All posts by Laura Fallick (Commack High School)

Goodbye forever, Greene Team

The last day being on the Greene Team has snuck up.  It feels like just yesterday I was becoming acquainted with other team members.

The progress I have made in five days is astonishing.  Learning from journalism professionals has made me a better journalist and more interested in blogging.  It has really been an amazing experience overall.  The food was good, an unpopular opinion, the professors were helpful and respectful, and I made lifelong friends with whom I’d love to keep in touch.  Being surrounded by aspiring journalists has been nice because we can talk about our future and interests.  I wish I could do this program again next year, but I hope to come back as a student at Stony Brook University rather than a student on the Greene Team.

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The Greene Team being kooky on the Newsday lawn. Photo credit: Wasim Ahmad

Although I’m sad to leave my friends and professors, I’m excited to go home and teach my friends writing techniques and tips I have learned this week.  Also, I can’t wait to show my parents all my pieces I have been working hard on.  I want to impress my family members and friends with my writing and journalism skills because I want to show them how serious I am about journalism.

Even though I am leaving my new friends, I plan to have reunions with them somewhat frequently.  It’s going to be weird not waking up and getting ready to go out at 7 a.m. on about six hours of sleep with the girls.  Surprisingly, I might actually be a little upset I won’t be waking up so early and working for over twelve hours a day.  I am so passionate about journalism; it doesn’t even feel like one hour.  Time flies and it’s not okay with me.

I know for sure this will not be my last journalistic experience, and hopefully not my last journalistic experience at SBU.  My goal at the beginning of this week was to hone my writing and editing skills.  I think I mastered the skills I wanted to and completed my goal, which makes me feel satisfied and accomplished.

I will miss taking panoramas and asking professor Ahmad if he can make myPhoto on 7-25-14 at 8.11 AM #4 panoramas 3D.  I will miss giving Noelia Vazquez a hard time whenever she spoke.  I will miss taking ugly pictures on Photo Booth with Lisa Angell when we finish our work.  I will miss everything about this program and it’s heartbreaking that I have to leave tomorrow afternoon.  Positively speaking, this experience was life changing and I will use the tools and techniques learned for the rest of my life.  I’d like to thank everyone who made this week fantastic.

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Maria Garcia, 18,  one of the cancer survivors honored at The Daniel Brooks Memorial Educational Award for Students with Cancer. She was diagnosed at two years old with rhabdomyosarcoma and underwent treatment until she was six. (Lisa Angell)

Scholarships honor cancer survivors

Many students find school difficult.  Managing the many different facets of receiving an education is hard enough when you are perfectly healthy, but imagine trying to do all of that while fighting a life-threatening disease.

It may seem like an impossible task, but that is exactly what the 39 students who were honored at The Daniel Brooks Memorial Educational Award for Students with Cancer reception and celebration did.


The reception, held July 22  at Stony Brook University’s Charles B. Wang Center, commemorated cancer survivors who were treated at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, successfully graduated high school and were on their way to college.  The event was created in memory of Daniel Brooks, a leukemia survivor who was  struck and killed by a car in 2002.

Before Brooks was fatally hit, he was asked to help explore and support the needs of children suffering from cancer.  Debra Giugliano, head of the program, said Brooks was instrumental when asked to help the cause.  “He was a great kid,” Giugliano said.  “He had a great heart, he always wanted to help the little kids that were in the clinic.”

The event, created in honor of Brooks, was planned by parents whose children were treated for cancer at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

“Early on, we met a great group of parents and we realized that one of the most important things for our kids was to get them back into school,” said Giugliano.  “We have to plug them back, we have to get them into school, and we have to help support that.”  She added that the parents wanted to be proactive and help the cause.

Stony Brook Children's Hospital hosted The Daniel Brooks Memorial Educational  Award reception at the Wang Center. The program provides scholarships to cancer survivors to help pay for college. (Lisa Angell)
Stony Brook Children’s Hospital hosted The Daniel Brooks Memorial Educational Award reception at the Wang Center. The program provides scholarships to cancer survivors to help pay for college. (Lisa Angell)

Those who were involved with taking care of the cancer patients started going out to schools and tried to provide information about the children’s medical needs, how their disease and illness impacts their education and what the community can do while the kids were missing school and staying at the hospital.  They wanted to publicize the medical and financial burden the families and the students faced, hoping to give the patients their necessary care.

The reception is centered around celebrating the accomplishments of those being honored.  It also serves to acknowledge the courage, strength and perseverance of the survivors, organizers said.

“We realized that one of the most important things for our kids was to get them back into school because as they dealt with childhood cancer, they were on treatments for long periods of time,” Giugliano said.

