Gaining Awards and Experience

The Tiger Journalists take on SISPA.


Photography, Sami Goetting

The Tiger Journalists pose for a photo while waiting for the SISPA opening ceremony to begin.

On the morning of Wednesday, February 22, 2023, every Herrin High Journalist woke to the same thought: it’s SISPA day. It was finally time for the long-awaited and very first journalism competition of the year.


Prior to the competition, the students had been studying various materials in order to prepare themselves to excel in their categories. Jarret Coleman said outside of class, he looked over the materials and just had to “have confidence, basically.” 


A showcase of the very “purty group.” (Photography, Nevaeh Thetford, Sami Goetting)

The journalists met in the Commons at 8:00 A.M. and left the school around 8:10. It wasn’t a long bus ride, but for those new to competition, the anticipation of the upcoming event made it seem like forever. After many minutes of excited chatter, they arrived at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. As the Tigers sat down in the auditorium, they took notice of the abundance of other student journalists in the room. Before they knew it, the Tigers were off to the races. 


Rushing to their rooms, the journalists were desperate to save every second they could; every second saved was an extra second to work. After they got to their rooms, the proctor gave the instructions, showed their material to them if needed, and the competition began. From around 9:50 to 11:09, every student in the building put all of their energy and attention to their assignment. Quickly though, 11:09 approached, and before they knew it, it was time to hand in their work. 


Most of the Tiger Journalists were mildly stressed, but luckily for them, it was time for lunch. After that, they were full of food and encouragement from their peers, and they headed back to the auditorium to hear the results.


In all, the journalists competed in ten different categories. Nevaeh Thetford competed in editorial writing, Allison Swaitkowski and Ashlyn Sims, along with Natalie Coleman all worked in yearbook theme development, Gracie Skaggs and Cadence Schuyler undertook yearbook captioning, Dylan Felty set out to do news writing, Mads LaBotte tested feature writing, Jazmin Lentz and Jaci Bethel took part in review writing, Dani Patalano and Jacob Hawk participated in photography, Leyten Earl and B Boyd worked on advertising design, Jarret Coleman took his shot in sports writing, and Ava Goetting, an honorary journalist, tried her hand in editorial cartooning.


All awaiting the mention of their category, the Tigers were on edge. By the end, four of the journalists’ names had been called. B Boyd placed second in advertising design, Jacob Hawk placed second in photography, Dylan Felty placed third in news writing, and Jaci Bethel placed third in review writing. 


Dylan Felty said that her goal for the competition was to place individually, and felt “pretty good” in that accomplishment. Ms. Sami Goetting’s hopes for the student journalists was for them to “get the experience of competition” and gain confidence in their skills. After receiving a Digital Blue Banner, she was very pleased to see that the students’ hard work and dedication was being recognized.


Overall, SISPA was a great success for the Tigers. Receiving awards and getting more experience is never a bad way to end a competition.