Tag Archives: Alejandro Serrano

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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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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Thirsting for a good story

We got right onto the world of a real journalist today. We were on our way to the interview with Assistant Police Chief Eric Olsen without even knowing who Eric Olsen was or what he did. Professor Ahmad said it happened all the time – sometimes journalists have to work on the spot and don’t have time for research or to prepare. We missed the bus that took us to Stony Brook’s police station, where we had the story. It was a half hour walk, which was in the heat, and brutal. It went relatively quick because we had to do all our research for the story on our walk. We came up with questions, walked up hills and streets in the blazing sun carrying all of our video equipment, being true journalists on the job.

We got into the police station (eventually) sweating with and thirsty, but ready to start the interview. We met with the chief of police, Robert Lenahan, and all acted as a team all doing different things to conduct an interview. I was in charge of taking pictures of the interview. In the second interview, I got to videotape and was in control of all the shots, which made me feel in control and able to express my own ideas with my group members. We shot a lot of B-roll with the interviews which I was already comfortable with from previous TV classes at my school.

The eventful day and heat continued as we finished the interview. We had to walk back to the library as we missed the bus, again. This walk was easier and quicker than the first because we all weren’t as tense to how we were going to go on the scene to write this story.

Since we missed the bus both ways to the police station, Professor Ahmad said he would treat us to Starbucks. Well, since our transportation didn’t go well the entire time of the interview why would anything go right? Right? Right. Starbucks was closed and we continued the journey of heat back to the library. We eventually got to the SAC and took a breather after a long and sweaty walk and decided to capture the unexplainable journey with none other than a selfie.

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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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Alejandro Serrano

Alejandro Serrano: Writing to make a difference

Bay Shore High School student Alejandro Serrano said he wants his writing to have a big impact.

“I’d like to be known for something ‘ginormous’ and would love to make a difference of some sort with my writing and if I touch at least one person by doing so I have accomplished a lot,” he said.

He already has.

At a recent Hofstra University Long Island Press Awards ceremony, he represented his school—which racked up awards for its journalism left and right—and Alejandro left the event with an award of his own for his coverage of national education.

Walt Fishon, Alejandro’s English teacher for his freshman year, introduced him to journalism, and Alejandro has been writing for his school paper since.

During his sophomore year, one of his stories made the front cover. The article was about a Mandarin Chinese course being offered at his school.

In his junior year, he was features editor of The Maroon Echo, and in the upcoming year he will be the co-editor in chief of the paper of his club. He will be sharing his title with a classmate, making it the first time in a couple of years that two editors have taken the reins of the club.

He has also written two poems, “If only” and “perhaps,” which were published in his school’s annual magazine, The Writer’s Block. He said that creative writing has become an interest for him this past year.

Despite his successes, Alejandro said one of his worst fears is to be judged when writing a column by overly critical peers.

“I’m afraid to be judged by vicious high school teenagers,” he said.

When he’s not writing or studying—academically, Alejandro is an honor roll student—he participates in crew, a water racing sport involving a group of people working simultaneously rowing a canoe against other crew teams.

At one point, he lost a lot of weight because of the grueling crew workouts and competition and he was diagnosed with superior mesenteric artery syndrome, a digestive disorder.

But he said the experience helped him.

“I learned to look out for myself and maintain a balance,” said Alejandro, who has won two Long Island championship medals for rowing.

When it comes to his future plans regarding journalism, Alejandro said he was not inspired by any event in particular. But, he said, his interest in reading the newspaper coverage of national events and worldwide tragedies gave him a sense of how destructive the world can be and how fragile life is.

He is fascinated by the idea of being able to provide others with news and information. He aspires to write a novel, remain honest and become a trustworthy source.

“A world with no communication is unknown,” he said.

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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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A sweaty, yet exciting adventure

Right after we finished our second broadcast class, we were told our group was to travel to the police facilities to interview and film for a new article. No time to research – no problem. Since we missed the bus, we had to walk there. This actually helped us because it bought us time to formulate some questions for our article.

As we walked the 20-30 minute route, we discussed the articles we would be writing/filming about. We were to break news regarding Stony Brook University’s new emergency operations center, and then also touch on the station’s new police cars. When we finally arrived at our destination, we were welcomed by police officers who let us into the building to speak to the Chief of Police about the school’s new emergency operations center. I was impressed to see this shiny new room adapted into what looks like a control center in crime movies.

We filmed, scribed, and snapped photos all at once, and practiced the new skills we learned from our broadcast class. Then, we moved outside to take a look at the new police interceptors. We filmed some more, and after two or three hours, we were pooped. Although we had got the job done, we were tired, thirsty, and hungry. Turns out, we missed the bus going back too, so we were forced to walk in the hot summer sun.

