Corianna Jackson: From fiction to journalism

By Matthew Quan
Longwood High School

For Corianna Jackson, writing has been a passion since the age of 12.

At first, the 17-year-old Brentwood High School senior wrote general fiction. After a while, she started to get into fan fiction, which is writing a continuation of previously-known story. She met other people with similar interests with whom she could share ideas.

In 11th grade, Corianna took a journalism course. Her journalism teacher praised her writing, even though her English teacher didn’t like her writing at all. “She thought it was trash,” Corianna said. She recalled her journalism teacher, Kelly Buonaspina, told her, “I am sure I am not the first teacher to be impressed by you – and I won’t be the last.”

Corianna also worked on her school paper and started to publish her own fiction stories on an app called Wattpad so people could read her work. More than 110,000 people are doing that already. “A lot of people say that they like my writing,” Corianna said.

Diane Jackson, Corianna’s mother, is one of those people. “Her writing is very mature and gets better each time,” she said. “I’m very impressed with her.”

Besides her writing, Corianna has sung and played the piano for years, which she said has helped her cope with being painfully shy. All the while, she has remained an honor student.

Jackson said her daughter “would aspire to be a great writer or engineer, but she loves music and writing.”

Corianna said she doesn’t know where she wants go to college, but she still has another year to figure it out. She has no idea what she wants to study but is interested in journalism.

Her journalism teacher was the one who insisted that she should apply for the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists.

“I expect to gain more writing experience to further my skills,” Corianna said.

Long Island Ducks bat for charity

Jerseys hang in the the ‘Waddle In’ souvenir shop at Bethpage Ballpark for the jersey auction to benefit the QuackerJack Foundation. The foundation raises money for ALS Ride For Life and the Alzheimer’s Association, among other charities. (Photo by Lauren Nicks.)

By Corianna Jackson
Brentwood High School

The Long Island Ducks also try to hit home runs when it comes to charity.

The Ducks just finished hosting the Atlantic League All-Star Game for the third time at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip. The game ended with a Liberty Division victory during the close 4-3 game on July 11. These special-edition jerseys are now being auctioned off in the Waddle In Shop at the stadium with the proceeds going to the team’s QuackerJack Foundation, which funds other charities and organizations.

The Ducks are known for finding ways to support many causes like the ALS Ride For Life organization, the Alzheimer’s Association and a heart health initiative sponsored by Northwell Health, said Michael Polak, the team’s director of media relations and broadcasting. The QuackerJack Foundation uses Chinese auctions and casino nights to help school groups, PTAs and businesses across Long Island. Polak believes it is important to “raise awareness.”

The ‘Waddle In’ souvenir shop at Bethpage Ballpark sells jerseys and other Ducks-related items, but they also auction off special jerseys to raise money for the QuackerJack Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Nicks.)

One of the Ducks’ most popular fundraising techniques is holding jersey auctions. The team auctions bright red jerseys worn by the players on the annual heart health night. Another big jersey occasion happens on Bud Harrelson Night. The event recognizes the former Mets player and current Ducks coach, who is battling Alzheimer’s disease. The team auctions purple jerseys with Harrelson’s No. 3 and proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The auction for the all-star jerseys start at $75 and will be increased in minimum $10 increments, according to the organization’s auction website. Fans can place their bids by visiting the Waddle In Shop or by calling 631-940-3825 from now through July 31. The team said the jersey auction will end at the conclusion of the top of the seventh inning during the Ducks game against the Somerset Patriots on Wednesday, August 1.

“I think it’s great,” said Stephen Giordano, a Hauppauge resident and Ducks fan. “I think it’s a great cause.”

Brianna Foster: Humanitarian and activist

By Corianna Jackson
Brentwood High School

Brianna Foster raises awareness in her community when she’s not raising quails in her basement.

The 17-year-old junior at Smithtown High School East believes that “if you want change, you have to do something about it.” Brianna is doing something about it. She joyously immerses herself in charity work, participating in causes such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the National Organization of Women, the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards and Habitat for Humanity. And when she isn’t volunteering with guide dogs or making blankets for the elderly, she’s raising endangered bobwhite quails.

