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.”

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!”

Chelsea Sibri: Drawn to journalism and medicine

By Parker Schug
Bayport – Blue Point High School

Seventeen-year-old Chelsea Sibri has demonstrated her drive since childhood.

“I’m a very energetic and fun person, but when it comes to work, I’m very hardworking,” said the 17-year-old year old senior at The Scholars’ Academy, in Rockaway Park, New York.

As a young girl with the dream of becoming a doctor, Chelsea worked to reach her goal. Later, after discovering her interest in reporting, Chelsea began to excel in English class. Her newfound passion made her reconsider her dream, but for now she’s pursuing both science and journalism. “I am thinking about double-majoring,” she said.

Chelsea says she has always understood the value of perseverance. As the child of two immigrant parents, she saw the effects of diligence.  “They taught me that with hard work, you really do make it,’ Chelsea said. “That was motivation to work hard.” According to her friend Jonathan Mora, “Chelsea continuously pushes herself.”

Her go-get-it attitude is evident in all that she does. “I will be taking AP Biology, AP Psychology, AP English and AP Art History. I am on the swim team, I’m vice president of my Chemistry Club and I am part of the school newspaper,” she said. As if challenging herself in school is not enough, Chelsea also volunteers in a doctor’s office to get more experience in the medical field.

Despite her busy schedule, she still manages to have fun by going to concerts and exploring the city. “Life can be short so I really want to make the most of it,” she said.

At home, Chelsea is industrious, helping her mother prepare meals. She will continue on her intended path  with the great support from her family, especially her older brother Anthony, who she describes as “a parental figure”.

As much as she prides herself in being self-sufficient, her niece, Angeles, stated, “Chelsea’s not afraid to ask for help because she knows that it’ll help her in the long run.”

Although Chelsea was preparing for a career in the medical field by taking challenging science courses, she was also drawn to the intensity of journalism. What ultimately sparked her interest in media was where she was raised, just 45 minutes from Manhattan.  Ozone Park was a good place to get exposed to the excitement of reporting. “There is so much media in the city, and that impacted me. It presented a big opportunity.”

Chelsea feels that the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute For High School Journalists will be a crucial step in deciding whether or not journalism is for her. “I’m looking forward to the amount of writing we will do,” she said. “I feel like this week at Stony Brook will give me a closer look into what journalism really is.”

Whatever her career choice, Chelsea plans to continue writing. “Writing is my hobby,” she said. “It’s a great way to release stress.”