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American Heritage, West Henderson receive technology grants

By Kailey Cota, SIPA student assistant

Posted December 15, 2020

For the first time, the SIPA Endowment Committee awarded two individual technology grants to West Henderson High School in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida. 

“In a year where we are worried to death about paying our bills, this is one less thing our business editors have to lose sleep over. They are working around the clock to raise money for our program, so this will give them a bit of breathing room,” Jason Livingston, West Henderson’s newsmagazine, yearbook and online adviser, said. 

Maria Molina, the WAHS News adviser at American Heritage, also said that everything has changed this year. 

“Coronavirus has changed the way we, as broadcast teachers, are getting the job done in 2020-2021,” Molina said. 

Each year, SIPA’s Endowment awards $500 to a high school journalism program in need of enhancing its technology. In lieu of the transition to online learning, two awardees can now utilize the grant to purchase new software or equipment and to expand their virtual platform and web hosting capabilities. 

“Since students and advisers are working from home, they do not have access to the same technology and programs as they do in the classroom,” SIPA Director Leslie Dennis said. “We want to make it as easy as possible for students to continue to provide quality journalism for their community and readership.”

Both high schools are functioning with staffs that are partially in-person and partially online. 

“Right now, my staff is not able to get the interviews we usually get because we are not allowed to get close to a subject,” Molina said. 

Her staff will use the grant money to buy a boom pole, microphones and more. 

The staff at West Henderson High School has been operating on a cut budget. Their county suspended fundraising activities and yearbook sales have decreased as well, according to Livingston. 

“This, along with many of our loyal supporters struggling due to COVID, has led to a decrease in advertising revenue. Our program is not cheap, so, to continue operating, we looked into this grant opportunity,” Livingston said. 

They plan to use the grant money to “offset” the cost of the Adobe Creative Cloud, which will allow students to successfully work from home. 

“SIPA has opened doors for my students and me since I joined and we could not be more grateful for this gift,” Livingston said. “I would encourage any adviser in the country who is struggling right now to reach out to your state, regional and national organizations. There is no better support system out there.”

Molina said the technology that her staff is able to purchase with the grant will allow her students to continue learning and growing. 

“This gives us a better chance to compete in national and state contests, and since we are very focused on maintaining our reputation, this will increase our morale and enhance our journalistic performance,” Molina said. 

West Henderson HS and American Heritage HS join a list of grant recipients that includes New Hope HS (New Hope, Alabama), Northwest Guilford HS (Greensboro, North Carolina), Center Hill HS (Olive Branch, Mississippi), Ola HS (McDonough, Georgia), Sparkman HS (Harvest, Alabama) and Wellington HS (Wellington, Florida). 

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