By McKenzie Snooks
Beaverton Jr.-Sr. HS
1st Place Division 4, Yearbook Verbal
Academic Writing


  • Clear, relevant, engaging angle
  • Solid lead that draws reader into story
  • Meaningful student quotes that enrich story and reflect effective interviewing
  • Evidence of adequate research
  • Story goes beyond simply reviewing what happens in classroom
  • Adheres to rules of good journalism including: short paragraphs, effective transitions and use of active voice, freedom from editorial comment, careful editing and proofreading to eliminate mechanical errors, correct use of grammar

The bright pink dolphin flies across the room, landing in the hands of Isabelle Sherlock (12). Kelli Fitzpatrick’s senior English class sits in their Socratic circle discussing water pollution, after reading about the subject in one of their articles of the week. Some of the students reported being involved in these activities afforded them more of a voice, more perspective, and the ability to listen to others with more of an open mind. Chris Madurga (12) said, “[The Socratic circles] have broadened my view on things. It has helped me see what other people might think about certain situations and made me think of different perspectives.” Fitzpatrick said she choose to do the Socratic circles because the activity allows students to be in control of the conversation and develop critical thinking, analysis, and academic discourse skills. Her goal was for her students to be able to have intelligent, insightful, discussion in society about topics that matter. Samantha Massaro (12) said, “I feel like my opinion is heard more than it is outside of the circle. People actually sit and listen to everyone and actually care what others have to say.” Fitzpatrick selected topics for the Socratic circles that were relevant both to the course content and student interest. Some of these topics were sexual assault, media literacy, and water pollution. Participants had chances to ask questions and consult sources. Katelynn Schwerin (12) said,“ Now I know that I shouldn’t be afraid to be out there and play my part in the world because other people are.”