I had fun this week at the Robert W. Greene Institute for High School Journalists. Today we met with people like Yaw Bonsu, who has interviewed many of my favorite basketball players, and Robert Pertusati, who is a dean for college admissions. Throughout this week, we got to meet with successful journalists in different fields. Although I am sad that the week is ending, I still got to learn a lot from everyone.

Day 5: So close to saying goodbye

The week is almost over and everyone is making progress with their project. We had Chrissy Sampson, Wasim Ahmad, and Sarah M. Kazadi. Ms. Kazadi showed an emotional video that she made after the passing of the great Kobe Bryant. All of my work is moving smoothly as the week is coming to a close. One thing that I learned from today was that if you’re curious, you will always bump into stories.

Learning from experts

Day 2 was great! We had Stephanie Brumsey come as a guest speaker. She told us about how networking is more useful than it seems, and how to conduct an interview. Then, Professor Dowdy taught us about the ledes in a story.

After a 10 minute break, we broke up into groups to discuss a story to write about. I got how life is going back to “normal” post-pandemic. So far, I think the camp has gotten off on the right foot.

Crowds are back at the ball park

By Shayaan Tirmizi
Centereach and

Chloe Findlay
Long Island Lutheran High School

After staying at home for over a year, people are finally beginning to go out in large, outdoor, public gatherings again this summer. Many fans are especially excited to return to Fairfield Properties Ballpark to see the Long Island Ducks play again. People like season ticket holder Dorothy Straus are happy to be back. “No mask, normality is coming back, and I’m very happy about it,” she said. 

About 5,500 fans came out to the Long Island Ducks game after more than a year of no games during the COVID-19 crisis (Photo by Chloe Findlay)

Stony Brook University alum Nick Musumeci, 24, was ecstatic to be back at a ballgame. “It’s just nice to be back at a ballgame for a change,” he said. “I miss this.”

While masks weren’t a requirement at the ball bark, some fans chose to wear them. Spectator Tinamarie Zuber was cautious about the COVID-19 variants. “I wish more people had masks on,” Zuber said. 

And even with another variant of COVID-19 rapidly spreading, Dr. Sharon Nachman, an infectious disease specialist at Stony Brook University Hospital, described sporting events as safe. “You’re probably okay because you are in an open area, and you’re really not breathing on top of each other,” Nachman said. “You are kind of separated in your seats.”

Fireworks captivated fans at the Long Island Ducks game (Photo by Chloe Findlay)

But Dr. Nachman also emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated. “We do not have a good vaccination rate in young adults, [aged] 12-30 … That can be easily addressed by having more of that age group vaccinated.” 

Michael Polak, the vice president of communication for the LI Ducks, said there was an amazing turnout for the July 12 game. “So now I think, since all those [CDC guidelines] have been lifted, we’ve certainly seen more and more people coming out and enjoying games,” Polak said. The ballpark, which has a capacity of about 6,000, was filled with loads of fans eager to cheer the Ducks on. “We had almost  5,500 people this Saturday night when we had fireworks,” Polak added. 

He said that he is grateful for the many fans that have supported the team: “We are leading the league in attendance right now, so that’s a really good thing.”

Oona Montandon: Starting her journalism journey young

By Shayaan Tirmizi

Oona Montandon has been interested in journalism since kindergarten, when she wrote a profile on a school security guard and liked the experience.

In first grade, she wrote for her school newspaper. And in 2012, Oona wrote a few articles for a youth paper called Firecracker.

Oona, now 17, of Windsor Terrace in Brooklyn, is a rising senior at Millennium Brooklyn High School where she can pursue her passion for writing and journalism.

“As of right now, I’m just really enjoying getting to know and better understand journalism,” she said, “but I think my favorite thing about it is probably getting to hear from so many different people, and putting new perspectives into the world.”

Oona’s journalism experience has impacted her 15-year-old sister Daphne.

“The way Oona used writing to tell her stories inspired me to also become a storyteller,” Daphne said. “However, I don’t think it would be through writing, but instead film.” 

Oona’s parents, Catherine and Maccabee, are also journalists. Catherine writes for GrowNYC and Maccabee is a freelance editor. Both parents have given Oona advice on how to be a successful journalist.

My dad is a big believer in ‘don’t do things you hate,’ so although he wouldn’t encourage quitting, I’ve learned from him that you don’t have to be miserable with what you do, and the best work you’ll produce is when you’re doing things you enjoy.”

Oona said she imagined being an investigative journalist, but she is also intrigued by the idea of becoming a music critic. 

In her free time, Oona likes to write poetry, hang out with friends and play soccer. She also has a part-time job as a restaurant hostess. 

“Living in Brooklyn and living off the subway has given me so much more freedom than I’d imagine I’d have living outside the city. I feel so lucky to be able to go on my own or with friends to new places every day.”

When it comes to life after high school, Oona said, “I’ve always fantasized about going to Europe for college, someplace like Trinity [College Dublin] because I have Irish citizenship.” She’d also love to go to Claremont College, “or someplace on the East Coast, maybe Stony Brook! I’m still figuring it out for sure.” 

If journalism doesn’t work out, Oona is interested in studying linguistics.

Oona wanted to attend the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists because “I wanted to learn more about journalism and this seemed like a great crash course.”

Oona said she intends to leave a lasting impact on the field. “I definitely want to reimagine the ethical considerations of journalism. In a social media world, real journalism can be used to dispel misinformation and even save lives. I think navigating ‘the truth’ in the upcoming years is going to be really important, and a discussion I’d like to be a part of.”

Day 4 on the air

Some business attire

Day 4 was a lot of fun, rehearsing and going on air. Throughout the day we got to see ourselves and other people go on air, all compiled into a video by the infamous Mr. Phil Altiere. At the end of the day, we broke out into groups with our partners and, it turns out, we got a huge chunk of our project done.

An educational day 3 at the Greene Team

Day 3 was pretty long, but very educational. We had Long Island Herald Editor Kate Nalepinski come speak with us during a pep talk. She told us that we should read the same story from different outlets to see how the same story can be told in different ways. Then Newsday photographer John Williams gave us some tips on how to become a great photographer. Professor Dowdy even called him the greatest photographer that he has ever seen without hesitation.