It was a long journey to the story, but so worth it

Our Team 1 including Sebastian, Brianna, Chelsea, Emily B. and I walking along a grassy hill.

On our fourth day, Team 1 had walked long and far—some 40 minutes from the Stony Brook East Side Dining Hall to the Long Island State Veterans Home—to cover a special story. We traveled through grass, road sides and buildings, all with equipment in hand. Though tiring, we were enlightened by the stories and memories told by people at the home.

Once inside, we met 90-year-old Sheldon Polan, a World War II army veteran. We are currently producing a package about how he returns to the nursing home each year to provide eye care to other veterans at the home.

Parker Schug: Born leader and writer

By Chelsea Sibri
The Scholars’ Academy

From a young age, 17-year-old Blue Point native Parker Schug has had a deep admiration for the craft of writing.

“Parker has always loved reading and writing,” Parker’s mother, Stacey Schug, said. “Every time we have ever taken a trip, she would bring her composition notebook and write about the adventure we had that day. She is a great listener and thinks even an opposing view can open her eyes on her beliefs.”

Schug’s love of writing led her to decide in the eighth grade to become a journalist. She created a newspaper for her high school — Bayport-Blue Point High School — with the help of her creative writing teacher. She said that her writing skills blossomed after she started writing for her own blog and for the Paris-based magazine Grumpy. She also attended the 2017 Washington Journalism Conference at George Mason University, where she delved into political journalism.

Schug said she keeps an open mind in her search for the perfect branch of journalism for her future.

“As I learn more about journalism, I realize there is just so much to it,” Schug said. “I’m just not 100 percent certain. But I really like talking to people and learning from people through hearing their stories. So I think that I’d like to do something where I’m interviewing others.”

She also hopes to use journalism to teach herself and others about diverse groups of people.

Though she participates in several extracurricular activities, she is most proud of her skill at tennis.

“Tennis has been my favorite sport for most of my life, and it’s something that I’ve worked hard at getting better at for years,” she said.

Schug coaches tennis in her free time. Although she considered playing tennis professionally, Schug decided to place all of her focus in a journalistic career instead.

She keeps a very close connection with her family especially with her two younger brothers, Kieran and Declan, despite her hectic schedule.

“Since we were little, my brothers and I were raised to be best friends as we are,” Schug said. “At times, it’s been hard for me because some of my friends don’t understand why I want to stay in certain nights to hang out with my family, but I couldn’t be more grateful that I was raised the way I was.”

When Schug was accepted into the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists, she was most excited to get her hands on broadcasting equipment and to experience the cutthroat work demands of the program. Although she was nervous about finding areas of journalism she does not favor, she acknowledged that the field of journalism offers a wide variety of career opportunities.

“There are so many ways you could go with journalism,” she said. “My excitement overrides my nervousness.”

Stacey recalled the way her daughter’s writing helped her family heal when illness once struck her family. Shortly after Parker’s aunt was diagnosed with cancer, Parker received an assignment at school in which she was to write about a vivid memory of each year of her life. She took this as an opportunity to write about her family’s memories and hardships at the time to lift her relatives’ spirits.

After writing the piece, Parker decided to share it with her family. Stacey recalled it was a “love story to our entire family.”

“That’s the day I knew Parker should be a journalist,” Stacey said. “She kind of wrapped up our hard times and gave us all closure, and I felt like we moved forward that day.”

A culinary discovery and jam-packed agenda

Sushi available at the Emporium. Photo by Lauren Hicks. (July 20, 2018)

Oh my God! I think I might’ve found the best thing to eat in the dining hall, and I’m pretty disappointed I didn’t find out about it before. Sushi. It’s funny, because I kept seeing people with trays of sushi in the cafeteria and I kept wondering, “Where did they find that?” When I first walked into the Emporium, across from the cafeteria, I immediately saw the sushi and knew I just had to buy it.

Anyway, enough about sushi. So far, today has been packed—from visiting Newsday, where we toured the newsroom and talked to journalists there to the press conference at the Long Island Ducks game—I just realized how long a day could really be. If Cathrine and Zach can fit all these events into one single day, I can definitely learn to be more productive with my own time.

