“Today, we breathe,” Stella White writes in her award-winning opinion article. “Tomorrow, we dread — which one of us is next?”
The article, written in response to the shooting at Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill, Pa., that claimed the lives of 11 people on Oct. 27, 2018, sought to “capture the immediacy of everyone’s reaction to the shooting, including my own,” she explained.
Through the piece, White, a Newarker who graduated last month from Padua Academy, weaves together her voice with those who spoke during a vigil at the University of Delaware’s Memorial Hall the day after the shooting.
“I began writing this piece by pulling quotes from the vigil that I thought were representative of the larger, ongoing conversation,” White said. “I then got my immediate thoughts down and incorporated the quotes into the piece, serving as a framework for my own thoughts.”
Her work – described by a judge as an “elegant piece” – earned the Communication Award of Excellence from the National Federation of Press Women.
The article, headlined “The Reality of ‘Never Again,’” was selected from a pool of more than 1,500 entries. White is the first Delawarean to earn this distinction.
White’s piece “effectively represents the youth of today as being capable of excellence in communications in the highest degree: eloquent language; deft, concise, well-organized handling of a difficult and complex issue; ability to look the reality of the situation in the face and explicate it,” officials noted.
“I am honored to accept this award and hope I have done my home of Delaware proud,” White said, adding, “I hope that in receiving it I have contributed to the discussion about the shootings that continue to plague our nation and what we can do to bring them to a stop. My work is not done and none of us should rest until we can truly say ‘never again.’”
White was also named Student Journalist of the Year in the Youth Journalism International Contest, earned a Silver Key in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards and earned four Best of SNO (School Newspapers Online) awards.
For White, the motivation to tell the stories of others has been with her since she was 11 and a student at Newark Center for Creative Learning, which produces its own student newspaper. She wrote about civil unions in Delaware and interviewed the first couple to receive one, she said.
“[I] was humbled by how powerful their story was,” she said. “Ever since then, I have been driven to tell the stories of others. Through giving a voice to those who need it, we as journalists can act as conveyors of the most important truths in our society.”
At Padua, White served as editor-in-chief for Padua 360, the student newspaper for the school.
That, she said, was also an honor.
“I struggle to convey to my staffers how much it means to me when they trust me to edit their stories and come to me for advice, and it has truly been a joy growing with them,” she said.
In the fall, White will attend King’s College in London to study history and international relations. She plans to continue her journalism there.
“They have a wonderful publication I would be overjoyed to join,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing.”