FHN Student Wins RFK Journalism Award for Second Consecutive Year

Posted on 05/15/2017
FHN Student Wins RFK Journalism Award for Second Consecutive Year

There are a few repeat winners among the annual Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Journalism Award honorees, such as HBO for their documentaries, and The New Yorker for print stories. But one repeat-winner was not a New York Times author, or a documentary auteur. The repeat winner was a student journalist from Francis Howell North (FHN) High School, Anthony Kristensen. He is the first student to win this award in consecutive years in the RFK program's history.

Only 13 prizes are handed out annually by the RFK Journalism Awards, most of which go to professional organizations such as Univision, the Detroit Free Press, and the Los Angeles Times. Two are reserved for high school students – one for print, and one broadcast. Kristensen has now won the High School Print category for the second year in a row. Aaron Manfull, Director of Publications at FHN, has had the privilege of watching the young man’s skills develop. "Anthony has just really worked through his time in the program to develop his writing and become one of the program's strongest authors,” Manfull said. “He works hard on each of his stories, has honed his work over the summer at camps, and really worked to find topics he's interested in. That combination has helped him produce some pretty great pieces!"

Last year, RFK Human Rights honored Kristensen for his outstanding story, “What One Family Could Never Forget.” In that story, Kristensen touched hearts and minds by writing about a high-achieving student and his family, explaining how they triumphed over adversity and hardship to make their way to the United States of America (and FHN). This time around, Kristensen delved into how sports can transcend the field of play. Kristensen’s “Syrian Soccer Team Looks to Qualify for the World Cup” wasn’t just about a team seeking to get into the biggest sports tournament in the world, but rather about the world itself.

The mark of a great author is being able to tell the audience a story that goes deeper than the core subject. In his story, Kristensen describes a soccer fan watching his native country’s team, Syria, trying to qualify for the World Cup, while a civil war boils over in the country. Kristensen used sports, and specifically the World Cup – a subject that interests many – to explain what is transpiring a world away, a subject about which few are eager to learn. In the end, because of how Kristensen wrote his article, readers learned more about the world, and by extension, more about themselves.

Kristensen will be the first to tell readers that he didn’t get this far without dedication. Writing is a craft like any other, which requires practice, support, and constructive criticism. When asked what advice he has for aspiring authors, he said, "My advice to other students is to listen to those above you, find topics you're passionate about, and go after them. Also, always look for opportunities to make yourself better, whether it's going to a camp or just sitting down with someone to get your work critiqued."

RFK Human Rights believes that writers like Kristensen are becoming increasingly necessary. “In difficult political times, the power of expression and freedom of the press is more important than ever,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “The Journalists who followed my father’s 1968 campaign created the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards in his name, and this year’s winners have produced work that speaks to the spirit of my father and the Book and Journalism Awards.”

Ethel Kennedy, RFK’s widow, called each winner to congratulate them, and will present the awards, along with Kerry Kennedy, at the 49th Annual Journalism Awards on May 23, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

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