Free Spirit

High School Students Across the Nation Will Participate in Annual Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference

The 2020 Conference Will Convene 50 Talented Students Interested in Pursuing Journalism Careers

WASHINGTON — From June 22-25, 2020, the Freedom Forum will host 50 of the nation’s leading high school student journalists at the 2020 Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be the first year the conference is held virtually since its inception in 1999 to honor the late Al Neuharth, founder of USA TODAY, the Freedom Forum and Newseum.

Each year, this academic and scholarship program inspires and equips some of best and brightest students in the United States to pursue careers in the journalism and media industries. These rising high school seniors, selected from hundreds of applicants, will each receive a $1,000 scholarship to the college of their choice.

The Freedom Forum enlists the help of high school journalism educators throughout the country to recruit applicants and promote this important program. Prospective applicants were required to submit work samples, letters of recommendation, student transcripts and essays about their interest in journalism, as well as the qualities they possess that render them “free spirits.”

“As ambitious, young journalists, these 50 students epitomize the ideals set forth by the Free Spirit program. In each of them we see the imagination to dream, the courage to dare and the capability to do great things,” explained Jan Neuharth, chair and chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum. “This talented group of scholars will learn about the importance of a free press, the First Amendment and its critical role as a cornerstone of democracy.”

During the virtual conference, students will hear from numerous presenters, including David Fahrenthold, a reporter at The Washington Post and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize–winner for National Reporting. They also will attend “From Freedom Riders to Black Lives Matter — Journalism and Call to Action,” a program featuring Freedom Rider Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton Jr.

 

2020 FREE SPIRIT SCHOLARS

Alabama
Madison Duboise, Sparkman High School, Harvest

ALASKA
Evelyn Nutt, Ketchikan High School, Ketchikan

Arizona
Anna Myers, Perry High School, Gilbert

ARKANSAS
Paige Edmund, Haas Hall Academy, Bentonville

California
Joshua Yang, Henry M. Gunn High School, Palo Alto

COLORADO
Payton Perkins, Rocky Mountain High School, Fort Collins

Connecticut
Madeline Arcaro, Kingswood Oxford, West Hartford

DELAWARE
Elise Johnson, Wilmington Friends School, Wilmington

District of Columbia
Charles Neill, Gonzaga College High School, Washington

FLORIDA
Emily Rivera, John A. Ferguson Senior High School, Miami

Georgia
Jennifer Xia, Northview High School, Johns Creek

HAWAII
Britney Maddox, Moanalua High School, Honolulu

Idaho
Connor Bird, Sandpoint High School, Sandpoint

Illinois
Hina Matsumoto, Deerfield High School, Deerfield

Indiana
Margaret Mowrer, Columbus North High School, Columbus

IOWA
Marta Leira, Iowa City West High School, Iowa City

KANSAS
Elizabeth Kuffour, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Shawnee

KENTUCKY
Emma Presnell, duPont Manual High School, Louisville

Louisiana
Avery Wright, St. Thomas More Catholic High School, Lafayette

MAINE
Jane Lipp, Greely High School, Cumberland

MARYLAND
Olivia Gyapong, James Hubert Blake High School, Silver Spring

Massachusetts
Sophie Lewis, Newton South High School, Newton

MICHIGAN
Eva McCord, Grosse Pointe South High School, Grosse Pointe Farms

MINNESOTA
Danielle Johnson, Eden Prairie High School, Eden Prairie

Mississippi
Leah Clark, St. Joseph Catholic School, Madison

MISSOURI
Lillian Bartin, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood

Montana
Maddison Crandall, Big Sky High School, Missoula

NEBRASKA
Kaia Sullivan, Papillion La Vista South High School, Papillion

NEVADA
Emma Peak, Reno High School, Reno

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Abigail Robinson, Souhegan High School, Amherst

NEW JERSEY
Katherine Vandermel, Bergen County Academies, Hackensack

NEW MEXICO
Olivia Abeyta, Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe

NEW YORK
Adam Sanders, John L. Miller Great Neck North High School, Great Neck

NORTH CAROLINA
Uma Bhat, Green Hope High School, Cary

NORTH DAKOTA
Mackenzie Swenson, Bismarck High School, Bismarck

OHIO
Shiloh Wolfork, Lakota East High School, Liberty Township

OREGON
Willa Poland-McClain, Grant High School, Portland

PENNSYLVANIA
Conner Niszczak, North Penn High School, Lansdale

RHODE ISLAND
Hannah Brouillard, Lincoln High School, Lincoln

SOUTH CAROLINA
Mary Boucher, Camden High School, Camden

SOUTH DAKOTA
Carly Wheeler, Lincoln High School, Sioux Falls

TENNESSEE
Owen Hewitt, St. George’s Independent School, Collierville

TEXAS
Josh Mysore, St. Mark’s School of Texas, Dallas

UTAH
Elizabeth Schilling, Highland High School, Salt Lake City

VERMONT
Nora Jacobsen, Burlington High School, Burlington

VIRGINIA
Bridgette Adu-Wadier, T.C. Williams High School, Alexandria

WASHINGTON
Julia Henning, Annie Wright Upper School for Girls, Tacoma

West Virginia
Taylor Beam, Lewis County High School, Weston

WISCONSIN
Hannah Kennedy, Homstead High School, Mequon

Wyoming
Abigail Landwehr, Powell High School, Powell

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