FHN’s Zimmerman Wins Robert F. Kennedy High School Journalism Award

Posted on 06/04/2018
FHN’s Zimmerman Wins Robert F. Kennedy High School Journalism Award

Robert F. Kennedy was a renowned advocate for human rights and social justice, and would have plenty to say if he were still with us today. His legacy, however, still lives, through the voices of those who speak for what is right. One of those people, FHN student Sarah Zimmerman, has been honored by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization with an annual journalism award. Zimmerman won the High School Print Article of the Year for her outstanding story, “One Incredible Goal.”

It is an author’s incredible goal to be recognized by one’s peers, but to have your efforts recognized by a national organization, whose judges are current media professionals, is truly remarkable. Aaron Manfull is Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School, and Zimmerman’s journalism teacher. He knows this kind of recognition isn’t earned just by getting lucky with a good story. Zimmerman’s journalistic integrity and work ethic spoke through her work. Click here to read Zimmerman’s article on FHNToday.

Sarah Zimmerman, FHN student, holding her RFK High School Journalism Award.When I first found out,” Zimmerman said, “I was almost in tears – not necessarily because I won, but because it showed that other people thought that the work I had done was making an impact.” Zimmerman was very passionate about the story her words conveyed, about a school with such a great mission. She wasn’t thinking about awards when she wrote it, but surely the success came through the passion about the subject. “It was because I care so deeply for the students and the teachers at the school, I hope it showed in my writing.”

"Sarah did such a great job with this story throughout the process,” Manfull said, “from visiting the (Nahed Chapman New American Academy) campus and conducting numerous interviews to writing, editing, and redrafting the piece numerous times. She worked really hard to share the story of the school and the stories of some of the people within its walls, and her work definitely had an impact."

Also noteworthy is that Zimmerman is the third consecutive FHN Journalism student to win this national award (Anthony Kristensen won it in 2016 and 2017, which you can read about on fhsdschools.org). One might immediately attribute that to an excellent teacher in Manfull, but he credits students like Zimmerman, who take their studies seriously. "It's pretty amazing that students from FHN have won this award three times in a row,” Manfull said. “I think it's a testament to them and their hard work and wanting to write about subjects they are passionate about."

FHN Publications becomes a home to many people, including Zimmerman. “I’ve gained everlasting friendships with people I may have never met,” she said. “But I also think I gained invaluable communication skills, experiences that I will use the rest of my life. And other kids should join publications for the same reasons.” Zimmerman talked about the greater sense of responsibility that she gained by writing about such an important story. “I’m really grateful to have the freedom to write what I want to write about. Writing about this has changed my life, opened my eyes to other possibilities.”

RFK once said, “We must continue to prove to the world that we can provide a rising standard of living for all men without loss of civil rights or human dignity to any man.” It will take authors like Zimmerman to do exactly that.

“Journalists in the United States are under attack,” said Robert. F. Kennedy Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy. “Government officials have called reporters ‘enemies of the state’ and ‘the enemy.’ Reporters have faced attempts to limit the free press and to delegitimize the role of facts in public life. We are proud to recognize those who expose injustice and hold our leaders to the highest standards of accountability.”

Founded by the reporters who covered Robert F. Kennedy's historic 1968 presidential campaign, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards honor outstanding reporting on issues that reflect Robert Kennedy's concerns, including human rights, social justice, and the power of individual action in the United States and around the world. Ethel Kennedy (RFK’s widow)Kerry Kennedy (RFK’s daughter), and Book Award Chair and emcee Michael Beschloss presented winners with their prizes. Zimmerman cherished the opportunity to be there. “I made so many connections and it’s only grown my passion for writing and working for human rights.”

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