Steeped in tough assignments

During the reception for the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists on June 1, 16-year-old Ian Berry showed his determination to start on the right foot by being the first to arrive and introducing himself to everyone in the room.

Ian Berry

Ian Berry / Photo by Wasim Ahmad

“I found him to be quite engaging and outgoing at the event, despite that it could have been an intimidating setting for others,” said Marcy McGinnis, the associate dean at the Stony Brook School of Journalism.

A resident of the village of Bay Shore in Suffolk County since he was in the fourth grade, Ian is a student at Islip High School and will be entering 11th grade this fall. His involvement in student media includes writing for the school newspaper, “The Buccaneer”, under the supervision of Barbara Wagner, the head of the school’s English department.

This past school year, Ian wrote an article on the significance of the Tea Party, an American populist political movement, to the United States. He took pride in this particular article because he believes that he thought outside of the box while writing his opinion.

He wrote, “The Tea Party movement, a group of men and women from both the Grand Old Party and the Democrat Party, is for real, and every individual needs to be aware of who they are, what they stand for and why they are to be supported.”

Up until his acceptance into the Institute, the only news Ian read on a regular basis was the sports section of Newsday, a newspaper that primarily serves Long Island. In preparation for his week at Stony Brook, Ian began to watch the cable news channel CNN daily.

High school journalism is not the only way Ian is involved in his school. His favorite subjects are global history and English, and he is a member of Islip High School’s honor society.

“I’m also really into mock trials because I’m such a loser,” Ian said jokingly during a tour of the Stony Brook campus.

When Ian is not writing, he spends his time as a typical teenager would — hanging out with his friends, working at a local ice cream shop known as Coyle’s, and going to Robert Moses Beach, his favorite place in the world. He also focuses a great deal on training for cross-country, often spending his mornings running.

According to his mother, Ian has enjoyed writing for most of his life.

“I remember that he liked to write ever since he learned to write,” said Anne Lang. “Around the time he was in first grade he wrote and drew an entire comic called ‘Super Flat Dog.’ He would also write little poems and stories … I was very impressed with a piece he wrote last year called ‘True Love.’ It was a short story about a guy and a girl who fell in love but found out that one was a Yankees fan and the other was a Red Sox fan.”

Sometimes when he has an itch to write, Ian stays up late at night writing a novel. The subject matter of the novel is currently a secret.

As for his career aspirations, Ian would like to be a journalist, saying that he likes the idea of being the voice behind the headlines. He is also open to becoming a broadcast news analyst.

“I wonder if he’ll be a journalist or a novelist,” said Lang. “He’s very creative. I sometimes wonder if news writing will hinder his creativity because it is very factual, but I’m very excited for whatever he’ll be.”