April 24, 2020

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

Quarantine through they eyes of a student journalist

By Nichole Shaw, Q&S Communications Director

It’s been a weird transition for me amidst the global pandemic of COVID-19. As a journalist, it’s been a privilege to learn from professionals who are covering it right, reporting with fairness and accuracy to the best of their ability, but also with empathy and real human voices. We see as much in the New York Times with the section of their newspaper dedicated to “Those We’ve Lost,” paying tribute to those individuals who will not made it out of this pandemic. There’s also a stellar The New Yorker piece that chronicles “The Body Collectors of the Coronavirus Pandemic.”

I’ve taken on a number of work projects that included building my own website, helping to run three publications with Off-Kilter. as the Junior Creative Lead, releasing a digital magazine, and preparing to release an anthology of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by high school students in May 2020. It’s also been rewarding to see some of my fellow student journalists at the University of Iowa doing such a great job at covering the impacts of the COVID-19 disease for the locals of Iowa City, Iowa, at The Daily Iowan. Their coverage has undoubtedly helped their community understand what’s going on, as it concerns them. It’s especially important to have small and local newspapers right now, though their numbers are dwindling as a result of financial constraints and challenges.

As a student, it’s been strange to make the switch from seeing my classmates and professors every day to peering at them through the thin glass screen of my computer.

As someone who was forced to move back home for the time being, adjustment to living my life surrounded by the same four lavender walls of my high school bedroom has been isolating, although I know I have it better than others.

My mom is going stir crazy as she flits between the same three shows: “Person of Interest,” “Kitchen Nightmares” and “River Monsters.”

It’s been weird for my sister too, who was thrilled at the beginning of quarantine to learn from the comfort of her bedroom. She’s someone who self-isolates on the regular anyway. Now though, she misses her friends and struggles to complete work assigned to her by her teachers who aren’t there to help her in person anymore.

And a common theme the two of us are seeing is teachers assign more work for her and me, because they assume other classes are letting up. Exams are harder since they’re now open book, and we’re often glued to our devices for work, school, and some semblance of a social life.

On top of all that, our access to internet has been on the rocks since we both relied on public institutions for free wifi for the most part. Now, we pay $19.95 a week for internet as we await to be given free Wifi through a number of carriers for our lower income status.

Q&S Communications Director in a Zoom Meeting

Q&S Communications Director Nichole Shaw in a Zoom Meeting

As a person, this pandemic been overwhelming. Despite my aspiration to be a professional journalist, I’ve come to only read the headlines and briefings of the most important stories as they come to my phone and email every day. The overload of information and rising death toll has drained me—in fear of going numb and becoming desensitized to the world’s most important issues, I’ve limited myself to reading only breaking news. Otherwise, I spend my days enduring what seems to be endless Zoom meetings and discussion board posts, mitigated by short walks with my dog, reading a book every other week or so, and eating lots of good food (home-cooked by my talented chef of a mother). I try to find small pockets of joy to keep myself sane, talking to friends when I can (at a safe social distance through the lens of my computer/phone camera), opening my window to listen to birds chirp, discovering a lot of new music, and holding my loved ones (the ones I’m quarantined with) close.

I wonder how you all are doing. I hope you’re safe. I hope your loved ones are too. We will get through this together, because we must. We’ll come out stronger because of this, because we will have learned how to communicate and how to endure. We’ve determined what’s really valuable to us. We understand the precious gift that is human life.

If you have a story to share, send it to me at [email protected] and I might share it with everyone else in coming Scrolls.

It’s An Honor

Scholarships! (Free Money)

Adviser Scholarship

Adviser scholarship applications are now due April 30. You can earn $500 that you can apply to a program of study at a university or to a summer learning experience such as the JEA Advisers Institute.

Student Scholarships

Quill and Scroll members, as well as seniors, who earned a prize (including all honorable mentions) in Quill and Scroll contests over their high school careers are eligible to apply for student scholarships. The top prize this year is $1,500. You must plan to major in journalism or a related field in college. The application is free. Deadline is May 10.

Here’s the fourth in a series of videos highlighting former scholarship winners:

AP correspondent talks about his career, covering COVID-19

Ryan Foley also sat down for a longer conversation with Quill and Scroll. He talks about his days at Davenport West (Iowa) HS and the University of Iowa, his stories that ended up being the basis for the Netflix series “The Making of a Murderer,” and the stories student journalists can cover during the pandemic. It’s another addition to our podcast interview series, THE SOURCE.

