The staff of The Maroon — the school newspaper at New Paltz Central High School — will lend the talents of two of their staff members to New Paltz Times over the course of the 2015-2016 school year. Editor-in-chief Meaghan McElroy and senior editor Chloe Driscoll, both entering their senior year at the high school, will alternate weekly writing profiles of their fellow students for the pages of this newspaper.
“These two are really something special,” says their journalism teacher, Joel Neden, who serves as advisor to The Maroon. “Meaghan and Chloe are both writers; they understand the form and the art of writing. Both have a real knack for observation and nuance, and their writing shows a real grasp of storytelling.”
McElroy and Driscoll have been involved with the school newspaper since they began attending New Paltz High School, and both participated in an honors program focusing on journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2014.
The Maroon is put together by students in the Journalism I and Journalism II classes at the high school along with students that sign up for the co-curricular newspaper club. McElroy and Driscoll “collaborate really well” on their work for the paper “and they push each other,” says Neden. “Journalistically, they both have a drive.”
The benefits for the students in contributing to New Paltz Times include not only seeing their names in print, but getting a taste of writing for a professional newspaper, Neden says. “It’ll do a lot for their confidence and their ability to see themselves as writers.”
In speaking with McElroy and Driscoll, both say they enjoy reading in their spare time, which isn’t a surprise. (Was there ever a good writer who wasn’t also an avid reader?) The two have known each other for most of their lives. “We used to ride the bus together in elementary school,” says McElroy. “I never had a class with Chloe, but we became friends that way and stayed in touch throughout high school.” When the position of student profile writer for New Paltz Times this year came up — usually not a shared situation — and both girls were qualified for it, the two fell back on that longstanding association in deciding to divide up the work. “Because we’re friendly, we decided we could both do it,” says McElroy.
Chloe Driscoll has lived in New Paltz since the second grade, after her family moved here from Colorado. Meaghan McElroy was born on Staten Island and lived in Brooklyn until age three or so when her family moved to Gardiner and later to the Village of New Paltz.
Going to the same schools all your life with the same group of kids can make the thought of going off to college on your own “a little scary,” says McElroy, “but exciting, too.” Her plans include going into journalism, although she’s not sure just yet where she will attend college. “We’ve been doing the college tours this summer; I think we did nine this last month,” she says. “It was a little stressful. We looked at a couple of schools in Boston and D.C. and a couple of schools around New York. I don’t know where it’s going to take me, but we’ll see what happens with the college application process.” Being “independent and away” sounds appealing to her, but staying within a six-hour radius of home would be nice, too, she notes, with the ability to come home easily to share in family events.
Driscoll plans to attend college after graduation, too. She sees her future in branding design, combining graphic design with packaging and creating a vision for a company. “Eventually I’d love to be an art director or a brand manager for some sort of company, but I’d probably start out with graphic design and then do branding as a master’s.” She’s not sure yet where she’d like to go to school, but it will “definitely be in an urban area, possibly New York City.”
Her reasons for wanting to contribute to New Paltz Times have to do with her interest in writing profiles. “I love working for the school newspaper,” Driscoll says, “and I’ve always been interested in profiles; it’s probably one of my favorite journalistic things to do. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for me.”
Driscoll enjoys going to the gym and doing “anything art-related” in her free time, joking that she has “way too many” art supplies to use up before she has to condense her stuff to move into a dorm room next year. And, there’s always writing. “I love writing poetry,” says Driscoll. “That’s definitely my favorite kind of writing besides journalism.”
For McElroy, contributing to New Paltz Times is the ideal “jumping off point” to a career in journalism. She says that the interesting thing about interviewing her classmates is in being able to ask them questions that she normally wouldn’t ask. “I’ve gone to school with a lot of these people for nearly 13 years now. I like the idea of talking to people that I’ve known this entire time but may have not known well enough.”
Outside of school, McElroy is into theater in her free time, stage-managing for the Rondout Repertory Theatre Company of Kingston. She also likes track, doing the discus throw.
As for her future in journalism, “I like to write profiles, but really, I like to write anything, I even liked doing the custom writing service” McElroy says. “News pieces are fun, but they’re kind of hard on the high school level, because when you try to keep it local and grounded in something that we’re involved in, the options are very limited. But they’re interesting to write; I’d like to do more of that as time goes on. And features are fun… I like being involved with all of it and I really like the editing process.”
Spoken like a true writer.