COVID-19, climate change, racial injustice, and the election: the Best of Best of SNO

It’s been a hot minute since our last Best of Best of SNO correspondence, and a lot has taken place in the U.S. over the past few months.

COVID-19 case numbers have continued to climb, the impacts of climate change have reared its ugly head, the issue of racial inequality resurged upon the killing of George Floyd, many students are learning from home, and we’ve become accustomed to seeing presidential ads for Donald Trump and Joe Biden flash across our television screens. It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a lot so far.

We bring up these trends, not just because they haven’t consumed enough of our national attention already, but because they have been largely reflected in the Best of SNO submissions we’ve received so far this year.

These are some of the best we’ve read over the last few weeks:


What does shelter-in-place mean when shelter is unaffordable?, by Eric Fang, Lucy Ge, Nina Gee, Varsha Rammohan, Arushi Saxena, Alysa Suleiman, Anna Vazhaeparambil, Sara Yen, and Gloria Zhang, The Harker Upper School

For many of us, when shelter-in-place orders went into effect to slow down the spread of COVID-19, we knew which roof we would take shelter under. The same cannot be said for everyone. Not only did the staff of The Harker Aquila examine this topic as it relates to those experiencing homelessness in the Bay Area prior to the pandemic, but they expanded their reporting into a new sector as well — those who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. With a backdrop of one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the U.S., the piece is comprehensive, inclusive, and impressive to say the least.

Shock, Stress, and Smoke Scatter the La Salle Community, by Brooklyn Chillemi and Olivia Galbraith, La Salle Catholic Preparatory High School

In the aftermath of tragedy, it can be challenging to conduct good interviews. Affected subjects are often emotional, and finding a balance between being an objective reporter and an empathetic sympathizer can be tricky. After historic wildfires blazed across the state of Oregon in early September, the reporters from The La Salle Falconer navigated this area well. Through six different interviews they were able to capture intense emotion and a ton of impactful quotes, all packaged together to create an extremely moving piece.

In-Depth: Voices of Black Students Enduring Racism, Inequity, by Lauren Pickett, Marquette High School

Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Black Lives Matter protests erupted around the globe, igniting an international dialogue about racism and police brutality. This piece by The Messenger staff successfully localizes that issue, demonstrating how Marquette High School is a microcosm of the racial injustice taking place across the U.S. Through the use of data, as well as interviews with Black students, district safety officers, and school administrators, the article is also incredibly well-rounded and unbiased.

Testing, testing: A history of the SAT, by Renee Ge, Lynbrook High School

Since March, the pandemic has halted most standardized testing around the world. We know this, and quite frankly, it’s not that interesting of an angle. This piece by The Epic staff takes a different approach. Instead of repeating what we already know, it digs into how the SAT originated, what flaws have come to light about it, and how COVID-19 could accelerate a movement among colleges and universities to become test-optional that has been a long time coming. The piece stands out from the crowd and leaves readers with lots to think about.

Rocking the vote by wearing the “vote.” by Wingspan Staff, Liberty High School

With only 13 days remaining until Election Day in the midst of one of the most polarizing presidential races in U.S. history, the message to do one’s civic duty of voting has been blaring loud and clear. By using an interactive tool, this piece reiterates that message in a reimagined way. It transcends past a traditional written format and allows listeners to hear from a handful of teachers in their own words, displaying a heightened attention to multimedia incorporation and innovation.

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.