Day 7: Everything’s gone Greene

It’s unbelievable to think that this week is coming to a close already, but time flies when you’re having fun! I’m extremely thankful to have been a part of the Greene Team, but I’m also very sad to part ways with my fellow Greene Team members. We’ve made some amazing memories over the past seven days, and the friends I made during this period of time mean so, so much to me.

Without our shared interest in journalism, however, we never would have met in the first place. I’m grateful that the Robert Greene Institute was created in honor of the late Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Bob Greene.  Without this innovative program, I never would have had the privilege to embark on this experience in the first place.

I would also like to thank all of the editors, photographers, and videographers for sacrificing their time in order to help us get work done and successfully meet our deadlines.

Lastly, I want to thank Cathrine and Zach for overseeing all of the aforementioned operations. Without them, this certainly wouldn’t be possible!

Being able to hone my photography skills, further accentuate my ability to write, and to learn how to use a camcorder was inspiring.

iDentifying LEGO robotics at iD Tech

Children at the iD Tech summer camp at Stony Brook University learn about robotics and programming on Thursday, July 19, 2018. The camp exposes kids to technology-oriented learning that isn’t always available at their schools. (Photo by Emily Palazzotto.)

By Meghan Reilly
Westhampton Beach High School

The term “summer camp” usually conjures images of bonfires, cabins and s’mores. But at iD Tech, young campers create robots from scratch.

In a bright room in the Wang Center of Stony Brook University, where decals of video game characters and iD Tech slogans adorn the walls, children of different age groups learned different tasks, such as coding, game development and Lego robotics.

Nine-year-old campers at the LEGO

robotics table worked in pairs and used laptops so that they could access guides online. They followed these guides step-by-step in order to put their robots together.

“I learned how to code and build robots with Legos,” Victoria Alexander said. “I take blocks of code and put them all together.”

Matthew Marotta added, “I’ve learned how to make my robot move forwards and backwards, and today I built a crane robot.”

The camp grouped the children by age to better accommodate their interests, camp director Zara Krayem said.

“For instance, children interested in robotics will be placed in that group where they’ll learn same thing in two days that college students take a semester to pick up on,” Krayem said. “This structure is what makes us different from other tech camps.”

Campers also participated in other activities, including a field day, so that they could bond with one another.

Matthew Marotta and Kenshin Sugeinoto, both 8, learn to build a lego robot at the iD Tech summer camp at Stony Brook University on Thursday, July 20, 2018. The program teaches kids about robotics and coding. (Photo by Emily Palazzotto.)

“The way the kids learn is very dynamic and fun,” Krayem added.

Even after the end of weeklong camp, iD Tech kids can stay connected by accessing the online guides and building more robots at home. They also can return to the camp next year as long as they are still between the ages of 7 and 18.

iD Tech exposes children to a lot of possibilities that aren’t available in high school, which means they can find out what career paths interest them before they even get into college, Krayem said.

Even the youngest kids already seem to have an idea of what they want to do when they grow up. Both Victoria and Matthew want to be engineers.

“I want to be an engineer,” Victoria said, “because I think it’s fun.”

“I want to help people with their problems,” Matthew added, “and I want to build stuff.”

Eyes on the prize

Throughout the week, I’ve been delving deeper and deeper into the world of journalism. Though I was accepted into the Greene program for my writing and photography, I’ve learned numerous things about videography and broadcast journalism.

Inside the Stony Brook School of Journalism newsroom. Photo by Meghan Reilly. (July 20, 2018)

At the Ducks game, I enjoyed working the video camera and taking shots of the baseball players at bat and running the bases. I also learned quite a lot about Final Cut Pro so that we could sort through and compile the videos together to emulate a newscast.

However, I’m not the best reporter; while working with some of my fellow Greene Team members in front of the camera on day two, I realized that I wasn’t really cut out for the job of an anchor or reporter because I couldn’t stop laughing. I’m not sure if it was out of nervousness or that Parker kept making funny faces, but either way, I was completely hysterical by the time we were finished.

Yesterday, we were assigned another package: to interview children from iD Tech, a camp that teaches its 7- to 18-year-old campers skills such as coding, game development and Lego robotics. A small group of 9-year-olds specialized in the latter and we decided to interview them, as well as a few camp counselors. And we asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, the campers said they wanted to be engineers. It was pretty intriguing that such young kids were so eager and interested in a career like engineering, and the fact that they knew what they wanted to do a decade before college is awesome!

