Thirty-nine local teenagers were among nearly 3,000 middle and high school students worldwide to compete at the 2015 National History Day in Maryland.

The competition challenged them to research historical topics through libraries, archives, museums and oral interviews. This year's theme, "Leadership and Legacy in History," resulted in projects on topics such as the eradication of smallpox and the legacy of late songwriter Harry Chapin.

Students first competed at the Long Island level, which brought in 318 entries. At the state level, in Cooperstown, the top two winners in each category went on to the national contest, held June 14-18.

"This event is much more than just reciting history facts," said Cathy Gorn, the competition's executive director. "These young historians spend an entire year researching their projects and scouring primary and secondary sources."

Justin Senzer of Herricks High School won at the national level, placing third in the individual senior documentary category.

Sayville High School students Jared Bergen and Emily Sneddon were among the competitors in the History Day contest. Pictured from left: Sayville social studies teacher LynnAnn Perlin, Bergen, Sneddon and Principal Ronald Hoffer. Photo Credit: Sayville Union Free School District

Local students who made it to the national competition were: Elizabeth Jacobs, Commack Middle School; Joy Bestourous, Krista Chen and Jordan Pollack, The Wheatley School; Ashley Vincenzo, Willets Road Elementary School; Emma Lu, Annabelle Ng, Annie Yang and Michelle Mu Yang, Great Neck South High School; Elise Zhao, Hauppauge High School; Sahil Abbi, Jane Chen, Julianna Deangelis, Nicole Garcia, Alysha Kamat, Sulaiman Kidwai, Dustin Liu, Connie Mule, Lauren Paik, Neil Patel, Justin Senzer, Ashley Skaria, Vanessa Sun, Ashwin Viswanathan and Gina Yoo, all of Herricks High School; Melissa Lau, Felisha Ma and Ashley Wong, Herricks Middle School; Gillian Polakoff and Jolie Schornstein, Hewlett High School; Jonny Miller and Rachel Miller, Woodmere Middle School; Samuel Latt, Huntington High School; Chase Serota, Jericho High School; David Xu and Jiaqi Zhang, Jericho Middle School; Jared Bergen and Emily Sneddon, Sayville High School; and Ariel Blumenberg, H.B. Thompson Middle School.

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FLORAL PARK: Hunger essays

Our Lady of Victory School in Floral Park placed first in two of four divisions of the 17th Annual World Food Day Essay Contest, hosted by the Amityville nonprofit Stop World Hunger. This year, some 1,800 essays were entered from Long Island, Brooklyn and Queens.

Entrants answered the question: "How can healing the environment stop world hunger?"

Winners were: Clodagh Kenneally and Sarah Van Riper of Our Lady of Victory School in the primary and junior-high levels, respectively; Isabel Louie of Stewart Manor Elementary School in the intermediate level; and Caroline Hughes of Hempstead's Sacred Heart Academy in the high school level.

HICKSVILLE: Talent show fundraiser


The Hicksville school district raised $10,000 through an inaugural talent show to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project, a nonprofit that aids injured veterans. The show featured teachers performing song-and-dance routines, as well as a slideshow in which local veterans shared their thoughts about serving.

"There are thousands of wounded warriors returning who are dealing with pain and suffering," said Carol Bonuso, the district's interim superintendent. "It is important to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them as they deal with these challenges."

OAKDALE: Junior Iron Chef

Oakdale-Bohemia Middle School and Suffolk County's 4-H Program placed first in the middle and high school levels, respectively, of the Third Annual Long Island Junior Iron Chef Competition, coordinated by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County and Whole Foods Market in Lake Grove.

Oakdale-Bohemia's team, called "Chef Masters," included Ava Bentivegna, Jade Foutch, Jaquelyn Smillie, Cassidy Tomas and Erin Venth. The Suffolk 4-H team, called "Fe-Male Iron Chefs," included Melissa Pistor, Natalie Pistor, Maggie Saum and Natalie Sourbeck.

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Teams were asked to prepare a dish in 60 minutes using five or less main ingredients. The Chef Masters made a broccoli, cheddar, and swiss spaghetti frittata. The Fe-Male Iron Chefs made "chicchini patties" -- veggie cakes packed with seasonal vegetables.


Twenty-two members of Northport High School's tour choir recently performed a selection of songs with Broadway legend Patti LuPone, a 1967 Northport graduate. The show, held at Patchogue Theater for the Performing Arts in April, consisted of songs from musicals.

"The impact that this experience had on me will stay with me for the rest of my life," said Ainsley Bandrowski, a senior.

NASSAU COUNTY: Science competition

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Nine students from Nassau County high schools and middle schools were top winners in the 2015 Nassau County Science Competition.

High school winners were: Jun Yan He and Bongseok Jung, Manhasset High School, first place; Kamyar Ghiam and Anuj Gupta, Roslyn High School, second place; and Ariel Slepyan, Hewlett High School, third place.

Middle school winners were: Julia Grossman, Woodmere Middle School, first place; George Gurney, James H. Vernon Middle School, second place; and Brandon Langone of Grand Avenue Middle School and Sara Micheli of Carle Place Middle School, third place.

SUFFOLK COUNTY: Water Quality Challenge

Lindenhurst High School, Henry L. Stimson Middle School in Huntington Station and Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School in Huntington Station placed first in the high school, middle school and elementary school divisions, respectively, of the Long Island STEM Hub's 2015 Water Quality Challenge.

The teams proposed ways to boost local water quality. Lindenhurst's team focused on compost and riparian buffers with native plants to conquer nitrogen pollution, while Jack Abrams' team focused on saltwater intrusion to the water supply. The Henry Stimson team proposed a program to place rain gardens across Long Island to reduce runoff pollution.

The competition was held this spring at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City.