KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – After three of his students won National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) awards for their journalism work, social studies teacher and journalism adviser David Flanary Jr. is beaming with pride.

Flanary speaks with News Channel 11 after his students were awarded. (Photo/WJHL)

“It’s great when students that you’ve been mentoring and trying to teach how to do journalism properly go out into the world and do good journalism,” Flanary said. “They did fantastic work on these articles, so seeing them honored… that was special.”

The NSPA’s fall awards focused on three Kingsport City School students, all of whom are now freshmen at Dobyns-Bennett High School:

  • Claire Mooney, who won Story of the Year for an article titled “Major Teacher Staff Changes Strike Sevier Middle School” which outlined plummeting teacher retention rates and highlighted local research surrounding the issue.
  • Maddison Ball, who won second place for Story of the Year for an article titled “Students Earn Minimum Grade of 60 Percent, Even for Missing Work” which presented perspectives on JSMS’s “No-Zero” grading policy.
  • Taishawna Davis, who won an honorable mention award for an article titled “African American Students Report Unwanted Hair Touching” which covered a rise in unwanted interactions between Black students and classmates who touched their hair without permission.

Flanary is the longtime adviser of the Sequoyah Scribe, an award-winning student news organization within John Sevier Middle School (JSMS). Recognition can make all the difference for young writers, Flanary told News Channel 11.

“It lights a fire in some of our student journalists,” Flanary said. “That the work that they do can hit the national stage like that.”

The Sequoyah Scribe runs in print and digital formats. (Photo/WJHL)

The Scribe is the only student news organization of its kind in the KCS system and has run for over a decade.

“We’re very, very proud of our publication,” Flanary said. “The kids have a lot of freedom to explore and to talk about topics that interest them or that they’re concerned about, and I think that is the root of why students go on to win national awards like this.

“Because they have the freedom to really dig into these topics that matter to them.”