Riley Atkinson, Shawnee Mission East senior, is the 2021 Kansas Student Journalist of the Year, awarded by Kansas Scholastic Press Association (KSPA). The award was presented to Atkinson in a surprise remote announcement, with Harbinger staff, family and SMSD officials joining the celebration. As the state Student Journalist of the Year, Atkinson will be considered for the national competition, which takes place remotely in May.
Atkinson submitted a portfolio of her work to a panel of journalism educators and journalists for consideration.
“A superlative portfolio from a superlative journalist,” one judge compliments. “Among the best student portfolios I’ve ever seen."
Atkinson is the online co-editor-in-chief of The Harbinger. She has served on The Harbinger staff for the past four years.
Dow Tate, journalism instructor praises Atkinson for keeping students’ news going during the difficulties of COVID and noticed her sensitivity in covering nuanced stories during the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protest of 2020. “Atkinson’s nonstop drive to keep the student voice alive on paramount issues, while stabilizing a staff of more than 70 student crew members, amidst a quarantine during a pandemic has been impressive to watch.”
Atkinson is the fourth journalism student in the past five years at Shawnee Mission East to be named State Journalist of the Year. Each of these honorees has been instructed by Dow Tate, journalism instructor.