Tag Archives: Kayla Aponte

It’s been real, Greene Team


Will definitely miss the photography class
I will definitely miss the photography lessons.

Last night, Professor Wasim and I had a heart to heart. We shared our opinions on journalism and he told me all about his job. We came to an understanding of how we both have different opinions on the field and we respect each other’s differing ones. I am not going to completely rule out journalism as a profession, but I do want to explore other options.

On the way back from working in the newsroom last night, Hanna Da’Mes, Sharon Ahmed, Dan Walocha, Kelly Colligan, Reid Rubio, Kayla Aponte and I played tag as we walked to the dorms. It was a lot of fun, but I thought one of us would trip in the dark—good thing that didn’t happen!

Last day selfies  width=

The CAs were really laid back last night because they let us all hang out in the lounge an hour past our curfew. We hung out with the math kids in the lounge and they were so much fun! They left today, so we are all really going to miss them tonight.

This morning we worked on our video footage and by early afternoon my team and I were all done. I really like how it came out and the four of us worked very well together.

Lunch today was a nice change because we had pizza in a conference room. I was running out of ideas for wrap creations in the cafeteria so that took the pressure off. At lunch it hit us how we are all going to miss each other.  The Greene Team got so close in such a short period of time. I know that we will all stay in touch even when the program ends.

I am looking forward to seeing the movie tonight at the Film Festival. I think it will be a wonderful way to end the camp with all of us hanging out together.

I hope that the friendships I made this week last for a long time. I met some really amazing people and I will miss each and every one of them.

It’s been real, Greene Team!

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Sharon Ahmed

Sharon Ahmed: Poetry and dedication

For Sharon Ahmed, grades have always been her first priority.

“Ever since I could remember, my parents always wanted me to be a doctor,” said Sharon. Then she found her true passion for writing. “It was in sixth grade that I discovered my talent for poetry.”

Her brother, Zubayer, would have her listen to lectures and spoken word poetry, which encouraged her to read her writings aloud. In sixth grade, she shocked the students and even the teacher with her poetry, she said.

“I love the thrill of getting up and reading my work aloud, which encouraged me to continue writing and expressing myself through rhymes,” said Sharon.

Although Sharon wanted to focus on math and science to push herself toward the career her parents wanted, her guidance counselor, Lonny Dugger, suggested she take a journalism course.

“I expected it to be an elective that would be an easy A because I consider myself to be a great writer,” Sharon said. “That’s where I went wrong.”

She found the constructive, but sometimes “brutally harsh” criticism useful in improving her writing. Fishon, her journalism teacher, told her that she should never take no for an answer and always know the importance of deadlines.

Around her sophomore year, Sharon began hanging around the wrong crowd, she said, steering her away from the bright future she had worked hard toward. Core classes didn’t seem as important to her anymore, but her love for journalism stayed strong.

“That was the only class I actually focused [in], stayed after for, and tried in, because I actually loved it,” she said.

Her hard work and dedication paid off when she won the second place Aura-Diaz award for first-person narrative at the Long Island Press Club conference at Hofstra University. “Winning an award for something I genuinely love doing felt great,” she said.

Sharon’s friend, Shaheda Mohammad, says Sharon has what it takes to be a great journalist. “She has strong social skills, which are a huge asset to journalism,” she said. “I think it will make her a strong girl for journalism.”

Her former editors, Brianne Garrett, Maggie Colbert and Elise Ambos, were role models, Sharon said. “I’ve never seen people work so hard at something,” she added. “They made me want to follow in their footsteps.”

After devoting long hours of hard work after school, Sharon was elected senior editor in chief of broadcasting in June.

Although Sharon said she would like to be a pharmacist in the future, her love for journalism endures. Fear that she won’t make money doing journalism makes her feel as though she will let her parents down, she said.

“My parents have always struggled and it’s time I pay them back,” she added.

Sharon said she was beyond happy when she was accepted into the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists, eager to meet new people and improve her writing skills.

“Getting accepted to the program meant making it clear to me whether I wanted to go down this route,” she said. “I hope that I could get over this obstacle and figure out what I really want to do.”

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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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Video mishaps and other adventures

Yet another fun-filled day has been brought upon us. A day jam packed with a press conference, a photo lesson, and a video lesson. John Williams was an amazing mentor and teacher, he made seemingly difficult things so easy to understand. Lisa and I had the time of our lives frolicking like idiots outside while the other snapped pictures. We laughed so hard our ribs hurt, the pictures were too great.

