The Official Website of the Virginia High School League • Building Better Citizens
Contact Us rSchoolToday Line


May 7, 2015

Student also wins scholarship

CHARLOTTESVILLE—Timothy Dodson, co-editor-in-chief for The Western Hemisphere newspaper and a senior at Western Albemarle High School in Charlottesville, is the Virginia High School League’s 2015 Student Journalist of the Year and Charles Savedge Scholarship recipient.

    In his role as co-editor-in-chief, Dodson directs coverage, does layout and writes about school and community happenings for the News section of the school paper.  

    “The selection committee reached its decision quickly,” said VHSL Director of Activities Lisa Giles.  “Timothy was the clear frontrunner in the pool of candidates this year.” 

    Schools from four of the six VHSL groups nominated students for this annual award.  Group 3A, of which Western Albemarle High School is part, submitted 3 nominations. 

    Dodson was the unanimous choice of a three-person selection committee composed of college journalism educators and a professional journalist.  “Timothy submitted a better story that we could have reasonably expected,” said Mike Spear, journalism professor at the University of Richmond.  “He’s doing real reporting and has a mature, confident writing style.”

    Tom Mullen, director of public affairs journalism at the University of Richmond noted Dodson’s chutzpah.  “Timothy actually talked to people and used them as sources,” said Mullen, “when most other students who submitted simply used editorial comments.”

    Western Albemarle High School Journalism and History Teacher Jill Williams agrees.  “He is a thorough, diligent reporter who is confident and assertive enough to contact sources about stories, even if that requires a phone call to Central Office.”

    Dodson routinely attends school board and local council meetings in his free time.

    “Tim is genuinely interested in public affairs and public policy, and he has pursued this interest as a reporter, a student and a citizen,” said Williams.

    Dodson’s skill and reporting via Twitter has earned him the attention from local reporters and citizen journalists, which led to an invitation to live tweet the Crozet community council meetings. 

    Dodson’s Twitter feed (@Tim_Dodson) does not look like the average high school student’s.  His 7,023 tweets consist mostly of political commentary, with only an occasional personal anecdote.  Among those he follows are Albemarle County School Board Member Ned Galloway, New York Times Bestselling Political Author Michael Weiss, numerous universities, and Quorum Call, the U.S. Senate news feed.  He has 858 followers including Investigative Reporter Jerry Mitchell, Charlottesville’s newspaper The Daily Progress, Charlottesville CBS19 News Reporter Stephon Dingle, and Dr. Larry Sabato, director for UVa Center for Politics. 

    “An ability to express facts in 140 character messages has bolstered my analysis and clarity in writing,” said Dodson.

    In his personal essay that accompanied his portfolio, Dodson recounts how being a journalist has given him a sense of community and molded him into an informed citizen and educator.

    “I’ve played a role in teaching my peers how policy works in local government, and in some ways I’ve become an advocate for student voice,” Dodson said. 

    Dodson maintains a 4.603 grade point average and plans to attend George Washington University and write for the student newspaper.   



About the Charles Savedge Scholarship / Student Journalist of the Year Award

Named in honor of the celebrated publications adviser who was affectionately known as “Mr. Yearbook,” this award began in 1991 when Jason Roop, editor of Style Weekly magazine in Richmond, was the first recipient.  Each year, VHSL member schools may nominate one candidate for consideration.  Complete applications will consist of a one-page, typed, double-spaced essay written by the student which describes the significance that participation in publications has had in his/her life; a journalism-specific resume to include staff involvement and leadership positions, internships conferences attended, awards received, etc.; two samples of work that best represents the student’s journalistic abilities and contributions to student or community publications; and a letter of recommendation that addresses the student’s contributions to publications and the qualities that best describe the nominee. 


About VHSL

An alliance of Virginia’s public high schools, the 313 member schools of the Virginia High School League (VHSL) serve the Commonwealth’s youth by establishing and maintaining standards for student activities and competitions that promote education, personal growth, sportsmanship, leadership and citizenship. Nearly 200,000 students participate in 28 different sports and eight academic activities, culminating in 162 state championships each year.