On February 6th, The Wheatley Wildcat editorial staff attended the 2019 Quill Awards and Press Day at Adelphi University. Ten writers for the Wildcat, along with Ms. Fatone, attended this annual event to discuss the challenges of high school journalism with other young journalists and newspaper advisors and also to receive recognition for the writing in the Wildcat newspaper. This year’s Press Day took place in the Ruth S. Harley University Center, and more than 300 students participated in this event, the largest number of participants in the history of this event. The day began with a light breakfast followed by a welcome speech by Paul Thaler, a senior professor in communications at Adelphi University. He then introduced all of the schools across Long Island that were present. A panel discussion began soon after. Among the panel, there were experienced journalists and writers who discussed their experiences and problems they have faced, particularly in this era of “fake news.” The speakers from the panel were Keshia Cukey, a reporter for Newsday, Salvatore Fallica, a professor in communications at NYU, Mark Grabowski, a lawyer/ professor at Georgetown University, Suzanne Valenza, a journalism teacher at Jericho High School, along with one of her students, Rachel Schribeston. The discussion among the speakers was very insightful, and it was helpful to hear about how other writers deal with problems in their own newspapers. After about an hour of the panel discussion, students were able to ask questions to the experienced writers on the panel.
Students from different schools were then broken up into smaller groups for breakout sessions. These sessions were definitely beneficial for many students, as these groups were a lot smaller and it was easier to talk through different aspects of journalism. In some breakout sessions, students discussed how their writing is affected by the society we live in now, how social media affects newspaper writing, how newspapers are able to stay relevant, and ways to keep improving school newspapers.
Towards the end of the day, the Quill Awards began. This year was the Wildcat’s second year attending as an online newspaper. The highlight of the day for the Wheatley Wildcat staff was winning 1st place for best online newspaper. This came as a surprise to members of the staff who were there, but Wildcat writers were very excited to receive this award and recognition. At last year’s Quill Awards the paper was awarded 2nd place for best online newspaper, so the improvements in the writing of the newspaper this past year were clear. Along with this award, a few members of the Wildcat staff received awards for specific articles in the newspaper. Senior Jacob Ribotsky won an award for the 2nd Best Arts Review for his review of A Brief History of Colonization, a play directed by Wheatley’s own Mr Rick Wilson, and Senior Kenton Wu won 2nd Best Opinion piece for his amusing essay on the dreaded December 15th college application rejections. This was a very successful day for the Wheatley Wildcat and this was an inspirational event for the students to attend.