Their students earned a record number of prizes and reported on Rwanda in a webinar. Westover School wins this month’s “Decoder in the Spotlight” award.


News-Decoder founder Nelson Graves leads a workshop on interviewing skills at Westover School in April 2019.

Students at Westover School have stood out for their prize-winning engagement with News-Decoder this year and receive this month’s “Decoder in the Spotlight” award.

Contest Winners

Students won three of the six prizes in News-Decoder’s Storytelling Contest — an unprecedented number by a single school in our twice-yearly competition. The results of the contest were announced last week.

First-year student Kiana Tan shared the contest’s first prize for her article on growing up as an Asian-American. Writing for News-Decoder has enabled Tan to express her feelings and share her story with the world.

“News-Decoder has stood as a connection between myself and students around the globe, and for me to hear their stories,” Tan said. Tan’s article is one of the most viewed on our site this year.

Students My Van and Kasey Ingerson won first and second runner-up prizes for their multimedia stories.

My Van’s photo story illustrated their experience with gender fluidity and showcased Van’s talent for photography and technical theater — two skills they have been able to sharpen, both in and outside of class.

Ingerson wrote an article and produced photos for a powerful piece on her experience overcoming PTSD.

Ingerson will work closely with News-Decoder next year as a Student Ambassador. One of the issues she is most concerned about is the condition of our planet.

“If we don’t approach our daily lives with sustainable alternatives, we may very well doom our next generation,” she said, noting that News-Decoder has enabled her to expand her horizons beyond her community and to learn more about global issues.

Student Ambassadors

This month’s award also recognizes the contributions of Westover’s two Student Ambassadors, Lydia Davidowitz and Fangyi (Elaine) Wang.

Davidowitz and Wang organized and participated in a webinar with the African Leadership Academy. The webinar, held in February, focused on Africa.

Westover students chose to research and report on the role of women in Rwandan society. Each year, the all-girls school in the U.S. state of Connecticut sends students to the African nation to participate in community service projects and to learn about the work of non-governmental organizations there.

Davidowitz examined U.S.-Rwanda relations and the status of women in Rwanda since the genocide there in 1994. Wang, who participated in Westover’s service trip to Rwanda, explored women’s education and health.

Davidowitz and Wang have been instrumental in integrating News-Decoder into their school’s work flow and in encouraging peers to use News-Decoder as a resource.

Both Student Ambassadors are in their final year at Westover. They will leave their school community eager to understand important world events and to share their perspectives on global issues.

Global Programs Director

One of the driving forces behind the students’ success has been Kate Taylor, director of the Rasin Center for Global Justice at Westover.

She has supported News-Decoder in a variety of ways, including encouraging students to submit personal reflection pieces around identity and social issues.

“This year has been an inspiring year,” Taylor said in interview. “The diversity of perspectives expressed especially by those students who were recognized with awards is informative of the need for platforms such as News-Decoder in terms of really hearing and learning from other voices.”

“This is always true, but for young people who are growing up in a time where they are bombarded by questions of identity on a worldwide scale, it is crucial,” she added.

“Westover is grateful to have the opportunity for our young people to engage with the larger global community in this way, and we look forward to seeing what they’ll accomplish next.”

(For more Decoder in the Spotlight articles, click here.)

Alexandra Gray is News-Decoder’s Community Engagement and Business Development manager. She develops creative marketing and communications content, manages social media accounts and works closely with the Student Ambassadors. She has a master’s in marketing from the University of Edinburgh and spent one year of high school at one of News-Decoder’s partner institutions, School Year Abroad Italy.

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Students in the SpotlightDecoder Spotlight: Westover students & faculty stand out