Meet the Summer School Zone 2022 writers

Five students, including one recent high school graduate, will share their thoughts on topics of interest to them.

  • West Orange Times & Observer
  • News
  • Share

School is out, and we are switching gears — turning our Observer School Zone section into a Summer School Zone. Student writers will take over for the next few months, writing about a variety of topics that are of interest to them.

Meet our summer writers and enjoy their writing!



Gabriel Gomes has written book reviews for the Observer under the pen name The Masked Reader for several years. He will be 14 in August and is entering his freshman year at Windermere High School — and he has removed the mask.

His favorite subject is math, and he enjoyed his geometry class last year. He also is a fan of English and language arts.

Gabriel’s hobbies include “reading books of all types and genres, playing video games such as Minecraft, performing sports such as football (Go, Patriots!) and basketball (Go, Celtics!), and biking around my neighborhood.”

He has several adventures on his bucket list: to travel to Parish, skydive out of an airplane and ride the tallest roller coaster, Kingda Ka, in New Jersey.

“I'm interested in writing about books, as I love reading them and find them fun to review,” Gabriel said. “I want to write to this newspaper to share my love for books and to inspire others to read more, because reading changes lives.”

Gabriel wants to be a football player and have his own business in the future.



Gabriel Gonzalez, 15 will be a junior at Ocoee High School. His favorite subject is chemistry, and his favorite hobbies are photography and exercising. He said journalism is a passion. Living outside of Central Florida also appeals to him.

“Something on my bucket list is to live in New York for a portion of my life,” he said.

Gabriel is interested in writing about sports and issues that are happening in the community. He hopes to gain writing experience this summer and would like to study to become a journalist after graduation.



Sydney Heitkamp, 16, is a junior at Windermere Preparatory School. Her favorite class so far in school has been Women’s Studies. She has a passion for musical theater, Walt Disney World, animals and the environment.

Sydney said she has an ever-changing bucket list. It includes meeting Jordan Fisher and Lin Manuel Miranda, visiting a cat café, being chosen as the Jedi Spy on the Disney Hollywood Studios ride Star Tours, completing the “four parks in one day” challenge and visiting every Disney theme park around the world.

Sydney wants to write about Windermere happenings, the theme parks, and social issues and how today’s youth is handling them. Her goal in writing for the newspaper is to show the community “the important role that today’s youth (have) on where we live, pressing topics, the media and everyday life,” she said.

“Gen Z and today’s youth make up the population of the next world leaders, so it is imperative that we play an active role within the media in our communities,” she said.

She is interested in a career in either journalism, environmental science or law.



Lily Parker, 12, will be an eighth-grader at Windermere Preparatory School. Her favorite subject in school is geography, and her passions are dance, reading and writing.

Lily’s bucket list includes traveling around the world.

She already has done some traveling, and she hopes to write about a few of the wonders on the island of Sanibel.

She wants to write for the newspaper because she has loved writing stories since she was able to read and write.

“Writing for a newspaper can only expand my knowledge of writing stories,” she said.

Her career goal is to be a publisher or writer.



Katie Steed, 18, will be interning this summer. She is a 2022 graduate of East Ridge High School, in Clermont, and is entering her freshman year at the University of Central Florida.

Her favorite school subject is English, and her hobbies are reading, writing and visiting different bookstores around Orlando with her friends.

Her bucket list includes a visit to London to see Buckingham Palace and a trip to a Waterstones British book retailer in the United Kingdom. 

Katie has a great deal of writing experience, as she was president of the National English Honors Society in high school and had to write analytical papers on books from diverse backgrounds. She also wrote poetry for poetry slams she hosted for NEHS.

Katie is interested in writing about the college process and what juniors and seniors need to do — and what they should expect — when it comes to college admissions. She said she would have appreciated having the advice and opinions from someone her own age.

She hopes her writing will inspire others and ease their worries, and she wants to embrace the writing experience this summer.

“I'm interested in writing for the newspaper because I would love to know what it is like to do editorial work,” Katie said. “I have never done anything like that before, and I would love the experience it would give me for any future career opportunity. I hope I learn how to make my writing more captivating and interesting and how to write with different styles. 

Katie hopes to pursue a career in the publishing and editing business.




Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

Latest News