Sept. 25, 2023

Our past three editions

Sept. 18, 2023 United Auto Workers • spicy food • Beyonce

Sept. 11, 2023 College Index • Social media/body types • Taylor Swift

Sept. 6, 2023 A/C in schools • ChatGPT and book bans • AI for sports writing



COVID infection cases rise, free tests again available

Localization could involve school return policy, local infection rate

After a summer of COVID spread slowing, a recent uptick in cases has the federal government again offering free tests starting Sept. 25.

President Joe Biden announced the revival of the free test program Wednesday.

What you can do —

While many have COVID fatigue, the threat of infection has again increased. Talk to a local pediatrician about the rate of infection in your area. An interactive graphic of the number of positive cases in your area would be a show readers COVID isn’t quite done yet. Make sure to highlight how families can request up to four free tests through

Also, talk to your school nurse concerning current school COVID protocol. This could be in graphic form or a video as well.


Wildfire smoke has undone years of progress, advisories issued

Examine how teens can protect themselves, what they can do about it

Recent wildfire smoke has begun to undo years of progress in air quality and it’s expected to worsen in the United States and worldwide.

What you can do —

Highlight the impact of climate change on students. How are those with lung conditions, such as severe asthma cases, coping with poor air quality? For those who are outside-sport athletes, an easy feature could include a profile on such a student.

It’s also a great excuse to include an in-depth look at the climate crisis and show how local teens are working on the issue — including pushing for additional climate-protective legislation or implementing more eco-friendly practices at school. Of course, coverage could include how teens can protect themselves when an advisory is issued. Talk to your school environmental club and a local air quality expert.

What’s viral

First Bob Ross painting for sale

Research art funding in school

Bob Ross’s first TV painting is on sale for a mere $9.8 million dollars. The oil-painted artwork, “A Walk in the Woods,” was originally created in less than 30 minutes for his first show in 1983.

These original television segments often featured Ross working to recover from an errant tree placement or other artistic snafu.

What you can do —

Ross’s uncanny ability to be calm, happy and kind with his “happy little trees” has lived on in T-shirts and parodies in film, TV and video games. He was known for his encouragement through his teaching until his untimely death at 52 in 1995.

Student journalists could use this idea in a few ways. How can teens use his mantra of resilience and learning from mistakes? How do the teachers at your school embody this approach? 

Also, it’s a great time to highlight art education. With some schools experiencing additional cuts, which often involve the arts, why is it important to continue to offer art in the curriculum? What about other non “core” classes


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 one week until contest closes

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.

Chapter activity/curriculum idea

Examining policy and guidelines:

With all the recent buzz about AI use and guidelines in student media, it’s a great time to craft this one and even revisit some of the more used guidelines for your school.

A great starting point would be to talk to your student editors about what they have relied on during the past year and what they see as good reminders for staffers. This brainstorming could be done in a Quill and Scroll meeting and then you could dedicate a few minutes each day as a “Staff Manual Reminder of the Day” for a few weeks.

For example, some of the topics might include what do you do in these instances:

  • Request for prior review?
  • Take-down request?
  • Event of student or staff death?
  • When someone asks a photographer to delete a photo?
  • Possible copyright infringement?
  • Use email or social media for an interview instead of phone or in-person?
  • Makes allegations against the student media?
  • Refuses entry to an open event, such as a school board meeting?
  • What to do when a staffer errs?

The list could go on, but this is a quick starting point.

2023-24 calendar

Student Advisory Board Application Sept. 22, 2023
Yearbook Excellence Contest Oct. 2, 2023
Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest Feb. 2, 2024
Private School Journalism Association Contest March 1, 2024
Student Journalist Impact Award March 10, 2024
Adviser Scholarship Application April 12, 2024
Chapter of the Year Award April 19, 2024
Student Scholarships Application May 10, 2024
News Media Evaluation June 14, 2024

Just a thought

The 10-year anniversary of News Engagement Day is upon us and your students can join in the celebration for the Oct. 3 event.

Not only would this be a great excuse to have a media literacy campaign on the importance of news literacy and news, it could also be a great news peg for covering teen news consumption, media literacy, news sources, etc. Even a “How well do you know the news” quiz with questions that range from hyper local to international that include where they can access credible sources might be an interesting addition.

Additionally, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication has extended its News Engagement Day college contest to include a version for high school students. 

Each of the five winners of the high school video competition will receive a $100 American Express Gift Card. Plus, their teacher will receive a one-year subscription to their local newspaper, the New York Times, the Washington Post or USA Today. 

Deadline is by the end of the day, Oct. 3.

Good luck, and have a great News Engagement Day!

— Lori Keekley