Lynbrook High School's Horizon sets a record


Lynbrook High School’s newspaper, Horizon, received more awards than it has ever won at the New York Press Association spring conference last month.

Horizon reporters and editors brought home seven awards from NYPA, with additional honorable mentions of the paper itself. Hundreds of journalists were honored at the weekend-long event, including Lynbrook High School students Madeleine Malinka, Cassandra Levinson, Colette Doyle, and Amelia Doyle. The Horizon staff started submitting their work to NYPA in 2019 and have been consistently winning awards since.

“I’m very proud of them,” Jessica Sanders, the paper’s faculty adviser, said. “I always feel very happy that these kids who work so hard, that they have competitions where they can get acknowledged for that work.”

Malinka and Levinson won second and third place in the Feature Story category, Amelia Doyle received third place in the News Story category. Colette Doyle received an honorable mention in the Sports Story category.

Malinka’s article was about the new reading curriculum at the Kindergarten Center. She spoke with John Walker, founder and co-author of the Sounds-Write literacy program. Speaking with Lynbrook curriculum specialists, along with Walker, Malinka produced an in-depth and informative article.

Levinson’s article was about a Lynbrook alum who studied in Israel right after the October 7 attacks. Sanders explained that the article dives into the alums’ experience of studying in Israel during the ongoing conflict.

Colette Doyle’s article was about Lynbrook swimmer Aimee Quinlan, who qualified for states. The story explains about Quinlan’s love for competitive swimming starting at the age of 6 and has not stopped since. Colette wrote about Quinlan’s drive and what pushed her to become a state qualifier.

Amelia Doyle’s article was about the Environmental Club hosting its semi-annual beach cleanup for the restore the seas program in Long Beach. Sanders noted that Amelia is an environmentalist and pitched this story in May of 2023. Amelia authored several articles in the past on environmental issues and according to Sanders, this story was a straightforward news article about the club’s involvement in the beach cleanup.

Sanders said for their third-place award in the General Excellence category, the judges sent feedback, saying the paper has “innovation and fascinating content.” According to Sanders, this is something that the paper strives for with their in-depth reporting and coverage of a variety of issues.

“And for the Best Web Site category, we got second place,” Sanders said. “The feedback said it is simple with a strong and clear design and has a fresh batch of topical stories to keep readers returning.”

Sanders, who has been the paper’s adviser for 16 years and teaches the college journalism class accredited through Molloy University, said that Horizon helps students improve their writing and conversational skills. She said that she sees “tremendous growth” among students who stick with reporting over the course of four years.

According to her, students at the paper become much more comfortable speaking to other people and building relationships with sources like the superintendent, principals, teachers, or their peers.

Over the past 16 years, Sanders noted, the paper has grown. She also said that the paper’s website is relatively new, as it was created seven years ago, and she believes that the site encourages students to have more regular and timely content.

“I think it keeps them more motivated to write and to produce artwork,” Sander said.

More recently, the paper added more color pages to the print edition. Sanders said that this helped students be more motivated to create a dynamic and attractive layout.

“We are really always open to kids pitching any of their own (story) ideas,” Sanders said. “And we want them to have an interest in what it is that they’re writing about.”

To find story ideas, the students  ask faculty members about anything that may be going on in the school or classrooms that could be a story in the paper. Also, the editors of the paper produce a list of stories that they would like to be covered in each edition of the paper.

“In addition to that, I also make them read the news,” Sanders said. “They have access to some of the news publications through the journalism class like New York Times, Scholastic Upfront Magazine, and then they watch weekly CNN 10 clips so they kind of really get ideas from what they’re seeing in the news as well.”

Right now, the paper focuses on a variety of news from the local level to the international level. Some topics include politics, environment, sports, and more. However, looking ahead towards the future, Sanders would like to see more of an emphasis on the local level.

“I continue to remind them that they are the voice of Lynbrook High School,” Sanders said. “So that should be their main priority — to cover what is happening here.”