A group of Middle Island's middle school students are proving that math skills count.
The four-member team from Longwood Junior High School -- Maciej Wlodek, Tan Yan, Steven Santos and Josh Spagnoli -- beat out a handful of other Suffolk County teams last month to win first place in a regional math competition coordinated by Mathcounts, a national program that promotes middle school math through grassroots efforts.
The team is next slated to compete on March 16 against several dozen teams at the program's state level in Troy.
"They're a good group of kids that work really hard," said Longwood math teacher Lorraine DiBartolo, who advises the team with coworker Janet Smiles. "These students just have such an outstanding ability to see mathematical patterns and numbers."
The contest, held at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, consisted of three rounds over a two-hour period in which students answered problems in topics ranging from algebra to geometry to math theory. In the first "sprint" round, students answered individually in a 1-minute spans, and the questions became harder until the final "team" round, in which team members collaborated to answer 10 problems.
Wlodek and Yan had the first- and second-highest scores in the competition, respectively.
Students at John F. Kennedy Intermediate School recently got an inside look at military life via a Skype session with Deer Park graduate and U.S. Army Spc. 4 Andrew Farquharson, whose younger brother Matthew is a student in Marie Finley's fifth-grade class.
During the session Farquharson talked to students about his deployment in Iraq and thanked them on behalf of the U.S. Army's 6/8 Cavalry Squadron's 3rd Infantry Division, to whom members of the class had sent letters.
The letter-writing campaign also focused on local firefighters, first responders and police officers.
Medical role model
Riverhead Central School District students are learning the importance of perseverance through a "Community Role Models" speakers series that inspires kids to "never give up on their dreams," district officials said.
The first speaker was Dr. Marilyn McLaughlin, a Riverhead-based medical oncologist who lived in a one-room house in Jamaica, West Indies, with no electricity or indoor plumbing until the age of 13.
"About the time I was to begin medical school, my house burned down, but I never gave up," McLaughlin said. "During medical school, I was sideswiped by a drunk driver, and then spent a long time in therapy, but was determined to graduate with my class."
Many local students expressed love and appreciation for others in their community last month through various programs and activities held in celebration of Valentine's Day.
"This provides a rewarding and fun service opportunity where they can make a difference in a child's life," adviser Janet Broadhurst said.
In Deer Park, pre-kindergartners at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School participated in a "You Gotta Have Heart" workshop that included a lesson on heart health in which children used stethoscopes to listen to their heartbeats before and after an aerobic activity.
In North Babylon, fifth-graders at Marion G. Vedder Elementary School worked with local senior citizens to create a series of oil pastel hearts at Spangle Drive Senior Center.
Grammy Schools honors
Nine Long Island high schools were among 129 nationwide recently named semifinalists for designation as 2013 Grammy Signature Schools by the Grammy Foundation in honor of what the organization called their "outstanding commitment to music education."
Finalists will be announced later this month and receive grants of $1,000 to $10,000 to benefit their music programs.
"Just as the Grammy Award recognizes excellence within the recording arts, the Grammy Signature Schools program recognizes public high schools across the country for their dedication to providing excellent music education programs for their students," said Neil Portnow, the foundation's president and chief executive,
The Grammy Foundation was established in 1989.