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The North Carolina Scholastic Media Association has announced East Chapel Hill High School journalist Caroline Chen as the 2022 Rachel Rivers-Coffey North Carolina High School Journalist of the Year.

Chen is the co-editor-in-chief of the East Chapel Hill school newspaper, the East Chapel Hill Observer (ECHO). Judges cited her journalism portfolio as “strong from top to bottom.”

One judge wrote, “Caroline impressed me with the depth and breadth of her reporting, and her leadership during a tough time for student journalists. Most of all, she shows great promise in her willingness to take on controversial and crucial issues not just in her school but in her local community.” 

Another wrote, “I was particularly impressed that she had two stories get followed up on by local media outlets. It was also impossible to ignore the impact of her opinion piece on CHALT and the local elections.”

Alternates for Journalist of the Year are Maren Ingram of First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills, Maggie McNinch of First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills and Aida Guo of Green Level High School in Cary.

Ingram is the co-editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper, Nighthawk News Magazine; McNinch is the co-editor-in-chief of her school newspaper, Nighthawk News Magazine; and Guo is the editor-in-chief of her school newspaper, The Gator’s Eye.

Since 2001, the North Carolina Press Foundation (NCPF) has funded the annual scholarship award in memory of Rachel Rivers-Coffey, former N.C. Press Association president.

NCPF will award a $3,000 scholarship to Chen. The three alternates will each receive $1,000.

The foundation will also award the winners’ journalism programs. The Journalist of the Year’s program will receive $500. The three alternates’ programs will each receive $250.

Chen will now represent the state in the National High School Journalist of the Year scholarship competition. Winners will be announced virtually at the National High School Journalism Convention.

The Rivers-Coffey state scholarships and awards will be presented during the N.C. Scholastic Media Institute, a summer journalism workshop open to students and teachers across the state.