ST. PETERSBURG, FL — Staff from the Pinellas County Schools Centers for Journalism & Multimedia program didn’t let school closures stand in the way of honoring outstanding high school journalism students.
A car caravan headed to the homes of two Lakewood High School last week students to surprise them with the Cynda Mort Scholarship for Outstanding Scholastic Journalists.
Three St. Petersburg schools — Melrose Elementary School, John Hopkins Middle School and Lakewood High School — have a joint program called Journeys in Journalism that was started by former journalist, Cynda Mort, in 2001. Mort ran the program until she died in 2015.
This is the sixth year that the Journeys in Journalism program has awarded the Cynda Mort Scholarship for Outstanding Scholastic Journalist to seniors from Lakewood High School in the Center for Journalism and Multimedia.
The program gave 15 scholarships ranging from $1,000 the first three years and $1,500 in 2018 to two $2,000 scholarships in 2019. This year the program awarded two $2,000 scholarships, bringing the total awarded to $23,500.
Receiving scholarships were Julianna Raymond, the managing editor for Lakewood’s Spartan News Network newspaper, which has been nominated for three Silver Crowns from Columbia University in New York.
She began working in the Journeys in Journalism program at John Hopkins Middle School and found she had a passion for writing stories for the newspaper there. She also has had her stories printed in The Weekly Challenger, a local newspaper in south St. Petersburg.
Her goal is to work for the Tampa Bay Times, National Geographic and the New York Times.
The second winner, Jade Marks, credits the journalism program and journalism teachers for mentoring him through the challenges and joys of journalism and the difficulties he faced with autism. He said being involved in journalism helped him to grow in all of his academics.
From his freshman year, Marks developed his skills as a video journalist, with one highlight being his video story about Lakewood 2019 graduate Mohammed Haitham, who was killed in January along with two other sailors at the Naval Station in Pensacola.
The story was broadcast on the Spartan News Network and at the community exhibit at the Studio@620, “Through Our Eyes: Midtown and Beyond.”
He was named the valedictorian of Lakewood and hopes to develop his skills into a career as a videographer.
Donations to the Cynda Mort Scholarship for Outstanding Scholastic Journalist can be made to the Pinellas County Education Foundation with a notation for the Cynda Mort Scholarship.