Day 4: Practical tips and a refreshing walk

Today was mostly a day for me to sit down and make sure I got my work done.

I enjoyed hearing from all the speakers today. I particularly appreciated hearing from Sarah Kazadi and being able to see her work. I also liked hearing from Wasim Ahmad because I actually have an Instagram where I post my photography, so I liked hearing all the tips he had in terms of keeping up social media accounts.

After I completed my work (the first drafts at least), I took a break and walked around my neighborhood. I also listened to a podcast about one of my favorite movies (“Dead Poets Society”) on my walk before I went back to my house and met with my team members to discuss our progress.

The sky looked pretty tonight! / Photo by Isabella Lenarduzzi

Hahn’s bill seeks to stem harm of opioid epidemic

By Isabella Lenarduzzi
Kings Park High School

Opioid medications, such as oxycodone, above, are highly addictive and can be abused by people who are prescribed them. (Photo by Michelle Paszek.)

After a five-year legal battle, three pharmaceutical companies and distributors reached a settlement with Suffolk and Nassau counties on July 12 for their roles in furthering the deadly opioid addiction crisis. Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn announced this week that she plans to introduce a bill to ensure that money gets to where it is most needed.

Suffolk County expects to receive approximately $100 million in total from the settlement, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a press conference this week. 

As lawsuits and settlements like this play out in courtrooms across the country, people are raising concerns over how this money will be spent.

“Any money we get has to be invested into treatment and prevention,” Hahn said during a news conference Tuesday, rather than reimbursing county agencies “for funds they’ve already expended” on other issues. 

She said with her new proposed legislation, the money would go to addiction and mental health treatment centers, methadone clinics, and other support services for people who are addicted to opioids. She also said it is important to make healthcare accessible for people who are addicted. 

According to the Suffolk County Addiction and Support Advisory Panel, there were 1,381 reported overdoses, both fatal and non-fatal, in 2019. In 2020 that number increased to 1,515 overdoses in the county. Across the U.S., there were an estimated 93,330 reported overdoses in 2020, which is 5 percent higher than in 2019, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports. 

“This was not the drug-slingers on the street who were causing the problem,” Robert Calarco, the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, said in a news conference this week. “It was the drug-slingers in executive board offices causing the problem, sending this problem back to us in Suffolk County . . . We are finally holding them accountable today.”

Hahn said she wants to ensure there is no misuse of the settlement money, saying, “It’s important we spend it right.”

Her plan would establish a task force of experts and individuals from organizations like the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence who would assess and decide where the money should go. This settlement is also a big win for LICADD, as its executive director, Steve Chassman, puts it.

“Certain U.S. pharmaceutical companies put dollars and cents ahead of public health and people’s lives. [It] is tragic on many levels,” Mr. Chassman said in an interview this week. “We weren’t just fighting the disease of substance abuse disorder or opioid dependence, we were fighting big capital and big pharma, over-prescribers.”

Johnson and Johnson’s executive vice president, Michael Ullmann, said in a statement on the company’s website this week that “we recognize the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health issue . . . This settlement will directly support state and local efforts to make meaningful progress in addressing the opioid crisis in the United States.”

Hahn’s new legislation builds upon her previous work in the Suffolk County Legislature. Because of a bill she wrote in 2012, which was adopted by the Suffolk County Legislature, all Suffolk County Police Department officers are now trained and equipped with a medication called naloxone, also known as Narcan, in order to prevent opioid overdose deaths. New York State eventually followed suit.

According to the New York State Department of Health, in 2019, law enforcement officers across the state reported using naloxone 1,558 times.

The perks of being T’Neil Gooden

By Isabella Lenarduzzi
Kings Park High School

T’Neil Gooden is striving to become the first person in her family to pursue a writing-based career in journalism.

T’Neil is a 17-year-old rising senior at Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences in Brooklyn.

Alysia Charles, a friend of T’Neil’s, explains that, “T’Neil truly has a way with words, which is evident if you read her writing. With her persistence I feel she would go far in journalism.”

T’Neil talked about her love of reading, with her favorite book being Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch. Not only does T’Neil love reading, she pays close attention to all things she reads, revealing that she has a long-running note on her phone where she keeps track of quotes that she finds throughout her day that are important to her. 

She also said her favorite movie is The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is a movie that heavily focuses on a character who loves literature and at the same time is figuring out who he is and what his place is in the society that he lives in.

