The Quill Team won its second straight Quill state championship March 22. The event was run by the North Carolina Association for Scholastic Activities and took place in Winston-Salem. The team consists of Jacob Friedman, James Calhoun, Rachel Crawford and Frances Beroset. English teacher Ben Thompson coaches the team.
Seniors Friedman and Calhoun both had the highest scores in their individual categories, winning individual state titles along with the team’s overall win. Friedman wrote in the literary analysis section, while Calhoun competed in the problem-solution category.
At the annual Quill competition, team members gather in their respective computer labs, where they receive a prompt based on their assigned category. Each student has 90 minutes to write a complete response to the prompt, which is then graded by the judges. Prompts vary for each of the four categories: literary analysis, problem-solution, argumentation and creative writing.
“My prompt was a picture of an old guy yelling at a younger guy, and they said to write a story behind the picture,” said Crawford, a junior who competes in the creative writing category. “It was a little stressful coming up with a story for such a weirdly specific picture.”
Thompson and English teacher Kari Haddy formed the team last year. To become a part of the team, students have to be nominated by their English teachers.
“I did an informal poll of my fellow English teachers to see who they had seen writing talent from in their classes,” Thompson said. “I approached the students individually and asked if this would work with their schedule. I also thought about how much enthusiasm they were willing to show for it. It worked out really well.”
Preparation for competitions was minimal and depended on discretion of the student.
“The nice thing about it was that it didn’t require too much of anyone’s time,” Thompson said. “We had a couple of meetings where I explained the rules of the competition to them and talked about what types of outlining and brainstorming strategies they could use. I gave them some sample prompts, but the rest of the practicing was left up to them. Their preparation was in their own hands, and I trusted them to perform based on that, and they did.”
In addition to the minor time commitment, team members expressed other reasons for enjoying their experience with the team.
“[I enjoy] the people the most,” Friedman said. “I enjoy going out there with a great group of writers and good friends.”
The competition season is over until next February, but the members of the team hope to have left a reputation for the future Quill team members to build on.
“Long live The Quill,” Friedman said.
– Jamie Palermo and Becca Heilman