Young activist’s rallying cry

Andrew Goldman speaks with student journalists from the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute , on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, about his upcoming Rally to End Gun Violence on July 29. (Photo by Caroline Ledoux.)

By Chelsea Sibri
The Scholars’ Academy

Andrew Goldman, a recent 18-year-old Syosset High School graduate, is not unfamiliar with the political scene and what it takes to make a social change.

“As Americans, every single person—really everyone around the world—should have the right to voice their opinions, voice their beliefs, whatever they are,” Goldman said. His social activism stems from a gunman’s rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February. The shootings had a profound impact on him, as fellow students at his high school knew people affected by the massacre. He said he felt the need for change.

“After Parkland, that’s when my activism itself started,” said the incoming freshman at the University of Michigan. “When we worked on the walkout memorial at my school. I was able to start working with the March for Our Lives rally” in March, Goldman said. “I felt like it was my responsibility to get something going. A lot of work went into it, making sure that we were going to be able to do this in a safe way. It was an incredible experience, standing up for what we believe in.”

Goldman played a key part in setting up his school’s memorial and walkout. About 2,000 students ended up participating, he said. It was a grand taste of success, but it did not satisfy his appetite. He decided to become more involved and joined a task force working to end gun violence.

“Our goal is really a simple one: to end gun violence. Another one of our main goals is a call to action to ensure that every student across Long Island and across the country mobilizes. Whether that is if you’re old enough to vote, to make sure you go out to vote. If you’re not, have a letter-writing campaign, talk to your friends or parents who can vote, call your congressman, call your senator, to voice your opinion on the issue,” Goldman said. “We just want to empower young people.”

Even before beginning his career in social activism, he had been involved in political internships with different senators and officials and was able to experience Congress itself as a rising senior in 2017. He is currently an intern for U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi.

“Last summer I was actually able to work as a Senate page in D.C., which was an amazing experience where I was able to work on the floor of the Senate, right in the midst of the healthcare debate,” Goldman said. “And I really saw how Congress works.”

With all he has accomplished already, Goldman still shares common interests with most teenagers.

“I like to play the ukulele,” he said. “My ukulele’s name is Lola. I like The Beatles, Chance the Rapper.”

As for college, he intends to major in philosophy, politics and economics when he attends the University of Michigan in the fall.

“Overall, in my work experience, I’ve done public service and I think I want to continue that after college,” Goldman said. “What that ends up leading to, I guess time will tell.”

Goldman is helping to organize the End Gun Violence rally at Breezy Park in Huntington set for July 29. He encourages everyone to attend, especially young people.

“The tagline of this event is, #YourVoteYourVoice.’ That feeling when you get to register someone to vote is amazing because you’re given the opportunity to ensure that their voice is heard in the most fundamental way.”


Yash Kumar contributed to this report.

Gun reform activists plan rally on July 29

Caroline Suozzi (center) with Sarah Silverstein (right) and Andrew Goldman (left) from Rep. Thomas Suizzui’s office are planning a gun reform rally on July 29th. (Photo by Caroline Ledoux)

By Zoe Gordon
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

On a small Pacific island named Yap, where Rep. Thomas Suozzi’s daughter was educating children, Caroline Suozzi and her students were inspired by the activism they saw in the United States after the shooting in Parkland, Florida. When they read about current events, Caroline Suozzi felt as if the whole world was watching change being made.

“We were told very often about gun violence in the United States,” she said. “They were so inspired that young people were taking action.”

After the Parkland tragedy in February, Suozzi felt a strong connection with the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She saw students standing up to politicians, fighting for their right to live.

“The whole world is paying attention,” she said.

While students from Parkland were planning the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., a group of student activists, along with Suozzi and her father, were creating a sister march in Long Island. More than 1,500 people attended the Long Island rally on March 24, and they advocated for gun reform and safety in schools.

“After Parkland, I knew I had to do something,” student activist and recent Syosset High School graduate Andrew Goldman said. “As students, we are turning our thoughts and prayers into action for change. We’re pulling out every stop.”

After the protest, the Long Island activists wanted to continue the momentum, Carolyn Suozzi said.

“They came back and said we want to to keep this conversation going,” she added. “This time it’s a call to action. It’s also to emphasize the importance of registering to vote.”

Caroline Suozzi and Long Island students are planning a rally in Breezy Park, Huntington, on July 29 to coincide with the Road to Change rallies created by March for Our Lives activists. The rally will feature two speakers from the families of student Jaime Guttenberg and teacher and coach, Scott Beigel, who both had Long Island connections and were killed in the Parkland shooting.

