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Common Ground | Wenatchee High's Apple Leaf earns more national recognition

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We've developed a wonderful partnership with local high school journalism programs. The students who produce the Wenatchee High School Apple Leaf continue to set a high standard in that regard. Adviser Dave Riggs, a former staffer here at The World, let us know this week that the Apple Leaf has once again been nominated for the highest honor in student journalism, the Pacemaker award. 

The Apple Leaf is one of 15 finalists across the country. It's a very big deal and it's based on the quality of the journalism. 

Riggs and two Apple Leaf leaders, Editor in Chief Bridget Dowd and Online Editor Bryce Newberry, stopped by the office this week to talk about their approach to journalism and their newest endeavor, an online version of the newspaper. 

When you talk to these young people, it's abundantly apparent that they approach their work as professionals. They are serious about doing a great job, asking probing questions and covering the news in a comprehensive fashion. To their credit, they take on the most challenging of stories, whether it's exploring gay rights, abortion or any other difficult subject. Their finest hour came last year when they covered the drowning of a classmate in the school pool and the subsequent firing of the teacher who was supervising the activity. 

They dealt with grieving students, lawyers who didn't always return phone calls and other real-life experiences that face any journalist.

It is to the credit of the high school administrators that they have resisted the temptation to censor the newspaper. Prior review is something that happens in a lot of school districts because of the fear that they'll upset the community. But what has been built here is a program that treats controversial stories responsibly. Riggs talked about the high level of trust and a willingness to sit down and negotiate when administrators get nervous. 

The district as a whole is launching an effort to emphasize connecting students with meaningful classroom work as part of the Wenatchee Learns initiative. Making personal connections with students and having them perform relevant, meaningful work is the key to building a system that engages and inspires kids. The Apple Leaf is an outstanding example of the type of program that lives up to that objective. 

We're proud to print stories from the Apple Leaf in The World and to print their outstanding newspaper. This year, they're expanding their audience with their web site, which can be found at whsappleleaf.com. There's even an app for mobile devices. 

Newberry, who was a reporter last year, proposed taking the paper digital and did much of the legwork to make it happen. The work that Newberry and Dowd are doing reflect well on their school.

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