FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2023
By Alya Satchu
CHICAGO – High school journalists across Chicago recently finished articles about issues related to the Mayoral Election, which took place on February 28th. A mayoral youth forum, organized by the Scholastic Press Association and the Northwestern Medill School of Journalism, invited high school newspaper journalists to collect data within their school, and then compose it into a relevant article. Nine public and private schools participated, and each designated 2-3 journalists to participate as representatives of their respective schools.
Student participants first met in November 2022 to discuss the creation of a poll to be shared among the student body. The poll was anonymous but reported the student’s age, gender, race/ethnicity, and the area in Chicago where they live. The poll then asked students to rate how concerned they are with issues like school safety, neighborhood violence, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, mental health, and more. The final question gave students the opportunity to freely write about any experiences or feelings about the topics discussed. In the November meeting, students collectively created this poll and subsequently sent it to their student body. Comprehensively, 1258 students responded from across Chicago.
Upon examination of the results, students reported being concerned about several issues. For example, across all schools, 62% of students reported being either “concerned” or “very concerned” with the issue of mental health.
The Mayoral Youth Forum held another meeting for the student journalists on December 15 to discuss article ideas and analyze the recently collected data. By January 16, the journalists had finished and published their stories in their school newspapers. For example, Harry Lowitz at Francis W. Parker School wrote his article about student mental health based on the results of the poll.
A WBEZ reporter expressed interest in the published stories and is currently reviewing their contents.
Director of Media Relations at Teens for Press Freedom, Ifeoma Okwuka, stated “It’s critical that student journalists be given the opportunity to spotlight concerns plaguing the collective consciousness of young populations. The Mayoral Youth Forum, organized by the Scholastic Press Association and the Northwestern Medill School, is a great example of such an opportunity. Providing a platform for young people to initiate conversations on issues important to them will further empower them to voice thoughts conducive to fostering change within their local communities.”