May 20, 2021

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

Photo by Anshu A on Unsplash

Masks off! (Maybe)

Retail workers aren’t so excited to see mask-less people in their workplaces

The Centers for Disease Control guidance that people fully vaccinated against COVID can ditch their masks in just about every circumstance has led to some hand-wringing among health experts about whether unvaccinated people will pose as fully vaxxed just so they don’t have to wear a mask.

For its part, the Biden administration is still wearing masks in public places because we still haven’t reached the levels of vaccination needed to guarantee “herd immunity” among the population. Retails workers are especially worried about the non-vaxxers posing as vaxxers.

This COVID risk map from the New York Times gives you a good picture of vaccination in your county.

Here’s what you can do

Many students in your school will be starting summer retail jobs — or resuming retail jobs they had before the pandemic. Do they feel safe doing so? Will their employers require customers to wear masks no matter their vaccination status? Should the U.S. and other countries require some sort of vaccination “passport”? What are your state and local governments saying now about masks?

No Kids in Prison

Interactive tool can help illustrate the benefit — and cost saving — of keeping teens out of the criminal justice system

Think $14,000 per year per student is a lot for the state of Illinois to pay for a student attending a public school? How about $188,000? That’s the cost of keeping a teenager in prison for one year in Illinois.

That’s why the Youth First Initiative has started “No Kids in Prison,” an interactive website where you can learn more about the societal and financial toll of keeping so many kids in prison. The site has video, audio, research, experts and more to help you as journalists learn more about the issue of kids in prison.

Here’s what you can do

Go to the website and start thinking about your state’s programs to keep kids out of prison and in school. How much does it cost your state to educate a child for one year? How much does it cost to keep a child in prison? Do you know of any former students who’d be willing to talk about their experiences while incarcerated? What did they learn from it? Was it the only way they could have been dealt with? What programs exist in your school, district or state to keep kids from committing crimes in the first place? What are your state’s statistics regarding juvenile crime? Are the rates of juvenile crime rising or falling in your state, county or town?

Bathroom signs

Tennessee law requires businesses to post signs saying they serve trans customers

Bathrooms — particularly who’s allowed to use which toilets — have been a political football in many U.S. states over the past few years as trans persons become more accepted. In Tennessee, the governor this week signed into law a bill that will require businesses that serve trans customers to post signs outside bathrooms “warning” others that trans people may use that bathroom.

Here’s what you can do

Let’s put aside the near impossibility and certain unconstitutionality of monitoring bathrooms to determine if trans persons use them for a minute, though that could be a part of any story you choose to cover. What we know about these sorts of laws, however, is that when one state passes this kind of law, other states with similar political profiles also seek to pass such laws. And then they start expanding those laws to public places such as government buildings and … wait for it … schools!

They’re talking about it in West Virginia, among other places.

Is the bathroom question settled in your district? Do you live in a place that might want to enact restrictions or at least “warnings” similar to the one in Tennessee? Or do you live in a place that’s more laissez faire in how it views bathroom use and gender identity? Does your school already have multi-gender restrooms? Is that even a possibility where you live?

It’s An Honor

Tupelo student journalists celebrate the release of their yearbook. Photo courtesy Shari Chumley

Benz Scholarship

Mississippi teacher earns Lester G. Benz Memorial Scholarship from Q&S

Shari Chumley

Shari Chumley, the journalism adviser at Tupelo High School in Tupelo, Mississippi, and an admitted “professional development junkie,” has been named the recipient of the 2021 Lester G. Benz Memorial Scholarship. The Benz carries with it a $500 prize that will be applied to the cost of professional development in journalism.

Chumley, a JEA Certified Journalism Educator, was named the Tupelo High School Teacher of the Year for 2020-2021, a CREATE Foundation Teacher of Distinction in 2019, and the Mississippi Yearbook Adviser of the Year in 2016. Her students have won several state awards for their work in the school newspaper, the news website, the yearbook, the literary magazine and the student podcast.

In addition to her work at THS, Chumley has been an active member on the board of directors of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, serving as contest coordinator since 2017.

“She has shepherded us through significant upgrades and contest realignments during her tenure, bringing invaluable institutional memory and stability to that area of our organization,” wrote R.J. Morgan, MSPA’s executive director. “I would dare say no other educator in the state possesses a deeper understanding of scholastic competitions and their critical role in incentivizing student performance than Shari.”

Though still undecided on how she’ll use the $500 grant, Chumley knows that she’ll put it to good use.

“I have found that the more I attend these workshops and classes, the more energized I am to get my students and future journalists involved and excited about scholastic journalism,” she wrote in her application. “My hope and goal is to help my students create publications of which they, our school and community are proud, and maybe even win an award or two in the process.”

Induction season!

It’s time to honor seniors and induct members

It’s that time of the year when Quill and Scroll chapters should be nudging their advisers to think about honoring seniors and inducting new members — be they sophomores, juniors or seniors — into our international journalism honor society.

We’re able to take and fulfill orders, even as Quill and Scroll staff work from both our home offices and our offices at the Adler Journalism Building on the University of Iowa campus.

We published this update in late 2020. It is still valid and includes a simplified order form (See Video Below) for schools and advisers willing to pay via credit card, and an offer to host an online induction ceremony for your students. The sooner you induct new members, the sooner they’ll be able start planning chapter activities in the spirit of Quill and Scroll. Here’s a link to a PDF file of the Q&S Chapter Handbook if you don’t already have it.

