Jan. 29, 2024

Our past three editions

Jan. 22, 2024 Disinformation • Road signs • World’s oldest dog

Jan. 15, 2024 Meta safety features • Nanoplastics • “Mean Girls”

Jan. 8, 2024 Overlooked stories • Snoop Dogg • Januhairy


Groundwater reserves are rapidly depleting in many places

Dive into your community’s response to water depletion

Spanning nearly 1,700 aquifers, a new study from University of California Santa Barbara researchers is the largest assessment of groundwater levels around the world. The study shows that the rate of groundwater decline in many places is accelerating, but not all is lost. It also highlights examples of areas that aren’t facing issues and offers solutions for how to address groundwater depletion.  

Millions of people rely on groundwater for uses like drinking and irrigation. Sitting below Earth’s surface, groundwater makes up about 30% of all readily available freshwater in the world.

What you can do —

This study could be an entry point to an interesting package on groundwater use and sustainable efforts in all forms of resource consumption. The study includes data on much of the United States, so dialing in on how your area is doing would be interesting. Perhaps a local university is researching groundwater access and could provide a local angle. Another way to localize is to examine the safety of the groundwater in your area.

Another direction this could go is focusing on sustainability efforts at large. The researchers focused on a few mitigation strategies including intentionally recharging local aquifers and reducing demand — is your community doing anything regarding water conservation? 


Oscar speculation season is here

Collect your schools picks in popular categories, look back at nominees

The next phase in the awards season kicked off with the release of the 96th annual Academy Award nominations. “Oppenheimer” leads the pack with 13 nominations, including a number of big categories, followed by “Poor Thing”’ with 11, “Killers of the Flower Moon” with 10 and “Barbie” with eight. 

Many were surprised that Greta Gerwig was not nominated for best director for the year’s best grossing film, “Barbie.” “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” will still have to fight it out in the best picture category as a conclusion to the “Barbenheimer” craze. 

What you can do—

The award ceremony isn’t until March 10, but it is not too early to start preparing content. Across the 23 categories there are opportunities to weigh in on everything from overall movie to visual effects to production design. This could either take shape as a review of every movie in a category or as a school-wide vote to pick your school’s Oscar winners. 

Every year countless articles highlighting the nominees for best picture are published, so consider focusing on a different category. There are also notable firsts in this year’s nominations including Lily Gladstone being the first Native American nominated for best actress for her role in  “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

What’s viral

Study shows about 1 in 10 U.S. restaurants serve Mexican food

Highlight Mexican restaurants in your area

Only 1% of the U.S. population lives in a county without a Mexican restaurant, a new study from the Pew Research Center showed. Though Mexican restaurants are most common in California and Texas, 85% of U.S. counties have at least one. 

The study further breaks down the distribution by state and looks into common features of Mexican restaurants — 22% are fast food restaurants, 12% specialize in tacos and 8% are food trucks or cars. 

What you can do—

Since more than 80% of U.S. counties have a Mexican restaurant, there is likely one near you. If you live in an area with lots of taco options, take the time to compare and contrast different offerings in a review style piece. There is also an opportunity to feature a business with an interesting backstory or unique take on the cuisine. 

The study also shows that only 2% of U.S. restaurants serve Hispanic or Latino food that isn’t Mexican, despite 40% of the nation’s Latinos claiming another Hispanic origin. Don’t overlook Peruvian, Caribbean or other Hispanic or Latino restaurants in your coverage.


It’s always membership season

Beat the rush — nominate members today

Winter has begun, so don’t be left out in the cold. 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. 

Remember, it can take up to three weeks to process and send an order during the peak spring season, which traditionally starts next month. Also, plan ahead. We are unable to overnight orders during the weeks of March 4, March 11 and April 1.

> Start the process here.

Be recognized during Scholastic Journalism Week

Student advisory members from Quill and Scroll want to celebrate the upcoming Scholastic Journalism Week by releasing a list of a hundred reasons why scholastic journalism is here to stay. We want to include your students. Please join us by answering this short survey, which will close Jan. 31.

Meet, collaborate and discuss with peers

Quill and Scroll’s Student Journalism Collaboration Program, which is a discussion forum for students, will continue hosting discussion forums this school year. 

