A Student Perspective: Student Media Staff Enjoy Columbia Scholastic Press Annual Conference
By Dinah Megibow-Taylor ’24, Marketing and Communications Department Intern
Twenty-one MFS students braved a (very!) early wake-up and a cold New York City morning on November 6 to travel to Columbia University’s 83rd annual Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s (CSPA) Fall Conference.
I was elated to attend the conference after last year’s success with almost double the amount of students. In November of 2022, I was two months into my role as Editor-in-Chief of MFS WordsWorth, eager to grow my journalistic skill set as best I could. It was invigorating, the feeling of engaging in off-campus learning in an academic environment, and all the better, I was able to experience it with my friends and colleagues.
It was a remarkable return from the isolation of the COVID pandemic that impacted many extracurriculars, and I felt empowered to apply the practical skills that I had learned from the conference to our news organization.
This year, my experience at the CSPA conference was different – my appreciation for it was two-fold: I was able to once again emerge with more knowledge and confidence in my journalism skills than when I arrived, and I was able to observe how the conference impacted the rest of our student attendees, a humbling and proud moment.
In September, I asked Diana Day, one of WordsWorth’s faculty advisers, about the possibility of returning to the conference, to which she responded: “Everyone liked it so much last year, and I think that the students deserve an opportunity to experience the wider world of opportunities in scholastic journalism.” Along with Fran Bennett, adviser of The Cupola, the MFS yearbook, Diana wanted to see students engage with journalism outside of the classroom, and what better place to do so than in the city of New York under the instruction of respected professors, writers, and thinkers?
As someone who couldn’t attend last year’s conference, yearbook Editor Miles Wilkins ’25 “was really thrilled” to experience the conference. “Not only did the workshops benefit me personally, but they benefitted my abilities from a journalistic standpoint,” said Miles, who has worked on the staff of The Cupola since Middle School.
WordsWorth’s Associate Editor-in-Chief of Print Hannah Puc ’24 reflected on the environment of the conference, where she appreciated “having the opportunity to go to a conference filled with students who share the same passions as you. It is a really cool experience, because now you’re in an environment surrounded by people who want to learn the same things and have the same goals.”
What I took away from this year’s conference is what I take away regularly from my engagement with MFS extracurriculars as a whole: there is so much joy within the learning that takes place outside of the classroom, and that is recognized by MFS students and faculty alike. Experiences like the annual CSPA conference are memories that will linger as I reflect upon the moments where I felt closest to peers. Sometimes, moments that leave a lasting impression on students take place outside of the classroom, where students are guided by their passions and encouraged by both peers and adults. The investment in crafting meaningful learning experiences for students outside of the classroom is a hallmark of the MFS extracurricular experience, and I will always cherish that, even as I approach the end my high school career.