2018 Features (Large Staff) Finalist: Houston Chronicle

Maggie Gordon and Jon Shapley | Houston Chronicle

“Final Test: Students at One of Houston’s Most Vulnerable High Schools”

About the Entry

What does it take to help kids achieve success when the odds are stacked against them? To answer that question, writer Maggie Gordon and photographer Jon Shapley spent hundreds of hours observing students and staff at Middle College High School in Houston during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Comments from the Judges

“I appreciated getting to know the students and their ups and downs, challenges and successes over time. It was impressive the reporter got so much access, not just to the school, but to meetings with administrators.”

“This series is nicely focused on one principal with the lives of students woven into the narrative. It’s a well-told story of a last-chance school and a principal who is giving every ounce to making it work.”

“The writing is full of wonderful details. It is quite hard to write powerful scenes from schools, but the reporter achieved this by clearly spending a lot of hours at the school and having a lot of material to pull from. The students she chose have depth, and we get to know them.”