SIPA in South Carolina’s Soda City


All 40 students attending the trip pose for the camera in Savanahh, Georgia. They had a quick stop during the night, but were back on the road in the morning.

Daymara Fernandez, Staff Writer

From Mar. 2 to Mar. 4, publications all across the region attended the Southern Interscholastic Press Association (SIPA). Coming from states like South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia and Florida, high school students from all around could be found in the Columbia Marriot on the corner of Main and Hampton Street in the City Center of Columbia, South Carolina. Forty Gables students participating in publications attended the trip, eager to attend various workshops and on-site competitions, all of which allowed these aspiring journalists to learn to improve their reporting and investigation skills.

On the first day of the convention, attendants could be seen at seven possible pre-convention workshops; these were different in content, varying from photography, alternative ways of coverage, the creation of quality content and leadership skills to name a few. After this, the opening ceremony took place to officially start the sessions. Apart from these informative sessions, a trivia-based game called “Quiz Bowl” took place that night, testing participant’s journalism knowledge. To finish the day off, the convention put on a student mixer, permitting convention attendees to mingle over bowls of ice cream.

“SIPA was a great experience for me because I was able to make so many new friends from different publications and I was able to learn so many things about my own publication that I never knew before,” sophomore Juliana Bonavita said.

Early on Mar. 3, sessions involving all aspects of journalism were available to willing listeners. Staff members of the Cavaleon, Catharsis, CavsConnect and Highlights publications visited multifarious sessions, meant to improve their own staff’s specific skills within their publication. The quick forty-five minute sessions continued until eight different on-site competitions began: review writing, broadcast anchoring and design competitions in magazine, broadcast, newspaper, photography, yearbook and overflow.

“It being our first time going to SIPA, I think it was a great experience for our publications. At SIPA we learned new techniques and approaches on how to be a good journalist as well as running our publications,” junior Melanie Elguezabal said.

As the rounds of “Quiz Bowl” continued to single out their first-place team, students and others were given time to get ready for an awards banquet. At the banquet, the registered attendees and special guests enjoyed dinner before the presentation of five main awards: the Dr. Kay Phillips Administrator of the Year Award, Elizabeth B. Dickey SIPA Scholarship, SIPA Endowment Regional Scholarship, Jacobs-Daughtry Continuing Education Scholarship and the Shoquist Freedom of the Press Award. After these were presented, there would be given publication evaluation ratings and other awards. The Cavaleon was recognized amongst the schools present. Once the awards banquet finished, a little bit of talent made its way into the “SIPA’s Got Talent” show. Later on, students from different publications all got to vote on which act was the best.

Finishing off the weekend, Mar. 4 saw one last set of sessions, which had lessons dedicated to podcasts, broadcast showcase, blogging and editorials. Once this ended, an awards ceremony dedicated to attendants who competed took place in order to recognize the winners of the on-site competitions. Gables’ publications received twenty-one awards during the ceremony, all of which included honorable mentions, awards in merit, first places, best in show and best design newsprint. For further details on awards and recognitions, click here.

After the awards had been given, the convention, consisting of over 45 guest speakers for a multitude of workshops, came to an end. SIPA was a fantastic event for anyone interested in the profession of journalism as it taught the importance of covering news and informing the public.