Lisa in a very formal, very mature action shot.
Lisa in a very formal, very mature action shot.
New discovery: I HATE filming videos. Trying to make “layers” really got to me. Not a fan. What was entertaining about it, though, was Lisa nearly falling over a fence trying to videotape through some trees. Although it’s safe to say the videos bored me to tears, I had a good time filming an interview today with Wendy Fang.

Thank god I was in charge of filming because I am terrible at talking to people I don’t know. I am so happy to have Sharon on my team to help me out! Mary Kate is a great help too, and so is Jason, who became a good new friend today. All in all, I can say I’m satisfied so far with this camp.

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Hanna, Sharon and Kayla (from left) helping me practice depth of field

Photography and Murphy’s Law

Day 2 (Monday continued): Tired as anything, the day continued as we embarked on our first photography lesson with John Conrad Williams. He taught us all about exposure and within a few short hours we were taking photographs like professionals (and modeling not so much like professionals). Leaping and jumping around in the quad trying to get a good action shot with Kayla was definitely a highlight of the day.

Kayla "Jumping for Joy" while I captured the action shot
Kayla “Jumping for Joy” while I captured the action shot
Our endless day was followed by dinner, where mac and cheese seemed like the most appetizing option. I got to know a few more of the Greene Team members over our “delicious” dinners. After dinner we got a video lesson from Rick Ricioppo where we learned the importance of angling and layers (like an onion). “Shrek is love, Shrek is life.” That is my new motto. Our day of work ended with the announcement of our groups. My group-mates are Lea Greene, Colin Maloney, and Laura Fallick. I am excited to find out what our assignments are for the rest of the week. When we arrived back at the dorms all the girls joined in for another game of Scattergories (with snacks). The Greene Team is becoming closer by the hour. I can’t imagine having to leave some of them at the end of the week.

Day 3 (Tuesday): And so our sleep-deprived week continues. I think I finally know everyone’s name. Once again we had a photography lesson with John Conrad Williams. We learned depth of field and how to take a good portrait.

Hanna, Sharon and Kayla (from left) helping me practice depth of field
Hanna, Sharon and Kayla (from left) helping me practice depth of field
Kayla and I aced it as always. Afterwards we started on our assignments. My team and I attended a cancer graduation scholarship ceremony on campus and reported (at least attempted.) And just like always- whatever could have gone wrong, went wrong. The lighting was too dark in the building, so as the reporting photographer I was rendered pretty much useless. Then when I went to edit the video my team had captured (which I have been looking forward to all day) the video did not transfer to the computer! So my lesson for the day: technology will never work the way you want it to; Murphy’s Law: what can go wrong will go wrong. Well at least it is a learning experience.

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Pizza, Scattergories, public bathrooms, oh my!

Day 1 of the Summer Institute, being thrown into a group of teens and abandoned by your parents doesn’t sound like the start to a good week. At first you think, “Oh god, what on earth did I get myself into?”

A brief look at the people in the room terrified me, “These are friends you’ll have for years to come” said the Greene Summer Institute alumni. Honestly, it didn’t seem promising. Being the constantly hungry teens that we are, the thought to buy pizza sparked conversation between the whole group and eventually we were all chatting and getting along. Who knew cheap, greasy food can bring people so close together?

The first night was better than expected, within a mere 5 hours I had established a group of girls to hang out with in our room. Sharon Ahmed, my awesome roommate, Hanna Da’Mes, and her roommate, Lisa Angell, who is actually my former astronomy teacher’s daughter! Normally, I’m awful at making friends, but somehow we all hit it off! Immediately we all exchanged Twitter handles and creeped through each others’ accounts (the typical girl thing to do). Lisa and I gave the world’s worst description to Sharon and Hanna on how to play Scattergories and they agreed to play. Our answers were hilarious and after a few rounds we were practically screaming everything at each other and laughing obnoxiously loud. It felt good being with a group of girls who all acted the same.

And then it happened. The time came to face the moment we all dreaded, showering in a public bathroom. Shockingly, not as bad as I thought. Anything gross is easy to face when you know everyone else has to do it too. It seems like within just this one day I’ve done everything with these girls. I was even “peer pressured” into making an Instagram account. This week is off to a good start if you ignore the god awful wake up call at 6:30 a.m.  I am most definitely looking forward to a great week with these lovely ladies.

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