The key emphasis of this rally will be to register and motivate young adults to vote. The organizers of the rally are using social media and putting up flyers in every town in Thomas Suozzi’s district, hoping to attract a thousand people.

“The way to bring about change is voting,” said Sarah Silverstein, of the Thomas Suozzi campaign team.

Adeishe Bagaloo: Working on projecting her voice

By Zoe Gordon
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

After a teacher helped her realize that she had potential as a writer, Adeishe Bagaloo soon found a passion for the craft.

The 17-year-old Uniondale High School student applied for the Robert W. Greene High School Summer Institute for High School Journalists, hoping to transform her writing skills into journalism.

“I did a writing piece in my Microsoft Office class and my teacher was impressed with it,” Bagaloo said. “I got an email from my teacher telling me how good it was and I was kind of surprised. She encouraged me to go and apply for the program.”

Despite the encouragement by teachers and family members, she remains insecure about her writing. Part of the explanation is that she moved from the island of Jamaica a year ago. “I grew up in Jamaica and we learn the English that is found in Great Britain, which is different than the one found in America,” Bagaloo said. “It has different spelling, and I believe that it’s more difficult than the English in America. When I moved here, I found the language to be so different . . . than I’m used to so it puts a lot of stress on me.”

So Bagaloo leans on her mother, close friends and teachers to help her gain confidence in her writing. “I do not necessarily believe in my writing abilities, but the people around me have helped me to believe in it and realize that I’m actually a good writer,” Bagaloo said.

Bagaloo’s favorite writing topics are current events and issues that go unrecognized in the media. Her favorite story was her own autobiography discussing topics to which she wanted to give a voice. “I would state how the voice of the people matters to me and journalism can help me to get the voice of the people out there,” she said. “One of these topics that I want to make heard is the crime rate. There are certain things that are happening that you can’t really understand why it is happening. If I can go out there and talk to different people about the issue hopefully the world can find the root of the issue and hopefully come up with strategies to fix it.”

Crime and current issues are not the only subjects that interest Bagaloo. “I’m interested in health and beauty,” she said. “I think that journalism could help me get out there and give people different advice on health, beauty, self-improvement and mental health.”

In addition to writing, Bagaloo has always loved acting in school plays. She sees many similarities between the two fields. “In acting, you have to project your voice to the audience,” she said. “In journalism, using this technique helps you to be bold; you go out to talk to people and gather information when you wouldn’t normally do that in your everyday life.”

As for a dream career, Bagaloo feels torn between acting and journalism. By attending the Greene program and taking her school’s journalism course in the fall, Bagaloo hopes to find a clear path to what she aspires to do in her future.

“I hope that I can grasp a lot of knowledge from the program,” Bagaloo said, “and identify if I have a passion for journalism — if it’s for me or not for me.”

Taylor Yon: Eyeing an FBI career

By Sebastian Germosen
Archbishop Molloy High School

Taylor Yon wants to perfect her journalism skills and use them for a career in the FBI.

“I have always had a passion for writing, and I enjoy putting all of my thoughts on paper, and journalism gave me the opportunity to write in a way that could be read and informing,” said the 16-year-old junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Taylor’s experience in high school, scene of a massacre in  February, has driven her desire to become a part of the FBI.

Though she has no role models in the journalism industry, Taylor admires and respects The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian. She also watches CNN for news and inspiration for her writing.

Taylor has achieved academic success in high school, where she has taken advanced classes such as AP World History and French 2. This year, she will take AP Biology, AP Psychology and AP Language Arts. She said that these subjects will help “broaden my horizon.”

Taylor writes for her school newspaper, Eagle Eye. She is active in health and fitness clubs and enjoys many hobbies and activities, including soccer and tennis, taking hot yoga classes with her best friend and reading.

Taylor’s friends describe her as very outgoing and adventurous, due to her love of trying new  things. Her friends go to her for help with all academic subjects except for math. Taylor’s family [Note: all, who?]  describes her as a person who loves to travel and broaden her horizons by learning about different cultures.

Despite her interest in writing, Taylor wants to attend the University of Maryland or Penn State and major in criminal justice to achieve her goal of becoming an FBI agent.

Attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas — where a gunman killed 17 students and faculty — hasn’t been easy for the students, including Taylor. She has used the shooting as an opportunity to expand her interest in journalism and writes stories beyond the scope of her school.

“The whole world was looking to us, and journalism was an outlet that showed the world we are more than a school shooting,” Taylor said.

When asked about her stance on gun control after the shooting, she said her belief is that people should not have access to assault rifles unless they are in law enforcement.

“I am not anti all guns,” she said. “I strongly believe in the Second Amendment as well, but assault rifles to me are a weapon of war and all they do is cause mass destruction to our country.”

