Boiling Point wins Rockowers and top national honors in writing


Ezra Fax

HANDS-ON: Boiling Point editors said the Comprehensive Writing Award was for group effort.

By Clara Sandler and Lucy Fried

In its highest honors to date, the Boiling Point last spring was named one of the top three best-written high school newspapers in the country and also won two national best-story awards, all from the Quill and Scroll International Honorary Journalism Society.

The Boiling Point was one of just three newspapers to receive Quill and Scroll’s first-ever Blue and Gold Comprehensive Writing Award; the other two were The Spark, of Lakota East High School near Cincinnati; and the Featherduster, of Westlake High School near Austin, Texas. There was no ranking among the three.

The award was for the entire year’s work of the 2014-15 staff, led by alumnae Alexa Fishman and Goldie Fields, both class of ‘15. Quill and Scroll awards are judged by the American Society of News Editors and administered by the University of Iowa’s Journalism and Mass Communications department.

Alec Fields, this year’s co-editor-in-chief, and Elon Glouberman ’16 won Quill and Scroll “sweepstakes” awards, which honor the top story in each of about 15 categories. Elon won for political writing and Alec won for news.

Also over the summer The BP learned it had won two more Simon Rockower Awards from the American Jewish Press Association (AJPA). Shalhevet is the only school to compete in that contest, which is for professional Jewish papers and journalists throughout North America.

The Rockowers were won by Alec Fields and Noah Rothman.

Also, last week a photo by senior Ezra Fax was chosen as a finalist in the National Scholastic Press Association’s News Photo of the Year competition, one of only 10 finalists in the country.

Part of a new category of awards called the Blue and Gold Awards. the Comprehensive Writing Award was launched in honor of the Quill & Scroll Society’s 90th anniversary, according to Vanessa Shelton, the group’s executive director.

Ms. Shelton called Shalhevet one of the top schools in the nation for writing.

“It was pretty competitive,” Ms. Shelton said. “We had several schools place in the national awards as well as in the sweepstakes awards in writing. You have some excellent writing going on there.”

Quill and Scroll gives three levels of awards: the National Award, for an individual or group’s work on a particular story; the Sweepstakes Award, which pits all the National Award winners against each other in each category and only the first prize wins; and the new Comprehensive Award, for a year’s work of an entire paper.

Shalhevet won a total of nine awards from the Quill and Scroll Society in 2016, two Sweepstake, six National Awards, and the  Comprehensive Writing Award.

Ms. Shelton said the group’s trustees decided to introduce the Comprehensive Writing Award to recognize the collaborative effort involved in producing an entire newspaper, instead of just individuals.

That made sense to Goldie Fields, BP Executive Editor in 2014-15, who attributed the success to the hard work and commitment of everyone on the paper.

“It’s a big commitment to have a paper like ours,” said Goldie. “I think that it was our genuinely hard work and making sure the product was good.”

Shalhevet had never won a Sweepstakes award before. Elon Glouberman won for his September 2015 story, “A summer of argument as Iran deal polarized community,”and Alec Fields won for his news article, “Rabbi who sauna-ed with students in New York was scholar-in-residence at Beth Jacob on Shavuot.”

Alec’s story explored whether officials at Beth Jacob knew about the rabbi’s controversial history before inviting him to speak. Shortly before his actions were exposed in the New York Times, his speech to teens was cancelled.

Boiling Point faculty adviser Mrs. Joelle Keene said it was a combination of Alec’s good writing and careful journalistic eye.

“It was a national story that Alec knew about from following the news,” Mrs. Keene said, “so when he saw two conflicting flyers handed out by his synagogue – one with the rabbi’s name and one without – he decided to investigate.”

Quill and Scroll awards about 250 National Awards, about 75 per category for the whole United States. Noa Segal won the Boiling Point’s first-ever National Award for Advertising Design for her ad thanking everyone who had contributed to the new building, titled “It Took A Village.” Michelle Hirschhorn ’16 won for front-page design for Page 1 of Issue 3, which featured the Choirhawks singing beside the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

In addition to Elon and Alec, current Senior Editor Zev Kent, Noah Rothman ‘16, and Eric Bazak ‘16  – last year’s editor-in-chief – won National Awards for their writing.  Zev won in news for his story about a senior prank gone awry.  Eric won in the personality profile category for his look back at the career of former General Studies Principal Mr. Roy Danovitch.

In the AJPA Rockower Awards, the Boiling Point won second place in writing about women for “Evolution of a title ensnares potential new faculty hire,” Noah Rothman’s story about a prospective teacher from Yeshivat Maharat who turned down a position rather than be called “Ms.” after she’d received ordination.

Noah’s and Alec Fields’ three-part story “Out of the Shadows: Ancient tradition meets modern sensibility,” on Orthodox views of LGBT issues and the experiences of a gay rabbi and a Shalhevet lesbian alumna, won Second Prize, Boris Smolar Award for Enterprise/Investigative Reporting.

Lisa Hostein, executive editor of the Hadassah magazine and head of the Rockower Awards committee, said via email that the Boiling Point’s success is unique for a high school newspaper.

“It is truly impressive that your high school paper, which does indeed compete against a multitude of professional papers, continues to garner awards,” Ms. Hostein wrote.

It was the fourth year in a row that the Boiling Point won Rockower honors.

Eric Bazak said he was proud of the work ethic of the Boiling Point staff, and everyone does it with “perfection and dedication.”

“There were times last year where it’d be very frustrating because during those production nights you’re literally spending all night just working on BP,” said Eric.

“It’s tiring, but at the end of the day it’s worth it because the result is an incredible paper we all feel very proud of and one the community can benefit from.”