Top row: Chris Piccigallo, Leland Elson, Briana Martinez, Glen Price, Al Guerriero.
Bottom row: Naomi Harrison Clay, Ava Friedlander, Julia Soldano, Baladine Pierce,
Gabriella Freid, Hailey Coffey
It's been a rough year for the newspaper business. But there's one place, right here in the neighborhood, where the impact of declining circulation and competition from online news are non-issues. The Manhattan School of Technology on Catherine Street is one of the few schools in all of New York City with a student-written newspaper. In this school year's first issue of "The Scoop," hot off the presses, you can read all about the New York Giants' visit to MAT, and their $50-thousand donation to the school's sports program. There's a report on whether students are being assigned too much homework. And "The Scoop's" food critic goes in search of Chinatown's best dumplings.
The newspaper was created by teachers Alfonso Guerriero and Chris Piccigallo. Guerriero said the idea was to build a greater sense of community at MAT – and to open up the lines of communication. The journalism club meets as part of the school's extended day program. They offset some of the printing costs with a grant from the Newspaper Association of America and private donations.
"The Scoop" has proved an invaluable outlet for students to express themselves on all kinds of issues. Last year, Tim Poon wrote, "I survived a fire next to my apartment building." As flames engulfed a supermarket on East Broadway last May, he reported: "My mom opened the door and a firefighter said with excitement 'You must leave your building as soon as possible.' We took our stuff and we ran out of our apartment." Guerriero told me the newspaper does not shy away from tough topics. After the winter break, there will be a special page produced in memory of Nelson Pena, a former
student who was recently killed during an argument with another teen on Hester Street, not far from the school. One student is writing a eulogy. Another student has done a graffiti mural. Guerriero himself wrote a poem.
In the current issue, Ava Friedlander talks with 6th graders about how they felt on the first day of school. "What about when your friends tell you that they hate their new school and you love it," she asks. "How should you feel?" "The Scoop's" editorial by 8th grader Eddie Glass begins: "Every night I have to take the bus. After a long day of work I have to go home… and do more work. There's no time to take a break as some 8th graders prepare for the SHSAT (specialized high schools admissions tests) and school tours, homework gets in the way of any free time."
It's not all serious stuff. Fashion reporter Gabriella Freid advises, "Pink is back." But "do not forget about purple. This color works for both boys and girls." And "skinny jeans are okay for boys and girls to wear," but she prefers "dark skinny jeans, especially on boys." On the food beat, Beladine Pierce raves about "Fried Dumpling" on Mosco Street: "You bite into crispy dough and flavorful pork made into the most perfect dumpling in all of Chinatown."
The newspaper staff is already planning the next issue. The day I visited, they were discussing stories over pizza and soft drinks, a reward for a job well done on the first edition. Asked whether these reporters can expect pizza on every publication day, Mr. Piccigallo first replied, "no comment," and then softened. "It's under negotiation," he said. Typical editor.