Jianni Burnett: Focusing on a journey

By Jenn Cirigliano
Mepham High School

Sixteen-year-old Jianni Burnett caught the journalism bug earlier this year after taking a media course at Scholars’ Academy in Rockaway Park in Queens.

During the class, she took on such positions as director and floor manager for multimedia projects to help keep herself busy with something she loved and also to learn more about journalism to help her in the future.

Her media teacher, Michael Pepe, described her as “a young woman who has a keen interest and passion for journalism that can be shown through her hard work and dedication.” She has the ability to be everywhere in the room at once, he said, and she helped anyone she could and tackled any obstacle in her way.

The class would help to live stream and video tape graduations, celebrations, school productions and other events around the school. Jianni also helped shoot and interview elected officials about their daily jobs and things that needed to be done to improve community safety for the family’s living there.

Jianni is inspired by her parents to keep developing her knowledge and interest in journalism.

“I’m inspired by the people around me every day,” she said. “In my house journalism is around me. My parents watching the news and also reading the papers, giving us interesting topics to talk about at the dinner table.”

Jianni has developed an interest in places around the world and her dream is to be able to travel. She said she hopes the knowledge she gains through The Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists will motivate her desire to travel.

“Say you need to interview someone — they won’t always be able to respond and do the interview. But I’m learning that’s okay, and you can have other participants or find other willing people.”

Jianna said she also has a keen interest in writing poetry. She uses this skill to write about problems, express her feelings and increase her skills in writing.

Although she doesn’t know what her future holds, or have a set interest on certain colleges, Jianni’s mother, Marjorie Burnett, has seen an enormous growth in her writing and editing skills beginning in 8th grade.

In addition, her mother said, “Jianni has an amazing personality and strong caring ability for the people close to her.”

Now, going into junior year, Jianni is already looking for her next opportunity to advance her knowledge in journalism. For her, this includes social media.

“Social media is a wide platform so you can get word out there,” she said. “Photography is a big part of journalism, and … I know a lot of journalists and photographers promote their work that way.”

She said she will be taking AP English next year because of her academic ability in her English-based classes every year.

“I’m excited to make progress in my journalism journey and can’t wait to take on the challenge of an AP English class next year.”

Jennifer Cirigliano: An inspiration for journalism

By Jianni Burnett
The Scholars’ Academy

Jennifer Cirigliano’s interest in journalism grew out of a love for reading and writing that was fostered at an early age by her grandparents.

Jennifer, 17, said her grandfather, James Stasio, wrote an article for Newsday that also was published in The Washington Post about special-education students earning diplomas. Jenn’s grandmother, Josephine Stasio, is a librarian at the North Bellmore Memorial Library.

“Without my infatuation [with reading and writing] as a young child, or even my grandmother and grandfather, I would not be the way I am today,” said the rising senior at Mepham High School in Bellmore Park, Long Island, where she is a writer for the school paper, The Buccaneer.

“I remember Jenn taking off eagerly to the library,” recalled Jenn’s grandmother, Josephine, 76, of Bellmore. “She would read for hours, write about what she read, then would talk about her ideas. I know this has helped her to accomplish much in the last few years.”

Jennifer plans to join a college newspaper, like her grandfather. “I hope to follow in his footsteps and make him proud,” she said.

Jennifer’s vision for the direction she would take wasn’t always so clear. so to help figure out what she wanted to do, she took an array of courses, including creative writing and AP English and Composition, acquiring skills such as how to critique writing, how to properly organize ideas and how to express her interests within her work.

“I take things that I am most interested in and use those interests and incorporate them into the newspaper,” she said.

During this time, Jenn took part in a rock band at The Rock Underground in Bellmore, developing a love for reading and writing music, playing the guitar and singing. Jennifer’s mother, Susan Cirigliano, said Jenn’s love for music relates closely to her love for writing.

“She started to, unknowingly, realize that they went hand-in-hand,” she said. “As she started to read and analyze lyrics, writing her own stories became a way for her to express her ideas and feelings.”

Jenn joined the Newspaper Club and wrote multiple articles for the school paper, The Buccaneer, and the literary magazine, Fragments.

She said she gained real-world experience and was given the opportunity to build confidence for almost any journalistic career.

Jenn said she had the support of her peers who understood the pressure of putting their work out there. “A lot of people in the club who also had problems with expressing themselves had the ability to get good critiques without being judged harshly.”

Jenn said she would like to become a foreign correspondent or social media specialist.

Regarding being accepted into the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute program, Jenn said, “I’m a little nervous, but I can’t wait to meet all these journalists in the making!”