Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Fri, Oct. 23

Hopi student wins national journalism award

Hopi High media students Jackie Thorpe, Amber Labahe and Kimmale Anderson are among the swarm of journalism students at the National High School Journalism conference. (Stan Bindell/NHO)

Hopi High media students Jackie Thorpe, Amber Labahe and Kimmale Anderson are among the swarm of journalism students at the National High School Journalism conference. (Stan Bindell/NHO)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Hopi High media student Amber Labahe won a national award at the National High School Journalism Conference in Anaheim, California April 24-27, earning an Honorable mention, or third place finish, in the news writing division.

About 100 students competed in the division. More than 3,000 students attended the conference.

Labahe attended the national high school journalism conference along with Hopi High media students Jacque Thorpe and Kimmale Anderson. 

Labahe, a senior, will be majoring in journalism at Ft. Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, in the fall.

“Winning a national award is a small step toward where I want to get,” she said. “This makes me even more encouraged and motivated to do what I want.

to with journalism.”

Labahe said she felt that she represented Navajo and Hopi: Navajo because she is Navajo and Hopi because she goes to Hopi High. 


Hopi High media students Amber Labahe and Kimmale Anderson learned about filmaking from video boot camp teacher Michael Hernandez. (Stan Bindell/NHO)

Thorpe said Labahe should feel she accomplished something big and be proud of getting a national award. There were a lot of students from throughout the country entered in her category. 

“Students from other schools have more chances and more opportunities to get awards because they are bigger, have more money and there located in the cities. They are not in a remote place like we are,” she said. 

Anderson said she was extremely proud of Labahe winning her award

“I’m happy that she won another award,” Anderson said about Labahe. Earlier this school year, Labahe took first in a writing contest at the ALMA Conference. 

Anderson said the contest taught her that she needs to learn time management and to get a better video-editing program. 

Labahe said the topic for her contest was a difficult one because it was about puppy mills and that is not an issue on Hopi, but it is a big issue in California, so she felt the California students had an advantage. 

“When they called my name (as a winner) I was excited and upset. I was excited because I won a national award. There was no other Native American kids there and this is a place where culture is not recognized. That is why it made me happy to win,” she said. “But I was upset that I didn’t finish higher. I have high expectations for myself. I don’t want to settle for a low finish.”

Thorpe was in a review writing contest that dealt with a topic she was not used to: a gay comedian. 

“I was nervous going into the contest because I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. 

Thorpe said next year she hopes to choose a better category. 

Anderson was also in a video news-editing contest where they provided her with everything she needed to make a video. She said it was hard because she did not have the technology she needed on her computer to complete the assignment in the given time. 

“It made me so nervous that I almost cried,” she said. “Because of the time crunch I didn’t get to do it the way I wanted to do it.”

Labahe said she learned from the overall conference, workshop and contest picking up many pointers about journalism.

Labahe was impressed that there were students from most states at the national high school conference, as well as students from China and Taiwan. She said the conference motivates her to release more stories into the country and the world about Native American cultures and heritage. 

Hopi High students attend boot camp

Hopi High media students also attended an all-day video boot camp hosted by Michael Hernandez, one of the best video teachers in the country. 

During the boot camp, Labahe said she learned how to use natural sound, lighting and research for videos. 

“The way he critiqued us showed us how to incorporate those ideas into videos and showed us what to look for in other people’s videos,” he said. 

Labahe said the conference taught her that everybody has their own way of writing and creating videos.

Thorpe said the best part of the conference was getting a lot of different information about filmmaking, including learning new angles to shoot. She said she would have preferred to work alone in the video boot camp because that is what she usually does. 

“I learned about natural sound and its importance. I also learned where to put the person on the screen,” she said. 

Anderson said the best part of the conference was the keynote speech given by award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario, who is best known for “Enrique’s Journey,” her story of a Honduran boy’s struggle to find his mother in the U.S. The series, which appeared in the Los Angeles Times, won a Pulitzer Prize for featuring writing in 2003. 

“Her stories about childhood addiction made me tear up because she witnessed it and it was powerful,” Anderson said. “Words are that powerful.”

Anderson said the conference motivated her to improve in video editing and shooting. 

“I’ll strive to do better because I know I can do it,” she said. “I want to win an award next year.” 

Hopi High media students also met with Elis Estrada, director of Student Reporting Labs for PBS NewsHour. 

Labahe said Estrada taught students how to come up with meaningful stories. 

Anderson said PBS has an extremely good program for student journalists

“I’d like to get involved with them. They can help us,” she said. 

Labahe said she thanked her family, Martin Manuel, Dr. Ron Carpenter and everybody else who supported her for this trip. 

Thorpe gives her number one shout out to Kiyahno Edgewater and to her family.

“This gave me a great opportunity and opened up a realization that journalism is a field I may want to consider. It was a great experience overall,” she said. “I will try to put my mind and creativity to work. Now that I know that I can do this.”

Thorpe also wants to start a yearbook at Hopi High School. 

Anderson thanks her mom, her dad, Vivian So’oh, Phillip Ba’ah and Genell So’Oh for supporting her trip.

After the conference, students spent a night enjoying Disneyland.


The major sponsors for the trip were the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Victor Aronow from Radio Phoenix and June Fox from Seattle. Bindell, Labahe, Thorpe and Anderson thank them for their support. 

Thorpe made a video about the conference, which can be seen on Youtube under Jacque Thorpe.

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