The Oppenheimer Award for Excellence

PARIS: The Oppenheimer Award for Excellence in school journalism is not a contest. It’s a statement. It says you’re the best. The best writers, the best reporters, the best editors. It says that you have crushed all others who have dared to take you on. It says that every other single school in the United States of America is feeling nothing but shame and defeat and pain because of the people who won the Oppenheimer plaque. I wanna be those people, I wanna cause that pain.

The Oppenheimer Award for Excellence seems to have been named in honour of Jess Oppenheimer (1913-1988) [pictured], the creator, producer, and head writer of the sitcom I Love Lucy, starring Lucille Ball. Lucille Ball called him “the brains” behind Lucy, and he was the creative driving force of the show. (Jess may also be named after Oppenheimer!).

In real life, there are the National Pacemaker Awards in student journalism, which has a category for high school newspapers. They are administered by the National Scholastic Press Association. Founded in 1927, they are the student equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes, and for that category the deadline is in June. There is no plaque handed out as a prize.

We never discover whether The Franklin won the award, but it is never mentioned again, suggesting that it didn’t.

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