Westchester HS Student Wins National Contest After Writing About Swastika Found In School

A high school student from Westchester is one of the winners of a national journalism contest held by PBS after writing about her district's response to a swastika being found in a stairwell. 

Pelham Memorial High School senior Isabella Caruso is a winner of a national journalism contest held by PBS.
Pelham Memorial High School senior Isabella Caruso is a winner of a national journalism contest held by PBS. Photo Credit: PBS Student Reporting Labs

Isabella Caruso, a senior at Pelham Memorial High School, was announced as one of the fourteen winners of the PBS 2022 Student Journalism Challenge, a national contest that asks teens to report on stores from their local communities. 

Caruso was one of two winners in the "print" category for her story, "Colonial, PMHS PTA leaders call on school board to do more to fight hate and bias after swastika found at high school," written after a hate symbol was found in the stairwell of her high school on Monday, Oct. 24. The article ran in the Pelham Examiner on Monday, Nov. 7. 

Selected out of submissions from 36 states, Caruso's story covers a school board meeting where members of local parent-teacher associations (PTA) called on the board to take action against racism in the Pelham Union Free School District. 

In the article, various members of PTA organizations call on the school board to implement a diversity, equity, and inclusion policy and urge for the hiring of a coordinator to manage such a policy. 

The article also mentions that the swastika found on Oct. 24 was not the first such incident, as similar hate symbols were found drawn in a boys' bathroom and boy's locker room in the high school in September 2019. 

In addition to Caruso's winning print story, two winners were also selected for both video and audio story formats as well, with six projects winning in total. 

PBS Newshour Student Reporting Labs president Leah Clapman said that the contest submissions show how important it is to have young voices in journalism, 

"These stories are windows into how students experience their education and what is happening in schools, communities, and our country," she said, adding, "Student journalism is the power to explore and question adult decisions that directly impact young people’s lives for generations to come.” 

Caruso's winning story can be read by clicking here. 

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