T’Neil reflects that after coming to New York from Jamaica, she “felt really out of place [in this] new environment because it was so populated [but] as the years went on I started to come out of my shell.” 

                            Made with Clipchamp                                  

In watching The Perks of Being a Wallflower, this feeling of loneliness or separation from the crowd may not have been a new feeling to her, and she may have felt a connection to this story for this reason, as well as because of her love of literature.

Similar to the main character of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, T’Neil’s favorite teacher she has had to date is her freshman year English teacher, Mr. Oleson. This teacher ultimately inspired her interest in writing and journalism. 

When she’s at school T’Neil is not heavily involved in any sort of journalism programs but she is still very interested in her school’s academics and extracurriculars. T’Neil is part of her school’s Black Student Union and she created a club called Future Preparation Club, which works to help her fellow students become prepared for college and life beyond high school. 

T’Neil’s interest in journalism also stems from years of watching the news every morning and night with her family. This constant exposure led to her interest in becoming a broadcast journalist for a cable TV network. 

 In terms of what she’d like from the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists, T’Neil said, “the one thing that I want to gain is exposure and more of an understanding [of what journalism is]. You watch YouTube videos of what journalism is but nothing is really specific enough for me to [know] this is what I want to do.”

Day 3: Studio and LICADD

Today consisted of two things: Our studio day and interviews.

The studio day was fun. At first, recording the piece was a little stressful, especially because my group was the first to go. I don’t think my delivery of the script was the best, but I think if I had taken more time to prepare it would’ve been much better. It was nice to have a little break as well after we were done recording (especially since it rained during the break, and I love the rain).

Later in the day my group interviewed Steve Chassman from the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (LICADD). This might have been my favorite interview that I’ve done yet. It was really eye-opening. He mentioned that a big problem with the response to the opioid crisis is that people are viewing it as a moral issue rather than the public heath issue that it is. I also thought it was really interesting to hear that he had prior experience from the AIDS crisis and he mentioned a lot of similarities that he’s noticed between the AIDS and opioid crisis. I thought that it was a really intriguing way to talk about it, I had never thought about it in that way but now I know that the social and governmental response to both crises have a lot more similarities than I realized.

That was pretty much it for today, I’m both stressed and looking forward to tomorrow. I know I have a bit of work ahead of me but I like the feeling of accomplishment I get after completing something I’ve been working hard on.

Day 2: Three interesting people

I really enjoyed listening to and learning from Newsday photographer John Williams. I wasn’t expecting to take too many notes on his talk, but he gave a lot of useful information that I plan to use in my photography. I ended up using an entire page (front and back) for notes. I love how photography interacts with journalism and I became even more interested in it in the past year. It is so mesmerizing how some news photographers can capture so much emotion and, a lot of times, it isn’t staged or planned. My favorite photojournalist at the moment is Pulitzer Prize winner Julio Cortez.

This is one of my favorite photos that I’ve taken. I took it two years ago at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

Today I also got to speak with two other really interesting people.

Dr. Sharon Nachman is a pediatric and infectious disease expert at Stony Brook. She provided a lot of insight into COVID-19 and how the virus can spread (or be prevented from spreading). She also told us that the Delta variant of COVID-19 virus is about sixty times more infectious than the alpha strand that has been going around, which is really strange to think about because I had already thought of COVID-19 as this really easily spreadable virus and now its even easier to spread.

Kara Hahn is a Suffolk County legislator who is planning on running for Congress in New York’s first Congressional district (which is my district!). As someone who loves politics, I found this press interview really intriguing. It’s really cool to think of how much an impact one person can have on a whole county. I had known that all police officers in Suffolk carried Narcan for a while, but I didn’t know that it was only since 2012 and because of Kara Hahn’s efforts.

A great day for random facts

Day one was great!

Today’s random fun fact that I learned: When CNN/Fox/MSNBC hosts call politicians nicknames, it’s written into the script. For some reason I always assumed they were just going off script and rambling.

This was my setup for the day! I’m getting some use out of my school Chromebook so the battery doesn’t get messed up over the summer (that and my MacBook dies pretty quick so it’s not good for Zoom).

Today we learned about ledes and tried out writing some of our own. We also learned about the inverse pyramid structure for writing a story. I thought it was really interesting hearing about how it originated during the Civil War and it just stuck (as you might be able to guess by now, I like random facts, particularly when they’re history related, haha).