Boiling Point wins awards for web, print, Jewish coverage

WINNERS: Tamar Willis, Nicole Feder and Goldie Fields accept the Gold Crown Award from CSPA’s C. Bruce Watterson in New York City.

Courtesy of Goldie Fields

WINNERS: Tamar Willis, Nicole Feder and Goldie Fields accept the Gold Crown Award from CSPA’s C. Bruce Watterson in New York City.

By Maayan Waldman, Staff Writer

Continuing a yearly trend for The Boiling Point, five students have won national awards announced this month – two of them in competition with professional Jewish journalists from around the world in the annual Simon J. Rockower Awards competition, and three in the 2014 International Writing and Photo Contest of the Quill and Scroll Society, a high school competition.

In addition, The Boiling Point and its website were awarded the Gold Crown award, the highest award given by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, for the second year in a row. They were one of eight winners nationwide in the “hybrid” category, for news sources that publish both in print and online. It was the second year in a row.

The Rockower Awards are sponsored by the American Jewish Press Association, of which The Boiling Point is the only high school member. Both Boiling Point winners came in second, in the category of newspapers with less than 15,000 circulation.

Sophomore Noah Rothman won second place in the Boris Smolar Award for Excellence in Enterprise or Investigative Reporting for his series of articles on whether girls should be allowed to wear tefillin during school davening. The story sparked an international debate about the topic and received 24,000 hits on The Boiling Point website in less than a week. After the first story came out, Noah wrote three other stories pertaining to the controversy, including a survey of how other Modern Orthodox schools handle the question and an interview with the girl who wanted to wear tefillin.

“It was pretty obvious that it had to be done,” said Noah. “It was a huge, controversial topic.”

Junior Adam Rokah took second place in the David Frank Award for Excellence in Personality Profiles, for his story of how senior Yosef Nemanpour, who does not come from a religious family, fell in love with Torah and changed his outlook after a difficult ninth grade.

In comments published on the AJPA website, the judges of the contest described Adam’s story as “one of the best-written pieces in this category.”

“With the heavy use of good quotes and a fast-moving writing style, the author breathed life into [his] subject,” they wrote.

Noah and Adam have been invited to the AJPA’s national convention in Washington, D.C., next November to receive their awards.

Three students won four awards – Editor-in-Chief Tamar Willis won two — in the 2014 Quill and Scroll Awards competition, which is judged by members of the American Society of News Editors. There were 2,211 entries from high schools mostly in the U.S., and 286 awards were given.

Boiling Point advisor Mrs. Joelle Keene said she had to carefully select which articles to submit for a Quill and Scroll Award, because schools are limited to four articles per category. She said that the common denominator in the six winning articles was the good writing.

“You can tell a good story when it’s like a breeze,” Mrs. Keene said. “The story just carries you from the beginning to the end, giving enough detail to give you a rich understanding of the topic without your really feeling like you had to work for it.”

Boiling Point editors picked up the CSPA Gold Crown award, one of the most prestigious in high school journalism, during their annual trip to New York City for the group’s spring convention. It recognized last year’s newspaper, which was under the leadership of then-seniors Jacob Ellenhorn, Colleen Bazak and Kalil Eden, and this year’s website, led by Web Editor-in-Chief Nicole Feder.

Tamar viewed the awards as recognition of the paper’s overall quality.

“I think these awards are really just a validation that we’re doing our jobs as journalists and that we’re doing it well,” she said.

Tamar, now with six awards total, won the Quill-and-Scroll in the Feature category for her story titled “What’s in a Pseudonym,” about how some seniors disguise their online identity to hide their out-of-school life from colleges.

Her unsigned editorial about last fall’s cancellation and then rescheduling of the Penn Model Congress trip, titled “Penn Model Congress: It’s Everybody’s Fault,” won in the Editorial Writing category.

Junior Alexa Fishman, this year’s Community Editor, won in the News Writing category for her story, “Students Study Middle East at Local Mosque.” This was her second award.

And freshman Zev Kent became the first Shalhevet ninth-grader to win a national Quill and Scroll Award. He won in the Features category with his story, “If the Earth is Warming, Why is it Freezing Out?”

Students who won the Quill and Scroll awards are eligible to apply for one of the six college scholarships the society awards, per year, ranging from $250 to $2000. Two Boiling Point writers have won those scholarships in past years.