PEN America High School Journalism Program

In the spring of 2020, PEN America embarked on a 10-week student journalism workshop at Hilda L. Solis Learning Academy in East Los Angeles. Led by editor and journalist Neelanjana Banerjee, in partnership with Los Angeles Times’s HS Insider and hosted by English teacher Marisa Moran, the workshop included students in grades 9, 11, and 12 who came together for a hands-on introduction to the fundamentals of journalism and media literacy.

At the conclusion of the workshop, the students contributed original student reporting on issues important to themselves and their communities to the inaugural issue of the Jaguar Times, the first student paper of Hilda L. Solis Learning Academy, which can be found below. The Jaguar Times’s Spring 2020 issue includes the “Coronavirus Diaries,” a special section highlighting students’ experience of sheltering at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This PEN in the Community residency was made possible through the generous support of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.


Neelanjana Banerjee’s writing has appeared widely in both literary journals and news outlets like Teen Vogue, Weird Sister, Virginia Quarterly Review,, The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review of Books, PANK Magazine, Prairie Schooner, World Literature Today, and more. She is the managing editor of Kaya Press, a nonprofit publishing house dedicated to innovative Asian Pacific American literature, and teaches writing in the Asian American Studies Department at UCLA. She ran the youth media programs at the long-running San Francisco Bay Area independent news organization New America Media from 2003 to 2009, where she initiated the Youth Summer Media Program in partnership with Kamala Harris’s first “Back on Track” initiative to reduce recidivism by offering nonviolent, low-level drug trafficking defendants job training and other life skills education as an alternative to jail. She has also worked as a teaching artist in juvenile halls and continuation high schools in San Jose, San Francisco, and Los Angeles with programs like The Beat Within, San Francisco WritersCorps, and artworxLA.