Friday, May 27, 2016

'Captain America: Civil War' is Marvel's best

Image from the Captain America Facebook page

By Felicity Rodger
EDINBURGH, United Kingdom – Honestly? I did not think that Captain America: Winter Soldier could be topped. I was wrong. Civil War just did it.
It’s an epic story told in an unthinkable way. This film, by directors Anthony and Joe Russo, beats all other Marvel films I have seen to date.
Captain Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is faced with the biggest decision of his life: Stick with his childhood friend or fight against his new friends. This awesome film delves into the true friendship Captain America and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) truly have for each other. The fight scenes with the whole cast made for an ultimate showdown, perfectly choreographed by the Russo brothers.

The audience gets to see the determination from each team to smash each other to pieces, which made for a weird moment. Whether you chose a side to be on, you found yourself jumping between the two sides because of the previous Marvel film where they all worked together. If you were a little disappointed with another certain showdown film between two superheroes from the rival DC comics, don't worry because your money is definitely worth it here.
I must say, the character of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) had a bit of a rough time during this film. I was surprised to see that after Tony Stark’s ego was boosted to the maximum after last year’s Age of Ultron. For once, it was nice to see true friendship win over the sheer stubbornness of the man in the red suit.
New characters include a sleek Black Panther played by the wonderful Chandwick Boseman. This new superhero provided a tough challenge to even the more experienced superheroes when he decided to fight for Team Iron Man. Not only does he put up a good fight, but he has also put forward a brilliant case to watch his own film coming out in a few years.
Although not a new character in the Marvel Universe, an appearance by Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) made a good impression. He provided some classic humour and also some improved skills from when we last saw him. He’s a great addition to Team Cap.
The revitalized Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is both hyper and a disappointment. He played no real part in the storyline of the film. His appearance only served to drum up attention for the Spiderman films coming out soon, which is a shame because the character could have been given a better place in the plot.
As for the technical side of this Marvel film, it was better than ever. Henry Jackman’s soundtrack in 2014’s Winter Soldier was one of the best in the Marvel Universe, but Jackman topped it with this one.
Combined with the special effects, the music pulled me to the edge of my seat. It’s a true cinematic experience that you must experience yourself.
If I haven't made enough of a case for you to go and see this film yet, I don't know what will. Even if this is the first Marvel film you will go to, please do – it will get you hooked.
This movie was truly worth the wait and I am now getting excited for the next edition. The last thing I will say: Remember, a true Marvel fan always stays until the end of the credits.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

YJI Delivers Trophies to Contest Winners
At Malvern Preparatory School in Malvern, Penn. last week. From left, YJI board President Steve Collins; Justice Bennett, YJI's 2016 Student Journalist of the Year, Malvern journalism teacher Kate Plows, YJI Executive Director Jackie Majerus and YJI board member and alum Jennifer Rajotte.

It’s a great feeling to recognize excellent student work – but it’s really thrilling to do it in person.
Three YJI leaders got the chance to do just that last week when they made trophy presentations to Justice Bennett, named the 2016 Student Journalist of the Year, and to the staff and founders of The Contour, a newspaper at The Lawrenceville School. The Contour staff won the 2016 Courage in Journalism award in YJI’s Excellence in Journalism contest.
Staff of The Contour of The Lawrenceville School with YJI founders. Back row, from left: Lawrenceville Headmaster Steve Murray, students Gianluca Minardi and Bradford Lin, and  faculty advisor Erik Chaput. Middle row, from left: students Anoushka Kiyawat, 
Yina Anyachebelu, Julia Nguyen and 
Ainara Moreno Meija. Front row, Steve Collins, students Allison Huang and Scott Newman and Jackie Majerus.

