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District’s Valedictorians, Salutatorians Honored at Nassau County Council of Superintendent’s Breakfast

District’s Valedictorians, Salutatorians Honored at Nassau County Council of Superintendent’s Breakfast photo
The valedictorians and salutatorians from Calhoun, Mepham and Kennedy high schools were honored at a special breakfast hosted by the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents on June 1. 

Calhoun valedictorian Joy Ma and salutatorian Amelia Seabold, Mepham valedictorian Gina Connors and salutatorian Isabelle Chan and valedictorian David Kantor and salutatorian Dylan Judd from Kennedy, were among those in attendance.

“These students deserve to be praised for their hard work and consistent dedication to their education over the years,” said Superintendent John DeTommaso. “I would also like to extend a special thank you to their parents, families, teachers and classmates for their support and continued encouragement.”

Advanced Science Research Students Earn First Honors at Science Fair

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Three sophomores from the district earned First Honors Awards at the Molloy College Kathy Belton Science Fair.

Sonia Sarju of Calhoun High School’s Advanced Science Research program was part of a three-person team that studied environmental research. 

After discussing common passions of environmental research with her teammates from St. Anthony’s & Syosset High Schools, they worked on a project titled, "ZnO NP Regulation: Identification of the IRT1 Ortholog in Lemma minor" at the iResearch Institute at Nassau Community College last summer.

“We explored the negative effects that zinc oxide nanoparticles – a chemical found in sunscreens and makeup – had in a plant,” she explained. “These chemicals are released into the water and sewage systems by the factories that make these products and therefore produce a negative effect on our ecosystems.”

Out of the 250 projects presented at the science fair, only 15 were awarded this distinction. 

“It’s interesting to uncover the different plants and animals around us and how they have an impact on people who have no idea. To find out how they impact us directly and make that connection to the world is a very unique experience,” she added.

Two sophomores in Kennedy High School’s Advanced Science Research program were also awarded First Honors.

David Frank studied “A Table Magician’s Greatest Trick: Affecting A Patron’s Tipping Habits Without Them Knowing.”

Frank conducted research at his Friday night job working as a table magician at a local restaurant.

“I wanted to see what I could do to increase the size of my tips and how many people were actually leaving me tips,” Frank said. “So, I started researching and came across the concept of reciprocity.” 

Katherine St. George researched “The Effect of Urine Concentration on Plant Growth.” Her research found that too many applications could eventually hinder plant growth, despite its known use as nutrients for plants.

The Molloy College Kathy Belton Science Fair allowed students the opportunity to gain a sense of scientific community with their peers, in their respective disciplines. They became members of a peer review process, which is the foundation of scientific research at all levels. 

Kennedy Team Earns $3,000 Prize at Northwell Health SPARK Challenge

Kennedy Team Earns $3,000 Prize at Northwell Health SPARK Challenge photo
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Two teams from Kennedy High School presented in the Northwell Health SPARK Challenge competition, netting a $3,000 award.   

“The competition actually began last fall, when two groups of Kennedy students from science and engineering classes shadowed professionals in different departments of the Northwell Health System,” said science and STEM chair Robert Soel.  

The students completed the competition when teams from across Long Island came together to give presentations about the various professions and departments at Northwell Health on April 12.

Kennedy’s ASR/biology team won second place for their oral presentation and third place for their career advertisement poster representing the Emergency Department from North Shore-LIJ. Their combined prize includes a $3,000 award to be used for a field trip chosen by the 14-member student team and their teacher. 

Olivia Mark, Nicole Khouryawad, Chloe Rome, Lucas Rosen, Jake Levine, Peter Giannaris, Jonathan Mashal, Nina Weissbach, Amanda Schleider, Hunter Moran, Whitney Sussman, Claudia Dryer, Vicky Dina and Lauren Rhakimov were led by their team advisor Barbi Frank. Alexandra Brinton, Samantha Beigelman, Dylan Judd, Daniel Wadler, Calvin Gibson, Jack Kelly, Scott Fingeroth and Justin Cacciatore were led by team advisor Cara Prinzevalli.  

“We are also very proud of the hard work and participation of our second SPARK team which created a presentation about their career shadow day experiences with the Northwell Department of Industrial Engineering,” added Soel.

Kennedy Hosts Hands-On STEM Career Fair

Kennedy Hosts Hands-On STEM Career Fair photo
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Students throughout the district had a unique opportunity to become informed and inspired about future college and career choices in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) related fields at a fair hosted by John F. Kennedy High School’s science department on April 19.

The evening kicked off with a 32-team medical Scrabble tournament.

“Students played a special timed Scrabble tournament in which bonus points were awarded for STEM words,” explained Robert Soel, science and STEM chairperson.

Hundreds of students and family members explored the displays and demonstrations of more than 50 STEM professionals and organizations.  

“Students from all over the district spoke with a wide range of professionals in fields such as electrical and mechanical engineering, marine biology, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, computer coding, cyber security, genetic counseling, environmental protection, solar energy, robotics and more,” he added.

Major highlights of the event included presentations by the Civil Air Patrol and the U.S. Air Force, as well as a remarkable coding demonstration by some of the district’s seventh-grade coding class students.
“As our STEM programs in Bellmore-Merrick grow, it has become our mission to expand education past the walls of our classrooms and find every opportunity to connect kids with professionals, experts and mentors,” Soel added.