Robbinsdale Area Schools

Cooper High School’s Student Newspaper ‘The Quill’ Earns State Recognition

Cooper High School’s (CHS) student newspaper, The Quill, and many of the young writers and editors who staff it, recently earned some serious recognition.

The newspaper earned a 2020 All-State Silver Award from the Journalism Educators of Minnesota, which was announced during this year’s virtual Minnesota State Journalism Convention. The award recognizes excellence in writing, editing, photography and design of a high school newspaper.

That’s not all -- The Quill also received individual awards in three specific categories: third place in the state for "Photojournalism Feature Photo," fourth place in the state for "Newspaper/Newsmagazine Story," and fifth place in the state for "Newspaper/Newsmagazine Editorial/Opinion."

According to Eric Zuccola, a CHS English teacher who also teaches the school’s journalism class and advises The Quill, the awards this year were particularly validating.

“It’s been a tough year with the pandemic and distance learning, and the challenge of pulling off issues was difficult,” he said. “But the students really responded. So that made the award a little more gratifying.”

Zuccola said approximately 20 students made up the award-winning staff of The Quill last year, which is made of a mix of juniors and seniors who take the school’s elective journalism class, and a handful of those who want to be active with the paper as co-curricular activity. This year’s group is similar, he said.

CHS Principal Dr. Frank Herman said he feels fortunate the school has such a high-quality student newspaper. “The Quill not only allows students to be a part of something great, it has provided real-life experiences of publishing a newspaper, and several students have gone into journalism-related careers after high school as a result,” he said. 

This isn’t the first time The Quill has earned recognition, Zuccola said. Last year the paper earned international recognition from the Quill and Scroll Society for its excellent writing and editing.

“The paper has a long, award-winning history, with it’s foundation going back decades,” said Zuccola. “I’m happy to be part of that.”

As for the most recent awards, Zuccola said he’s still working on notifying the students who were part of it, especially last year’s seniors who have since moved on to new challenges, but something he expects to be finished with in the coming weeks.

“Those that know -- they’re proud,” he said. “With the pandemic and distance learning -- it’s nice to know that the work the kids are doing isn’t going out into a black void,” he said.

Check out The Quill by visiting the paper’s website. Issues are published monthly during the school year.