In a year marked by school safety concerns, national debates over books and curriculum and questions over town-gown relations between Evanston and Northwestern, Evanston Township High School’s The Evanstonian stepped up to cover all the issues from a student perspective.

The student paper boasts a staff of more than 100 students and an editorial board of 20 leaders who helped shape the topics and themes that print issues explored this year. The Illinois Journalism Education Association recently recognized all that hard work, naming The Evanstonian the best overall student publication in Illinois among qualifying schools with more than 2,700 students enrolled.

In total, The Evanstonian took home 33 awards, including 11 first place, nine second place, seven third place and six honorable mention honors. Along the way, students tackled controversial and sensitive issues like gun-threat lockdowns, the role of Evanston founder John Evans in the Sand Creek Massacre and attacks on the tentative curriculum for the new AP African American Studies class.

“I came into [newspaper] layout my first week on staff, and the energy in the room and the community, I was completely drawn to,” said Meg Houseworth, a senior who just graduated and one of the executive editors for the 2022-2023 school year, alongside seniors Ahania Soni and Jessica Sehgal. “That just continued, even during online sophomore year. The stories that we were publishing mattered a lot, and it mattered to me to be able to cover stories that talked about mental health during lockdown, and how students are finding community and healing during this unprecedented time.”

An engaged city

Evanston has always had a uniquely high level of engagement with local politics and news, Houseworth, Soni and Sehgal agreed in an interview with the RoundTable this week. That kind of dynamic helps create an environment where even young high school students can feel comfortable and confident digging into difficult conversations and stories.

Social justice, activism and accountability are values instilled in Evanstonians from a young age, either through family, friendships or education, according to Soni, and anyone growing up in Evanston learns early on “how to fight for things that they care about.”

“What I’ve really loved to see is that there are a lot of people on staff, in Evanston in general, who are very opinionated, and they’ll go in with a preconception of what they think it means to report on safety or on John Evans or any of these difficult topics,” Soni said. “And then, they talk to a lot of people and do their due diligence as journalists, and they come away with so much more of a full perspective, and a real perspective shift on what these problems mean to different people in the community.”

Before they all graduated last Sunday, the three lead editors penned a farewell to The Evanstonian, reflecting on the ups and downs of a roller coaster high school experience over the past four years. They also passed the torch to Clara Gustafson, Jilian Denlow and Sophia Sherman, who are taking the paper’s leadership helm for 2023-2024.

“This job isn’t easy, and there’s stuff that you have no understanding of until you do it,” said John Phillips, an English teacher and The Evanstonian’s faculty supervisor. “To have gone through a year with Ahania, Jessica and Meg, I tell them all the time that it was an honor for me to be able to work with them, and that’s really the truth. They did so well, and I’m just so excited that they’re going to get to go off and spread their wings outside of ETHS.”

Here are the awards The Evanstonian won this year:

First place

Best overall publication, The Evanstonian

Best hybrid publication, The Evanstonian

Best feature story, Jilian Denlow & Isabella Martinez — Soup for the Soul

Best in-depth story, Jessica Sehgal, Bridget Baker, Marin Ubersox, Milo Slevin — A historical tug of war

Best multimedia story package, Sadie Dowhan & Jordin Kadiri — Kadiri’s Kitchen: Boba!

Best personality profile, Mae Luning — Pep-pering jokes from YAMO, to SNL, to Boom Chicago

Best photo story, Isaac Suarez Flint, Tanya Weisman, Ahania Soni — When do we want it? Now!

Best sports commentary, Jeremy Schoen — The new Chicago Bears Arlington Heights stadium will benefit Chicagoland

Best sports feature story, Jessica Sehgal — Athletic trainers: the backbone of ETHS sports

Best staff editorial, Jessica Sehgal — In addressing safety, ETHS must center student experience

Best use of social media, Sadie Dowhan — The Evanstonian Instagram

Second place

Best alternative storytelling, Ahania Soni & Ethan Ravi — Campbell talks new role, fresh vision

Best editorial cartoon, Nina Ferrer — Pipeline

Best front-page design, Ahania Soni, Kupu Sumi, Jessica Sehgal, Meg Houseworth, Jillian Arnyai — Evanstonian March 2023 issue cover

Best humorous commentary, Leah Johnson — Brunching in Evanston: the divine right of humankind

Best personality profile, Jilian Denlow & Izabella Paracuelles — Serving validation, connection … and caffeine!

Best sports commentary, Alexis Rogers — Gender discrimination plagues athletes, even 50 years after Title IX

Best sports news story, Alexis Rogers — Girls basketball celebrates fifty years of Title IX after loss to Hersey in E-Town Showdown

Best staff editorial, Jessica Sehgal — Students, community must support measures to protect teaching truth, critical thought in schools

Best video story, Sadie Dowhan, Jordin Kadiri — Kadiri’s Kitchen: Boba!

Third place

Best editorial cartoon, Ahania Soni — White-washed

Best infographic, Mack Jones — Massacres in the U.S. – 1864-1868

Best news or feature photo, Stella Hansen — Page 2 of December issue

Best news story, Milo Slevin — Evanston concludes year-long search for city manager

Best photo gallery, Isaac Suarez Flint & Tanya Weisman — Six months of climate action in Chicago

Best serious commentary, Sophia Sherman — ‘NIMBY’ in Evanston

Best website, Mack Jones —

Honorable mention

Best alternative storytelling, Sadie Dowhan — Taylor Swift songs to listen to when…

Best centerspread story package, Jessica Sehgal, Kupu Sumi — Just a 30-minute cab ride away

Best front-page design, Ahania Soni, Jessica Sehgal, Meg Houseworth, Kupu Sumi — Evanstonian October issue front cover

Best infographic, Ahania Soni — City of Evanston by grocery store

Best review, Clara Gustafson — Bagel Art Cafe

Best sports news story, Owen Chiss — Adams dominates paint on both ends in boys basketball win over GBN

Avatar photo

Duncan Agnew

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...

Join the Conversation


The RoundTable will try to post comments within a few hours, but there may be a longer delay at times. Comments containing mean-spirited, libelous or ad hominem attacks will not be posted. Your full name and email is required. We do not post anonymous comments. Your e-mail will not be posted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. As an ETHS alumn with such pride in my school, it is awesome – the school just keeps marching on garnering recognition over and over covering a multitude of areas. “It’s a great day to be a Wildkit!”