Examiner Managing Editor Bella Caruso wins national journalism award for story on battling hate in schools

Pelham Examiner Managing Editor Bella Caruso.

Pelham Examiner Managing Editor Bella Caruso won the national 2022 Student Journalism Challenge 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.

The piece by Caruso was one of two print winners, along with dual winners in the video and audio categories, in the competition, which was for teens who are reporting from their communities and was themed “My Education, My Future.”

“The winning stories bring to light educational issues as students see them, exploring topics from the lasting impacts of Covid and how to make school feel more relevant, to school board decisions and an investigation of why one school has no windows,” said a press release from contest organizers PBS NewsHour and its Student Reporting Labs (SRL), WETA and Well Beings.

Submissions came from 36 states, and the 165 entries were evaluated by a panel of professional journalists.

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

Managing Editor Bella Caruso’s story on calls for the school board to do more about hate won the national 2022 Student Journalism Challenge.

Caruso joined the Pelham Examiner in 2020 and previously served as assistant managing editor. She has covered the Pelham Board of Education for more than a year.

The print winners in the competition will be republished in the Forbes.com Well Beings BlogNewsHour Classroom’s Student Voices page, www.studentjournalismchallenge.org and select excerpts may also be featured on the On Our Minds podcast later this spring.

The other stories honored were:


  • “Making Back to School Better Than Ever” by Sriya Tallapragada, tenth-grade student at the Pingry School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.


  • “How CTE Classes are preparing students for the future” by Brianna Schmidt and Alexis Schmidt, twelfth-grade students at Frederick V. Pankow Center in Clinton Township, Michigan.
  • “Airless, Ugly Places” by Brilee Hurley, Andrew Barnett, Gracie Yoder and Makayla Payne, students at Elizabethton High School in Elizabethton, Tennessee.


  • “Moving Forward: How The Effects Of A Global Pandemic Changed Education’s Future” by Precious Foreman, ninth-grade student who attends online homeschool in Waldorf, Maryland.
  • “Unengaged, Uninterested, but Why?” by Kara Cole, Sydnee McClellan, Makaylah Crowe, Shaylee Mathes and Morgan Compton, students at Elizabethton High School in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

“The Student Journalism Challenge winners have demonstrated powerful perspectives and highlighted the importance of student voice in shaping their education, making them a perfect example of the impact that can be achieved when students are empowered to take an active role in transforming their schools,” said Russlynn Ali, CEO and co-founder of XQ Institute, sponsor of the competition. “We are proud to support the Student Journalism Challenge because transforming our education system requires students to have an active voice in their learning and the power to shape it.”