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McLean senior named Virginia Student Journalist of the Year

As editor-in-chief, 18-year-old Melanie Pincus helps oversee McLean High School's newsmagazine "The Highlander." "She wants our newsmagazine to be great every time; but she also works with each person to make sure they're improving their individual skills as reporters and designers and photographers," Journalism teacher Lindsay Benedict told ABC7 News.

The high school senior leads the staff while continuing to write. Her proudest accomplishment is one of her most recent articles entitled "Beyond Gender." "We interviewed two students in McLean; one who's transgender and one who's non-binary. I felt honored to have been entrusted with such personal details of their lives to portray that through writing," Pincus shared.

Her articles recently captured the attention of the Virginia Association of Journalism Teachers and Advisors which named Pincus Virginia Student Journalist of the Year. The award carries a prize of $1,000. "I think it's just an incredible honor especially knowing that someone from our school and our staff gets that honor," 16-year-old junior Jackson Payne expressed.

Judges described Pincus' work as that which demonstrates "a hunger and knack for telling important stories." The next step is for her to compete in the national Journalist of the Year competition which is sponsored by the Journalism Education Association.

"It never really gets old to me getting to learn about people and doing research and telling more stories," Pincus said.

Teagan Foti of Annandale High School placed second in the state contest, while Nina Raneses of West Potomac High placed third.

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