Team Profiles


Laylah Ametewee
Centereach High School 

As a young child, it’s always been Laylah Ametewee’s dream to share her strong voice with other writers.

“I believe journalism is in my blood,” said the Centereach High School rising senior. “If a writer is able to make a boring topic  interesting, to me that’s how you know a writer has a way with their words.” 

Laylah’s interest in journalism began with her grandmother, and with her father who had been a journalist in Ghana before coming to America in 1997. Laylah and her grandmother would watch “Good Morning America” together at 7 a.m., and Robin Roberts and Gayle King became her role models. Although her grandmother died in 2014, Laylah wants to pursue her dream of becoming a journalist in her memory.

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Jayson Babcock
Westhampton Beach High School

Jayson Babcock knew he loved sports since he played his first tee ball game when he was three.  And he knew he wanted to be a professional sportswriter after watching the Yankees made the American League Championship Series in 2017.

“My eyes opened to the amazing world of sports,” he said. “And writing about sports became my passion. And I knew from when I was 13 that sports journalism was for me.”

The 16-year-old rising junior at Westhampton Beach High School loves his sports and has seen every Yankees game since 2016. “My  life wouldn’t be complete without the Yankees,” he said. He plays on his school’s junior varsity baseball team. He also enjoys playing volleyball in gym class.

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Delilah Belmont
The Wheatley School

Delilah Belmont is no stranger to adapting to foreign environments. 

In her sixteen years, The Wheatley School rising senior has already lived in three countries. “I’ve moved around a lot,” she said. “I was born in England, and then spent a few years on a Caribbean island called Antigua, which is crazy.”

Delilah’s interest in journalism was triggered by an early cinematic experience. “The first thing that made me feel like ‘Wow, that’s something I might want to do’ was about five years ago,” she said. “My dad showed me the movie “Spotlight,” which is now my favorite movie ever. I saw that movie and I thought ‘I want to be an investigative journalist.’” 

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Abigail Changoor
Benjamin N. Cardozo High School

Abigail Changoor is determined to become an extraordinary journalist.

The rising senior at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Bayside, Queens, had plenty of struggles growing up, so she took on reading and writing as a way to escape reality. 

Abigail discovered journalism in her freshman year when her teachers, who thought she had a talent for writing, encouraged her to contribute to her school newspaper, The Verdict. Abigail has written about “The Catcher in the Rye” and profiles of family members and students, as well as some anonymous advice columns. Her most recent story, “The Fight to Walk,” focused on the struggles of being a senior in the COVID-19 era. 

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Maeve Fishel
Edward R. Murrow High School 

Maeve Fishel says she is drawn to the world of storytelling.

The rising senior at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn is joyful and enthusiastic, and delighted to share her love for journalism. When asked about the kinds of topics she enjoys covering, Maeve’s answer was straightforward: “everything.”

The daughter of Ian Fishel, a psychiatrist originally from South Africa, and Deirdre Fishel, a professor of documentary filmmaking at City College and a filmmaker herself, currently working on a project about the female police commanders in the Minneapolis Police Department.

According to Maeve, her mother’s work in capturing the truth through powerful stories has encouraged her to do the same. For Maeve’s future, Ms. Fishel said she hopes for her daughter to continue in journalism “with compassion and ethics.”

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Julie Ham
East Brunswick High School

Julie Ham says she has always had a profound interest in writing.

Although the rising senior at East Brunswick High School in New Jersey loves math, playing the piano and violin, baking, and coding, her passion for reading and writing has always stood out. 

“I first saw Julie’s interest in journalism shine in freshman year English class, when I was able to see Julie take command and let her skills strike out,” Mary Farag, one of Julie’s closest friends, said.

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Abigail Hawker 
Sewanhaka High School

A 16-year-old, 12th-grader at Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park, she has dreams of pursuing an exciting and informative career in journalism. “I want to be a reporter for CNN or ABC, any big news channel,” Abigail said. “I wanna make a name for myself.” 

