Two Manhasset High School seniors were honored in Sweden as winners of the grand prize in a prestigious international competition that explores water and environmental issues.
Rachel Chang and Ryan Thorpe took the top honor at the 2017 Stockholm Junior Water Prize, a weeklong contest open to students ages 15 to 20 who have conducted water-related projects of environmental, scientific, social or technological significance. It is administered by the Stockholm International Water Institute.
Chang and Thorpe, both 17, who represented the United States and vied against entrants from 32 other countries, were awarded $15,000 as well as $5,000 for their school by Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. They also received $10,000 for winning first place at the national level during the summer in North Carolina.
The competition was held in conjunction with World Water Week in Stockholm, a global water conference.
“This is definitely a validation of the work we’ve been doing over the past two years,” Chang said. “Water scarcity is such a huge issue.”
The duo created a system to detect and purify bacteria-contaminated water through use of graphene biosensors. They worked on the project in a lab at their high school under the guidance of research teacher Alison Huenger.
To reach the international level, they first won at the regional, state and national levels — the latter of which, in June, included top projects from 48 states and Puerto Rico.
“Being able to interact with people from all over the world was a victory in itself,” Thorpe said. “Each round was the prize for us.”
Neil Lederer is the interim principal of East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School. He replaced Joseph Spero, who now is principal of a high school in Cortlandt, New York.
Lederer has held multiple interim superintendent and principal positions across Long Island since retiring from a seven-year stint as superintendent of the Lindenhurst school district in 2009. He began his administrative career as assistant principal of Lindenhurst Junior High School in 1976.
“I am thrilled to be joining the East Rockaway school district as its interim junior-senior high school principal,” Lederer said. “I hope to build upon its fine programs so as to further enhance the academic experiences of our students.”
Daniel Keegan has been named principal of Island Trees Memorial Middle School.
Keegan, who replaced Roseann Cirnigliaro, most recently was an assistant principal at Oceanside Middle School; before that, he taught social studies for 17 years. He also has been a varsity basketball coach for the Oceanside school district.
“I am excited by the opportunity to lead Island Trees Memorial Middle School in so many areas, but I am most excited to help our students recognize the champions in themselves and in the teachers and staff who walk the halls with them each and every day,” Keegan said.
Adele Pecora has been appointed superintendent of the Seaford school district. She replaced Brian Conboy, who retired.
Pecora most recently served six years as assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment K-12 for the Commack school district. She also has been director of curriculum, assessment and technology in Island Park, an assistant principal in Garden City and a social studies chairwoman in Massapequa.
“I look forward to working with the board and the entire Seaford community to foster intellectual curiosity and expand student opportunities by providing an exemplary education program for all Seaford students,” Pecora said.