Simplified order forms and online inductions

For the most part, Quill and Scroll has moved off campus, but we go in every few days to fulfill and ship orders for induction materials and other Quill and Scroll swag.

We published this update earlier this week. It includes a simplified order form for schools and advisers willing to pay via credit card, and an offer to host an online induction ceremony for your students.

A reminder about cords:

Students MUST HAVE BEEN OR WILL BE INDUCTED into the Society to earn the honor to wear an Honor Cord (GHC) or Honor Cord with Insignia (GCI). If you order cords for non-members, please choose the Non-Member Cord Option (NCD). Quill and Scroll exists because of the special unifying bond brought about by membership and the lasting legacy of the induction ceremony.

And, as always, feel free to email [email protected] if you have any questions.

WPM Contest and YEC winners slideshows

In these extraordinary times, we’ve decided to make public the full slideshow of the top three places in each category of our 2020 Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest and our 2019 Yearbook Excellence Contest.

Here is the slideshow of the recently completed WPM Contest.

Here is the slideshow of the 2019 Yearbook Excellence Contest.

Enjoy and use as you see fit.

What’s Hot?

High school journalist reflections on their new life

High school journalists at Granite Bay High School in California—2019 Gallup Award winners of Q&S’s prestigious News Media Evaluation!—made their newspaper adviser cry as he read through their journals. The journals were a class assignment meant for students to reflect and share their experiences during this time when they are under strict shelter in place orders and stuck at home, like most of us are. Read their reflections or listen to the excerpted version of them on their podcast.

A list of the best concerts and livestreams to tune into

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced artists and entertainers alike to halt business as usual, leading to postponement of their events or even cancellations. In lieu of that, Billboard has aggregated all of the best concerts and livestreams to tune into, as we all sit around in our homes, waiting for the curve to flatten and eventually decrease.

Switch to audio and gives your eyes a break during quarantine

My eyes tend to glaze over after at least six hours of staring at my computer and phone, both of which I’m on for a collective time way past six hours. That, I’m sure of. As you continue to find things to keep yourself occupied, might I suggest making your own podcast?

As an occasional host myself for Q&S’s very own THE SOURCE, I can say that podcasting has been a new challenge I’ve fallen in love with over the past two years. Give it a try. Here’s some basic etiquette rules under quarantine time from the Los Angeles Times. And if you’re not up for hearing the sound of your own voice quite yet, take a listen to these podcasts (a surefire way to take your mind off of coronavirus chaos).

Just a Thought

Undercover Boss

By Jeff Browne, Q&S Executive Director

When the University of Iowa closed its doors to face-to-face instruction on March 14, it also closed its doors to student-employees, including the three women whom Quill and Scroll rely on to help us keep up with our business.

So that has left Administrative Assistant Judy Hauge and me to handle the rush of nominations, inductions, awards, cords and pins during this bizarre graduation season of 2020. Without Nichole Shaw, Sylvia Clubb and Jamie Wilhelmi here to brighten the room, we’re left to slog through the days.

For me, it’s my first “face-to-face” opportunity to fulfill the awards and nominations orders that make up more than half of Quill and Scroll’s annual revenue. That means I’ve been elbow deep in graduation cords of all stripes, Awards of Honor, two dozen pin varieties, member certificates and the like.

It feels a little like that cheesy reality show (is that redundant?) “Undercover Boss,” in which the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar corporation starts slinging cheeseburgers for a week just to see what it’s like. Only in this case, the organization pulls in (and spends) less than $300,000 per year, and the “CEO” is just a journalism teacher who has been lucky enough to find the perfect job to round out a 36-year career in the business.

Most importantly, the items I’m packing into your boxes this week and for the next few weeks are possibly some of the most valuable items I’ll ever work with — especially in these bizarre plague days.

  • Sure, it’s a $10 yellow-and-royal braided cord, but to the 2020 senior class, it’s a bittersweet memory both of what was and what could have been.
  • That Award of Honor is a simple half-piece of cardstock printed in color with an embossed sticker affixed to it, but it also represents a story or a portfolio of work that changed the life of the reporter or the subject or both.
  • That emblematic pin that reads “Quill and Scroll” is a tiny piece of jewelry in a plastic box, but it represents the pride of hard work, of journalistic integrity and scholarly achievement for a single student in these, both the most important and most challenging times of most all our lives.

So when that box or envelope arrives via UPS or the Postal Service (most likely to an adviser’s home address), know that Judy and I both understand the intrinsic value in the items enclosed, and that we value the effort, pride and integrity that they represent, and that we are proud to lead Quill and Scroll during these most peculiar months.