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Calhoun Students Receive Grant to Implement Water Quality Project

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Calhoun High School was among three schools on Long Island who has received a financial grant from the Long Island Regional Planning Council as part of the 2021 Long Island Water Quality STEAM Challenge.

The competition encourages students to design and develop projects to reduce rain runoff and nitrogen pollution on school grounds.

Calhoun High School, New Hyde Park Memorial High School, and Commack High School were each awarded $2,500 grants as part of the 2021 Challenge.

“It is essential for students today to recognize the challenges our region faces in protecting the quality of our water systems and the schools participating in the 2021 Water Quality STEAM Challenge have established an active and ongoing outdoor classroom for all students, present and future, to learn and reflect on this important issue,” notedLIRPC Chairman John Cameron.

At Calhoun High School, students Kamila Agudelo, Rose Cepeda, Rachel Macnamara and Julie Moehringer designed a rain garden which features native plants to help filter out pollutants or excess nutrients from storm water runoff before it enters the surface waterways or recharges into the ground water supply.

“The garden will provide a natural habitat for birds and butterflies and will serve as an ongoing classroom for students in future years,” explained their teacher/adviser Jennifer Pefanis.

“At a time in world history when the discussion of future potable water sources is perhaps more important than at any time in the past century, the STEAM Challenge created by the Long Island Regional Planning Council allowed our students to work on an authentic project in an area in which they are naturally interested as they understand it can affect their futures,” said Scott Bersin, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. “We are extremely proud of the work done by teacher Jennifer Pefanis and the students involved with the rain garden project at Calhoun.”

Superintendent Michael Harrington mentioned the journey that’s involved in participating in a science research project.

“It’s not only about awards,” he said. “What you’ve done here at Calhoun, the legacy you are leaving, plus helping the environment – that is greater than any award.”

Winners of the 2022 grants will be announced shortly by the LIRPC panel, and a new round of applicants will be invited later this year for 2023 awards.

The Long Island Water Quality Challenge was first offered in 2019 to all schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties with an invitation to develop and design projects for their school grounds which will either reduce the use of fertilizers/pesticides and water consumption, or devise methods to collect and treat water runoff from the school property.

The Long Island Regional Planning Council comprises of public and private sector leaders who are experienced and knowledgeable in business, environment, transportation, and planning. Its mission is to educate Long Island officials, stakeholders and residents on key issues affecting the quality of life in the region, and to propose immediate and long-term strategies and solutions.

Date Added: 6/2/2022

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