Inspiration Found at CSPA Fall Conference 2022


Students gather on the steps of Columbia’s Low Library before the conference begins.

For 83 years, Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) has hosted young people interested in student publications fo a conference featuring experts in the field of journalism, media, broadcasting, and photography.

This year, after a hiatus due to the pandemic, CSPA welcomed RHS students once again.

Thanks to funding from the Rhinebeck Science Foundation, Rhinebeck Reality Club Adviser Sarah Wheeler and Yearbook Club adviser Stacey Van den Thoorn accompanied 21 students to a conference with over 80 sessions on the historic campus of Columbia University.  

Students navigated the campus on a warm autumn day to attend sessions on creative writing such as “Getting Beyond the Mechanics of Poetry,” “From Breath to Book-Page: Writing Autobiographically,” and “Writing Persona: Speaking in Someone Else’s Voice.” 

“It was refreshing to be in a classroom with high schoolers serious about writing,” said Annika Haile, junior at RHS.

Schools from Virginia, New Jersey, and Connecticut sent delegates to the conference.

Student photographers also learned about the complexity of light from experts in the field, and many participants appreciated the tips on building an online persona.  

Ninth grader Alan Raitt attended sessions with the Chief of Communications at NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope center, as well as a worksop on the danger of fake news.

Other students were dazzled by the instructors leading the workshops.  

“Erica Fabri was a fantastic young person to work with because she focused purely on the students and their interpretations instead of just spewing information in a classic lecture style,” said senior Zelda Kosofsky.

The experience is sure to have lasting impact on those who attended.

“I learned that you can just take a random grouping of words and make an amazing story. I liked it so much that when I am off stage today at my play rehearsal I am going to finish my story,” said sophomore Hannah Sharp.