Student Article Covering Anti-Semitic Hate Crime Wins National Contest
Isabella Caruso, a senior at Pelham Memorial High School in Westchester County is one of the winners of a national journalism contest held by PBS after writing about her district's response to a swastika being found in a stairwell back on October 24, 2022.
PBS's 2022 Student Journalism Challenge is a national contest that asks teens to report on stories from their local communities. The contest received submissions from 36 states across the US, and six projects were chosen as winners - 2 in the video category, 2 in the audio category, and 2 in the print category.
The theme this year was "My Education, My Future," and the winning stories bring to light educational issues as students see them. The contest saw students exploring topics ranging from dealing with the impacts of COVID to relevancy within the school community to school board decisions to school health investigations and more.
Isabella Caruso's Award-Winning Article Covers Story About a Swastika Found in Her School
On October 24th, 2022, a swastika symbol was found scratched into the top of a stairwell at Pelham Memorial High School. The stairwell was said to be an area not frequently used by students or staff. The swastika was removed by staff and a report was made to the police. Caruso stated in her article that this was not the first time an antisemitic symbol was discovered in the school. Another recent incident was back in September of 2019 when a swastika was found in the boys' locker room.
Caruso's article covers a school board meeting following the incident where members of the PTA called on the board to take action against racism in the Pelham Union Free School District.
Marjut Herzog, president of the PMHS PTA and a member of the Pelham Jewish Center, also spoke about the latest incident of swastikas being found on school property. “When something gets repeated, it is no longer a mistake, it’s a behavior,” said Herzog. She said the PTA will support teachers and the district by ensuring the resources are provided for education on the Holocaust, as well as learning skills such as allyship and the harm of hate speech.
Lisa Schaeffer, vice president of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for the Colonial PTA urged the school board to prioritize the work of implementing its DEI policy and engage a DEI professional to "ensure that DEI is front and center in the building." PTA officials stressed the urgent need to hire a DEI coordinator, a position that is included in the budget.
Congratulations to Isabella for her journalism award win for professionally covering such a sensitive topic. To read her publication through the Student Journalism Contest, click here. To view the original publication on the Pelham Examiner, published November 7th, 2022, click here.