Standing in the midst of Christ the King Regional High School’s television news studio, a neon “On Air” sign gleaming to their right, a group that included business leaders, a veteran newsman and school officials announced that a financial donation to the school will give a significant boost to students studying journalism.
Rapid Realty Chief Executive Officer Anthony Lolli presented a $3,000 check to Christ the King Friday for the Middle Village school’s Cipolla-Schochet Broadcast Journalism Scholarship. The scholarship was recently created by veteran newsman Frank Cipolla, a Christ the King graduate and currently a news anchor at the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, in honor of his parents, Mary and Vincent Cipolla and his wife’s parents, Abe and Elinore Schochet.
“The moment Frank told me about this scholarship, I knew I wanted to get involved,” said Lolli, whose real estate business has offices throughout Queens, including in Forest Hills, Richmond Hill, Jamaica, Long Island City, and Astoria. “I like that this can change a person’s career.”
Cipolla said he expects support for the new scholarship to continue to grow, and the funds will help cover tuition costs for students who hope to pursue a career in broadcast journalism.
Broadcast journalism teacher Frank DeBiase noted that Christ the King has an extensive journalism program, which includes a student-produced news broadcast for the school’s in-house television station, WCKR, as well as a journalism class and club – a far cry from what the school had when Cipolla attended it in the mid-1970s.
“We had a makeshift studio in 1976 – there were four of us,” Cipolla laughed. “I had an anchor, a co-anchor, a weather person, and a sports guy. We could’ve never imagined there’d be a studio like they have now.”
Lolli, who presented the check at a ceremony attended by former state Sen. Serphin Maltese – the chairman of Christ the King’s Board of Trustees – and former City Councilman Tom Ognibene – also a member of the school’s Board of Trustees – too lauded the professional-looking studio at the school.
“When you walk into this room, the impression is, ‘I should get into broadcasting,’” said Lolli, just before he left Friday’s event for Barcelona to receive an accolade – the Stevie Award – feting entrepreneurs worldwide.
Those attending last week’s ceremony said they hope the scholarship will not only encourage students to pursue broadcast journalism, but will help nudge them to become leaders in their field.
“The fact that you’re an entrepreneur is something we’re trying to encourage,” Maltese said to Lolli, who started his own business at the age of 19.
Christ the King Principal Peter Mannarino stressed that the scholarship is especially helpful in what continues to be a rocky financial time for many students.
“In today’s economy, it’s really difficult for people,” Mannarino said. “If we can build up a scholarship fund, it will be very beneficial.”
“You only get one chance to get an early start,” Lolli said. “But it makes all the difference. If you young people have the tools available to them, it’s amazing what they can achieve. Bill Gates was exposed to a computer when he was in high school, at a time when computers in schools was unheard of, and that sparked a lifelong fascination that made him the man he is today. This scholarship will give kids that additional exposure to broadcasting. That might be the push they need for one of them to become the next Walter Cronkite or the next Barbara Walters.”
By Anna Gustafson