Yoni Zacks

A love of storytelling drew Yoni Zacks '25 to join the staff of Spectrum, the Upper School’s student newspaper, as a freshman. Now a co-editor-in-chief and online editor of the publication, Zacks has covered issues that affect his peers from the uplifting to the deeply serious. “Journalism has allowed me to tell all kinds of stories,” Zacks says. “I am motivated to pursue it because there are always more stories to tell.”

In June, Zacks will connect with students from across the country who share his passion at the 2024 Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference in Washington, D.C. Each state selects one high school junior to participate in the annual conference. As Minnesota’s Free Spirit Scholar, Zacks receives an all-expenses-paid trip to the nation’s capital and a $1,000 scholarship to the college of his choice. The week of activities includes panels with top journalists and visits to the U.S. Capitol and other landmarks in Washington, D.C.

“I hope to gain more insight into the First Amendment and what a future in journalism might look like,” Zacks says about the conference. “I hope to study journalism beyond high school and work for my college newspaper.”

The Free Spirit program was established in 1999 to honor Al Neuharth, founder of the Freedom Forum and USA Today, and designed to inspire and encourage students to pursue journalism. Zacks applied for the program with the help of Spectrum advisor Anna Reid. “Thanks  to Ms. Reid for all of her  journalism mentorship and guidance,” Zacks says. “I would not be attending this conference if she wasn't the advisor of the Spectrum.”