The NME is not your enemy!

Jack Kennedy speaks with Sylvia Clubb on THE SOURCE podcast

You have until June 15 to enter your news magazine, newspaper, online news site or multimedia/multi-platform into the prestigious News Media evaluation critique service sponsored by Quill and Scroll. We have a team of professional journalists, journalism professors and skilled former journalism advisers (Hall of Famers, all) ready to provide valuable feedback that your staffs can build on for next year. We GUARANTEE that you will receive your rating and feedback before Sept. 1, 2021.

Here’s a video tutorial that explains the levels of service and how to enter.

Chapter of the Year

You have until June 4 to submit your application and publicize your Q&S chapter’s good works

Applications are now being accepted for the 2021 Quill and Scroll Vanessa Shelton Chapter of the Year Award. The deadline is June 4, and the winner will be announced in early September. The form is at this link.

Over the past 95 years, Quill and Scroll has granted charters to more than 11,000 schools around the world. When a school’s journalism program receives its charter, students in the school begin a Quill and Scroll chapter there. Quill and Scroll does not dictate how active a chapter should be, but the organization’s “Chapter Manual” does provide some guidance on the value of an “active chapter,” the activities it may engage in, and its general goals:

Tupelo’s Quill and Scroll chapter hosted a journalism job fair in 2019. Photo courtesy Shari Chumley.

“The chapter can accomplish these goals: (1) inspire members of the staff to greater efforts; (2) attract students of higher ability to publications/media work by offering them journalistic recognition and honors; (3) provide incentive for the development of the journalism department and the improvement of school publications/media; and (4) secure greater recognition of journalism work by students, school officials and the community.”

The chapter at Tupelo High School in Tupelo, Mississippi, for example, held a journalism job fair in 2019, before the pandemic. The 2020 winning chapter, Francis Howell North High School in Missouri, hosted several events for Scholastic Journalism Week, promoted diversity in the school, and raised money for community organizations.

The winning chapter gets a trophy, free Q&S memberships for the coming year, and a spot on the Q&S Student Advisory Board.

What’s Viral?

Jojo’s new cereal

Strawberry Bop will hit the shelves after entertainer’s 18th birthday

At one time, way back when Jojo Siwa was a “Kid in a Candy Store,” but as the “Boomerang” singer turned 18 this week, she announced that she’s going to be the face of her own candy-sweet breakfast cereal, Strawberry Bop, which will show up in June on Wal-Mart shelves next to her line of clothing.

We assume the cereal will also be available wherever General Mills products are sold — which is pretty much every mainstream grocery store in the known universe. It features pink strawberry-flavored bows, but we’re assuming they’ll be slightly smaller than the bows Siwa wears on her head.

Here’s Siwa contemplating becoming an adult.



♬ Boomerang – Jojo Siwa

What you can do about it

Siwa’s 18th birthday launches her into the realm of “former child entertainers.” Will she become the next Miley Cyrus, successful as an adult entertainer? Or will she join the ranks of former famous people who had their 15 minutes of fame as children? Sounds like a fun debate for a podcast. Does she have the star power to appeal to more than tweens?

There’s also the angle regarding the nutritional content of any breakfast cereal that is intentionally sweet. Added sugar has contributed to making 36 percent of Americans obese — and that includes nearly 22 percent of all American teenagers. How much sugar is in a typical serving of something like Strawberry Bop? How much sugar should anyone be ingesting on a daily basis? Why don’t we eat better food?

It’s almost secondary at this point to discuss Siwa’s sexuality, though her coming out as queer in late January is still fresh in most of our memories. She’s one of the very youngest celebrities to do so. In addition, Demi Lovato’s announcement this week that they identify as non-binary may serve as inspiration to queer teens to live as their true selves. Do students in your school look to celebrities as role models? Have announcements by Elliot Page, Lovato, Siwa and others served as inspiration?

Just A Thought

COVID and Sports

Journalists, tired of TV and Zoom, are ready for sidelines and press boxes

By Jeff Browne
Q&S Executive Director

I’ve taught a sports reporting class here at the University of Iowa for the past four years. This spring’s class was a valuable, but the students in it had a very different experience than their predecessors.

If they were able to attend a game as a reporter or photographer for student media, they more than likely sat in the bleachers. Most of the time, they sat at home, watching on television (streaming subscriptions replaced their textbook costs for the semester) and logging into Zoom interview sessions.

Streaming and Zoom were awesome as a way to help combat COVID, but the fear among sports reporters and photographers is that these digital work-arounds will now become standard among professional sports franchises, college athletics departments and even high schools.

This column from Poynter outlines a not-so-bright future for the long-standing tradition of granting locker room access and other personal relationships between athletes and journalists.

Here’s what you can do

If your school and state high school sports associations are ready for a full slate of games and a full stadium or gymnasium of fans, then their rules for journalists should also return to “normal.” Check with your school’s athletic director to make sure they haven’t changed policies to something that is more restrictive. Check with your state’s high school athletics association to see if and when restrictive COVID policies will go away.

Don’t get me wrong — we have to be careful with COVID because it’s likely to be around for years as a persistent health threat. But if we’re going back to “normal,” then sports reporters and photographers should be able to do what they normally do — but maybe, just maybe, wearing a mask.