Meghan Reilly: Poet, photographer and journalist

By Manoli Figetakis
Francis Lewis High School

Even as a young child, Meghan Reilly dreamed of being a journalist. The 17-year-old senior at Westhampton Beach High School has been working toward her goal.

Reilly is a member of her high school’s poetry club, Seascapes. The club’s goal is to create a literary magazine at the end of each school year.

“I also have been photographer since seventh grade,” she said.

Meghan was thrilled to find out about a Stony Brook University program called the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists. Although she was very nervous that she wasn’t going to get in, she was “super excited” when she was accepted.

“When I got the phone call, I was trying not to scream,” Meghan said. “My parents were standing next to me on speaker and very excited.”

Her parents, David and Theresa, are very proud of her. “They always wanted me to be a writer/journalist,” Meghan said.

In fact, they inspired her to develop her love for writing since she was five, when she began writing her own personal books. Later on in middle school, she joined her school paper.

“I loved every second,” Meghan said.

Being in the poetry club and attending a journalism class have helped Meghan improve her writing. She also took an English class, which turned out to be her favorite class. Her work became more organized and straight to the point, and she began to understand the different styles and techniques of writing.

Meghan was able to work for her high school newspaper and attend her poetry class. But she said she believed her journalism class and English class have helped her develop her skills in interviewing and researching  skills that are necessary to journalism.

“I developed my love for writing and taking photos and realizing that what I like doing was known as journalism,” she said.

Meghan’s journalism teacher, Mrs. Kirsten Mett, admired Meghan schoolwork. Meghan’s friends also saw that she is a great photographer and writer.

“Meghan is known as the writer in the club and in journalism class,” said her friend Kaitlyn Maschke. “If anybody needs proofreading or advice with something as a simple as an e-mail or an article piece, she’s the one to ask.”

Meghan said she is determined to study journalism in college.

“This summer will be my first time pursuing journalism and getting to know exactly what it entails,” she said of the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists. “This opportunity, I know I’ll leave having more knowledge about the field and the experience than I ever will have.”

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 photographymf.com. 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.”