All posts by Alejandro Serrano (Bay Shore High School)

Wasome week

It is Friday—how exciting. I lost track of time Thursday after working all day in the newsroom with food breaks throughout the day, but my team progressed in our assignments. We agreed on a team name—Wasome Sauce (Wasim is our coordinator).

Everything is coming along together and I can’t believe its been a week. It is a different atmosphere working specifically to finish assignments, rather in school when I have to balance meeting deadlines and editing with homework and reading for other classes.

Working all day yesterday was tiring. But it was a draining type of fatigue. It was not so much physical, but a common feeling that comes with a package of education usually followed by a catharsis of success once you open it. I finished the broadcast piece on the Emergency Operations Center and submitted my story on new police cars on campus for edit.

A panoramic shot my work station Thursday night. Professor Ricioppo sitting in Kelly's seat, helping her with editing.
A panoramic shot of my work station Thursday night. Professor Ricioppo was sitting in Kelly’s seat, helping her with editing.

Professor Ricioppo helped us out with the film editing and learning about scripting tracks, then we laid the tracks down in a little studio booth that was cool and professional. I feel more confident about writing voice-overs and recording and editing now, which was something that I was really looking forward to. Usually at school, I rushed broadcasts to meet deadline and tended to focus on writing more but now I feel comfortable with both.

It has been a fun week and I have learned more than I thought I could learn in a week from walking and planning a report to editing video and audio to playing pool with kids from other camps.

This is my last blog post for the Greene Gazette but I will try to find the time to blog elsewhere. I found it amazing how close the Greene team got and the level of comfort we felt with each other without really knowing one another previously (with a few exceptions).  I will try to stay in touch with everyone I have met, and keep learning and applying skills to journalism wherever it is applicable.

I snapped a picture back during the first photography lesson, that sums up the week.

Profesor Ahmad jumping to help us get a good photo as we practiced newly learned skills.
Profesor Ahmad jumping to help us get a good photo as we practiced newly learned skills.
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The Stony Brook Police department's new Ford Sudan’s are an update to the old crown Victoria’s that the police have been using. (Courtney Taylor)

New cars on campus

The incoming freshmen class won’t be the only new fleet on campus this fall.

In the last month Stony Brook University Police has bought two new Ford Police Interceptors to replace the older Ford Crown Victorias, which were discontinued two years ago.

“So far so good, the cops are loving the car, they’re comfortable in in the car,” said Inspector Robert Swan. “I have a couple police officers who are six feet four inches tall and will politely tell me ‘inspector that car is a little small.’”


The “police package” includes a larger engine, transmission and suspension, as well as more safety features that are not included in the regular sedan.  The Ford Police Interceptor is 75 mph rear crash tested and officers sit behind Level III ballistic door panels, according to Ford.

The door panels are built to fit the Level III Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor NIJ Standard, which protects against a high-powered rifle and threats which are not as great.

“I’m a big proponent of moving forward and newest technologies, I believe it is where the world is going nowadays,” said Steven Wong, lead programmer and client support specialist in the department’s division of information technology. “I’m a big fan of the newer cars that we have and the new technology and computers we are putting into them.”

The new cars equipped with onboard computers will have license plate tracking, and a mobile radio that will connect other places on Long Island. (Kelly Colligan)
The new cars equipped with onboard computers will have license plate tracking, and a mobile radio that will connect other places on Long Island. (Kelly Colligan)

According to the university 2013 Clery Report, there were 73 crimes reported on campus, 39 in residential facilities and 2 off campus; the most common crime reported was burglary in 2012.

“We’ve had an overall reduction in crime, 11 percent in 2012-2013. Burglary ends up being the most common because one perpetuator ends up committing several burglaries; Clery requires us to consider every separate dorm robbed a separate burglary,” said Eric Olen, Assistant Chief of Police for SBU police. “We are also required to report anything near the campus so that would be considered non-campus, on campus includes the library, any classroom, or cafeteria and residence halls are the dormitories.  The concept is to make the community aware of incidents on and off campus for safety.”

Each car can price out differently but the base car is about $30,000. Enhancements such as stripping, computer and emergency equipment, sirens and lights all have to be put on separately which costs several thousand dollars.

“Frankly, this is the best bang for the buck,” said Swan. “We have a large campus, we have to get around quickly, promptly, safely and you can’t do that if you have an old fleet or a fleet that ends up being in the garage half of the time.”

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We’re quacking up

I’m tired but up and quacking out after covering last night’s LI Ducks game. Covering an event is much different than attending an event. I always wondered about that when I saw a press team or photographers at a sporting event or concert. The game was fun in a really different way because you have a completely different perspective while working rather than attending; every time I was in foul territory and wandered off trying to snap a good picture, I felt a fear of getting hit by a ball.

