Story and Photos by Christain Banks

As the sun began to set on downtown Columbia, journalism students from all over the southeast began to stampede into the lobby of the Marriott Hotel for the Southern Interscholastic Press Association (SIPA) convention. The sound of feet stomping were heard through the convention hall as students flooded into their classes to master their skills and gain knowledge for their aspiring journalistic careers.

“SIPA is a convention where journalist from all around the Southeast come together, and learn from one another collaborate with each other, and just are able to have a good time with people who have the same interest as them,” SIPA President Hannah Gale of Clarke Central High School said.

Student journalists are no stranger to the skills it takes to write an article, publish a yearbook, or create a broadcast, but SIPA is a place they can go to train in their specific area of journalism.

“Definitely because before going here I had a basic understanding. Being a senior editor I had a little education, but I’m still learning and here we learned some things that I might not have learned in a classroom setting,” senior Wayne Coleman of Prince George High School said.

High school students tend to get bored of listening to the same teacher every day for 180 days a year. At SIPA, students go to different classes with new teachers or speakers that can advise them with new and interesting facts.

“The other thing that’s cool about it is that as a teacher I can teach my students to the best of my ability, but sometimes they only want to hear from me so much,” speaker Steve Hanf of First Flight High School said, “when you come to a place like SIPA, you can hear from other people and probably learn better in some cases.”

For first year visitors, SIPA can be one of the most exciting thing they have all sorts of different competitions and classes they can take to have a wonderful experience.

“This is my first year,” Wando High School junior Olivia Wander said, “I think it’s really great I’m doing the competition, so I’m really getting to interact with the people around me and really get a sense of what it’s all about. I’m just really excited to experience it and see what it’s all about.”

For a slew of students, SIPA is not just learning about journalism. You also get to experience a new city and sites that you have never been able to see before.

“It’s [Columbia] honestly so pretty and this festival is pretty cool. I really like the atmosphere of South Carolina it’s very different than Georgia,”  junior Olivia Duever said.

A journalism class is already an experience that is completely different than any class that you may take in your school, but SIPA is something that journalism students should attend to reach the next level of their career.

“I definitely think that they should come,” Hanna said, “because this is a great way for you to get interested in journalism and meet others who can help you along your journalistic career.”

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