The newspaper published by students at Bethesda's Walt Whitman High School has been named one of three top winners in The Washington Post's first annual "Excellence in Journalism Awards" contest.

The school publication, Black and White, was awarded $1,500. The second-place winner in Maryland, Common Sense, produced at Thomas S. Wootton High School in Rockville, won $1,000; third place and $500 went to The Rampage of Rockville High School.

The awards recognize outstanding reporting and production at local public schools. The newspapers were judged by a panel of Washington Post editors for news content, reporting, layout, clarity of writing and presentation, and service to the school community.

"The range of subject matter -- from national education issues to personal problems such as suicide -- is quite impressive. These newspapers are miles ahead of those I remember from my high school days," said Post Publisher Donald E. Graham at a recent awards ceremony.

Thirty-two high schools competed. The District first-prize winner was The Beacon of Woodrow Wilson High School; second prize was awarded to News Reel of Dunbar Senior High School, and third prize was won by Tech Life of William McKinley Technical High School.

First prize in Northern Virginia went to The Oracle of West Springfield High School in Springfield; second prize was awarded to Crossed Sabres of Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, and third prize was won by The Viking of Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville.