Sept. 6, 2023

Our past three editions

May 18, 2023 Native American photography • Student expression • Movies

May 11, 2023 School theater • Child labor • King Charles III

May 4, 2023 The blob • AP African American history • WH Correspondents Dinner



For some, it’s too hot for school

Now is a great time to highlight school protocol for weather-related closures

Some schools are closing or dismissing schools early because of extreme heat. Schools in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and others have had to adjust schedules due to what the National Weather Service said is a heat dome. 

What you can do —

What is the status of your school? At what point do they call school for a weather event? Interview the administration concerning the protocol at your school. For schools without air conditioning, what does the school do to maintain a tolerable temperature? For students without air conditioning at home, what are some ways to beat the heat?

What does extreme heat do to teens, such as heatstroke? How are athletic teams impacted and how are coaches and trainers working to ensure athlete’s safety? 


District uses Chat GPT to help decide what books to ban

Coverage ideas include Banned Book Week, state legislation check

From what seems like a dystopian novel, the Mason City School District banned 19 books prior to the school year. School district personnel compiled a list of challenged books and then used Chat GPT to provide information about the books.

What you can do —

District officials said this was done to comply with a new state law concerning removal of any book that had a description of a sex act. Has your state enacted a similar law within the past year? What has been the effect of this law? If your state didn’t pass similar legislation, have books been removed during the summer? 

Banned Books Week is Oct. 1-7. Now is a great time to start planning your coverage of this week. The American Library Association is a great starting place to research, but make sure you talk to all stakeholders including legislators, parents, librarians, administrators, teachers and students for a robust discussion of the practice. 

An additional point of coverage, the Popular Science article cites description of a sex act as the reasoning for banning a book. You could talk to a psychologist or sociologist on how easy it is for teens to find the information online and how banning access to information could impact teens.

What’s viral

Gannett suspends use of AI for high school sports writing

NSPA’s sample guideline may help student journalists, advisers struggling with the issue

While some are hoping AI can help reduce plane emissions, Gannett just learned that AI wasn’t useful in writing about high school sports. The newspaper chain just suspended its foray in using AI to cover high school sports because of redundant content, poor detail and odd wording.

What you can do —

How is your school using AI? Teachers? Students? Are teachers embracing it as a tool or disallowing it? Are journalism students using it? What is the impact of this? Great journalism discussion point: What is your student media guideline on its use?

If you need an AI use guideline for your students to work from, here’s NSPA’s from its Code of Ethics (updated August 2023), and is available to members:

Generative AI. As journalists cover and explore generative AI, news organizations are assessing its benefits, its challenges and the ramifications upon both content and users.

Some are exploring it. A few are using it. Some are excluding its use completely.

With powerful new technology, however, it is a question of maintaining and building credibility with readers and viewers. Some suggested approaches —

•  It’s fully acceptable to report about AI, its uses and its pitfalls, especially in academic settings, where the effects can be profound.

•  Journalists themselves should remain fully responsible for all content. Ensure that any AI-generated content is factually accurate and free from biases. Adhere to your existing ethical standards.

•  Identify all AI-generated content, just as you would identify sources of information and quotations. Be specific. Don’t rely on vague labels or bylines “with AI assistance.”

•  The unattributed use of AI-generated content in your story is plagiarism. It presents other people’s text as your own, and staff policies should be applied in response.

•   Be watchful on how commercial news organizations are using and identifying AI. It is a moving target, and your staff responses should be reviewed and assessed regularly.


Student Advisory Board applications due Sept. 15

Do you want to serve your fellow student journalists and Quill and Scroll members? Join the Student Advisory Board for 2023-24. Applications close Sept. 15. 

SAB members will work on projects including establishing a regular communications channel for editors and other student journalists to discuss problems, successes, and coverage; and working on projects and activities that can aid Quill and Scroll chapters.

It’s always membership season

Don’t forget you can nominate members year round

Do you have a senior who just met the GPA requirement or a student who now wants to join Quill and Scroll? Want to avoid the spring rush? Nominate students for membership order pins, cords and other Quill and Scroll materials and memorabilia.

We haven’t changed the ordering process from last year. For those wanting to ditch the paper version, you just need to select the form based on how you would like to pay. We have one version for  credit card and another version for check or purchase order. (We’ve added buttons for ease of finding these.) As usual, credit card payments are charged $4.49 per order for processing.

> Start the process here.

Submit your YEC entries today

Only three weeks until contest closes, submit today

The 2023 Yearbook Excellence Contest is open for entries. The cost for each entry in all 33 categories is $7, and schools will be divided by size — Class A for 1,000 or more students, and Class B for 999 or fewer students,

Entry deadline is Oct. 2, and here is a link to complete descriptions of those 33 categories and how to pay for the entries.

Judges will award first, second and third places in each category for each class, and they’ll award honorable mentions so that between 10 and 15 percent of all entries are recognized in every category. All students named as award recipients will be eligible to apply for Quill and Scroll student scholarships in May of their senior year.

Quill and Scroll administrators will then tally points (5 for first place, 4 for second, 3 for third and 1 for HM) to determine a Blue and Gold Award winner for each class. Last year’s winners were Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (Class A) and Christ Presbyterian Academy of Nashville, Tennessee (Class B).

Here’s a complete list of last year’s winners.

News Media Evaluation results to be released next Tuesday

The Quill and Scroll News Media Evaluation results to be announced through Facebook and X, formerly known as Twitter. 

The News Media Evaluations provides news media staffs a one-of-a-kind assessment of your publication(s) with constructive comments and suggestions for improvement from qualified evaluators. Judges will provide a thorough analysis and rating to schools, and the evaluation exercise and feedback are instructive and developmental. 

We will open this service again in March.

Chapter activity/discussion point idea

Constitution Day is Sept. 17, so now is a great time to plan  your Constitution Day activity. The beginning of the year is a great time to start a discussion with your students concerning the importance of the First Amendment. Whether it’s a celebration with a school-wide activity or Constitution-Day themed cake it’s a great time to discuss your state law status and ask the students what they might do if someone were to try to censor their work. 

This attention to the First Amendment may lead one of your students into action. When I advised, one of my editors-in-chief from the early 2000s, crafted a plan afterward and then passed this plan off to the next editor-in-chief. The plan outlined what to do if an administrator were to try to censor material and what limitations I would have in helping them. They included the contact information of another adviser and a list of organizations to call if they had an issue. The students knew if they had an issue, they needed to be the ones to fight a censorship attempt, and they knew I had to let them fight it.

Thankfully, my students never needed the step-by-step process. However, not all students are this lucky. For this Constitution Day celebration, it might be a good idea to let students know what might happen — and what their steps could be — if an attempt at censorship were made. If you need help with this, please reach out to FIRE, SPLC and JEA’s SPRC.

Just a thought

Welcome back!

I hope you have all returned rested and ready for the year. We are excited to be back! 

A few housekeeping tidbits:

We keep our calendar up-to-date with important Quill and Scroll deadlines, so please make sure to check this out.

We want your feedback. We will be releasing a joint NSPA/Quill and Scroll survey next week, which I will include in the Scroll. I’m always open for suggestions. Feel free to email me chapter ideas and feedback. 

Some of you have noticed we have a soft launch of the Scroll. You are correct. We will release the Scroll most Fridays, aside from the weeks we travel and school break time from now until early May.  Last year, we had a soft launch on Wednesdays and promoted the content Thursdays. We are switching a bit this upcoming semester. We will promote our content Mondays instead. Since we have built quite a variety of chapter activities on our site, we will highlight these sporadically during the year. If you would like, I would love to hear from you on what you do as a chapter. I would love to include these. Just email me a blurb and a photo and I’ll include them as I’m able.

Quill and Scroll will go through a bit of a change in the coming months as we work to update our logo. Additionally, during the year, we will highlight some other items we have been working on during summer — including some additional membership benefits. 

As you place your order this year, please make sure your business office updated our address. Remember, we moved from Iowa to Minnesota a little more than a year ago. 

Please reach out if you have ideas on how we can help you. 

I hope you have a peaceful year filled with many laughs, a lot of completed work and great connections with students. 

— Lori Keekley