To start toward that goal, she is participating in the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalism at Stony Brook University.

Abigail sees the Greene program as an “exciting opportunity, one thing that I hope to learn from this program is how to be a good reporter, to use skills that I learn from this, and apply them in the future.”

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Rena Max
Hebrew Academy of Nassau County

Rena Max really likes to write.

“I always enjoyed words, stories, writing,” the rising senior at Hebrew Academy of Nassau County said. 

Rena, 16, who lives in Plainview with her mom, dad, Daniel, and her siblings Elana and Ari, said, “My mom was reading the Jewish Week two years ago and saw Fresh Ink for Teens, which is the online-only teen section in Jewish Week. She said I should apply so I did and I have been there ever since.” Rena is also in clubs like Torah Bowl and College Bowl, which are trivia game clubs, mathletes, robotics and astronomy. 

At an early age 10 or 11, Rena started writing. “She used to write stories when she was younger and her teachers would say it was really good and it should be in a book,” her mother, Lisa, said.

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Alex Nandalall
Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School

Alex Nandallal says he doesn’t yet know what he wants to do for a career, but he knows this: he wants to find a way to help his diverse community in Jamaica, Queens. 

“I think it really began when I started high school, as I began to learn more about social issues and the misconception that previous instances of activism rid the world of prejudice, misogyny, and corruption,” said Alex, a 16-year-old incoming senior at Queens Gateway to Health Sciences in Jamaica. 

Alex takes part in the Capstone Program at school, which he says helps expose him to real-life issues.

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Eve Neumann
Edward R Murrow High School

Eve Neumann has always loved expressing herself through the written word. But she says that creative writing didn’t feel right to her, and she was never able to finish her stories. Then she discovered journalism and everything fell into place.

 A rising junior at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, she discovered journalism during her sophomore year in The First Take Journalism Program, which she attended every Saturday last fall. She now uses what she learned by writing for her school paper, The Murrow Network. Her beat is the student body. Some major pieces that she has written have covered how couples were dealing with social distancing, a school trip to Italy before the pandemic, and the aftermath of Murrow’s drama director deciding to cast an African-American based show “color-blind.”  

When Eve started writing she said she was able to create a connection with the student body at Murrow because of her easy-going personality, respectful behavior and positive attitude.     

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Lycianne Pitts
New Explorations HS (NEST+M)

Lyciaanne Pitts loves to hear other peoples’ points of view. 

The 15-year-old sophomore from Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn started participating in Socratic Seminars at her school, NEST+m (New Explorations in Science, Technology and Math), in sixth grade. The class sat in a circle to debate questions raised by the topic they had just learned about. 

“That really got me interested in other people’s perspectives,” she said. 

After that, Lycianne started to seek out other peoples’ opinions and began discussions with them. These discussions are Lycianne’s form of journalism. In the future, she hopes to share her thoughts on Black culture and pop culture in a podcast or YouTube channel. 

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Ni’yah-Marie Preacely
Newfield High School

As a 12-year-old Haitain immigrant, Ni’Yah Marie Preacely used writing to help cope with the bullying that she faced in middle school due to her appearance. 

“They would call me overweight and not pretty enough,” said the 16-year-old junior at Newfield High School in Selden.  Ni’Yah said, “While I like to be seen as strong, I can admit I was hurt and writing gave me an outlet to be honest with myself and to write out my emotions.”

Ni’Yah enjoys writing for herself as opposed to school publications.  “Composing my feelings allowed me to be free and turn my pain into distant memories as I turned the page to a new chapter – helping me rid myself from a dark place. Discovering my enthusiasm for writing provided clarity in a time of chaos,” she said. 

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Candace Russell
The Kew-Forest School

Candace Russell began reading when she was three and hasn’t stopped since. 

