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The student news site of Londonderry High School

Lancer Spirit Online

The student news site of Londonderry High School

Lancer Spirit Online

Principal Parent awarded NESPA’s ‘Freedom to Write’ award

Mrs. DeWinkeleer
Principal Jason Parent receives the Freedom to Write Award at today’s New England Scholastic Press Association conference at Boston University. This award is given to a principal in New England, who shows extraordinary support to the journalism program at their school. NESPA’s Executive Director Helen Smith introduced Parent before presenting him with the award and shared specific details from the nomination letter that journalism adviser Mary DeWinkeleer wrote.

When Lancer Spirit adviser Mrs. DeWinkeleer heard about the New England Scholastic Press Association’s [NESPA] “Freedom to Write Award” given to principals who support scholastic journalism, she knew she had to nominate principal Mr. Parent.

“He is absolutely a key part of the success of the Lancer Spirit,” DeWinkeleer said. “We couldn’t do what we do without his support.”

In her nomination form to NESPA, DeWinkeleer talked about the relationship of respect and trust she and Parent have forged over the years.

“I am grateful to have a boss who I can go to for guidance on how to handle certain situations,” DeWinkeleer said. “It’s been nice to have him to bounce ideas off of as far as who else a reporter could talk to or what facts he or she might have missed. We have built a good level of trust and respect for one another, which makes both our lives easier.”

That isn’t to say things are always easy. There have been times Lancer Spirit staff members want to write about issues that both Parent and DeWinkeleer know might cause a stir within the school. But the help and support Parent has shown her and her staff through these difficult situations is one of the reasons she nominated him for this award.

“I know he wants my students to not be afraid to cover difficult issues,” DeWinkeleer stated in her nomination. “His only requests? Do it right. Do it well. Be truthful. Get all the facts. Do all the difficult interviews. Be honorable, credible journalists.”

Parent echoed these sentiments when he spoke about what he values in good journalism.

“If you are going to do anything or cover anything,” Parent said, “do it well and make sure that you have all sides and have considered all sides because that’s good reporting. It gets to the heart of and gives credibility to the pieces.”

Even when an article is highlighting the negative sides of LHS, Parent has shown Lancer Spirit staff members his support.

“No one wants to look bad,” Parent said. “It’s always nerve racking to take on controversial issues, so it might be a safer play for principals or building leaders to say ‘no don’t cover this’ or don’t do this or don’t do that, and kinda micromanage the process. I feel the opposite. This is your school, this is the students’ school. I want them to have a voice.”

He stands by this view even if he doesn’t like a particular topic a student reporter is covering.

“I don’t always agree with all the articles that are written in the Lancer Spirit, but I support the right to have that opinion,” Mr. Parent said.

DeWinkeleer said she appreciates that even if an article comes out and gets to be very controversial, Parent is always there to support the Lancer Spirit staff.

“When situations have arisen where I am getting some pushback from teachers, students and/or parents, he always has my back,” DeWinkeleer said. “But he is also honest with me if he disagrees with me on an issue, which helps me learn. In the end, I always know I can go to him with any concerns I have, and I will find a listening ear and a well-rounded, insightful perspective.’

While Parent is pleased to receive the award, he said the joy he feels is more from the nomination itself.

“[DeWinkeleer] had shown me what she had written, and what the students had to say, and that, to me, meant the world—more than the award to be honest,” Parent said.

Parent officially received the award at the NESPA conference on Friday, May 3, at Boston University. DeWinkeleer and several Lancer Spirit staff members were also there to support him.

“Jason Parent undoubtedly deserves this award because with him at the helm of our school, my students and I absolutely feel a ‘Freedom to Write,’” DeWinkeleer said. “I’m so glad he’s getting the recognition he deserves.”

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About the Contributors
Laura Haas
Laura Haas, Online Chief
Senior Laura Haas is continuing her fourth year on staff. Beginning as a news editor, Laura has made her way to a chief position. When not in journalism, Laura plays volleyball all year round.
Mrs. DeWinkeleer
Mrs. DeWinkeleer, Adviser
Mrs. DeWinkeleer (or DeWinks) has been adviser to The Lancer Spirit since 2004 and has been an English teacher since 1999. Her favorite part of being adviser is seeing her students grow as writers and as human beings.

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The student news site of Londonderry High School
Principal Parent awarded NESPA’s ‘Freedom to Write’ award