Harker recognized as 2022 First Amendment Press Freedom Awardee


Ella Yee

A sticker commemorating the Harker journalism program’s FAPFA win on Feb. 24 decorates sophomore reporter Julie Shi’s laptop. The FAPFA recognizes schools that uphold the First Amendment by supporting freedom of speech and freedom of the press in student media.

by Ella Yee, Co-Asst. Multimedia Editor

The Journalism Education Association (JEA) announced Harker as a First Amendment Press Freedom Award (FAPFA) winner on Feb. 24, marking the first time for the school to ever receive this title. 

An annual award, the FAPFA honors private and public high schools that encourage values of the First Amendment, such as rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, within student media. 

Applying for the award involved two phases. In the first phase, which was completed in December, Director of Journalism Ellen Austin and Winged Post co-editor-in-chief Emily Tan (12) answered a questionnaire about the types of student publications that exist at Harker and the school’s policies regarding press freedom.

Harker progressed to the second phase, which involved Austin, Aquila co-advisor Whitney Huang, Head of Upper School Butch Keller, as well as editors-in-chiefs of the Winged Post, Harker Aquila, Humans of Harker and TALON Yearbook. This round consisted of questions such as “What does press freedom mean to you?” and “How does your school support press freedom?” 

“Something that we all mentioned was how we learn about press freedom and our First Amendment rights in the U.S. history classes,” Emily said. “That is a really good way that Harker supports education about the First Amendment.”

Being named one out of only 17 high schools in America to win the FAPFA marked a significant achievement for Harker’s journalism program. Austin noted how schools must reapply for the award each year, as new winners are selected annually.

“Just like your rights may be challenged and you [can’t] ever take your rights for granted, neither should this award be taken for granted,” Austin said. “I expect that in the future, I will see Harker reapplying for this annually and receiving it annually, and that the climate at the school will remain one that is robust and encouraging for student press and student free expression.”