All posts by Mary Kate Guma (Locust Valley High School)

Mary Kate Guma: multimedia reporter (just kidding)

I sat in the same chair for about ten hours yesterday. It was an exciting time.

In the morning, Sharon and I worked on a story for the website about a 9/11 memorial at Bethpage Ballpark, and at that point, I still had quite a bit of energy, so it really wasn’t unpleasant. Then we met with Bob Herzog one last time so he could edit it, which was actually really nice.

He edited the story without losing the flavor we had created, and everything he said and reworked made sense. I was definitely glad he was a temporary Greene Team member. He was so conversational and friendly, and yet managed to teach us about sports reporting too. I was sad to see him go yesterday.

After the written piece, Sharon and I continued with the story by working on the script for our video clip, and that was and long and tortuous process, let me tell you. Script writing is not as easy as it sounds, though I believe Sharon did have fun recording it in the sound booth.

Then the real work began, sometime around six last night. We started putting the video together, which again, is more complicated than it sounds. I had never used FinalCut before, and though I got the general hang of it, anybody can just throw clips together, arranging them in a virtually pleasing, coherent, concise way is not something I have the hang of yet.

I’m still working on it, though. This morning, Sharon and I are trying to finish off the video. We need to learn how to put “lower thirds” into the video, and just get some general aid and hopefully, we should be done shortly. Fingers crossed!

(Quick update: We’re done! The story is finished and we’ve had pizza for lunch.)

Stony Brook’s Senior Associate Dean of Admissions Robert Pertusati came to speak to us about college which was actually really helpful. I don’t have any clue what I’m doing when it comes to college admissions, so any advice I can get is good advice. And I actually find it kind of exciting. It’s like a giant race, one in which hundreds of thousands of teenagers are running. I’m naturally very competitive, so the idea just kind of appeals to me. Just the idea, though—I don’t think I’ll be crazy about the process of being accepted or denied!

By the way, in case my title gets edited, I just want to make it clear I do not consider myself a skilled multimedia reporter. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m just following Newsday reporter Lauren Harrison’s advice —Fake it ’til you make it.)

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The 9/11 Memorial at Bethpage Ballpark was built in 2012 in t he memory of Long Island Victims of the attacks. (Kayla Aponte)

Ballpark memorial honors Sept. 11 victims

Bethpage Ballpark is home to more than just the minor league baseball team, the Long Island Ducks.

It is also hosts a September 11th memorial, with a steel beam from the World Trade Center site and a plaque, the only one of its kind to list all 490 names of Long Islanders who perished during the attacks.

 

The beam was dedicated to the founder and CEO of the Ducks, Frank Boulton, as well as to the team itself, by the World Trade Center Foundation in a ceremony on Sept. 11, 2012. A year later, the plaque was added in yet another ceremony on the 2013 anniversary of the attacks.

“Our founder and CEO Frank Boulton knew folks that perished in the attacks that day, so I know it’s near and dear to his heart,” said Michael Polak, the Media Relations and Broadcasting Manager for the Ducks. “We had, for both ceremonies, a very good turnout of fans that were out on the plaza. It’s always received a positive response and fans are happy that we have some way to remember what happened that day.”

Not all fans realize the memorial is there, stationed outside the ballpark in front of the smoking area between the East and West Gates.

“I honestly didn’t even see it. Wow,” said Suzanne Cascio. “I was rushing in and I totally passed it.”

The 9/11 Memorial at Bathpage Ballpark honors the 490 Long Islanders who lost the lives in the September 11 attacks. (Kayla Aponte)
The 9/11 Memorial at Bathpage Ballpark honors the 490 Long Islanders who lost the lives in the September 11 attacks. (Kayla Aponte)

Fellow Ducks fan Jimmy Falk was also unaware of the memorial.

“I’ve been coming here for years and this is the first I’m hearing of it,” he said.

Upon learning of the memorial, though, Falk was pleased.

“I think it’s terrific,” he said. “I think especially as New Yorkers, we need to be aware of it. Everybody that lives on Long Island was touched by that event, and somebody knows somebody whose name is on that plaque, without a doubt. Now that I’m aware of it, I’m going to look for it.”

When the memorials were unveiled, the ceremonies were announced on the Ducks’ website, though since then, no additional promotion has been done.

“I didn’t even know it was outside,” said fan Laura Jensen. “If they just had a poster or something somewhere, people would probably go visit it.”

Andrew Rella is one fan that knew about the structure, and his response was positive.