Today, however, is a little more stressful because we have to get everything done by tonight. Both articles are done and the still photography looks great, but we still have to work on and finish our packages. Time is going fast and I can’t believe the program is almost over already! I’m definitely going to miss it, even though I have had to wake up at 6 a.m. and I miss my mom’s great home cooking.

What I’ll miss the most, though, are the bonds I’ve made with everyone here. Though the majority of the Greene Team is just a drive away, knowing that we’ll never all be together like this again definitely makes me sad.

But for now, we’ve got our eyes on the prize and a deadline on the horizon.

Manoli Figetakis: The Renaissance reporter

By Meghan Reilly
Westhampton Beach High School

If Emanuel “Manoli” Figetakis could describe himself in three words, they would be “hard-working, dedicated and creative.”

“I always go above and beyond,” he said. Manoli is a 17-year-old junior at Francis Lewis High School in Queens, where he is a member of his school newspaper club and a reporter and photographer for the school newspaper, FLHS News. He is also a member of the school’s Hellenic club, in which students of Greek descent socialize.

Manoli has been interested in photography since he was 12 years old, when he took pictures of his family at events. His mother, father and two sisters—Kayla and Nina—have supported him the entire way.

At around 15, Manoli developed a passion for taking pictures of the New York City skyline and graffiti on the streets of Manhattan.

“The New York City skyline has a very distinctive architecture,” he said. “It easily sets it apart from every other skyline in the world because of how recognizable it is.”

Manoli also loves to report, and his favorite high school memory is reporting for the first time at a school pep rally.

“At first I was really nervous, but I was also very excited,” he said. He is now more casual about reporting, and says he can “walk up to just about anyone.”

Some of Manoli’s idols include photographers Jakob Dahlin, Max Guliani and Richie Jay, and photojournalists Hasani Gittens, Katie Honan and Katina Paron. “Different journalists cover different things,” Manoli said. “They all have different taste in photography. For instance, they could all shoot the same thing, but each photo would look different in the end.”

Manoli showcases his own photography at It includes photos from settings such as the “March For Our Lives” protest in Washington D.C. in March and, of course, his most favored location of all: the New York City skyline.

Manoli first got involved with his school’s journalism program during his freshman year, then “got more and more into it gradually.”

His journalism teacher Jacqueline Linge said he “still reports after school, even though the day is done. Manoli does a lot for Francis Lewis High School. He created all of our social media pages, developed a school newspaper for [Inspiring Students to Succeed] and covered other events outside of school for the main paper.”

Upon being accepted into the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute program, Manoli was shocked.

“I got the phone call at 5:15 [p.m.] on the dot,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d get accepted, and my teachers were more excited than I was!” Manoli added that he was most looking forward to “working with other people his age who have the same interests.”

After high school, Manoli plans to attend either Hofstra University or LaGuardia Community College to major in film communications. He also wants to minor in photography and gain a background in business.

“I want to do what I really want to do,” he said. “I want to be behind the scenes. I want to follow my path.”

Forging Forever Friendships on Day Two

Though the day was slow and sweaty, I can more than safely say that it was one of the best  I’ve had in my entire life. Having the opportunity to learn photography from a Pulitzer prize winner and videography from a professor here at Stony Brook is something that I will forever be grateful for. This experience is a complete honor, and what we learned in the newsroom today was amazing. The friends I’ve made within the program are some of the greatest people I’ve ever met, and it already feels like I’ve known each and every one of them for a lifetime. The fact that we all share one common interest is what unites us, and just like the inverted pyramid, our love for journalism is the most important aspect of our friendship. It’s what brings us together as a family and as we go further down the pyramid, we learn about the little things that we have in common with each other. For instance, my roommate and I both sleep with stuffed animals. I was secretly afraid to bring mine with me in fear of being judged, but when I saw a teddy bear sitting on her bed, I mentioned it and we both laughed. Another way we’ve been getting to know each other is by hosting little “slumber parties” in the basement. Each night, we invite everyone into someone’s room and we play different icebreaking games; as a result, we find out what others like to do for fun, what our lives are like at our own schools, and more. I’m extremely thankful to be a member of the Greene Team, and I’m also extremely thankful for my fellow Greene Team members as well as the people who taught us so many new things about photography and videography today. I can’t wait for what the next five days will bring!