Decoder Spotlight: Hewitt School students draw COVID lessons

In a series of articles and a global webinar, students at the Hewitt School in New York have drawn lessons from COVID-19 that point to a better future.

Hewitt School,COVID,lessons

Students from the Hewitt School and the African Leadership Academy during their April webinar on how COVID-19 has affected healthcare in the U.S. and Africa.

The Hewitt School in New York City aims to inspire “girls and young women to become game changers and ethical leaders who forge an equitable, sustainable and joyous future.”

That’s a lofty mission.

Yet, in a recent series of articles and a webinar, students at the all-girls school have exemplified the school’s educational purpose by drawing lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic that point to a more equitable future.

For their students’ outstanding work and Hewitt‘s support of global citizenship, News Decoder is pleased to award this month’s Decoder in the Spotlight to the K-12 school in Manhattan.

“Our students have been inspired to go beyond their comfort zone in pursuit of a story,” said Maureen Burgess, Hewitt’s Assistant Head of School for Learning and Innovation.

Hewitt School students drew lessons from COVID-19.

In April, Hewitt students and peers from the African Leadership Academy in South Africa produced a webinar on how COVID-19 has affected healthcare in the United States and Africa.

The Hewitt students then converted their research and reporting into a five-part series of multimedia articles that looked at the pandemic and its lessons through different lenses:

– Maya Barr examined how the U.S. healthcare system has struggled to cope with COVID-19 and whether it is time for reforms;

– Aerin Atinsky looked at an innovative program in New York that releases prisoners early to alternative incarceration hotels and which could be a model for criminal justice reform;

– Hanna Rahman interviewed a leading epidemiologist in a podcast that threw a spotlight on the healthcare and social inequities that have been exposed during the pandemic;

– Sadie Dyson offered a photo essay on how COVID-19 has affected New York City’s art and culture;

– Pénélope Flouret produced a video interview of a high school student who helped spearhead a drive to reopen an ice skating rink in New York that had been closed during the pandemic.

The value of ‘an open and unbiased mind’

Students around the world have spent a difficult year adjusting to lockdowns that have disrupted entire educational systems. However, the Hewitt students have made the most of the challenging and unprecedented situation, and shown the kind of resilience that will take them far.

I asked the students what they’ve learned in working with News Decoder this year that is most important.

“The most important skills I improved were my researching, collaborating and interviewing skills,” Rahman said.

Flouret said she learned about pitching and revising stories. Barr came to appreciate tapping expert references in her reporting of nuanced issues, while Atinsky learned the importance of “approaching stories with an open and unbiased mind to view both sides.”

Burgess praised “the specific feedback and suggestions, the supportive words, and high standards upheld on the part of the News Decoder team.”

With students such as those at Hewitt, it’s a pleasure.

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