Twelve W.H.S. Journalists Win Awards in State-wide Contest at Syracuse University


A strong group of Wantagh High School journalists captured 12 awards at the annual Empire State Scholastic Press Association Awards (ESSPA) ceremony at Newhouse School of Communications, Syracuse University, October 26.

Twelve different students were recognized for their journalism from 2017-18. Foremost were both of this year’s Warrior Editors in Chief, Grace Anne McKenna and Jenna Miller. McKenna, a senior who is Editor in Chief for the third year also won for the third straight year. She took Honorable Mention as a Sports Columnist for an article about visiting Notre Dame and going to a football game there. For Miller, a junior, her Bronze award was her first for a portfolio in Entertainment Reviews.

Last year Wantagh students won seven awards (for 2016-17), a Gold, Silver and five Honorable Mentions. This year the students took one Gold, three Silver, five Bronze and three HMs. The Gold was won by 2018 graduate Audrey Abbate in News Story for a piece about her friend MIke Pastore a WHS senior and a pilot who made an emergency landing at Robert Moses Beach. Abbate is a freshman at Lasell College.

Current senior, Warrior Reporter, Jess Nealon won a Silver in the category of News Photo, as did 2018 graduate Grace Tague, a Manhattan College freshman, also in the category of News Photo. It was the fifth journalism award in Tague’s career at Wantagh.  

The third Silver went to Shirley Londoño, a sophomore last year. Londoño moved back to her native Spain with her family this past June.

“Shirley had only lived in the US for a few years,” said newspaper advisor Pete Kravitz, who has advised the Wantagh newspaper for the past  25 years. “Yet in that short time she mastered English in speech and writing. We were sad to see her return to Spain.”

Her award was in Editorial Columnist for a portfolio which included a powerful piece about her late 15-year-old friend, Genesis Cornejo, from Long Island who moved to Houston and was murdered there by MS-13.

Bronze award winners included Megan Fehling, in Sports Columnist;Christian Encarnacion, a member of Wantagh’s undefeated state championship wrestling team, who also won for Sports Columnist; Allie Kelsey, who won an award for the second year in a row for Columnist; and Brandon Schroh, who won for Entertainment Review. Winning HMs were Reilly Brady for News Story and Juliet Watstein for Entertainment Review.