“I’m a UPS driver,” Rella said, “and I’ve delivered this route before, so I saw when they were building it. You know, my uncle was a paramedic that day and was back and forth to St. Vincent’s [hospital] a thousand times. Friends of mine that drive for UPS in the city helped evacuate people out of there. So to me — my brother’s a marine – he’s been overseas. It has a lot of special meaning for me.”

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Temporarily derailed by dessert

This is me speed blogging, so let’s see how it goes.

Yesterday was a day out of the newsroom, which was a very welcome change. We started the day talking to sports reporter Bob Herzog, who had photos and anecdotes and advice to share with us. Though I’m not looking to become a sports writer, what he said had universal applications, and besides, I’m always up for a good anecdote, no matter the subject.

Herzog then came with us to visit Newsday’s working newsroom. We were able to watch real journalists at work, and in addition to those who actually sat in front of us, it was impossible not to think of all of those journalists who came before them, as the building seemed to radiate historical value.

After Newsday, we continued on to a Long Island Ducks game, where we tried our hand at impromptu interviews, coming up with a story at the game and then approaching random fans to interview. The experience was not as boring or as unpleasant as I had thought. In fact, I kind of liked it.

The first few interviews were slightly awkward, but by the end of the night, things were going considerably smoother. Most people were more than willing to talk to us, and as we became more comfortable interviewing, we were better able to make those we interviewed more comfortable.

I did encounter some trouble last night, and in a form I never expected: ice cream. Ice cream is supposed to be enjoyable, a summer treat, if you will, but last night, it was working against me. My ice cream melted so fast I could not control it. By the time I finally got the dripping mess under control, the fingers of my right hand were sticking together, I had sprinkles in my shoes, and I was thoroughly displeased. I don’t care how much it costs. I would rather get a manageable amount of ice cream that is easy to eat than a boatload of it that lands mainly on the pavement. But I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me.

Don’t worry about me though. I eventually conquered that ice cream and was only temporarily inconvenienced.

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Yardalie Daniel

Yardalie Daniel: Excelling at language, loving journalism

Language is a craft, an art. Those who read, who write, who speak cannot help but be aware of that fact. Language is also a skill, one at which 15-year-old Yardalie Daniel excels. In fact, she learned to speak English in under a year.

Though one may not realize it upon first speaking to Yardalie, she is not a native English speaker. Instead, she hails from Haiti, where she spoke both Creole, a dialect used for casual conversations, and French, which is used in official documents and spoken by teachers in school.

However, Yardalie’s life changed drastically after an earthquake hit Haiti four years ago in January 2010, at which point Yardalie, along with her father and two sisters, moved to the United States to join her mother and brother who had previously settled in Huntington, New York. This forced Yardalie to deal with both a change in habitat and language. She initially spoke little English.

“Maybe I knew enough to say ‘Hi’ or ‘Good morning’,” Yardalie said. After the move, she was forced to experience a steep learning curve, and her English skills soon expanded. “By the end of the year, I could speak properly, but I still had the accent.”

For help with this new language, Yardalie turned to books, picking up teen books from her library in her spare time.

“Reading was a good help to learn English,” she said. “I read a lot of books, and my English became a lot more understandable. Reading was easier than speaking because I could see the similarities to French.”

It was this affinity for reading, along with a love of writing, which led to Yardalie’s interest in journalism. In her sophomore year of high school, Yardalie took a journalism class that reawakened a possibility for her. Though Yardalie had been a member of her school newspaper in her freshman year of high school, she was forced to quit due to conflicts in her schedule. The class revived her ability to be a journalist.

Yardalie credits her journalism teacher, Aimee Antorino, with having a large influence on this rediscovery.

“She’s lovely,” Yardalie said of her teacher. “She really motivated me, even though I was unsure, always pushed me to write stories and develop my writing.”

Antorino said Yardalie is a hard worker who succeeds.

“Yardalie is a very intelligent, mature young woman,” said Antorino. “She is more determined and eager to succeed than most high school students I know. I think it is very exciting that Yardalie has developed an interest in journalism at such a young age. Her life experiences will help her become a strong writer with many world interests.”

Coming out of the course with at least a base upon which to build skills, Yardalie said she is looking to become more responsible for her own writing and to improve her writing skills, as well as to expand her knowledge into the area of photography. Up to this point, her exposure to journalism has been purely in print, though she hopes that will soon change.

“I love challenging myself,” Yardalie said. “I’m just scared.”

However, there is still plenty of time for her fears to be allayed, as a professional career is still several years off for Yardalie. Besides, Yardalie currently views writing as more of a hobby than a career path.