Justice collected his prize in front of staff members of The Blackfriar Chronicle at Malvern Preparatory School in Pennsylvania, where he is a graduating senior. Other Malvern students who won awards also were recognized in the special ceremony.
Justice Bennett and Jennifer Rajotte at Malvern.
Kate Plows, an energetic and encouraging journalism teacher, gathered a couple of dozen young men and Justice’s mom into the newsroom, where the magic happens at Malvern.
After brief introductions, YJI board President Steve Collins and Executive Director Jackie Majerus, presented award certificates and YJI mementos to the students.
Then came the moment that brought us all together: Jennifer Rajotte, a YJI board member and an alum in Philadelphia, handed Justice his heavy crystal trophy. His classmates gave him a standing ovation.
Justice immediately told his fellow students that they shared in the honor, that they had done it together. We left Malvern with a warm feeling about all of them – and several glorious handmade ceramic YJI mugs from Ms. Plows, whose skills are apparently endless.
Journalism teacher Kate Plows invited YJI co-founder Steve Collins to speak with students about his recent decision to resign a reporting job on ethical grounds, so after the awards presentation, he did that and took their questions.
Then Collins and Majerus headed on to Lawrenceville, New Jersey and a beautiful school that looks like a small New England college.
Students from The Lawrenceville School who founded and ran The Contour won this year’s award for Courage in Journalism. YJI recognized them for their efforts to bulldoze through the obstacles that stand in the way of every new idea and for making their internationally-focused newspaper come to life. They used their voices to inform their community as well as the greater world about events in faraway lands that are all too easily ignored.
In Lawrenceville’s beautiful rotunda, the two YJI co-founders happily presented a crystal trophy to the three managing editors who started the publication: Allison Huang, Scott Newman and Haruka Noishiki.
Their parents honored them – and us – by traveling to Lawrenceville to be there. So did Headmaster Steve Murray, a warmhearted and kind man. Not only did he change his schedule to be there for his students, but he was the first to post about their prize on Instagram.
Students Allison Huang, Scott Newman, Bradford Lin and Gianluca Minardi gave YJI visitors a campus tour at The Lawrenceville School.
Proud Lawrenceville staff, including Erik Chaput, The Contour’s faculty advisor, joined in to support the students.
Afterward, Allison, Scott and two other Contour editors, Bradford Lin and Gianluca Minardi, took their YJI visitors on a fun, interesting tour of Lawrenceville. Engaging hosts, there were rightfully proud of their school and eager to show it off.
Photo courtesy of Alaska Teen Media Institute
Francisco Martinez of the Alaskan Teen Media Institute won the Frank Keegan "Take No Prisoners" Award for News, a top honor in the YJI Excellence in Journalism Contest, for a report he did on the drug called spice.
Kingsport city schools photo
David Flanary, a teacher at
Sevier Middle School in
Kingsport, Tenn., 
YJI's 2016 Journalism
Educator of the Year.
Presenting trophies and getting to know students and staff at both Malvern Prep and The Lawrenceville School left such a great impression that YJI’s leaders are eager to return – and to make more visits at other schools, too.
Typically, YJI sends its trophies via the U.S. mail, but this time, with two winners not far apart nor far away, a road trip seemed in order. As much as YJI leaders would have loved to keep driving and deliver the other three trophies in person, sadly, it wasn’t practical. The U.S. Postal Service, however, made those deliveries just fine.
In Kingsport, Tennessee, teacher David Flanary won the Journalism Educator of the Year award. In Houston, Texas, Eli Winter won the Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary and in Anchorage, Alaska, Francisco Martinez won the Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News.
Eli Winter, a high school senior in Houston, Texas, won the 2016 Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary.
Part of YJI’s mission is to promote and defend a free youth press, and the annual Excellence in Journalism contest does just that, by recognizing terrific work by students around the world, whether they’re reporting for YJI or another publication.
While those trophies in Alaska, Texas and Tennessee couldn’t be delivered in person, there’s no doubt that the dedicated students and teachers there just as awesome as those who welcomed YJI to their schools last week. Here’s hoping the future offers a chance for YJI to one day make those journeys, too.
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Friday, May 20, 2016

My Hometown: Marietta, Georgia

Madeleine Deisen /
The author's father, Manuel Deisen (left) and younger brother, Lukas Deisen at North Forest neighborhood swim meet.

By Madeleine Deisen
Junior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
MARIETTA, Georgia, U.S.A. – My hometown is Marietta, Georgia, where the pollen in spring is thicker than the amount of snow school is closed for in winter.
We’ve got a Trader Joe’s, a Target and a movie theater – but even better, a cheap movie theater with $1 tickets on Tuesdays where movies play a couple of months after they are released. That’s where you are likely to find me and my high school friends spending our babysitting money.
East Cobb Park is always filled with families on weekends. School performances take place on the small outdoor stage, family soccer games are played in the open field of grass, and children learn to ride their bikes without training wheels on the path.
On the last day of school, the neighborhood moms and dads meet at the elementary school bus stops with water balloons, silly string, and popsicles to celebrate the coming of summer. Then, the neighborhood swim team practices and meets start.
Madeleine Deisen /
On a neighborhood street, this sign warns
drivers to slow down.
Nearly all the children in the neighborhood participate, until they reach middle school and get service hours working at the meets as a line caller or a concession stand worker or a ribbon labeler, or reach high school and help the little three-year-olds learn to swim.
Many residents of the mostly white, mostly upper middle class Atlanta suburb believe riding MARTA, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, is an act of daring, or something to be avoided at all costs.
MARTA is too “sketchy,” they’ve been told by a friend of a friend, and they say drug deals happen on MARTA. I’ve developed the skill of keeping a straight face during conversations like these. “East Cobb snobs” is an accurate expression.
There’s a “Feel the Bern” sign on the main street of our neighborhood, and a Trump sign was stolen out of another yard. It was replaced after complaints.
Madeleine Deisen /
A flowering tree heralds spring in the
Deisen family backyard.

