By Jieming Gan & Wei-lin Zhou
West Hills Press
West Hills MS
1st Place Division MS, News Writing
News Story


  • Sharp, attention-getting lead that underscores news story importance
  • Uses inverted pyramid
  • Emphasizes news elements, i.e. timeliness, nearness, impact, and prominence
  • Shows thorough reporting skills
  • Effective use of facts/quotes from both primary and secondary sources
  • Avoids opinion unless properly attributed
  • Sentences, paragraphs of varied length; written clearly, concisely, and vividly
  • Proper diction/grammar; use of third person

The annual Washington D.C. trip is an iconic moment for each 8th-grade class, and this year it was especially significant because it was in the fall instead of spring. The three-day trip usually consists of tours around the D.C. area and Gettysburg, Pa. Some tour stops bring excitement and joy, while others are followed by solemnity, respect and quiet. Eighth-graders and their parents poured into West Hills Middle School in the early hours of Oct. 23, tired but excited. A set of three charter buses waited at the front of the school, and soon enough, 8th-graders trickled through their doors, ready for the nine-hour bus ride. Along the way, the buses stopped in Ohio and Pennsylvania. By the time the buses finally arrived at their destination, the students and teachers were excited. They had been waiting for this trip for weeks, and eager to see such historic sites as the Capitol Building and Arlington National Cemetery. Reid Smith liked the historical aspects and symbolism of the trip. “I thought it was really interesting and made me think about history and its ups and downs,” he said. The Holocaust Museum and Lincoln Memorial were his favorites. After a day of sightseeing, students would often get to the hotel at around 10:30 at night and wake up at about 5:30 in the morning. But it wasn’t all bad. Milan Gandhi enjoyed the night. “Going to bed late and playing games was the best,” he said. Gandhi advises future 8th-graders to go on the trip and always be prepared. “Bring lots of snacks” for the bus ride, he said. “Don’t bring too much stuff because it is only for three days. They should go, and it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” “The only thing was that afterward, I was so tired and couldn’t pay much attention to the guide,” he said. Throughout the trip, the 8th-graders got to visit memorials, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial. They also visited Arlington National Cemetery, a somber trip for many. They also went to the Capitol Building and the White House, where they learned about the government from West Hills alumnus Zack Schram. The trip culminated in a boat ride on the Potomac, complete with food, dancing, and games. After the boat ride ended, the 8thgraders boarded their buses again, some in tears, for the overnight ride back to West Hills.