A Wantagh teen had a unique opportunity this summer to be one of only 10 high school students taking part in Hofstra University’s High School School Journalism Institute (HSJI).
Sixteen-year old Catherine Litvaitis, who is entering her junior year at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, had the opportunity to participate in the free two-week program that teaches journalism and multimedia skills to promising students as they investigate and report on important issues facing their communities. Litvaitis reported on the newly implemented New York State tax cap and its impact on the Levittown School District, which she resides in.
“Hofstra’s HSJI takes its students out of the school and into the outside world,” said Peter Goodman, the director of the program and an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism, Media Studies and Public Relation.“They deal with issues that directly affect their communities and their own families.
Goodman said Litvaitis dealt with a “particularly complicated situation in Levittown, where budgetary issues and the tax cap have resulted in layoffs, changes in the school day, and other adjustments.” In addition to conducting major research on this subject, she also interviewed the district’s new superintendent, James Grossane. Her stories and videos (as well as the work of other participants) are now available on the HSJI website.
Some of the new media skills Litvaitis learned, under the guidance of Hofstra’s award-winning faculty, included editing in iMovie, using WordPress, and proper interviewing techniques.
“I feel like this program helped me prepare for the next school year," said Litvaitis, who will be an editor for her school’s paper this fall and is also involved with its video club. “I loved the program, and found it to be worthwhile.
The HSJI chooses 10 students each year from Nassau, Queens and Suffolk counties who come from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds. The program features guest lecturers from professional journalists and visits to local media outlets such as Newsday and News12.
Litvaitis was so impressed with the Hofstra School of Communications facilities and faculty that she plans to apply to the nearby university next year.
"It was a real gift to be apart of this program," she said." It really taught me how to be a better journalist."