My middle school social studies teacher said the Civil War was fought over state’s rights. My high school social studies teacher staunchly opposes this view and is ready to whip out the primary documents in a heartbeat. But I still see Confederate flags on the back of pickup trucks.
Walton, my high school, is known either as a high-achieving school full of opportunities or a stress-inducing school full of homework. I suppose both are true.
Fall break of sophomore year is when the college tours start. Winter break is for skiing. Spring break is for cruises to the Caribbean or road trips to the most popular Florida beaches. Not for everyone, but that is what I hear.
My hometown is like the tree in my backyard. Like the spread of the tree’s pollen, people and houses and stores spread through Marietta at alarming rates. But there are also flowers growing on the tree, beautiful ones that make me smile at the sight of them. 

Madeleine Deisen /
The author's backyard garden in Marietta.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Missing Schoolgirl Is Found In Nigeria, But 218 Others Are Still Waiting For Rescue

Sambisa forest in northeastern Nigeria

By Linus Okechukwu
Associate Editor
Youth Journalism International
NSUKKA, Enugu State, Nigeria – One of the missing Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram insurgents was rescued Tuesday in the vast Sambisa forest by a civilian fighter with a local vigilante group, according to many media reports.
A 19-year-old was found in the company of a baby and her “husband,” who is allegedly one of the fighters of the Boko Haram, according to the Associated Press, BBC and other media sources.
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida, who has sought to keep the issue alive, tweeted today that “A #ChibokGirl has been found! One prayer answered. 218 more to go!”
The terrorist group Boko Haram abducted more than 250 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, a community in Nigeria’s Borno State in April 2014.
The abduction triggered the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign which was supported by such high profile figures as U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.
Efforts made by the government to rescue the missing girls have failed. There are still 218 who remain unaccounted for.
Some of the girls seized by the terrorists escaped in the first hours by jumping off trucks and running into nearby bushes. Others managed to escape later by running through bushes to get to safety.
There are conflicting reports about how the young woman was found, with both the Nigerian military and a vigilante group claiming credit.
A vigilante leader, Aboku Gaji, told the BBC that after the woman was found by one of its operatives, she was taken to his house.
"On seeing her, the mother and other relatives rushed to hug her and started shedding tears,” he told the BBC. She has apparently been handed over to government authorities along with the baby and a man identified as her husband.
According to local television station Channels TV, the spokesman for the Nigerian Army, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, confirmed that Nkeki was one the girls abducted two years ago, adding that she is already a nursing mother with a 4-month-old baby.
“Although the lady has met with her parents, she alongside her husband who is a terrorist with Boko Haram was taken to Maiduguri for medical attention and screening,” Usman told Channels TV.
Usman told The Associated Press the military found the girl, not vigilantes.
The rescue of Nkeki raised feelings of joy, doubt and hope, confirming the missing girls may still be alive at a time when some Nigerians are beginning to question the truthfulness of the story of their abduction.
Boko Haram launched its military operations in 2009 and has been carrying out its activities in northeastern Nigeria. It was initially opposed to Western-style of education.
Boko Haram was named the world’s deadliest terrorist group in 2014 by the Global Terrorism Index with the group responsible for 6, 644 deaths.
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Monday, May 16, 2016

Teens on Five Continents Snag Awards

The 2016 Youth Journalism International Excellence in Journalism contest trophies are going to student writers Eli Winter of Houston, Texas; Justice Bennett of Malvern, Pennsylvania; The Contour student paper of  The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey; teacher David Flanary of Sevier Middle School in Kingsport, Tennessee and Francisco Martinez of the Alaska Teen Media Institute in Anchorage. A complete list of winners in all categories is at 
WEST HARTFORD, Conn., U.S.A. – For the first time, a radio news report captured one of Youth Journalism International’s top prizes in this year’s 2016 Excellence in Journalism contest.
A student reporter – Francisco Martinez of Alaska Teen Media Institute in Anchorage – earned the Frank Keegan “Take No Prisoners” Award for News for his piece on a new drug sweeping through the community called spice.
Our judges called his conversational story “a nice contemporary take on the news” that shows how the growing multimedia field is capturing ever more attention from teen journalists.
Martinez is one of nearly 100 young writers, photographers and artists from across the globe who took home prizes in almost three dozen categories this year.
Justice Bennett, a senior from Malvern Preparatory School in Malvern, Penn., took top honors as this year’s Student Journalist of the Year, while David Flanary, a teacher at Sevier Middle School in Kingsport, Tenn., is the Journalism Educator of the Year.
A Houston teen, Eli Winter, got the nod for this year’s Jacinta Marie Bunnell Award for Commentary for his stunning eight-part series on LGBT issues in his community.
A new publication in New Jersey, The Contour from Lawrenceville School, snagged the Courage in Journalism Award.
Competition was stiff in nearly every category, with winners in 19 U.S. states and nine nations on five continents.
“As a judge, I can say without a doubt this year my job was incredibly difficult,” said Zac Brokenrope, an English teacher in Boston and Youth Journalism International alum.
The annual contest, now in its seventh year, recognized student writing and reporting, art, photo and multimedia skills in news, sports, opinion and other categories published or broadcast in 2015.
A panel of experienced judges evaluated the entries, which came from high schools and individuals from around the globe who write for school papers, blogs or other media. A handful are students of Youth Journalism International.
Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri and Tennessee’s John Sevier Middle School took the most prizes of any school. They each won awards in 10 categories.
“We were especially wowed by the success of a middle school competing against older students from some of the nation’s most renowned high school journalism programs,” said Steve Collins, YJI’s board president. “Mr. Flanary is doing something right in Kingsport.”
Youth Journalism International has been educating the next generation of news professionals and talented teens since 1994. Formally incorporated in 2007, it is a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit public charity. Its website can be found at
The contest covered work published in English between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2015. Those eligible must be 19 or under and not working professionally.
For more information, please contact Jackie Majerus, Youth Journalism International’s executive director, at (860) 523-9632 in Connecticut or write to
A complete list of winners is here.
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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Celebrating Mom at a Mall in Pakistan

