Prep Talk

Prep junior wins New York Times Writing Contest

Posted January 30th, 2023

A young person’s teen years are the most transformative of their lives. The Prep has always taken pride in educating and guiding students through this coming of age but only a teenager can fully express what this experience is like in modern society.

Matteo Barberio ’24 has done just that and in the process, his work was one of only 24 submissions selected amongst thousands of students who participated in a recent New York Times writing contest titled “Coming of Age in 2022: Show Us What It’s Like to Be a Teenager Now.” Matteo was tasked with submitting a photo, original painting, or sketch accompanied by a written piece in Mrs. Zielinski’s AP Language and Composition class that would serve as his submission to the nationwide contest.  His award-winning work now becomes a permanent fixture in the New York Times Learning Network.

Matteo’s original submission is included below:


A collage of different pairs of sneakers, many with the Nike swoosh.
Like many fashion-forward teens his age, Matteo shares a love for sneakers.  His love turned into a blossoming business venture with a bit of determination during the pandemic.


“A collage of sneakers I bought and resold”

In March of 2020, with all my new free time in quarantine, I began researching ways to make money. After hours of searching Google and watching YouTube videos on the best “side hustles from home,” I stumbled on sneaker reselling. The sneakers that resell are very exclusive, and purchasing a pair is very competitive.

After many failures, I finally bought and sold my first pair for profit. I was hooked. I joined online groups with skilled sneaker resellers who mentored me, and I followed Instagram pages that helped teach beginners. I eventually invested in computer software that automated the sneaker-purchasing process and helped me quickly buy limited pairs of shoes. I began to find a lot of success, and I made thousands of dollars at home during the pandemic.

A collage of different pairs of sneakers, many with the Nike swoosh.

The picture collage shows some of the first pairs of sneakers I bought and resold. While virtual school made learning the standard subjects of math, science and language more challenging, it allowed me to learn skills I would not have learned via in-person classes. I learned the basics of being an entrepreneur. I learned how to track expenses, manage spreadsheets, pay bills, maximize profits, reinvest and collaborate with others online.

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