Ward Melville celebrates student's Siemens win

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From the science labs to the cafeteria at Ward Melville High School, the news spread:

"Ruoyi won!"

"It's the Siemens award - he's number one."

"He gets $100,000."

Ruoyi Jiang, 17, Monday became the first Long Islander to win the solo category of the nationwide Siemens competition.

"This is a really really great accomplishment," said fellow senior Kevin Zhao, 17, a regional finalist this year who has done lab research alongside Jiang. "I've been watching him put so much work into this project. I expect great things from him in the future."

The enthusiasm in the East Setauket school especially resonated in the offices of InStar - Independent Science Technology and Research - which coordinates student science projects.

"This is a huge deal," said George Baldo, the program's director.

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Ward Melville takes science competitions more seriously than most Long Island schools. Baldo works with two other teachers to nurture talent, and collaborates with Stony Brook University professors to ensure students are doing advanced college-level research.

"These kids are so motivated, so excited about science," said Jen Visconti, one of the teachers.

Acting superintendent Donald Webster said the prestigious award is a "reflection of our entire education program, and it says a lot about our relationship with Stony Brook University." The Three Village district, he added, is trying to draw on the resources of the university and its hospital so that students can be challenged as much as possible.

At Ward Melville, Jiang is known as a Renaissance student. He edits the school paper, enjoys creating art and plays violin in the school's chamber orchestra. And he's easy to get along with, classmates said.

Those who competed with him praised him as word about his honor circulated.

"This is very exciting for me, for all of us," said Nevin Daniel, 16, a junior who was a Siemens semifinalist. "To see people like us succeed - especially someone from a regular public school - is amazing."

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