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.”

Sebastian Germosen: Looking beyond the Major Leagues

By Taylor Yon
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Sebastian Germosen is devoted to journalism, but sees it as a backup career if his dream of becoming a professional baseball player falls through.

“My goal is to go to the Major Leagues as soon as possible,” said the 16-year-old junior at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens. “It’s my dream job and it’s what my life revolves around. But my backup plan if baseball doesn’t work out is to major in journalism.”

In pursuit of his goal, Germosen plays catcher and third baseman on the his school’s baseball team. His sports role model is José Altuve, a second baseman for the Houston Astros.

Germosen’s interest in journalism was sparked by attending a lecture last fall at Stony Brook University by longtime broadcast journalist Ted Koppel.

He is a staff writer on the school’s newspaper, The Stanner. “I like the newspaper club because it allows me to speak about topics outside of the school and allows me to express my ideas and thoughts on political or world issues freely,” he said.

Germosen’s interest in journalism was also piqued by watching CNN and Fox News.

It isn’t just journalism that makes school appealing to Germosen. “I really enjoy high school, making friends and learning in general,” he said. Germosen primarily takes honors classes and is successful in earning straight A’s. For his upcoming junior year, Germosen will be taking courses including U.S. History Honors, Pre-Calculus, Spanish 3 Honors, Physics Honors, Participation in Government and Constitutional Law.

His teachers and his parents are his biggest role models. “Sebastian is an excellent student and the brains of the family,” Germosen’s mother Erica said. And “he looks out for his little brother.”

In his free time,  Germosen reads, exercises, plays video games and a lot of basketball. “I enjoy these hobbies because they let me relieve myself after stressful days,” he said.

After high school, Germosen’s dream is to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and major in sports management.

To keep his journalism options open, Germosen applied to the Stony Brook University’s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists when his newspaper adviser mentioned it. “I felt relieved and excited when I learned I got accepted,” he said.

“My expectation of the program,” Germosen said, “is that it will be a wonderful program with great teammates and awesome coordinators, and I will learn a lot of new things about the journalism industry.”

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!”

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.”

Emily Palazzotto: Combining passions for journalism and criminal law

By Laila Stevens
Benjamin N. Cardozo High School

Even as a young child, Emily Palazzotto knew how to spark emotion in readers.

“I have always been a strong writer and all my life I have been told my writing moves people,” she said.

For example, in middle school, Palazzotto, of Oakdale, wrote an essay about a personal experience that was able to bring her teacher to tears. The teacher shared the essay with all of her students and it is something she continues to do every year, said Emily’s mother, Kara.

In her freshman year at Connetquot High School, Emily recalled stumbling across journalism as a potential career that would allow her to tie in her other interests, such as dance and cheerleading.

Now 17 and an incoming senior, current events motivate Emily to write, whether it’s regarding a personal issue or something happening in the world around her. “20/20” and crime shows serve as inspiration, she said.

The most influential people in Emily’s encourage her to try new things and connect to people who work in the journalism and communications fields. They describe her as an adventurous, ambitious and caring young woman.

“Once you become a part of her life she opens her heart to you and there is nothing that she won’t do for you,” said Kara Palazzotto. “She will put herself aside to be there for someone whether it’s for the good or the bad.”

Emily’s friend, Alexa Dowling, 17, of Ronkonkoma, also sees her as a motivated writer in and outside of school.

“She always puts so much effort in everything she does, especially her school work. I know that a career in journalism will be a perfect fit for her.”

Emily said she is eager to explore different dimensions of journalism in college–including broadcasting and writing–while also combining her love for criminal law.

She intends on going into law school and travel the world.

“By traveling, I get to encounter more people and more experiences. It will give me more insight into the world and other cultures, and could only build up my character,” Emily said.

But all of Emily’s interests tie back to journalism and storytelling.

Stony Brook University’s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists came as a surprise presented to the class by her AP English Language and Composition teacher. She said she was thrilled to be accepted and optimistic that the program would “lead to so many amazing opportunities and experiences.”

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.”