“I think that was the window into writing for her because she was exposed to these authors at a very young age,” said Fhairmain Maria Russell, Candace’s mom. “Her love of reading grew, and I believe that because she fell in love with books and different writers, she had the opportunity to see how they used voice and how they created images. I think that helped her write.”

As a child, Candace, now a rising junior at the Kew-Forest School in Forest Hills, was a big fan of stories like the Magic Tree House and Harry Potter. As she got older, she began to realize that English and history were her strong suits. Writing book reports became an enjoyable task, rather than an annoyance, and over time her passion started to align with her skills. 

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Amelia Semple
Northport High School

Amelia Semple is hoping to achieve her dream job as a library scientist through studying journalism.

Even though the rising senior at Northport High School loves journalism, she primarily views it as a pathway to what she really wants to study: library science. That is a form of social science that includes organizing and managing books and information that would usually appear in libraries.

“Journalism is definitely a hobby, but it’s so ingrained in my life that I want to use it in my path towards being a library scientist,” she said.

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Nicholas Sewgobind 
Benjamin N. Cardozo High School

Growing up, journalism was not something that crossed Nicholas Sewgobind’s mind.  

“I have always been a sports fan since I was young because I was always surrounded by sports while I grew up with my older cousins,” said the 17-year-old varsity football player at Cardozo High School in Bayside, Queens.  “I’ve been playing football since I was seven.  The New England Patriots were always a favorite of mine, and I am the biggest Tom Brady fan.”

Writing, especially when it comes to sports, is something he enjoys, said Nicholas, who lives in Ozone Park, Queens, with his mother, older sister and younger brother.  

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Anabella Torres
Ward Melville High School

Anabella Torres loves helping people.

“She’s very service-oriented,” said her mother, Annela Ahmedani. “I think she feels good when she’s doing things to help others.”

The rising senior at Ward Melville High School in Setauket has been active in two school clubs she thinks provide a good opportunity to help people. The first one is the Key Club. Anabella joined the community service club in tenth grade. She described it as “an international organization made up of young people in high school who are looking to help their home, school and community.” She said the Key Club gave her a “direct avenue to be able to help people.” The Ward Melville club has approximately 200 members. Anabella was elected president for the coming school year.

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Shruti Vadada
Herricks High School

Henry Luce once said “I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world” — and Shruti Vadada abides by these words. 

When the rising junior at Herricks High School isn’t poised with pen over paper at her favorite writing spot in front of her window outlooking her yard in Roslyn of rolling green hills, she enjoys completing paint by numbers and baking — a lot. She recommends the Bon Appetit chocolate chip cookie recipe for any fellow aspiring quarantine bakers, and she glows when mentioning one of her favorite YouTube cooking channels, Tasty. 

Shruti’s friends describe her as a leader. “Shruti would be the first person to propose the group go exploring into parks or woods, urging on those who are skeptical, and always ready to explore the unknown,” close friend Roshni Patel related. 

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Claire Wos
St. Anthony’s High School

Claire Wos is unsure of what her career will be but knows it will definitely involve writing.

“That was my dream for a while and I hope I’ll write something someday, maybe when I’m retired, but I’m still not sure what,” said Claire, a 16-year-old incoming senior at St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington. “I’ve always loved reading, especially as a kid, so as I got older I really liked writing in my high school English classes. And I want to travel because there are so many places I want to see before I die, so I figured if I could combine both of those things, I’d be happy in my career, which is something I want more than anything.”

Claire loves literature and creative writing. “The Catcher in The Rye is my favorite read and I have a strong relatability with it,” she said.    

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Erin Ye
Huntington High School

For Erin Ye, writing has been a part of her life since early childhood. 

“I first became interested in writing when I was pretty young,” said the 15-year-old rising junior at Huntington High School. “Pretty young” for Erin was in kindergarten. “At first it was basically just writing poetry on my own.” 

Erin’s first experience with journalism came when she joined her school newspaper, the Dispatch, as a freshman. “I got really into the interview process and also being able to reach a larger group of people through writing,” she said.  

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