Tara O’Donovan: Lights, camera, journalism

By Solyman Hatami
Centereach High School

When she reflects on her freshman year in high school, Tara O’Donovan recalls being less than enamored with Bay Shore High School.

“I hated high school,” Tara said. “I  liked the smaller atmosphere of Bay Shore Middle School. The high school hallways are very confusing.”

However, with an innate passion for reading, an affinity for writing, and a love for English literature, she only needed the guidance of a few individuals to allow her full media potential bloom. Her freshman year English teacher, Mr. Mayo, became a crucial mentor, as well as her humanities teacher in 10th grade, Mr. Nava.

“These people were more than teachers,” Tara said. “They were mentors to me, telling me hard truths and honest guidance during my personal conflicts as a freshman.”

With encouragement from her teachers and peers, Tara expanded her vision throughout high school, taking journalism, joining the Creative Writing Club, and writing for the literary magazine, “The Writer’s Block.” Her writing for her school’s newspaper, The Bay Shore Moon Echo, enabled her to rise in the ranks to opinion editor and senior daily news editor her junior year.

The role of the editor-in-chief awaits her this September. “My school newspaper has been winning the Hofstra High School Journalism awards recently every year, and to continue this streak puts heavy weights on my shoulders,” Tara said.

She described her journalism teacher, Mr. Fishon, as being a big influence. “He’s loud, alive, stresses on being fair, and puts emphasis on getting a direct answer in the world of journalism,” she said.

Over the years, Tara’s writing ability has matured and developed along with her growth as a person. “My stories themselves developed from mediocre and sophomoric topics, to deep and in-depth ideas, such as school policy and marijuana.” The editing, the Pros and Cons section, the circle discussions, the late night deadlines, she loved it all, she said.

In addition, due to the prominence of video media at her school, she has become somewhat of a video perfectionist, winning the Hofstra Arts and Entertainment Video Segment, and being offered the role of head video editor at her publication for her senior year, but turning it down for editor-in-chief instead.

Tara is also an active member of her school’s theatrical productions. She handles the lighting and sound portions of the plays and musicals, receiving MVP at technical lighting and sound for “Shrek the Musical” this year, and her technical crew winning first place. She said she hopes to use these skills in the future on Broadway. Furthermore, she has played field hockey and run track since 9th grade.

“Tara is really passionate about journalism,” said Tara’s friend, Erika Dollmann. “She just does not stay quiet, and alerts me about every newspaper that gets released.”

The future beyond high school for Tara may include broadcast or international journalism, along with hopes of a major in journalism and minor in theatrical production, possibly at SUNY Purchase or Siena College. Although she’s still undecided, she does see writing playing a major role in her future.

She said she believes her week at the Greene Institute will be very beneficial, aligning with her wishes to be a journalist, and hopefully demonstrating the field in college and beyond from experts. “This will be just a taste, and a dip into the reality of media news, as I’m conflicted between journalism, and theatrical lighting and sound as my focus fields,” Tara said.