Rookie reporter: Quinlan gets taste of journalism at young age

OLP student enters national contest, explores writing potential

acannon@lsjournal.comAugust 1, 2014 

Blossoming writers are always looking for a chance to hone their craft, and 10-year-old Bronwyn Quinlan is no different.

This particular opportunity came when her teacher at Our Lady of Presentation gave her a copy of the Time for Kids magazine. Inside, it advertized the magazine’s Kid Reporter Contest. Each year, TFK hires 10 "kid reporters" to report on regional news and events for the magazine and online site. To find the 10, TFK holds a nationwide contest where contestants each submit an original article and a 50-word statement on what it takes to be a good reporter.

"I saw it and I thought ‘This is going to be fun,’" Bronwyn said, "because I love to write, so I thought that would be a great opportunity to practice."

Bronwyn struggled to find an event to cover for her article initially, but then a friend steered her toward Abby Road, a horse farm in Peculiar, Mo. The farm hosted a fundraiser for the Raymore-Peculiar school district on June 7, and she wrote about it.

She didn’t have much time, though. Only 48 hours, in fact. But that was enough. Bronwyn, who was also attending a horse riding camp at Abby Road, managed to interview the farm’s owner Kelly Stewart and a couple riders the day before the June 14 deadline, giving her the rest of the day to write.

Bronwyn also took the time to seek out the advice of her aunt, a former reporter for the Discovery Channel, who emphasized the importance of accuracy.

"If you don’t get the facts straight, then it’s going to mess it up a lot," Bronwyn said. "It’s really important to do that."

With the transcribing, formatting, writing and editing, Bronwyn was like a college student the night before midterms — staying up late into the night. It was the only part of the process she didn’t like.

"It’s just embarrassing," she said, laughing.

The night was not uneventful. Close to 1 a.m. that morning, Bronwyn went to show her final draft to her mother, Grace Quinlan.

"She went to show me where it was and something happened with the format, and she hadn’t saved it," Grace said. "We lost all of her changes. I felt so bad."

"Over half of it was completely gone," Bronwyn said.

Bronwyn spent another hour re-typing what she had lost, finishing her piece around 2 a.m. With quotes from Stewart and other staff at Abby Road, the article covered the fundraiser, the farm’s Beatles-inspired name and, most of all, the family-oriented atmosphere.

"She worked so hard, and I was so proud of her because she was so determined," Grace said.

Unfortunately, that determination couldn’t prevent an unforeseen mail error. The Quinlans submitted Bronwyn’s article on time, but it was delayed in the mail and didn’t arrive in New York by the June 22 deadline. It might not have arrived at all.

"I felt really sad because I wanted to do that so bad," Bronwyn said. "Just to find out that it probably didn’t even make it just made me really sad."

"I was really disappointed," Grace echoed. "I was sad for her."

While let down after working so hard, Bronwyn will still reenter the contest next year. She also has her own project to work on in the meantime: She’s writing a book.

So far, she’s finished one of nine chapters in her story about child immigrants in a foreign country.

"I’m not very far," she said. "I kind of do it whenever I can."

With authoring her book, occasional journal entries and other short stories, Bronwyn won’t be short on experience for her next opportunity to become a TFK kid reporter. She’ll also use what she learned about journalism during her Abby Road adventure.

"It’s a lot harder than it looks," she said.

"I look at a newspaper and it used to be just like, ‘Oh, look. This looks kind of interesting. Let’s read it.’ And now I see it in a completely different way because it’s like, ‘Wow. They must have put in a ton of effort into that.’"

Bronwyn’s article

Raising money while horsing around

By: Bronwyn Quinlan

On June 7, 2014, in Peculiar, Missouri, a fundraiser for the Raymore Peculiar Public School foundation was held at a horse farm named Abby Road. Abby Road is a horse farm that offers so much more than horse boarding. It offers a family. Ten years ago owner, Kelly Stewart, who loved horses since she was very young, and had two of her own horses, decided that she would enjoy the company of other people and horses, and began letting people board their horses on her farm. Stewart explained she "just started a group from there."

When asked what the purpose was of Abby Road, Stewart said "the purpose is to teach adults and kids about the joy of the sport of horsemanship and it teaches them confidence, and some of them like to go compete if they have that competitive desire. It teaches them about horses and how to be safe with them and enjoy their own horses." "I’ve been here for over four years, and I love it out here. It is more oriented for families, and everyone is helping each other." says Sarah, an instructor at Abby Road.

Saddling Up The Name

"My husband is a music fanatic!" Says Stewart, "So we decided to combine his love for music and my love for horses and came up with the name Abby Road, which is also the name of a music album by a group called ‘The Beatles’." When asked what Abby Road meant to her Stewart replied, "Abby Road is a dream come true for me. I love horses, I have a passion for horses, and to have horses now and to be able to share this joy with other people is a huge blessing to me." Abby Road is a very welcoming community. But Stewart says, "I think It’s the people." When asked about a unique detail of her farm. "We have a lot of people here. We have people that board their horses here, as well as the people that work here, and they all are very helpful. They all want to help work with

people, and they are always ready to pitch in and lend a helping hand. We welcome all types of breeds and types of riding whether if you want to show, or if you just want to enjoy the sport of horseback riding, or learn to trail ride, everyone’s welcome here."

Time For A Dip

Abby Road had an open house that took place on the 7th. Stewart says, "I had the open house for two purposes, actually, as a business in the area, I want to get involved with the community, and so the open house was a fundraiser for the Raymore Peculiar Public School Foundation, so it was a fundraiser and a way for people to come in and not feel intimidated, where they could come in and be with a group of people, and meet the horses, and not feel like they had to ride a horse, but they could just be around the horses, and also meet the other students that rode here." One dunk tank participant was Mr. Rew, teacher of the year for one of the schools with the Raymore Peculiar Public School Foundation. Stewart, at a luncheon, met a woman with the Raymore Peculiar Public School Foundation, and told her about the open house, and the teacher of the

year volunteered to be a dunk tank participant. Other participants were Sarah, an

instructor at Abby Road, Will, a boarder at Abby Road, Mayor Kerckhoff the mayor of Raymore, and Stewart herself! "Kerckhoff was very willing" Says Stewart, "He even had on a full suit and tie!" When asked if she had any final comments Stewart replies,"Our goal here is to be family oriented, and to teach people about the sport of horseback riding, because a lot of people think it’s not a sport and that anyone can ride a horse, and that it’s easy, and that you’re sitting on the horse doing nothing, when you’re actually having to make them listen, and turn, and stop and go, and there’s a lot involved and the more you get involved the more challenging it can be. I just would like for people to learn what a great sport it is and how fun it is and how it can be for a lot of different ages."

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