Creating a new plan

First, thanks for your patience as we navigate a rather unusual SISPA year. The planning committee met Oct. 6, and we wanted to share the following with you.

1. Dues will be reduced by 50% this year since we will not be holding an in-person conference. As you know, expenses for the student center are one of our biggest. Since that’s not an issue this year, we wanted to pass that savings on to our membership.

2. All mail-in contests will go on as normally scheduled. Golden Dozen needs to be submitted to Gina by Nov. 15. I am consulting with several people to address concerns that were expressed with last year’s Golden Dozen contests. Best Story and Blue Banner, print and electronic, will be due Jan. 15 as normal. Gina is putting together some suggestions for yearbook advisers to help increase yearbook participation in the Best Story Contest. Remember that your dues cover all entry fees for these contests.

3. A plan for a video conference is underway. I may send out another survey to member schools to gather information about that, so stay tuned.

4. We are planning something to honor William Recktenwald as he retires. For those of you who have been around for a while, you know that Reck has been a faithful supporter of SISPA for many years. If you have a student or former student who has a favorite memory of interacting with him at SISPA, please, send that to me at this email address.

This  is just the beginning of planning for this year. If you have any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions, please, let me know as these are uncharted waters.

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SISPA 2020

Another conference is in the books.

I’d like to extend my personal thanks to everyone who helped make the contest happen. A special thank you to our keynote speaker, Jeff Egbert of the Pinckneyville Press as well as Director Jan Thompson and Amber Easton of the school of journalism There are also lots and lots of people behind the scenes working hard to make each year’s event happen.

We had 117 students from 14 schools in attendance yesterday. They competed in 14 different onsite events and attended sessions provided by SIUC staff, yearbook companies and local teachers. They also received awards for work completed at the event and work completed and published in their own districts.

Thanks to all who participated!

Golden Dozen Entries

The deadline for submitting last year’s book to the Golden Dozen contest is Nov. 15. You must pay your dues before you can submit the book.

Membership form and dues can be mailed to me at

Cathy Wall

Harrisburg High School

333 W. College St.

Harrisburg, IL  62946

Your book and Golden Dozen entry form should be mailed to

Gina Shook

Carlyle High School

1461 12th St.

Carlyle, IL 62231

Good luck to all our participants!


New design with forms page

At the suggestion of one of our new advisers, a separate page with all entry forms has been added to the website. You can still access the informational pages about each contest, but this will allow quick access for veteran advisers.

As always, if you have comments or questions, please, feel free to contact me at your convenience.

Hope your school year is going well,


Winter Conference Report

Good afternoon all. I’m sending you some information from yesterday’s conference. If you  have any questions or concerns please let me know. Thanks for a great year!

SISPA Participation for this year

Winter Conference

Pre-Registration:  134

Registration:  76

Total Students Registered: 210

Total Schools in Attendance: 14

Onsite Competition

Pre-Registration:  91 students

Registration: 52 students

Total Students Competing: 143

Membership 2018: 34 schools

Blue Banner 2018: 9 schools

Golden Dozen 2018:   32 schools

Digital Blue Banner 2018: 5 schools

Best Story Contest Fees: 14 schools

Winners List

Due to technical issues, certificates for individual events were not distributed yesterday. These will be mailed. A Best Story winner’s list will be sent via email as soon as it has been confirmed at SIUC.

Feedback Request

If you would, please collect comments from students who attended yesterday’s events. What went well? What didn’t go well? We would like their thoughts to help troubleshoot for next year.

New Dues Structure

After discussion at yesterday’s adviser meeting, the group decided that we are in a financial position that will allow us restructure the dues in order to provide a savings for most members of the organization.

Below is a comparison of the 18-19 dues structure and the 19-20 dues structure.

Current Expenses

18-19 Fees





Golden Dozen



Blue Banner Print



Blue Banner Web



Best Story Contest



Onsite Contest

$5 per student ($4 early reg.)


Winter Conference Fee

$5 per student ($4 early reg.)

$5 per student ($4 early reg.)

Total Expenses

$120 + Winter Conference and On-site Competition fee

$100 + Winter Conference Registration fee only


  1. This creates a system that requires only two checks per year, one for membership to be paid by Nov. 1 and one for attendance at the Winter Conference.

  2. We hope that this system will encourage members to be even more active in contests and events. For example, Best Story Contest might be considered really expensive if you only have a couple of things to enter under this year’s system. It will already be paid for under next year’s system, so why not send in those two or three pieces?

  3. This system is most beneficial to members who are most active. As a result, we hope to see participation in SISPA grow, even if we lose a little money as an organization.

