'It started in the fourth grade building'

Winner of the 2022-23 Third Coast/RHDF Competition Best News Feature Award, selected by Final Round Judges Katherine Nagasawa, Habiba Nosheen, and Richard Yeh.


Within hours of the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade, reporter Arelis Hernández got in her car and drove to Uvalde, TX from her home in San Antonio.

One of the first people she met there was 9-year-old Jalissa Ibarra. Jalissa told Arelis what happened at her school in a rapid speech that began with the phrase, "It started in the fourth-grade building" — and her small, childlike voice stuck with us.

Post Reports produced an episode the next day recounting what happened at Uvalde through the eyes of this young girl. Arelis brought her full humanity to the reporting, breaking down as she spoke to us from her car in Uvalde near the site of the shooting. In one of the most heartbreaking moments of the interview, she asked Jalissa: "Did you ever imagine that anything like this would happen at your school?" and Jalissa responded right away:"Yes. That's why I'm scared to go in the restrooms, because I'm scared that someone's going to pop up. So I don't like to go to the restrooms at my school. I stay in my classroom."

This work was originally featured in the 2022-23 Third Coast Competition Showcase, a new way of celebrating Award-Winners, Finalists & Judges.

Full Credits

Arelis Hernández, John Woodrow Cox (Reporters), Martine Powers (Host), Rennie Svirnovskiy, Andrea Salcedo, Emma Talkoff (Producers), Ted Muldoon (Producer, Engineer), Reena Flores (Editor)

produced by

Arelis Hernández

Arelis Hernández (AR-el-ees HER-nahn-dez) is a national reporter for the Washington Post covering Texas and the border.

Ted Muldoon

Ted Muldoon (ted mull-doon) is a senior producer and sound designer for The Washington Post.

Andrea Salcedo

Andrea Salcedo (ann-DRAY-uh sal-SAY-dough) is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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