Oyster Bay Students Produce TV Segments About Empire State Ride Long Island

Oyster Bay
Oyster Bay-East Norwich students and faculty and Empire State Ride Long Island officials in Oyster Bay-East Norwich High School’s TV Production studio.
Michael Malaszczyk/Long Island Press

The fourth annual Empire State Ride Long Island is set for June 8 – and a remarkable group of students from Oyster Bay are helping to get the word out about it.

Empire State Ride Long Island (ESRLI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit fundraiser event that connects six Catholic Health hospitals here on Long Island and the nation’s first cancer hospital, Roswell Park, to help local cancer patients gain access to the latest life-saving cancer treatments and clinical trials. In 2023, there were nearly 500 riders and 80 volunteers in 2023, and the event raised more than $100k.

The event is receiving coverage from a budding group of young journalists – Oyster Bay-East Norwich High School’s relatively new TV production class, which produces their television news outlet BayNews Now.

“Superintendent Dr. [Francesco] Ianni kind of had this dream of having a broadcasting studio here in the school district,” Erica Giglio Pac, director of fine, media, and performing arts in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District told the Press. “We worked to pilot this program last year out of actually a classroom. While this amazing, state-of-the-art studio was being built, we were creating the curriculum and the classes. And at the same time, I was applying to New York State to have this program approved as a career and technical education program in multimedia journalism and TV production. This year, it was approved, and at the same time, the studio opened.”

In addition to that state-of-the-art studio, fit with professional-level cameras, editing computers, and a news anchor desk, the class is taught by former News 12 reporter-turned teacher Alex Dollin. Dollin made the switch to teaching for exactly this kind of program. He spent a year teaching at Long Island High School for the Arts before coming to the district.

“I worked at News 12 as a reporter and I also produced the morning show,” Dollin told the Press. “I was able to help take out the equipment that I wanted to go in there, and help design the curriculum to go around it. I now produce a morning show here, too.”

Because of the high production quality and the enthusiasm of the students, that morning show has replaced morning announcements at the high school. One of their latest segments was centered around publicizing ESRLI, and the students reported it on April 19.

“In the first three years, we’ve raised over $300,000 for cancer research research, which is really exciting,” Steve Mars, co-chair of ESRLI, told interviewing student Grace Curry, a senior. “But then in year three, we met with the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce, and decided to bring the ride out onto the street and actually do it in downtown Oyster Bay so that the entire community can participate.”

The ride itself offers routes of eight, 25, and 62 miles through the Town of Oyster Bay, with designated streets closed off. It also features food trucks, ice cream, dunk tanks, and more activities. For the non-rider, ESRLI is always looking for volunteers and donations for the event.

“The proceeds all go directly to cancer research,” Dan Loen, vice president of ambulatory care, oncology, and surgery services at Catholic Health, told Curry. “Cancer research is not something that brings in a lot of revenue for health systems. It’s not something we make a profit on by any means. So we need things like fundraising to help justify and support the programs and staff that goes into it. But also it helps us with our physicians and our investigators to support new innovative trials that they want to come up with and create.”

To join the ride, donate, or volunteer for Empire State Ride Long Island, visit esrlongisland.com.

Media Partners for ESRLI include Optimum, SNY, Long Island Press, WBLI & WBAB Radio, and News 12.

Oyster Bay
Empire State Ride Long Island co-chair Steve Mars is interviewed by Oyster Bay-East Norwich senior Grace Curry.Michael Malaszczyk/Long Island Press