Publication Excellence Awards

Golden Dozen

Print Blue Banner

Digital Blue Banner

Division 3 [Under 300]

Calhoun High

Coulterville High

Wayne City High

Payson-Seymour High

Meridian Senior High

Division 2 [301-800]

Newton High

Harrisburg High

Chester High

Westminster Christian Academy

Herrin High

Sacred Heart Griffin High

Taylorville High

Division 1 [over 800]

Triad High

Belleville West

FJ Reitz

FJ Reitz High

Edwardsville High

Glenwood High

Springfield High

Edwardsville High

Taylorville High

Onsite Contest Winners


1.Ana Bagwill, Alton High

2.Katie Miller, Cisne High

3.Taylor Wallace, Carterville High

Copy Editing

1.Emma Koontz, Belleville West

2.Kaylee Robinson, Harrisburg High

3.Jacqueline Glenn, Edwardsville High

Editorial Writing

1.Jaydi Swanson, Edwardsville High

2.Blake Goodin, Carlyle

3.Chloe Schobert, Belleville West

Editorial Cartooning

1.Kia Smidt, Edwardsville High

2. Dylan Gossett, Carterville High

3.Delaney Holliday, Belleville West

Yearbook Theme Development

1.Gina Wagley and Olyvia England, Herrin High

2.Julia Stroud and Chloe Fin, Carterville High

3.Heather Dieckmann and Gabrielle Bouldin, Carlyle

Infographic Design

1.Ryan Ash, Edwardsville High

2.Bradley Frailey, Harrisburg High

3.Ny’La Hill, Belleville West

Yearbook Feature Copy

1.Molly Farrar, Edwardsville High

2.Rachel Rosenstensel, Belleville West

3.Hannah Callahan, Cisne

Yearbook Sports Copy

1.Kate Lickert, Edwardsville High

2.Nick Rulevish, Okawville

3. Alyssa Hausman, Belleville West

News Writing

1. Sam Lance, Edwardsville High

2.Savannah Hubbs, Harrisburg High School

3.Haylie Mayer, Marissa

Newspaper Sports

1.Nolan Davidson, Harrisburg High

2.Brandyn Wilcoxer, Mt. Vernon High

3. Jed Counts, Belleville West

Newspaper Feature

1.Alexa Pierce, Frankfort High

2. Annika Jansen, Carterville

3.D.J. McInturff, Herrin High


1 .Anna Farin, Edwardsville High

2. Jenna Foster, Carlyle High

3. Kirsten Travelstead, Harrisburg High

Review Writing

1. Jack Gulley, Harrisburg High

2. Madeline Trinity, Belleville West

3. Baily Lewis, Cisne High


1.Patrick Doolin, Edwardsville High

2. Shelby Scarbrough, Cisne High

3. Tiffany Young, Herrin High

Next year’s conference will be the last Wednesday in February, Feb. 26

Welcome Back!

Falls seems to have arrived in Southern Illinois, and I have yet to make the first post. It’s funny how the weeks seem to spin by as we teach our students to dive into the world of journalism, covering those important fall events while giving some their first ever look into what it takes to create a yearbook or a newspaper.

There aren’t many changes to this year’s contest platform. We investigated a site that would allow us to electronically submit our entries, but the cost was prohibitive so for the time being, we will continue to submit hard copies.

Membership is still $25 per school. That covers any and all publications in your building.

Similarly, the fee to enter Golden Dozen (due Nov. 15) and Blue Banner, both electronic and print (due Jan. 15) are still $25 per publication.

The entry fee for our Best Story contest for all platforms is $20. The deadline for that contest is Jan. 15 as well. This is the only contest for individual categories and all work must come from this school year.

The planning committee will be meeting at the end of October to look at the overall structure of our contests and winter conference and consider changes for next school year. Expect to see a Google survey after that meeting to garner your input.

Our winter conference is scheduled for Feb. 27, so be sure that you put that on your calendar and make any requests necessary. As in the past, there will be an early registration fee that will save you a few dollars and a t-shirt design contest for students. We are hoping to see even more entries this year than last. T-shirts will be available for purchase as they have been for the last couple of years.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in the world of journalism. I hope that each of your are finding great rewards as you engage your students. I look forward to seeing you in February,



Post -conference wrap up

Just a short note to let you know that the full list of winners has been posted on the website.

My students and I are working on creating a SnapChat group story for student members of our organization to stay in touch during the year. I also think it will be another layer to our communication that should be helpful. I will let you know when it’s finished so that you can join and add your students (or have them send me an email and I will add them). I’m looking forward to getting a sneak peek into your classrooms and labs.
Thanks again for a wonderful conference and all that you do.



Congratulations to Carlyle High School senior Tanner Voss for his award-winning shirt design. Voss is the recipient of a free shirt and cash prize compliments of the SIUC School of Journalism. A limited number of these shirts will be available for order at the SISPA Conference.