Feb. 26, 2024

Our past three editions

Feb. 19, 2024 Academic rebound • Snow days • Cornhole

Feb. 12, 2024 Lunar New Year • School busses • Super Bowl

Feb. 5, 2024 Legacy admissions • Social media • Taylor Swift


Two stories highlight school rules, culture and their impact

Emphasize available supports in your district

An Oklahoma student died Feb. 8 after an altercation in the bathroom at their public high school. Nex Benedict, who uses they/them pronouns, was in a fight with three older girls in the bathroom, the student’s mother, Sue Benedict, told ABC News. Sue Benedict told The Independent the altercation came after Nex Benedict experienced several months of bullying from other students. 

Though police say their death was not a result of injuries sustained in the fight, their death has turned a spotlight on bullying and harassment of LGBTQ+ students. Advocates, including the Human Rights Campaign, are calling for stricter limits on hate speech among other efforts to support inclusion.

Just one state away, last week saw a ruling in a case regarding student hair length. A judge in Texas ruled Feb. 22 that it is not unlawful for school dress codes to limit hair length, CNN reported. Darryl George, a Houston-area high school student, sued his school district after being suspended for the length of his locs. 

In September of last year, Texas’ CROWN Act, or the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, went into effect. The Feb. 22 ruling clarifies that the state’s CROWN Act doesn’t make it unlawful for schools to limit student’s hair length. 

CROWN Acts differ from state to state, but generally prohibit discrimination on hairstyles that are commonly associated with a particular race or culture, CNN reported. 

What you can do —

Though the Oklahoma and Texas examples are quite different, they both concern students being comfortable at school. Look into what your district does to either celebrate — or prohibit — individuality. One way to approach this story is to spotlight a series of clubs supporting students in a variety of ways, or to capture the experiences of one student at your school. 

Adding information about resources at the school and national level, like phone hotlines, is a good way to support your student body.


Substitute teacher shortages hit schools across the country

Dive into school policies, substitute teacher numbers

Teachers in some districts are taking more sick days than they used to and, The New York Times reported, there are not enough substitute teachers to fill the desks. This is compounded by the national teacher shortage — heading into this school year, 86% of public schools struggled to hire educators.  

What you can do —

Many things have changed in schools since the pandemic, including substitute teacher availability. Has this change affected your school? Talk to both administrators and teachers about what happens when a teacher needs to miss school and what contingency plans are in place if there aren’t enough substitutes to go around. Substitute teachers themselves may have insight on what it is like to come in on a short term basis and may have noticed changes in the last few years. 

Some schools encourage teachers to cover for their coworkers. Does this impact their ability to prepare, plan and grade student’s work? How does teacher pay change if they fill in as a substitute? 

Some states have proposed a variety of solutions to the teacher shortage. Lawmakers in Kentucky recently proposed adding funding for student teachers to be paid while doing the required in class learning. Check to see if your state has any similar proposals or if lawmakers are advocating for anything related to the teacher shortage.

What’s viral

Beyoncé tops Billboard country music chart, becoming first Black woman to do so

Take stock of students’ reactions to new songs 

Beyoncé teased new music during a Super Bowl ad earlier this month and fans were rewarded with two country-infused songs, “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages.”

Less than two weeks after the songs were released, they have made history. “Texas Hold ‘Em” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, making Beyoncé the first Black woman to top the chart. “16 Carriages” sits at No. 9 on the chart. 

What you can do —

Since the release of the songs, they have made their presence known on social media, with creators reacting and dancing along. This opportunity to review Beyoncés foray into a different genre comes hand in hand with a good chance for a student reaction piece. Ask students and teachers in your school what they think of the songs — will the songs make it into their regular rotations?


It’s always membership season

Beat the rush — nominate members today

It’s starting to warm, which means we are on the cusp of our busiest time of the year. Make sure to nominate students for membership order pins, cords and other Quill and Scroll materials and memorabilia now.

Don’t forget you may now recommend freshmen for membership. We made this bylaw change in February after requests from several advisers.

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. 

Additionally our mail service is sporadic at best. It can take up to three weeks to process and send an order during the peak spring season, which traditionally starts later this month. Also, plan ahead. We are unable to overnight orders during the weeks of March 4, March 11, April 1 and days of April 8-10.

> Start the process here.

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 April 15 from 7-8 p.m. Central, and our topic of discussion will be social media use

Please ask interested students to fill out this form by April 11. 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. For those signing up today, we will send the link later this afternoon.

We look forward to seeing you!

Sorry advisers, this is a student-only offering.

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 at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Kansas City. 

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, April 1 and days of April 8-10. We will not be able to send or process orders during this time — including overnight orders. Please remember we need at least three weeks from the time we receive your purchase order or payment to the time you need the materials. We will process all orders as they are received. If your induction is planned for March 19 or before, now is the time to submit your memberships.

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

Workshop set for June 24-27, in Dallas

The Gloria Shields NSPA Media Workshop returns to the Dallas/Addison Marriott Quorum by the Galleria June 24-27, 2024, with bonus classes on June 23. Workshop registration is $140 per student or adviser.  The extra cost for the Sunday bonus class is $20 per person.

In 2023, 680 students from 85 schools took advantage of the instruction from our exceptional faculty. Watch the workshop website for additional 2024 workshop details as they become available.

> Watch the preview video for 2024.

Applications are open for the 2024 Vanessa Shelton Chapter of the Year

Has your chapter been active in Quill and Scroll this year? If so, it’s time to apply for the Chapter of the Year.

Chapters must have had initiated members in each of the past three years.

Applications are free and winners will receive a plaque, $250 for the classroom, four free memberships and honor cords and one member spot on our Student Advisory Board.

During the past 97 years, Quill and Scroll has granted charters to more than 11,400 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 Chapter Manual does provide some guidance on the value of an “active chapter,” the activities it may engage in, and its general goals:

“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 deadline is April 19 and the winner will be announced mid-May. The application form is on our website

Come see us at our booth at the JEA/NSPA Journalism Convention in Kansas City

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

During my time at St. Louis Park High School, I often found myself inspired by what the Quill and Scroll chapter accomplished. These students led media literacy campaigns, Constitution Day and Scholastic Journalism Week activities as well as just met and talked about journalism.

I didn’t realize what we did might qualify them for Quill and Scroll’s Chapter of the Year.

We just opened our applications for this award this week, and I’d love to be able to honor an active chapter. If you are hesitant to apply, don’t be. Celebrate your students’ success and enter. 

Don’t wait — our applications close April 19.

— Lori Keekley