Gregory Commodore "quacking"
Gregory Commodore “quacking”
Early into the reporting, I snapped a shot of a grown man with a “quacker” in his mouth, getting the crowd excited. Then he ran off chasing somebody that I’m assuming he recognized. Towards the end of the night, I remembered that when somebody is clearly identifiable in a picture you need his or her identity and I panicked; my eyes started racing through the general area where I caught the picture and I couldn’t find him. Then I noticed a man setting up a group of people for a picture and when I turned around I found the man taking a picture! Thus I got his name and where he is from. It was a a quacktastic evening from pictures to interviews to getting dirty looks from a couple die-hard Duck fans as I searched for a Bridgeport Blue Fish fans in what clearly appeared to be a home cozier than a pond for these Ducks.

Before the field trip, I must include that Newsday’s own Bob Herzog talked to us about his career covering sports and also about sports journalism, which in a way I think of it as a basis because everything else you that one can cover is sort of his or her “sport” and there are specific aspects that primarily pertain to sports reporting, but if you change the subject those techniques can help other types of reporting. After Bob’s lesson, Connie Conway gave a quick lesson that followed with a lot of hands on about television news.

Madison posing as I took a panoramic shot of studio B.
Madison posing as I took a panoramic shot of studio B.

Before the game, we visited Newsday and got to see how vast it is. Bob came along with us to Newsday (and the Ducks game), inside Newsday there were some writers and editors working quietly, but they were also welcoming. We also got to partially see the printing press at Newsday and learn about the paper’s history. Honestly, I didn’t know how large of a paper Newsday is, which made the experience so much cooler getting to know about its growth. All in all, the day was a fastball with a drop of knowledge that fit just right.

A partial view of one of the printing presses at Newsday
A partial view of one of the printing machines at Newsday
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Leslie Perez

Leslie Perez: A voice that came out through writing

Senior year for Leslie Perez was a new beginning: she wrote her way through her first year of being involved with journalism.

“I believe reading and writing go side by side, so for my senior year I wanted to be a part of the Black and Gold, my school’s paper,” said Leslie, who is 19 years old. Uniondale High School’s newspaper, The Black and Gold has a section designated for it on the high school’s website.

Leslie has always appreciated writing as much as she appreciates the English language, as much as a swimmer appreciates water or a gymnast appreciates floor mats. Leslie found a warm gratitude for writing as she realized that she “had a voice and it came out [through writing].”

Becoming an avid writer for the newspaper club, Leslie earned a plaque for her work on the publication this year and her teacher, Stacey Locurto, suggested she apply for the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists; Leslie eagerly seized the opportunity.

“I want to be a part of the fashion world and work throughout the Big Apple and be a part of its movement and also associate journalism with it,” Leslie said. “I’m glad Mrs. Locurto helped through the application process for the program; with the program I wish to enhance what I already know with creative people as we have a good time learning.”

When Leslie was a youth in elementary school, her teachers told her that she had great writing ability. Leslie accredits an elementary teacher that taught her the “beauty” of words and how to analyze sentences for her fascination of writing and reading.

“I find writing difficult when my mindset isn’t flowing. When in need of inspiration, I reflect on life experiences in a way that is not personal, but more so helpful,” said Leslie. “My biggest motivator is probably my family. My mother always tells me, ‘I tell you things that hurt so that you can take it and run with it and prove me otherwise.’ I strive to do that because it’s not to deprive you of success but to gain it.”

Leslie describes herself as self-determined, observant, ambitious, creative and outgoing. When she isn’t writing she can be found doing many different things to pass time.

“I enjoy being on YouTube and watching people perform and audition. I like being with friends and family, from playing badminton outside to sometimes just revamping my clothes in my room.” she said.

Being a recent grad who aspires to a fashion career alongside some type of journalism, Leslie is curious for the future that journalists have in store in regards to technology.

“I want to know what journalists can do that doesn’t involve only paper and pen but creates more visual articles that intrigue the outside world.” said Leslie.

“Not everything is always easy, I find that when I’m stuck and give it some time, something lovely will develop,” said Leslie. “Broadcasting must be hard work but sounds like a fun time. I feel like there is a lot of hard work, but things like getting make-up done may make it fun, at least in my opinion.”

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cross-campus trek

Cross-campus treks for a story

Day two continued with a final photography lesson with John Williams. Farewells were a tad sad, but we learned a lot in two days and it was great. I think the highlight of the day was being in the newsroom learning about broadcast and just as Professor Ricioppo finished his lesson Professor Ahmad rushed in and told us that we had to go cover our first story. In seven minutes he gave us background on what we were about to cover: a new emergency operations center is being built in the University Police center and we get to break the news. (By we, I mean the team of Kelly, Courtney and Jaqueline). Then Prof. Ahmad mentioned that we missed the bus and we had to walk a solid 27 minutes, which helped us prepare but the sun was scorching and halfway through I felt like a nomad with false hope of a destination. We made it in time and reporting was really fun.

