Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

John Hopkins Middle School paper wins top national honor

The J. Hop Times student newspaper of John Hopkins Middle School has been named best in the country for the second consecutive year by Weekly Reader, a national education magazine.

The student-run publication was honored Thursday in Washington, D.C., during an awards luncheon held at the Association of Educational Publishers summit.

The J Hop Times was one of 60 middle school papers from across the nation in the competition.

J. Hop Times staffer Brooke Cooley and Melrose Elementary student Kimberly McEntegart were also presented the best individual nonfiction student writing award for middle and elementary school categories, respectively.

Cooley, who will attend Tampa's Sickles High School this fall, said the awards are always morale boosters for the J. Hop Times staff.

"Just working there, it makes you feel good because you know you're working for the best," Cooley said. "It keeps everybody going. It's more than something we do for fun. It's to entertain and it's to inform."

Cooley earned the individual award for an article about a girl attending John Hopkins with alopecia, an ailment that causes hair loss. She said she will donate half of her award's supplemental $500 prize toward a special waterproof wig for the student with alopecia.

"If it wasn't for (her), I would not have been able to win this award," Cooley said.

Jenny Butkus, a third-year journalism coordinator at John Hopkins, said the newspaper staff comprises 120 students enrolled in journalism courses. The curriculum and newspaper, she said, are part of the Midtown Journalism Project, which has former and current journalists serving as teachers. The program began at Melrose Elementary and since expanded to John Hopkins four years ago.

Butkus said her role as an instructor is simple.

"For me, it's just holding the kids to high standards," she said. "The bar has already been set. I believe if you set the standards high, they will rise up."

Maureen Thornton, John Hopkins principal, said an administrator can always think of what articles should be in the paper, but she allows students to choose what articles they feel are best.

"I'm proud, to say the least," said Thornton, who played a part in bringing the program to the school. "The principal doesn't always agree with everything, but I understand. Those are the voices of the students. I don't censor."

In fact, she grants access to the student journalists and there was a day-in-the-life feature article on her in the awarding-winning issue.

"I wondered, 'Do I do all that,' " Thornton said of the article. "The kids couldn't keep up with me. I had to stop and let them regroup. I thought it was kind of neat."

Ira Wolfman, senior vice president of editorial at Weekly Reader, said both the publication and individual awards are a testament to the two schools' journalism programs.

"They're wonderful students," Wolfman said of the variety of articles submitted.

"My editorial staff was struck with these beautiful pieces on students with disabilities. Both (Cooley and McEntegart) were thoughtful and extremely insightful. It is also very exciting to see students using print to communicate."

Butkus said the awards and recognition may inspire some students to pursue careers in journalism, but she said the pleasure is in seeing the students learn life skills, such as how to introduce themselves and conduct adult conversations.

"All in all, we feel the skills of journalism will help them out in many aspects of life," Butkus said.

Eddie R. Cole can be reached at or (727) 893-8779.

John Hopkins Middle School paper wins top national honor 06/07/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 1:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees


    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact


    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show


    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.