For Jake Banas, the month of January was all about journalism.
The Keuka College sophomore and Delmar resident spent most of the month writing for The Spotlight, an independent news organization headquartered in his hometown, near Albany. Spotlight News produces five weekly editions in Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga counties, with a combined circulation of more than 45,000, according to its website.
Each Keuka undergrad conducts a 140-hour internship, known as Field Period, every year en route to a bachelor’s degree. An English major, Banas had begun to write for the Keukonian, the student newspaper at Keuka, and decided to learn more about journalism by pursuing an internship with his hometown paper.
Banas started by proofing pages for grammatical errors before the paper went to press for a Thursday distribution. From there, he began writing short event announcements submitted by local organizations, and gradually worked his way into full-scale, bylined articles—transitioning from shadowing reporters to being a reporter himself.
“The first day I walked in, everything was very hectic, because it was a Wednesday and they were trying to finalize the paper and get it out [the next day]. People were yelling back and forth and I was kind of scared, not sure what was happening,” Banas said. “The next day it was all quiet because everyone was out doing assignments and getting ready for the next issue.”
His first major assignment was an interview with the owner of the Junk King garbage removal company for the paper’s regular “Spotlight on Business” feature. Other assignments found Banas at the local school district board of education meeting, or taking hundreds of photos of different town locales. As each article went into print, Banas said it was “incredible” to have something he wrote published. Most of his work ran in the Bethlehem Spotlight, he said, while a few articles ran in other editions.
“There’s a lot more to journalism than people think. I expected it to be so simple, [thinking] you just hear a story and write about it but I learned you want to keep your ears open for specific things,” Banas said. “You have to go out and work with people and gather information and there’s a lot more to take away from it than just sitting there, writing the news.” (more…)
Mary Leet, a resident of Stanley and senior at Marcus Whitman Central School, is the recipient of Keuka College’s Experiential Learner of the Year Award for 2011-12.
Leet, who will receive a full academic fellowship to Keuka, was presented the award during a meeting of the Keuka College Board of Trustees Feb. 24.
Since September, the College has presented Experiential Learner of the Month Awards to high school students from across New York state. The five recipients, who all received partial academic fellowships to the College, qualified for the Experiential Learner of the Year Award. The four other monthly winners were also honored at the meeting.
Keuka, the national leader in experiential, hands-on learning, established the program to honor high school students whose commitment to experiential, hands-on learning has made a difference in their communities.
Leet was nominated for the award by Michael J. Sullivan, a school counselor at Marcus Whitman.
“I am extremely proud of the tremendous growth Mary has exhibited during high school,” said Sullivan. “She is a confident young woman who knows herself and is concerned about making the world around her better.”
Leet has made her mark at Marcus Whitman in myriad areas, including the performing arts. She was selected to the All-County Chorus this year and is a member of Marcus Whitman’s Women’s Ensemble, Drama Club, Art Club, Cartooning Club, and Creative Writers Club.
A talented writer, she is student editor of The Whitman Word. Leet’s January 2011 article, “Uglies Makes Readers Question Common Labels,” was selected for inclusion in The National Edition, “a weekly collection of stories highlighting the most interesting and relevant work done by teen journalists” and published by My High School Journalism (my.hsg.org).
Leet is organizing a LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender) group at Marcus Whitman.
“Never one to do things halfway, Mary has consulted with other LGBT organizations throughout our region and has reached out to professional advocates in seeking benchmark organizations,” said Sullivan.
Also active in her community, Leet volunteers at the United Methodist Church, where she is member of the choir, and the Friendship House in Middlesex. She has performed various volunteer work as a member of the Girl Scouts and lends her time and talents to the Gorham Rotary Club and Boy Scouts.
The Experiential Learner of the Month Award-winner is featured on television stations throughout central, western, and northern New York state, as well as the Southern Tier.
The participating stations include WTVH, Channel 5, Syracuse (CBS); WHAM, Channel 13, Rochester (ABC); WWNY, Channel 7, Watertown (CBS); and WBNG, Channel 12, Binghamton (CBS).
Following is a list of the monthly winners:
Editor’s Note: This is the ninth in a 10-part series on the 2011 Experiential Learner of the Year Award nominees. Nominees for the upperclass and freshman awards will be honored at a luncheon May 6; the winners will be revealed at Honors Convocation May 7.
The Keuka Field Period often confirms a student’s choice of major and future career. But sometimes, the opportunity to garner hands-on experience in a particular field can send a student in a different direction.
Four years ago, Chris Mazella was enrolled in the organizational communication program and hoped to try his hand at journalism. But a struggle to find an internship with a newspaper led him instead to his high school, where a former teacher suggested he observe how communication plays into teaching. After observing her 9th grade social studies classes for a couple weeks, Mazella asked if he could try teaching a lesson himself. Not only did Mazella enjoy it, but his supervising teacher told him he was a natural and could do well in the classroom.
Back on campus, Teri Spoor, who manages the IKON print shop at Keuka and supervised Mazella for four years as a work-study employee, remembers well the difference she noticed.