Organizations honor 9 high schools that protect students' First Amendment rights

New program will give out annual award in endeavor to foster respect for freedoms

MISSOURI -- Nine public schools from across the country were named "First Amendment High Schools 2000" on Nov. 16 as part of a new program honoring public high schools that respect and protect First Amendment rights for students and teachers.

Every public high school in the U.S. was eligible to apply for the award, and there was no limit on how many schools were chosen. However, out of the more than 200 schools that applied, only nine were selected for the "First Amendment High Schools" designation.

Schools were judged on a variety of issues from the protection of students' religious expression to their dedication to protecting textbooks and library books from censorship. The judges, made up of representatives from the five organizations that sponsored the award, said the issue of whether students had editorial rights over their media made the most difference in the final analysis.

The schools were presented with the award during the Journalism Education Association/National Scholastic Press Association convention in Kansas City, Mo. The award is sponsored by The Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center, the Journalism Education Association, the National Scholastic Press Association, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and Quill and Scroll.

This was the first year of the program. Schools are invited to qualify for the distinction annually and can obtain applications from any of the sponsoring organizations.

The nine schools named "First Amendment High Schools 2000" are: Davenport Central High School, Davenport, Iowa; Johnsburg High School, McHenry, Ill.; Lakewood High School, Lakewood, Ohio; McLean High School, McLean, Va.; Mountlake Terrace High School, Mountlake Terrace, Wash.; Muncie Central High School, Muncie, Ill.; Natrona County High School, Casper, Wyo.; Oak Park High School, Kansas City, Mo.; Townsend Harris High School, Flushing, N.Y.

reports, Winter 2000-01