordan has twice come in second, in the in-depth reporting category in 2004 and the investigative series category in 2002.

In the yearly contest sponsored by the Quill and Scroll Society and the National Newspaper Association, Jordan has twice won Gold Keys for her cartoons and once won in the columns category for a piece she wrote about religion.

©The Bristol Press 2005

Links to Katie Jordan's work:

Mischievous words, etched in stone

December 27, 2004

Shoot me! Perils of the senior photo

November 8, 2004

Taking the stage when the spotlight is on you

September 13, 2004

Fast facts for freaked out freshmen

August 23, 2004

Let's see some hustle cartoon

August 16, 2004

P.E. stands for 'painful experience'

August 16, 2004

Afghan girls soccer team wins hearts

August 9, 2004

A whole new outlook on sports and America

August 9, 2004

Preparing all year for just one exam

June 14, 2004

Girls describe loneliness, depression

December 8, 2003

'I Feel So Alone' cartoon

December 8, 2003

Depressed teens can get help

December 8, 2003

The best years of your life cartoon

December 8, 2003

An arsenal of art at the Atheneum

December 1, 2003

American art: weird, wild, wonderful

December 1, 2003

Hill-Stead makes a good impression

December 1, 2003

Beware of the second day of school

August 25, 2003

Hairdresser cartoon

Nov. 18, 2002

Kiss this! Pity the pig...

Sept. 23, 2002

Freshman trauma on the second day of school

Sept. 16, 2002

Back to school ads are surreal

Sept. 9, 2002

Graduation Road

Sept. 9, 2002

Board calls foul on company gift

July 29, 2002

McDonalds loves to make you fat

July 15, 2002

No religion means deed, not beliefs, matter

April 29, 2002

Mission impossible

Feb. 25, 2002

Cartoon for Valentine's Day

February 11, 2002

Reinforcements cartoon

Dec. 17, 2001

For teen mom, holidays not a happy time

Dec. 3, 2001

Thousands of reasons to pay attention

September 11, 2001

'Inflight' orientation made me airsick

Sept. 3, 2001

Teens to Bristol: build a skate park

July 2, 2001

The mysterious man with the yellow sash

June 16, 2001

Standing in line and strutting their stuff

June 16, 2001

Experts outline risks of 'action' sports

June 11, 2001

Quality gear can save your neck, shop owners say

June 11, 2001

ER doc's safety tips

June 11, 2001

Captain Macho cartoon

June 11, 2001

It's the hair, stupid

April 9, 2001

Here's Katie!!! Dimples and all

April 9, 2001

Girls just wanna play ball

August 14, 2000

Bristol under Harry Potter's spell
April 10, 2000

New laws to hit teen drivers
April 10, 2000


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