The Student Journalism Collaboration Program aims to connect student journalists from across the nation. Through virtual meetings, participants will discuss, collaborate and troubleshoot with their peers about scholastic journalism issues pertaining to their student media.

Our next meeting will take place Feb. 20 from 7-8 p.m. Central, and our topic of discussion will be AI

Please ask interested students to fill out this form by Feb. 15. Once students fill out the form, they will automatically receive a notification for all subsequent meetings. Participants who signed up will also receive a reminder the week before the event and the Zoom link the Friday prior to the event. 

We look forward to seeing you!

Sorry advisers, this is a student-only offering.

Writing, Photo, Multimedia contest open

Due date is Feb. 2 — there’s less than one week to enter.

The entry form is live and we are accepting submissions. Be aware, we have added a few categories and changed a few items and descriptions. The cost is $7 for all entry types and you may submit live links. If you would rather make a PDF of the submission, you may still do this as well. Please make sure to allow anyone with the link to view. Remember, we don’t accept a Google document for an entry. We only accept published work. 

Please make a note — all entries and payments will be due Feb. 2.

Make sure to include either your credit card payments or check or purchase order when you enter. The link provided on the site will take you directly to the credit card or check/purchase order page for the order. The WPM category payment option is at the bottom of the page.

Please reach out if you have any questions.

PSJA Journalism Contest Open

Portfolio contest due March 1

The PSJA Journalism Contest, co-sponsored by Quill and Scroll, seeks to honor the best journalism produced by private and independent school students. It is a “portfolio” contest, one that seeks not to reward single stories, but a pattern of excellence over the course of a year.

Other than Editorial Leadership, work produced for the contest should have been published in a news publication — in print or online — or a yearbook between March 30, 2023 and Feb. 29, 2024. Deadline for entries will be Friday, March 1, 2024. An awards ceremony will occur after judging is finalized. 

For PSJA members, the cost for your school is $20 per entry. Non-members pay $25 per entry. To become a member of PSJA, email PSJA Director David Cutler ([email protected]) and sign up for the PSJA newsletter.

Make sure to include either your credit card payments or check or purchase order when you enter. The link provided on the site will take you directly to the credit card or check/purchase order page for the order. The PSJA category payment option is at the bottom of the page.

If you are interested in entering the contest, please see our website.

Free Spirit Conference Applications available until March 1

2024 Free Spirit Conference: In June 2024, the Freedom Forum will host its annual Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference June 22-27 for high school juniors. Students selected for the program receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the nation’s capital where they hear from journalists, as well as a $1,000 scholarship to the college of their choice. Applications are due March 1. 

Plan ahead

We will be out of the office during the weeks of March 4, March 11 and April 1. We will not be able to send or process orders during these weeks — including overnight orders. 

Also, we will not publish the Weekly Scroll during the weeks of March 11, 18 and April 8. Please make sure to plan accordingly. 

Spring convention registration open

Join us in Kansas City for the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention. This year’s convention will be at the Crown Center. Registration opened Jan. 17 and the hotel link was sent to all registrants this past week. Join us for “At the Heart of the Story” at the JEA/NSPA spring convention April 4-6.

Just a thought

Quill and Scroll’s Student Journalism Collaboration Program hosted its first meeting of 2024 this Monday. Attendees discussed methods of effective fundraising. 

The students shared fundraising methods they have witnessed in the past. They found that reliable strategies often involve community engagement. Methods students brainstormed to promote community engagement include staying active on social media networks, offering specialized incentives to sponsors and involving staff members in budgeting decisions. Some of the more creative fundraising methods students discussed include reaching out to alumni and parents, raising funds at local businesses and organizing events within schools.

Quill and Scroll’s Student Journalism Collaboration Program is an excellent way for students to connect with scholastic journalists across the country. 

We encourage students to join us at our next meeting Feb. 20 from 7-8 p.m. CST, where we will discuss the impact of artificial intelligence in journalism. Fill out this form to receive the link to the meeting. We hope to see you there!

— Kate Henry and Arya Sharma, Quill and Scroll Advisory Board members