All posts by Sharon Ahmed (Bay Shore High School)

Play ball

I have never been to a ball game…

Nor have I ever had the opportunity to gain private access into one of Long Island’s largest news corporations.

A day full of surreal experiences, visiting Newsday and going out to the Long Island Ducks game was truly a privilege.

Despite the fact that I was practically half-awake on the bus to Newsday and professor Zachary Dowdy had to shake me back to life, a surge of energy sparked through me once I saw the huge building with Newsday written on the side of it in big letters. Once we walked in, we learned about the amazing feats the man we are all here for today accomplished.

Robert W. Greene was winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his work on “The Heroin Trail.” Realizing the magnitude of the prodigious talent one must have in order to get such an award blew me away. As aspiring journalists, we are here to carry on his legend, and looking at his plaque on the wall at Newsday truly put things in perspective.

Moving on to the ball game: although there was only a very brief moment where I actually got to sit down and watch the game, I loved the overall

Play Ball!
The inspiring Newsday Logo reading, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Play Ball!
Visualizing the amazing Greene’s accomplishments in what I would describe to be an experience of a lifetime.

atmosphere of it. I also loved getting stared at for carrying around a six-foot tri-pod and notepad.

As the day wrapped up to an, end I realized that the Greene team had truly hit a home run that night. We got closer than ever.


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Kayla Aponte

Kayla Aponte: Widening her lens

A girl who says she sees everything clearer from behind a camera lens, Kayla Aponte found her interest in photography two years ago, when she dug through some of her uncle’s old camera equipment.

“I just liked the look of the cameras,” said Aponte. “I liked that I found it easy to take beautiful pictures, but I think what really got me into it was getting my first canon DSLR for my 15th birthday.”

As Kayla delved deeper into photography, she took all the classes her school offered on the subject.

“I actually care about my pictures,” said Kayla. “I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my pictures.”

Kayla said she desired to earn new skills and saw photography as an opportunity to attain more knowledge in an area that interests her. She learned everything from taking photos in a dark room to developing film to using Photoshop.

Kayla said her photography teacher, Melissa Bussewitz, played a significant role in her development.

“She has a wonderful sense of humor, is thoughtful both as a person and as an artist, and is very clever,” said Bussewitz. “Her enthusiasm and eagerness to learn new things set her apart and I was happy to recommend her.”

Kayla said getting accepted to the Robert W. Greene Institute for High School Journalists was a game changer for her and her family. Growing up, her parents consistently tried getting her involved, from sports to clubs to camps, but she was always a tough nut to crack.

“I’m not very social,” said Kayla. “Sports or any of the clubs at school never sparked my interests; so settling for photography seemed like the only reasonable option.”

However, being the only student from Longwood High School, as well as one of the very few to be accepted into the program, Kayla’s family was instilled with a sense of pride.

“They were extremely proud of me,” said Kayla. “ My mom never shuts up when speaking about it to her friends.”

As Kayla reminisced about one of her pieces of work demonstrating selective toning, she described how a picture from her sweet sixteen was transformed and made black and white; drawing out the blue from her dress and pink from her brother’s shirt. “I like the simple things,” she said, “not destroying the picture.”

After graduation, Kayla plans to attend college – one of the first generations in her family to do so. She said she has a load of expectations on her back. After her brother decided to join the Marines, Kayla began to feel more pressure to attend college.

“All the focus is on me,” said Aponte. “After he left, I felt the need to live up to my parent’s expectations, but the pressure really roots from my parents desire for e to be successful.”

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Wet pants and weird wakeup calls

Every single girl on the Robert Greene Institute in my room … yeah I’m popular already. Okay maybe it was because my roommate had a bunch snacks and Scattergories, but I’m pretty convinced it was just me.

Catherine Duffy was definitely not kidding when she told us our schedules would be jam-packed. On Monday morning, 15 minutes of fire truck sirens, continuous snooze-button-tapping and the smell of roasted black coffee were the wakeup calls of a lifetime. Sitting in the back row of the newsroom, however, was an advantageous choice. (Not necessarily implying that I dozed off or anything.)

Interviewing in a press conference environment with Shawn Heilbron was an interesting experience; one that I learned from in a journalistic standpoint, as well as an ethical one. Of the many great things I took out of the experience, I took his idea of “when you stop learning, you stop living.” As cliché as it might sound, this little quote, has to do a lot with what I’m here for. Having a passion for journalism, yet wondering whether it’ll pay the bills or not ceases to matter. The learning experience is worth the while and Shawn taught me that his background in communications helps him in every walk of life.

After a long day of skipping around in the grass and taking pictures lunch was a moment when things went awry. I ate my lunch and when I got up to throw out my trash I felt something dripping from my behind, and then I smelled the strawberry-banana drink that was suppose to be securely closed in my bag. Not only did my Newsday bag get completely soaked, but I had to hold my pants under the bathroom dryer for a good five minutes.

Despite it all, the Greene Team is starting to feel more like family. Zachary Dowdy wiped my sticky chair down and Wasim Ahmad advised me to leave my bag out in the sun and everything was better. Sitting around and playing games while the night was still young and sharing laughs was more than a rewarding feeling.

I Wet my Pants!
My eyeball making it in to the shot with these girls that I hope to play Scattergorries with every single night until the program ends.
Photo by: Sharon Ahmed
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First night of an unforgettable week

The night truly began when the parents left and the never-ending slides Professor Ahmad had of auto blogs screeched to a halt. Nonetheless, pizza, the mathletes and Monsters University was a surprisingly compelling combination.

(I’m being completely sarcastic.)

The pizza was good though. Soon after the pizza, Alejandro Serrano, Madison Flotteron and Jason Reid joined me on the most miserable wait of our lives to play pool. Watching the mathletes attempting to use algorithms and geometry to get a striped ball into a hole was equivalent to watching a caveman starting the first fire.

Getting used to the idea that privacy is limited and every aspect of my life here is to be shared with others is an idea that’s quite foreign to me. However, opening my door to a room full of people I know nothing about was almost like a blank canvas. Knowing that each and every single person here has a uniform journalistic mentality, yet completely different alter egos, makes us a truly unique bunch.

I can’t wait to see what the Greene Team has to offer.

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