PCLI is a longtime sponsor of Stony Brook University’s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists.
This year we increased our funding to help expand the program from 20 to 25 students to increase the outreach to New York City students and minority applicants.
PCLI board members Bill Bleyer, Carl Corry and David North volunteered during the week to work with the students.
Here is one student’s account of her week on the Greene Team:
What Greene Did for Me … By Danielle Ranucci
At the end of sophomore year, I learned two things. The first was that I would be editor-in-chief of my school newspaper as a junior. Not as a senior, as was the custom, but as a junior. The second was that Stony Brook University was offering a free summer program, called the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists.
After applying, I frantically filled a big black binder with ideas for next year, wondering if I would ever be ready to lead my school paper.
Later, I learned a third thing: I had been accepted into Greene.
Journalism camp was seven days long. We spent the first few days receiving crash-courses on everything from writing to photography. At the end of day two, we were put onto teams. I was horrible with names, so I repeatedly asked the names of my five teammates. I imagined how awkward it would be if, as editor-in-chief, I had to keep asking my peers that same question.
On the third day, I had gotten my teammates’ names down. That afternoon, we toured Newsday. Staff members of the paper talked to us. I observed how the speakers presented themselves. My hand trembled as I took notes. What would it be like if I had to present myself to my staff? I hoped my hands wouldn’t tremble.
After the tour, we covered a baseball game between the Long Island Ducks and the Sugarland Skeeters, snapping photos and interviewing spectators. I used that time to practice what I had observed atNewsday.
Day four was my 16th birthday. I celebrated with a teammate by collaborating on a story about the Ducks. That meant two sweaty-faced teens banging away on keyboards.
On day five, we had a press conference with a former Olympic swimmer, Janelle Atkinson. She told us that she would be coaching Stony Brook University’s women’s swim team. We had a lot in common, I realized. She was a future leader in swimming. I was a future leader in journalism. Both were team sports.
Atkinson stressed the importance of creating a strong foundation of communication and trust. I seized the rest of the fifth day as an opportunity to get to know more about my teammates. I found common ground with each of them.
Atkinson also said that the difference between a good athlete and a great athlete lay in how an athlete handled the bad days of his or her career. On day six of camp, I learned that this applied to journalists as well. Our team still had to edit one of our stories. We had to write a script for a video, and then create the video and edit it. All in a day.
I devised a schedule that our team could follow to finish everything before time ran out. Fingers raced across keyboards. Cursors flew across screens. At the end of the day, we had finished the story and the script and the video and the editing. The five of us grinned at each other. In a week, we had developed into a team of journalists, ready to take on anything.
In retrospect, I realize how much my time at Greene has done for me. It taught me about filming and photography and writing, but it also gave me insight into what it meant to lead a team. Thanks to Greene, I know that as a junior, I can be editor-in-chief. Because of Greene, I know I can pick up that big black binder of ideas and present them to the staff of my school paper with confidence. Because of Greene, I know I will be ready.