The program’s number of graduates has skyrocketed over several years.  In the first year of the program, there were four recipients of the award.  This year, there are 39.  So far, $195,000 in scholarships has been awarded to the high school graduates.  The amount of the scholarships varies each year depending on how much money the program raises.

Maria Garcia, 18, is a cancer survivor who received scholarships from this program.  Garcia had rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancerous tumor that develops in the body’s soft tissues, usually the muscles. From age two to age six, she received treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Garcia continues to get checkups to make sure she stays cancer-free.

Debra Giugliano a nurse practitioner discusses her work with the program.  She is a founding member of The Daniel Brooks Memorial Educational Award. (Lisa Angell)
Debra Giugliano a nurse practitioner discusses her work with the program. She is a founding member of The Daniel Brooks Memorial Educational Award. (Lisa Angell)

Garcia graduated from Brentwood High School and completed her first year at Suffolk County Community College last year, receiving a $1,000 scholarship from The Daniel Brooks Memorial Education Award.  She is receiving a scholarship this year as well.  “I’m going to school for nursing,” Garcia said.  “I definitely do want to do some of the help and treatment that I got and I do want to help give back to the people that need it.”

Garcia is now is a healthy, full-time student and works.  She said she would like to become a nurse and help other cancer patients get through the tough recovery process.

“It’s truly a blessing for them to say, ‘I’m going to college, I’m taking the next step,’” said Giugliano.  “It’s about succeeding.”

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Lots of work can be lots of fun

Yesterday the Greene Team went to Newsday and the Ducks game. Baseball has been my favorite pastime since I was about six years old, when my dad and I had our first catch, so I was really looking forward to the game. Also, I was excited to see my dad again who is a News Editor/Daytime Copy Chief at Newsday. I have been to Newsday many times and still enjoy the aura of the newsroom. The chattering, clicking, and typing is like music to my ears because I know these noises are making great newspapers, which is what I would like to do.

Lauren Harrison
Newsday reporter Lauren Harrison speaks to the Greene Team on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Photo by Wasim Ahmad.
One of the speakers at Newsday had a great impact on me. Lauren Harrison is a reporter who spoke about how to begin your journalistic career and tips to speed up the process. She told the Greene Team how she got started with journalism — writing in a notepad when she saw something interesting or noteworthy. She has inspired me to make an effort in talking to journalism professionals as well as taking notes when I see something out of the ordinary.  I’d like to thank her for her inspiring words of wisdom.

Ducks Game
Ducks game by Laura Fallick.
After the fun and enlightening experience at Newsday, we went to the Ducks Game, an event that I have looked forward to since day one of this program. My group’s story idea is about America’s favorite pastime, baseball, and if it is alive and well. We decided to interview young children and get their view on this topic. This time, I was the photographer, which was thrilling. I took many pictures of baseball teams, boy scouts, and kids with quackers, foam fingers, and more. Seeing the children having such a great time and being so enthusiastic made me very happy. It looked like none of the kids had a worry in the world, something that is hard to see nowadays. The Ducks game not only helped me become a more experienced photographer, it made me see there are people in the world who can be so happy.

Studio B by Laura Fallick
Studio B by Laura Fallick
I haven’t forgotten about the beginning of yesterday. In the morning, we went to Studio B, the TV studio at SBU. This was another exciting experience I was looking forward to. There were many different jobs to do, and I completed almost all of them. My favorite job was in audio. Pushing different buttons and being in charge of the transitions on the news report was exhilarating. I had never experienced something like that before.  It may be something I would like to focus on later in my journalism career. An aspect I did not like was broadcasting and being the reporter. At first, I was excited to be on TV, something most people aspire to do. When I was told I had to improve an aspect of my physical appearance, I knew I would never want to be a broadcaster. I felt upset, even though I knew it was what everyone has to go through in the broadcasting process. My friend, too, was told her hair wasn’t on point and should’ve been neater for TV. I am glad I had that experience, though. I know what aspects of journalism I may or may not want to pursue.

Day four was full of fun and today is full of work, also fun but very challenging. I can’t wait.

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Daniel Walocha

Daniel Walocha: Passions that extend outside the newsroom

Award-winning journalist Daniel Walocha has been acknowledged for outstanding work on his school newspaper, Horizon.

Known as Dan to his friends, he made his journalistic debut in ninth grade, writing for Lynbrook High School’s newspaper about his school’s band competing at Hofstra University. Dan said the band teacher liked what he wrote and appreciated the coverage.

“I follow the rule of the inverted pyramid to make sure it’s concise and full of details,” Dan said about a style of writing in which the lead has the most important information.

Dan’s high-flying achievements in journalism have earned him second place for Best Feature Article at the Adelphi Press Day and third place for Best School Feature. One article featured a school janitor and the other focused on the history of Class Night, a major event at Dan’s school.