On the bright side, Wasim promised to stop at Starbucks and buy us cold drinks. The only problem was, when we arrived at the Starbucks, it was closed. Wasim had crushed our precious dreams. To compensate, we stopped at the SAC and got drinks there. We decided to take a post-adventure sweaty selfie. Enjoy.

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Mmskk, selfies and smiles

We are not even done with our second day and I’ve already made so many memories to last a lifetime. We learned a lot of interesting things yesterday, but my favorite part definitely was when Pulitzer Prize winner and Newsday Assistant Photo Editor John Williams (who by the way is my new favorite person) came in. He brought us outside and taught us how to properly take artsy pictures (not really). In all seriousness he taught us how to take amazing quality pictures and how to adjust the shutter, ISO and aperture.

My friend Madison and I were partners for the assignments and, if I do say so myself, took some amazing action shots of us jumping. The amount of possible profile pictures for all our social media we took in one day is never ending. We really bonded over that and sharing the back corner in the newsroom. I also learned something important about her – don’t get her name wrong. I accidentally called her Melissa and she punched me.

Just kidding. We’ve actually gotten really close and she’s hilarious.

Another great part of these past few days was playing Scattergories with all the girls late last night. I feel like it’s never a dull moment with these ladies. So far the food hasn’t been that bad. I had pizza and ramen noodles yesterday, but we decided to put them in the microwave to save time and it kind of broke – the ramen noodles not the microwave. No matter how many times we put it in it wouldn’t warm up so naturally I got up to throw it out and completely fell flat on my face which was kind of embarrassing. I recovered though, it’s all good.

After the workshop last night, but before our Scattergories night, Madison, Alejandro and I were in the break room where we met this kid from another team. His name was Matt and he was from Port Washington he was here for math camp. Even though I absolutely hate math, he was really nice and we all became friends. I would have to say my absolute favorite part of this experience is meeting so many new people.

A selfie with Noelia
The pic that made us Stony Brook Famous
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A selfie with Noelia

Photography class featuring selfies

Yesterday was quite an eventful day. We worked from morning until night nonstop, but I enjoyed every moment of it.

The new director of athletics, Shawn Heilbron, paid us a visit to discuss how he will be making improvements on Stony Brook’s athletic programs. Heilbron said he is eager to get started in his new position. This was the first time that Heilbron has met with student journalists at Stony Brook in his new position.

A selfie with Noelia
A selfie with Noelia
In the afternoon, John Williams taught us how to work the cameras and showed us cool techniques to get a photo just right. Noelia Vazquez and I got a little creative and took a selfie!

It was such a pleasure working with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and Newsday assistant photo editor, John Williams. He had so much knowledge on the subject and has so many interesting experiences from years of traveling the world. Williams taught us how to take still and action shots. We had a lot of fun shooting the action shots because we got to play around. We were running, tumbling, and jumping and the photos came out very well. Williams was as enthusiastic as we were and was happy to see us get so involved with the photography.

Arm Jump Rope


Journalism Jumps

In the evening, Kelly Colligan worked with Noelia Vazquez and I on our video camera practice. We had so much fun! We asked people to do some pretty random things for us in our shots. For example, we found some guy to throw a penny into a fountain and then we had a lady read for us on a bench. Our inner-stalker side came out when we got footage of a man riding around on his bike and he had no idea we were filming him.

When I got back to the dorms at night I was disturbed by a Snapchat that my sister sent me. I have been gone for barely 24 hours and she has already moved into my room. Now I know what to expect when I go away to college!

My sister, Morgan, is currently taking over my room when I am away. She is wearing my Vineyard Vines whale hat, my white scarf, and my Coach pocketbook.
My sister, Morgan, is currently taking over my room when I am away. She is wearing my Vineyard Vines whale hat, my white scarf, and my Coach pocketbook

Bonding with all the Greene Team members has been fantastic. I can tell already that I will stay in touch with the people here for a long time to come. We are all getting along great and I have already made so many new friends, as well as become even closer with Sharon Ahmed and Alejandro Serrano from school.

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Fun night and productive morning

After the Greene Team finished up for the night we ordered over $80 worth of pizza and it was totally worth it. We were all starving and it was great to get to sit around and get to know everyone. Later on, I showed a bunch of math and science kids in the lounge how to play pool. They were pretty impressed on my skill probably because they had no clue how to even play. Alejandro Serrano and I won our pool game, too.

The next morning I had to wake up at 6:30 a.m. and I did not enjoy it. One of the CA’s was playing Disney music in the shower. It was strange.  Breakfast was yummy and I liked reading all the different papers in the morning.

The Newsroom ft. Noelia

When we got to the newsroom, we learned what makes a news story and went over what an audience wants to hear.

Can’t wait to see what else the Greene Team has in store!

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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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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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