Taylor sees the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists as a great opportunity for her to showcase her passion for journalism and to learn new things about the industry. Taylor learned about the program when her newspaper adviser, Melissa Falkowski, told her and her friend Zoe Gordon about it.

“I was and still am so excited to learn and grow from this program,” Taylor said. “I want to learn as much as I can while I’m there.”

Zoe Gordon: An accidental journey to journalism

By Adeishe Bagaloo
Uniondale High School

At the start of high school, Zoe Gordon signed up for journalism by accident and immediately found a passion for it.

Zoe, a student at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, had to choose between her school newspaper and the yearbook staff. Her choice was the newspaper staff.

She has now been a part of her school’s journalism program for two years, and having developed a relationship with them, she said they are now like her family. “It’s like an instinct was telling me to sign up for it,” she said.

The most successful story she wrote, in her opinion, was about a first quarter issue. Her story was about Smart guns. According to Bloomberg News, smart gun technology is used to control guns in a way that they are able to detect their owners. Zoe said she found this to be her most interesting story because she was not educated about the topic and that helped her to apply herself and gather information well.

“I just immersed myself in information,” Zoe said. In her opinion, the story helped her to become more courageous because it provided her with the opportunity to communicate with a diverse group of people. This is something she believed she wouldn’t have done under regular circumstances. “I talked to police officers, people at my school and other people about their opinions,” she continued.

On February 14, 2018, a gruesome shooting happened at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The incident inspired Zoe to become more passionate about journalism. “Being able to tell my story and the story of others at my school has really made me want to pursue journalism as a career,” she said.

Zoe’s motivation as a student journalist is the response she gets when she publishes a story. “The reactions you get from sharing your story on a much broader basis, it really shows me how much people care to hear your story and see the truth,” she said. She said she is absolutely determined to get the truth out of a story to the nation.

When Zoe is not practicing journalism, she said she is either doing Pilates exercises, hanging out with friends or dancing.

“She does dancing in her spare time, she is passionate about journalism and she is a straight A student,” her brother, Zach Gordon, said.

Zoe said the people in her circle, including her teachers, parents and brother, are very supportive and influence her significantly on the person she is and her journey of becoming an outstanding journalist. “My newspaper teacher encourages us to go outside of the box and come up with new ideas to just convey a story really good and my parents really support me,” she said.

Zoe’s role model in the field of journalism is Hoda Kotb, a “Today Show” anchor. She is looking forward to pursuing journalism at the Syracuse University. Zoe said she cares about the voices of others and she believes that journalism can help her be someone else’s voice.

“I can express myself in a way that shares information with others,” she said.

Tuesday: Learning from each other

Emily Palazzotto, Manoli Figetakis and Rachel Schneider. Photo by Parker Schug. (July 17, 2018)

We are nearing the end of our second full day as The Greene Team.

The past 48 hours have been packed. Whether we are in the newsroom, outside shooting videos and taking photos, or getting in a quick meal, we are always doing something. Despite our 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. schedule, we’ve made sure to squeeze in time to get to know each other at night.

So far, I am over the moon about this program. I’ve met some incredibly hard workers, and we’ve been being taught by the best of the best. One of my favorite mentors has been John Williams. Not only has he taught us the intricacies of photography, such as how to get the perfect exposure, but he has reminded us that each photo we take should tell a story. “Sometimes our ‘mistakes’ create something beautiful,” he said when admiring Chelsea’s photo of a bench pattern being struck by the sun.

I never thought I’d enjoy photography the way I do. While I have struggled a bit, I am determined to get better. At first I did not completely understand why we were setting our ISO, shutter speed and f/stop at certain numbers, but with practice it became easier to understand. The same went for shooting videos. I didn’t completely grasp what was necessary to capture in each b-roll, but again, by filming over and over again, I became more comfortable. My passion for journalism has driven me to make the most of my week here at Stony Brook University.

While I have enjoyed the hands-on learning experience, one of my favorite parts of the past two days have been speaking to those around me. During our lunch break, I spoke to Zoe and Taylor from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On our first day of the program, I was reluctant to ask them about their feelings and the state of their community after the recent tragedies. But they were comfortable opening up about it.

Not only did they change my perspective, but they made me understand the reality of the situation like never before. I was so inspired by their strength, and their ability to speak about these issues. Because of people like Taylor and Zoe, changes are being made in society, in politics, and in our everyday lives.

I have learned a lot about journalism, but even more about important issues impacting the world we live in. I feel so fortunate to be part of The Robert W. Greene Summer Institute because of all that I have discovered—and for what’s to come.