Journalism, though, is not the route that Dan desires to take in the future. He said he has no plans to major in English or journalism. “I like writing and reading as pastimes,” Dan said. “I’m not such a huge English person, but I appreciate the subject.”

So why does Dan, also a member of Driftstone, the school poetry club, like writing so much?

Dan said it helps him express himself as well as voice his beliefs. He also said writing is a great way to construct one’s thoughts and transfer them onto paper. An individualistic thinker, Dan said he has strong opinions on almost any topic, making him unique: He takes one side and sticks to it.

“Dan has taught me how you have to stand up for your opinion,” said friend Samantha Laskin. “If there are complainers, let them complain. They can’t do anything to you.”

An aspiring surgeon, Dan said he has volunteered at Winthrop Hospital in the neurology center every Saturday since November. Influenced by his older sister, currently studying medicine at Poland’s Poznan University, he plans to major in science and go into medicine.

“We’re both very science based,” Dan said, “but I also just want to help people and save lives.”

Dan comes across as an intelligent young man with great aspirations. He also has interests outside of school, saying he enjoys seeing movies with friends, swimming, and running.

Dan’s other friends also speak highly of him and admire his work ethic, quirkiness, humor, kindness and trustworthiness.

“I would describe Dan as a very smart, levelheaded guy who I could strongly rely on for anything,” said Evelyn Sokolowski, Dan’s best friend since childhood. “He always has the best judgment, especially when I need his advice, and I could really rely on him for anything.”

Throughout his July week at the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists at Stony Brook University, Dan said he would like to gain broadcasting skills, learning about producing video footage and its processes. Dan said he hopes to have a positive experience there by engaging in journalistic lessons that will help him create outstanding final products.

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Reporting for the Greene Team hits home

Yesterday, my first full day with the Greene Team, was incredible.  We reviewed a vast array topics in journalism in only about twelve hours. In one day, I think I’ve learned more about journalism than I did in one week at another journalism program.  Not only am I learning a lot about it, but also I am roaming the campus and becoming familiar with Stony Brook University.

Jacqueline walking while Laura practices panning (a type of picture-taking).

Going outside to take pictures with Newsday Assistant Photo Editor John Conrad Williams and recording multiple ten-second videos with SBU Journalism Professor Rick Ricioppo gave me insight into college life if I plan to go into journalism in the future.  I’m amazed by the nature of the campus—trees, flowers, fountains, shrubbery, and just the people walking, skateboarding and riding bikes intrigues me.

The variety of ethnicity and culture surrounding me makes me feel not at home, which is refreshing.  I enjoy experiencing life other than in my own town and cannot wait to continue my one-week adventure with the Greene Team.  Not to mention, building stronger bonds with my new friends.

Laura interviewing Debra Giugliano, head of the program.
Tonight was life-changing. I was assigned to conduct interviews at The Daniel Brooks Memorial Education Award for Students with Cancer reception and celebration. Going into the interview, I was ecstatic, to say the least. I felt as if I was a professional journalist on the first day of the job. When conducting the interview and writing, Colin alongside of me, Lisa taking snapshots, and Lea recording, I felt like we were actual press, reporting for local news. Not only did it feel like I was a pro journalist, I also saw the survivors’ reactions, as well as their families’ reactions. Knowing those teenagers, only a few years older than me, had cancer previously, I felt like I have taken everything for granted.

Laura interviewing cancer survivor Maria Garcia.
Hearing a speech from a leukemia survivor, Alexis, tears were brought to my eyes. I don’t think I will look at things the same way I do now. Also, interviewing Maria Garcia, 18, I felt a boost of happiness with her positive attitude and infectious smile when speaking about her recovery. Not only do I see things from a different perspective, I started thinking about a loved one who passed away from cancer last year. His name was Jack. Jack was the sweetest, most genuine man I have ever met in my whole seventeen years. Having thought of him again made me realize that I need to be more down to earth, more personable. He, to this day, makes me a better person. The reception and personal accounts regarding cancer made tonight special. I’m glad I had the opportunity to interview cancer survivors, listen to speeches by directors, and have fond memories brought back.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store.

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My Stony Brook University debut

My first day at Stony Brook University is exceeding my expectations (for now!). Breakfast was nourishing, as well as delicious. I know it is just the morning, but I have no doubt today is going to be amazing. The software and technology is the newsroom is unbelievable: dual-screen computers, five TVs, a projector, etc.


The best part of my first day at SBU was the pizza party. At first, the only person I knew here was Jacqueline, but now I know everyone. The gregarious side of me has taken over and I am no longer the shy, introverted girl that is uncomfortable in new situations.

I strongly believe that I will become a new person by the end of this process. It will make me a more outgoing and intellectual person and a leader. This is just the beginning.

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