2014 Better Newspapers Contest
P. 1

our kids
By Karen de Sá and Dai Sugano
They are wrenched from abusive homes, uprooted again and again, often with their life’s belongings stuffed into a trash bag.
Abandoned and alone, they are among California’s most powerless children. But instead of providing a stable home and caring family, the state’s foster care system gives them
2 General Excellence
3 Awards by Category Drugging
5 Awards by Newspaper
10 Campus Awards
1st Place, News Photo: The Napa Valley Register
Nicholas George of Carneros cranes his head down into a deep fissure in front of his house on Old Sonoma Road caused by
a 6.0 earthquake Sunday morning.
(Lisa James/Register)
1st Place,
Investigative Reporting: San Jose Mercury News
a pill.
With alarming
frequency, foster and health care provid- ers are turning to a risky but convenient
remedy to control the behavior of thousands of troubled kids: numbing them with psychiatric drugs that are untested on and often not approved for children.
An investigation by this newspaper found that nearly 1 out of every 4 adolescents in California’s foster care system is re- ceiving these drugs — 3 1/2 times the rate for all adolescents nationwide. Over the last decade, almost 15 percent of the state’s foster children of all ages were prescribed the medica- tions, known as psychotropics, part of a national treatment
Parents seek answers on principal
turnover, other concerns
By Gina Channell-Allen Pleasanton Weekly
School in Pleasanton starts Monday, and parents are busy buying back-to-school supplies and backpacks. But the dis-
Making peace
with WWII
Petaluma woman dodged Japanese soldiers during war
By Emily Charrier Argus-Courier Staff
When Helen Madamba Mossman thinks of her time during World War II as a child in the Philippines, it’s not the pop of rifle fire or the whirring of helicopter blades that she remem- bers. Her mind instead fixates on the lush green of the jungle, and the crash of the crystal blue waves on the beach.
“There were certain times when the tide was so high that the waves would come up on our concrete porch,” she said, smiling at the memory. Of course, that was before the family fled their beachfront home; before they spent two years hid- ing in makeshift encampments in the jungle where they spoke in perpetual whisper to avoid detection by
Japanese soldiers.
Author Helen Mossman holds the book she wrote about the two years she spent hiding in the jungle from Japa- nese soldiers during WWII, in her Petaluma home on Monday September 15, 2014. (Scott Manchester/Argus- Courier Staff)
back to his native Philippines after graduation while she saved her pennies until she had enough to join him overseas in 1932. Two children, Mossman and her younger brother Jorge Judy, soon followed.
It was a bucolic childhood on the tropical island of Negros, until the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, when the life
they knew slowly began to crumble.
First, Mossman’s father left to serve with American troops. Then came the violent patrols along the beach where they played as children.
“If they (Japanese forces) saw a building or person on shore, they’d shoot at it,” said Mossman.
It was then that the family headed into the jungle, carrying just the bare necessities along with some family photos and mementos. It was the beginning of a grueling two years as the family darted from one safe haven to another, living in shel- ters quickly fashioned from bamboo. The children learned
to never raise their voice above a whisper for fear of capture. But despite the inherent dangers, Mossman, who was 10 at the time, doesn’t remember being fearful.
“My parents never told us anything that frightened us, they never told us we were going to get killed or anything,” she said. “Their whole premise was that we were going to be safe because we were going to hide from the Japanese.”
2nd Place, Editorial Cartoon:
Steve Parra, The Fresno Bee
trict itself is still dealing with a bit of baggage from the previous school year that has yet to be packed away and forgot- ten.
1st Place,
Enterprise Reporting: Pleasanton Weekly
Mossman, a Petaluma resident, penned the
memoir “A Letter to my Father” about her
family’s experience in WWII, a story she will
share during a free reading on Saturday, Sept. 20, at 2 p.m. at the Petaluma Library.
Mossman said she wrote the book as a tribute to her father, whose strategic planning ensured the family survived the war, and made it safely to America. It was a feat she never appreciated during her father’s life. When she first set foot
in the United States in 1945, she decided to cut ties with her childhood in the Philippines, which in some ways meant cut- ting out her father, the prevalent Filipino relative in her new American life.
“I just wasn’t a very good daughter,” she sighed. “I wrote this (book) as an atonement.”
Mossman’s parents, Jorge and Iva Madamba, met at the University of Oklahoma while he was an exchange student. Unable to find work during the Great Depression, he went
The turnover of principals in the past few years and a series of nasty allegations by and against teachers and administra- tors has parents concerned about the effects on students
1st Place, Writing:
Petaluma Argus-Courier
California Newspaper Publishers Association

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