The generous high schooler has been an outgoing, kind-hearted spirit ever since she was a child.

“She started talking at four months of age,” her mother, Rita Foster, recalled.

At a young age, Brianna — who lives with her mom, dad, 15-year-old sister Paula and three dogs — was thrust into volunteer work by her mother. Rita Foster, who is involved in many charitable organizations, was the one who suggested that Brianna start raising quails. Their family has been doing it for three years now, increasing the number of quails each time. They went from 12, to 16, to 21 this year.

Brianna explained that quails are important for Long Island because they eat ticks that carry Lyme disease. Two weeks after the quails hatch, she releases them at Caleb Smith State Park in Smithtown. Raising quails isn’t easy.

“They’re really annoying, and they keep trying to eat each other,” she said.

Once Brianna hit high school, she started looking into other projects and causes. She’s deeply interested in the feminist movement, and she uses journalism to share that message with her school. In her school newspaper, The Matador, Brianna wrote a piece titled “My statement starts with a period.” The piece was about the need to add free feminine products in the girls’ bathrooms at her school.

When she isn’t writing to bring about change, she enjoys writing opinion pieces about music and drawing political cartoons. Brianna also likes to play the piano.

Brianna applied to Stony Brook University’s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists because she was interested in the profession and felt that the institute was “a good way to solidify it as a career choice.”

She would like to use journalism as a tool to expose corruption, raise awareness and stand up for what she believes in. Now almost a week into the program, she is surprised by all the different elements that go into publishing a story, from photography and videography to writing.

When asked how her work in the community ties in with her writing, Brianna responded that “journalism is a people activity, and my work taught me how to love people.”

Matthew Quan: A photographic storyteller

By Corianna Jackson
Brentwood High School

Matthew Quan said he has always been attracted to the idea of telling stories, but not with words.

The 17-year-old senior at Longwood High School is trained in photography, a craft that allows him to capture the unwritten tale behind beautiful, everyday things.

Matthew didn’t start seeing the world through a camera lens until three years ago. “I always thought it was interesting, but I didn’t start taking photography classes until I hit high school,” he recalled. He has taken every photography class that his school offers and has earned much praise for his work.

Matthew was raised in Astoria, Queens, by an Ecuadorian mother and a Chinese father. His parents traded the dynamic hustle and bustle of city life for a more relaxed life in the suburban Suffolk County community of Longwood when he turned 13.

This change did not come without hindrances. “At first it was hard to make friends,” he said. “I didn’t know anyone and it was pretty awkward at times.” Since then, Matthew said, he has learned to break out of his shell and has acquired an amazing group of friends. He now finds himself more comfortable in his cozy house in Longwood than his old apartment in Queens.

Matthew said snapping and editing photos helped him through a stressful sophomore year. He excels more in his art classroom where his photography teacher, Melissa Bussewitz, encouraged him to share his craft. She said she has consistently supported and critiqued his impressive work all year. Matthew wouldn’t have applied to Stony Brook University’s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists if it weren’t for Bussewitz. “He’s a great photographer,” she said. “I told him that he should apply.”

Matthew said when he isn’t working on his photography, he likes to stay active because it’s a “great stress reliever.” He enjoys taking long bike rides in his neighborhood and also studies mixed martial arts. He considers himself outgoing and he loves to talk to people.

He is undecided on what college he wants to go, but luckily, he said, his parents wouldn’t mind if he went away from home. Lately, he has been leaning towards journalism as a career option.

When he heard the news that he got into the Greene program, he said he was ecstatic and shocked. “I’m not a very good writer, so I was surprised that I got in,” he said. He said he is excited to learn new techniques in photography as well as other journalism skills. The only thing he worried about was the lack of air conditioning in the Stony Brook dorms.

Matthew shared he has doubts about his future. But the one thing he doesn’t have doubts about is his photography. “The pictures I take I’m always pretty proud of,” he said.