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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

New Writers Academy inducts members into three distinct honors societies this spring

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Ashley Liao
Writers Academy holds honor society induction ceremony.
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This past school year, the Townsend Harris English Department officially launched the “Writers Academy,” a program that offers students different possible sequences of writing-related curricular and extracurricular opportunities. When registration for the program opened last fall, over two hundred students signed up to participate and elected to join one of three sequences: creative writing, drama writing, or journalism. As part of the program, students who excelled in the program received offers to join honors societies related to the respective programs. This spring, multiple students from the Writers Academy became official members of the Quill and Scroll honors society (for journalism), the International Thespian Society (for drama), and the National English Honors Society (for creative writing).

The newly formed “Business Team” of The Classic helped organize the first honor society induction ceremony for students in the journalism sequence of the Writers Academy, which was held on May 24. 

Classic Business Director and senior Reem Nasrallah helped organize the event. According to Reem, the Business team planned for the ceremony to be both an induction event and an activity meant to be a “bonding experience” for the students involved. At the ceremony, which was held in the library, all students received a canvas tote bag with a custom-made Classic Quill and Scroll logo on it. Students then spent time decorating their tote bags before the induction ceremony.

The ceremony called on students to vow to “always painstakingly seek the truth…earnestly strive to aid the best interests of the community…[to be] at all times be reliable…[and] to aid in the cause of better journalism.” Inductees then used a feather pen and inkwell to sign a copy of the Classic Charter.

“I plan to frame the signed Charter and hang it in the Classic office. It’s important that the most dedicated Classic staff members formally sign our Charter each year and formally express their commitment to it. This offered us the perfect way to do that and use it as a way to initiate our students into a prestigious honor society at the same time,” said English teacher and Classic advisor Brian Sweeney.

He said that in addition to signing the Charter and receiving a membership pin, student inductees also receive graduation honors in the form of a gold and blue graduation cord.

Reem said that she believed induction into the honors society would help seniors applying for scholarships. “Seniors could definitely use that right now,” she said. 

“The point of this is also to just join a professional group and show that you take your writing seriously,” said Mr. Sweeney. “For journalism, the Quill and Scroll society has been around for nearly a hundred years. In the past, we offered membership to a select few students as part of senior awards night, but this year, we expanded access and over forty students met the requirements.” 

For the Nightingale Theatre Company, the student group associated with the drama sequence, multiple seniors were inducted into the International Thespian Society [ITS].

“The primary benefits of being inducted into the ITS is that you are ultimately being recognized for the work you did throughout your high school career and joining what is an esteemed group of Thespians internationally,” said English teacher Ryan Dunbar, who oversees the drama program in the Writers Academy. In addition to the recognition offered, Mr. Dunbar said that the overall Writers Academy program enables students to focus their work across their high school careers. Students who, for instance, want to grow as playwrights can then join different programs across their four years at THHS and then ultimately be rewarded with graduation honors from the ITS, he said.

“Being given opportunities to write, direct, and work on pieces which I wouldn’t typically have the resources to create has been really valuable to me,” said senior Laura Maselbas, a drama sequence honoree.

“Being inducted into the ITS makes me feel recognized for all the passion I’ve put into theater at THHS, which I really appreciate,” Laura said.

On May 31, some members of The Starling Press and The Phoenix were inducted into the National English Honors Society (NEHS) through the Creative Writing track. According to Kathy Lipinski, Phoenix advisor and Starling Press co-advisor, NEHS provides scholarship and awards opportunities for writers, as well as networking opportunities.

Ms. Lipinski said that students running summer writing programs at Harvard reached out looking for applicants based on the school’s NEHS association. “There are lots of ways that I can connect students to other organizations,” she said.

Underclassmen are also excited to be inducted into these societies in the coming years. Sophomore William Algenio said, “[The] NEHS would grant me many more resources to hone my skills. It would also give my work more exposure for valuable feedback.”

Mr. Sweeney said that the goal of the Writers Academy is to continually increase the opportunities students have to participate in events and opportunities beyond THHS.  “The next step [we’d] like to take is to give [THHS students] more opportunities to meet with other students at professional conferences and to start competing more at a national level than we have been previously,” he said.

Each fall and spring, registration for the Writers Academy reopens. Students who have decided to commit to the programs can register, and must maintain a checklist of commitments to the program to be members in good standing. Some of the requirements include registering for a set amount of recommended courses/electives, participating in extracurriculars, attending a list of recommended events, and more.

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Ashley Liao
Ashley Liao, Instagram Special Features Manager
Ashley is a senior at THHS. She loves meeting new people and exploring the city. She also enjoys photography and spends much of her time on Canva.
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