Professor Ahmad leading the pack as we headed back to the newsroom after reporting.
Professor Ahmad leading the pack as we headed back to the newsroom after reporting.
After 2 hours of reporting, we missed another bus! Our timing was on point. As We started our journey back to the newsroom Professor Ahmad started sharing his career and different experiences he’s had.

Noting the disappointment of having to walk with the equipment, he offered Starbucks on him and we grew a bit joyous only to find a closed a Starbucks. I found the situations quite comical and thankfully we made it to the newsroom soon after with the relief that we were just in time for dinner.

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Interviews with a thousand words and learning about pictures worth a thousand words

It is Tuesday, the second official day of camp. The first day was a tight can full of fun surprises. To pick up where I left off yesterday, the interview with Shawn Heilbron was great; I got to ask him about what intentions he has to improve women’s sports, as it had been demonstrated by various sources that he wants to focus on football and basketball. He answered fluently, and he couldn’t stop smiling – he has a lot in store but I believe that information will be released in a story later on the week. He said that working job after job he hadn’t really found that one dream one up until he was at UCLA, where he realized he wanted to be an Athletics Director, and now he is one. I wanted to ask what is he aiming for now, but didn’t get to do so.

After the press conference, we got to learn photography with John Williams, which was fun because I took photography in the fall semester of my junior year and didn’t remember everything vividly. We learned a lot more about techniques from his Pulitzer Prize winning perspective.

Observing the Greene Team practicing photography as a longboarder cruises behind.
John Williams observing the Greene Team practicing photography as a longboarder cruises behind.
After dinner we learned about broadcasting with Professor Ricioppo, specifically we practiced getting good B-roll shots and he told us about his career.  He taught us his “go to” trick of playing with the foreground and background while focusing on something.  I’m excited to use all these new things we are learning.

It was a long day but not in the bad way. After the broadcasting lesson/lecture/seminar/practice we went back to the residence halls where I met Shakir and Reggie, two boys in a pre-med camp that assured Jason and I that they will have our backs in a couple years if we come across any medical issues. Then I headed down to the lounge where I met another boy, Matt, who is at a Math camp and I started conversing with him alongside Madison, Noelia, and Lea. He told us that he is participating in about four camps this summer to kill time. I mean, I wouldn’t mind deriving and integrating or deciphering other hieroglyphs of the mathematics language in my free time, but I wouldn’t do it for two weeks just to pass time! The boy is pretty much learning in an organized form of education year round.

After chatting in the lounge, I headed to the dorm for bed and then, in the blink of an eye and a tiny puddle of drool, the sun was shining and I was greeting the morning with a yawn. I got dressed and then it was breakfast time, the morning news showed unrest in various nations and an editorial about the US’ immigration issue made me wonder about where could the xenophobic opinion, shared by many, have come from in a nation that was founded by all sorts of European immigrants?

After breakfast we went to the newsroom and learned about news writing, and midway through the lesson Sandra Peddie, an investigative reporter from Newsday, came in and talked to us about her career.  The day was still young and we are about to learn more about photography with John Williams.

Every person we have met whom has shared his or her career with us has demonstrated that the field is far from boring, more of a career in which every step you reach for a branch that is higher and higher as you soar over a river in the jungle of informing contemporary beings on events that are concurrent with everyday life.

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Busy day, great start

Well, it’s the first full day of camp and it is more comfortable than school, yet we are still learning which is great.  Breakfast wasn’t bad, but waking up was rough this morning.  So far, I’ve learned that improvisation can be key, it is easy to get lost on campus, “to do” checklists are helpful and asking questions is better than wondering.

Last night went swell, after the barbeque and farewell to parents we discussed story ideas and it was very similar to budget meetings I have with my school paper. The major difference was that we weren’t gathered in a circle.  After the latter we were left to downtime in the lounge where we ordered pizza and attempted to watch Monsters University—it is actually hard to watch a movie as other camps are deep in conversation and you are barely getting away from the sound of greetings and ice breakers with your fellow camp mates.

It is interesting how similar my roommate and I are.  Jason is from Baldwin and our music tastes compliment more than just each other’s ears, clothing style fashion is in the same ball park, we are both going to be editors-in-chief our senior year and we share similar opinions on everyday teenage things such as sleep (rules).

Jason, staring off into the distance of the newsroom
Jason, staring off into the distance of the newsroom.

There are only five dudes so it is not hard to interact or chill with everyone in one dorm, which is pretty cool.  The dorms are spacious.  I wonder why there are more girls than guys—is this how the journalism and communications field is?  We all get along which is always a good thing, there are all sorts of other people here and it is pretty cool.

We are now off to interview the new Athletic Director, Shawn Heilbron.  It looks like it’s going to be a busy day, but it will be fun.

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