She also has a love for business and design, and hopes to be able to work in a field that encompasses those areas, although if an opportunity to write for a living came up, she would love to pursue it.

“I’d love to maybe work for a magazine,” she said, her tone brightening.

For the time being, though, Yardalie will continue to hone her skills, working on picking up yet another language—this time from her high school Spanish class—and attending the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists this July at Stony Brook University.

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A victory in the newsroom’s game of musical chairs

A Victory in Musical Chairs
Blessedly, I was able to get a computer next to Courtney this morning, and though we were working with $500 cameras, I chose to snap a pic with my iPhone. Old habits die hard.
Photo by Mary Kate Guma

Much of yesterday was spent using cameras and computers, but the parts that stood out have been the writing workshops, the mini-lessons in writing we received from Professors Dowdy and Duffy. We haven’t learned anything terribly complicated, but it’s mostly new information to me, and I love it. I feel as though I’m being showered in tips, listening intently so I can take the lessons back to my high school’s paper, Spectrum.

My school lacks a journalism class, and honestly, that was the number one reason I applied to this program. I don’t know if I want to be a journalist in real life. In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t. But I’ve been devoted to Spectrum for years, writing and editing, and the paper needs a pick-me-up, so here I am.

In the last day and a half, I gained more experience than I would during a month in Locust Valley. I attended a press conference with Stony Brook’s new Athletic Director, Shawn Heilbron. I received photography lessons from the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer John Williams. Finally, I learned to use a video camera out in the field — and I do mean field. We took the cameras out to the Staller Steps to shoot video clips in the fading twilight.

Unfortunately, I spent most of yesterday on the overflow computer. There are eighteen computers near each other. I was number nineteen, meaning I sat in the front with the professors and guest instructors. I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t great. But today I knew better. I snagged a computer next to my roommate, scoring a definite victory in this game of musical chairs.

This morning, however, I had the best experience yet. Newsday’s investigative reporter Sandra Peddie popped in to chat with the Greene Team, and those fifteen minutes were fantastic. The work we’ve done so far has been kind of serious, lots of “Pay attention” and “If you miss this you’ll be completely lost.” But when Peddie stood up to talk to us, wearing a bright smile and a hot pink blazer, she illuminated the fun side of journalism.

Peddie is clearly doing what she loves. She shared some of her adventure stories and gave us a little insight into her world. What she does is exciting, and she is excited about it. Her words buzzed as she told us her story. Instead of slouching back in my chair, I leaned forward, hanging on every syllable.

She told us her favorite part of the job was that it helped her learn more about the world. She had grown up sheltered in Minnesota. Now she knows things. She talks to people from all walks of life, sees corruption at multiple levels.

I don’t know about the towns my peers come from, but Locust Valley is a sheltered little town. I want to know things too, and that is what I hope to gain from my time in journalism: perspective on the world, broader knowledge of humans and our actions.

I know we’re laying groundwork, that unless we learn the basics, we can never advance, but Peddie’s mini lecture served as a pep talk, a look at what’s to come, and it reawakened the excitement I possess for journalism.

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Here we go …

With our parents barely off campus, the Greene Team launched into our program with a two and a half hour introductory session in which we were introduced to the concept of blogging, taught to properly use our iPhone cameras, and finally concluded with a brainstorming session. But just as we built momentum, we were released for the night, given what I strongly suspect to be the largest amount of free time we will have all week. In fact, I was so fired up after the session that I went back up to the dorm room telling my roommate all about the work I intended to do that night, looking people up, researching professors, getting a jump start on everything.

That, of course, did not happen, but my intentions were good.

Instead, I and the other Greene Team members spent the time getting to know each other over the pizza we ordered for dinner, as many were horrified to discover that the parent barbeque was supposed to be considered our dinner for the day. We wasted no time in ordering a pizza in order to keep ourselves from wasting away. Thankfully, a crisis was avoided and we all got to eat. By 9 p.m., we had all begun to go our separate ways, however, as some floated back to their rooms to finish unpacking, others hit the gym, and still others settled into the lounge for a movie.

We didn’t spend too much time apart, though, as we were roused by a knock on the door this morning at 6:34 a.m., signaling the start of our day. We hurried to dress, readying ourselves for our first full day of the program. Within the hour, we were seated at breakfast, digging through newspapers for stories to interest us, and searching in vain for the “breakfast pizza” of which we had heard tales.

From around the table, the early morning groans of teenagers could be heard as we settled in, though as the hour grew later, the groans gave way to an excited chatter as the food and coffee revived us. But just as we all seemed to reach our full functioning potential, we were whisked off to the newsroom for the first lesson of the day.

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