Kid Reporters On Assignment!
My greatest experience ever has to be my trip to New York with Scholastic as a Kid Reporter. Along with four other kids, I covered panel discussions during the NBC Education Nation conference at 30 Rock, the international headquarters for NBC Universal.
I flew in on Friday night and since the other kids had not arrived yet, I had some downtime with just my parents. We visited the Empire State Building at midnight, then the next day we traveled around the city, to Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty, and even to the Majestic Theater in Broadway where we watched the Phantom of the Opera. Then, on Sunday, it was work time.
I met with my editor and the kid reporters and we got started on our stories and videos. Kid Reporters Mariam El Hasan, Kenny Figueroa, Grace McManus, and I split up into two groups.
Mariam and I went to the Teacher Town Hall, which was moderated by Brian Williams, anchor of NBC Nightly News. I interviewed National Education Association President Dennis van Roekel and also the Executive Producer of the Town Hall. Then I met Brian Williams, who had already been interviewed by Mariam. I said I was his biggest fan. He replied, “It’s nice to have such a big fan in someone so young!”
That night the kid reporters had dinner together at the Barking Dog, where Kid Reporter Cecilia Gault joined us. Kenny entertained us with his magic tricks. We all watched with a critical eye, looking for the trick behind the magic, even my editors Ms. Freeman and Mr. Dante. Kenny told us he wants to be a skateboarder, CEO, and magician when he grows up.
Mr. Dante said, “I can imagine Kenny being a CEO and holding a meeting at the bottom of the Empire State Building and then right as it starts, he jumps on his skateboard and takes off up the side of the building!”
Kenny was the group clown, often joking and showing us his tricks, but he worked hard and flawlessly. He interviewed the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and then tried to get a representative of Research in Motion to reveal his secrets about a new computer tablet that will soon be competing with the iPad. He should add reporter to his list of careers!
Mariam and I teamed up again and went to the eighth floor of 30 Rock where we covered the Job One panel. She interviewed Sally Ride and I talked to Dick Parsons, Chairman of Citigroup and former Time Warner CEO.Grace was at a lunch where Top Chef competitors were trying to cook healthy and delicious meals on a school lunch budget.
On the last day, Tuesday, Kenny interviewed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, while Cecilia was at a conference called “The Parent and the Village.” She interviewed Caroline Kennedy and others.
I left with Mariam to go to the Today Show where we were interviewed by anchors Ann Curry and Al Roker. We also met California Representative George Miller, who was also on the show. I told him that I was going to get a college degree in political science. He asked, “Are you running against me?” That punch line is something I’ll never forget.
The kid reporters reunited at Starbucks, which we adopted as a temporary office because it had wireless Internet, air conditioning, and (for the editors) coffee! The Kid Reporters made frequent trips to the press room for free potatoe chips, pretzels, and water.
With about two hours left together, we were working hard on completing our stories. This trip turned out to be a blast and I learned so much on the current state of education in America.
PHOTO: Scholastic Kid Reporters line up at the Starbucks in the basement of 30 Rock in New York City, where they worked for three days covering the NBC Education Nation conference. (Photo Courtesy Scholastic, Inc.)