A Port Jefferson team is getting ready to demonstrate its creativity at a global level.
A seven-member squad from Our Lady of Wisdom Regional Catholic School in Port Jefferson won first place in their division at the New York State Odyssey of the Mind competition, which challenges students to explore creative problem-solving methods.
The team is the only Long Island group that will advance to the world finals in Michigan on May 22-25. Its members are Logan Almberg, James Cunningham, Jessica D'Iorio, Daniela Ferrigno, Shane Hampson, Emma Koscinski and Sara Mermelstein.
"Our team just blew me away," co-coach Eugene Joseph said. Of Odyssey's importance, he said: "It's necessary for kids to think outside the box, and this competition rewards that."
At the state level Our Lady of Wisdom competed in the Tumble-wood Division II, for teams in grades 6-8. To advance, the team designed and built a structure made entirely of balsa wood and glue that supported 1,051 pounds -- after supporting only 560 pounds earlier last month at the regional level -- and also generated a "spontaneous solution" to a problem they hadn't seen before, Joseph said.
Other local teams to reach the state level included Atkinson Intermediate School in Freeport, Long Beach Middle School, Long Beach High, Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School, Howitt Middle School in Farmingdale, Farmingdale High, Locust Valley High, Northport-East Northport School District, and Berner Middle School and the Lockhart, McKenna and Unqua elementary schools, all in Massapequa.
Odyssey of the Mind is run by Creative Competitions Inc. in New Jersey.
Stamping out racism
New Visions Elementary School recently celebrated a new postage stamp commemorating civil rights activist Rosa Parks with a special assembly honoring her role in the struggle for racial equality.
Freeport postal employees formally unveiled the stamp to the school community, and dual-language students sang spirituals such as "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."
In other news, Freeport High School recently introduced 21 German high school students to life on Long Island via a cultural exchange in which the foreign teens did such things as shadow local students to shop at Roosevelt Field mall.
Schools Helping Schools
The Massapequa Union Free School District recently received a donation of $1,500 and clothing items from Milton Terrace South Elementary School in upstate Ballston Spa to aid in its recovery from superstorm Sandy. Milton Terrace adopted Massapequa through a Schools Helping Schools initiative run by the New York State Council of School Superintendents.
LI History Day
Thirty-one Nassau County students were first-place winners last month in various categories and age groups of 2013 Long Island History Day at Hofstra University.
The program, sponsored by the New York State Historical Association, encourages youths to explore historical topics via libraries, museums and interviews.
Winners were: Jessica Vincello of Baldwin Middle School; Rachel Kim of Herricks Middle School; Kerianne Dibattista, Marielle Lenowitz, Diane Li, Lauren Paik, Arianna Ramdass, Ashley Skaria and Gina Yoo of Herricks High School; Chase Serota of Jericho Middle School; Akash Advaney, Chris Chen, Gene Lee, Rahiq Mohamed, Haejin Park and Jonathan Serota of Jericho High School; Reese Berman and Brielle Hoffman of Brandeis School in Lawrence; Nicholas Dilena of Syosset High School; and Dannah Allen, Joseph Carillo, Layla Elkoulily, Lina Elkoulily, Abby Lamdan, Sophia Lamsifer, Jonathan Matza, Lori Matza, Nicole Matza, Renee Nakkab, Catalina Pugliese and Zoe Superville of Woodmere Middle School.
Grants for schools
Long Beach Middle School and William Paca Middle School in Mastic Beach were among 15 schools statewide to receive replication grants for low-performing schools from the state Education Department.
The grants enable schools to be mentored by districts that won Commissioner's Schools Dissemination Grants last year based on high performance. Long Beach received $150,000 to replicate the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park school district, and William Paca received $149,996 to replicate the Carle Place school district.
Last year, grants were awarded to help successful schools identify and share their best practices. "Replication grants are the second piece of the puzzle," said Education Commissioner John B. King Jr.