Celeste D'souza /
Staff at the Dolmen Mall on Tariq Road in Karachi, Pakistan, set up a nice Mother’s Day event. They kick started it with the national anthem and then went on to small activities. The children and mothers did activities together and the kids got to go on a small stage they'd set up. The children did a small dance and singing performances. They also had a chance to say a few words as a special message to their mothers. Most of them said, "I love you mom, very much. You are the best mom in the world.”
Celeste D'souza /
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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Celebrating East African Music in Kampala

Daniel Gilbert Bwette /
A singer with a Tanzanian band from Dar es Salaam performs at DoaDoa on Wednesday.
At the Ugandan National Theater in Kampala, the Fifth Edition of DoaDoa, the East African Performing Arts Market, began on Wednesday, May 3. Youth Journalism International Senior Photographer Daniel Gilbert Bwette captured these images from opening night. Click on any photo to enlarge it.
Daniel Gilbert Bwette /
The instruments of the Entenga Drums Music Performers, a Ugandan group.
Daniel Gilbert Bwette /
A percussionist from the Tanzanian band of Dar es Salaam performs during the opening day.
Daniel Gilbert Bwette /
African music promoter Oko Drammeh speaks at DoaDoa.
Daniel Gilbert Bwette /
A discussion with African music promoter Oko Drammeh, left, led by event organizer Faisal Kiwewa.
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New voter follows politics in UK and beyond
Voter and YJI reporter Felicity Rodger with her polling card.
By Felicity Rodger
EDINBURGH, Scotland – Today, 16 and 17-year-old citizens like me voted for the first time Scotland’s May election, giving youth who thought their voices weren’t being heard the opportunity to cast a ballot.

The chance has come where these important voters could sway decisions dramatically in the constituency where they live.
I had previously voted in the all-important Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014 as a 16-year-old so going to the polling station was not an unfamiliar experience.
So what makes the May elections different?
In Scotland, these elections will ultimately decide who the majority party will be in the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. So far from all polls taken recently, the Scottish National Party looks like it will sweep the boards and win the majority without fail.
But the most interesting development to look out for will be who becomes the majority opposition party in the parliament. Polls have shown a battle for second place between Scottish Labour and Scottish Conservatives has been too close to call in recent weeks.
Other elections taking place in Great Britain today include similar elections in Northern Ireland and Wales, council elections and mayoral elections, with the biggest being in London.
After last year’s huge general election campaign, the atmosphere in the United Kingdom has been significantly more low-key. One factor that definitely contributed is that the European Union referendum is coming up on June 23. With news headlines focusing on the EU referendum, these elections have become the lesser priority.
However, an important matter to consider is that for youth, especially in Scotland, the national voting age will stay at 18. That means more youngsters are turning out to vote in these local elections to have their say on the politics of the country even though they are still restricted in the national referendum.
Growing up in the United Kingdom at this specific time has opened my eyes to the political perceptions of both young and older generations. Lowering the voting age to 16 in Scotland has meant a higher involvement in politics by younger voters who may not have been interested in politics.
Referendums such as the one on Scottish independence and the EU vote have triggered engaging debates across the country including within schools.
The immense political developments in the United States have also opened eyes wider over here. Although Americans do not know it, we Brits are keeping an eye on all the primaries and debates and we are still fascinated by the sheer domination of Donald Trump in the Republican Party.
Elections and referendums across the world this year are too exciting to just sit down and watch. The May elections in the United Kingdom are the beginning, and I look forward to commenting on political advances throughout 2016, not just here, but across the world as well.
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