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3 Nassau County teens named 2015 Rising Scientists

Rachel Mashal, 17, a senior at John F.

Rachel Mashal, 17, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, is one of five metropolitan-area students, including three from Nassau County, to be named a 2015 Rising Scientist by the Child Mind Institute. With Mashal is Kennedy science chair Robert Soel and research teacher Barbi Frank. Credit: Bellmore-Merrick School District

Three Nassau County teens have proved their scientific abilities by taking home an award available only to high school students in the New York City metropolitan area.

Remi Golden of George W. Hewlett High School, Rachel Mashal of John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, and Anna Vaynrub of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School are among five students named 2015 Rising Scientists by the Child Mind Institute. The Manhattan-based organization is dedicated to transforming mental health care for children.

The honor is awarded annually to five students in the metro area who have demonstrated "exceptional promise in science and a specific interest in neuroscience," the institute said. It comes with a $1,000 college scholarship, presented at a ceremony last week.

Mashal's work includes being the youngest presenter at the 2015 International Conference on Eating Disorders in Boston, where she shared her research on the link between anxiety and eating disorders.

"I've worked so hard the past two years, so being recognized for my work makes it very worthwhile," said Mashal, 17.

High schools were invited to nominate their best junior-year science students for the honor, the institute said. Each school could nominate only one person.

"These students put in hundreds of hours -- more than what is required," John F. Kennedy's science chair Robert Soel said. "Students like Rachel go above and beyond."

DEER PARK: Soda tab drive raises funds for Shriners Hospitals

Deer Park High School collected more than 60,000 aluminum tabs from soda cans to benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children in Philadelphia, becoming the institution's top tab donor this year.

The school donated 18.775 kilograms worth of tabs -- about 41.3 pounds -- after the drive held throughout the 2014-15 school year. The tabs are recycled for cash, with proceeds funding programs that benefit kids, the school said.

The collection was spearheaded by the school's Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Club.

"They're a dynamite group and they're always community-minded," said Janet Werner, the SADD Club adviser. Of the program, she said: "I think that our students today need to see the reality of life -- and seeing people who have less than they do helps them to appreciate what they have."

Students dropped the tabs in containers in Werner's classroom and a faculty room. The tabs were delivered to the hospital at the end of the school year to be recycled.

Since the program's inception, the hospital has raised some $68,000 from tabs. About 1,400 soda tabs weigh 1 pound, the hospital said.

"We are able to use the tabs to raise money for important machines, tools and equipment that will provide a better quality of life for our patients," said Stephanie Byrwa, a spokeswoman for Shriners in Philadelphia.

Shriners Hospitals for Children is a network of 22 nonprofit hospitals in North America.

HEWLETT: New appointments

Ralph Marino is the new superintendent of the Hewlett-Woodmere school district and Christopher Uccellini is the new principal of Hewlett Elementary School. Marino replaced Joyce M. Bisso, who retired, and Uccellini replaced Evelyn Lolis, who has left the district.

Marino most recently served as superintendent of upstate Horseheads Central School District, a position he held for nine years, and before that was superintendent of upstate Hunter-Tannersville Central School District. Uccellini most recently served as the assistant principal of Stratford Avenue Elementary School in Garden City, a position he had held since 2013.

"My work to lead and serve the district, and to provide the best possible learning opportunities for students, deserves nothing less than a passionate commitment," Marino said. "I look forward to building relationships with the students, parents, staff and community members in Hewlett-Woodmere."

MINEOLA: New principals

Whittney Smith is the new principal of Mineola High School and Diane Anderson is the interim principal of Hampton Street Elementary School.

Smith replaced Ed Escobar, now the district's assistant superintendent for human resources, while Anderson replaced Devra Small, now director of elementary humanities for the North Shore school district in Glen Head.

Smith previously was Mineola's director of guidance and middle school assistant principal. Anderson most recently served eight years as assistant principal of Northside Elementary School in Farmingdale.

"I'm looking forward to helping transform the high school into a 21st-century learning environment," Smith said. "We're at a crucial time where it's necessary to prepare students for jobs that require skills like critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity."

NORTH BELLMORE: New principal

Denise Fisher is the new principal of Newbridge Road Elementary School. She replaced Marilyn Hirschfield, who retired.

Fisher previously served as assistant principal of Saw Mill Road Elementary School in North Bellmore and as interim assistant principal of Saltzmann East Memorial Elementary School in Farmingdale.

"I am most excited about being able to continue my work with children and their families," Fisher said. "It's a privilege to serve as a building principal and be part of a community culture that believes in growing learners and thinkers."

AMAGANSETT: New principal

Maria Dorr has been appointed principal of Amagansett Elementary School. She replaced Brigit DiPrimo, who is now assistant principal of Comsewogue High School in Port Jefferson Station.

Dorr most recently was director of pupil personnel services for the Amagansett school district. Before that, she held positions in the Rocky Point and South Huntington districts.

NORTH BABYLON: New principals

Elizabeth Walsh-Bulger is the new principal of Robert Moses Middle School, replacing Kathleen Hartnett, and Vincent Fantauzzi is the new principal of William E. DeLuca Jr. Elementary School, replacing Norann McManus, who retired.

Walsh-Bulger had served as assistant principal at North Babylon High School for the past seven years, and before that was coordinator of academy intervention services and the dean of discipline in the West Islip school district.

Fantauzzi most recently was assistant principal of St. James Elementary School, and before that was administrator for grants and human resources in the Smithtown school district.

"The middle school years are critical in a child's academic, social, emotional and physical development," Walsh-Bulger said. "I want parents to know that Robert Moses staff will shepherd their children through these years with resolve, sensitivity, strength and compassion to ensure they all meet their potential for growth and achievement."

ROCKY POINT: New principal

Susann Crossan is the principal of Rocky Point High School, replacing John DeBenedetto, who had held the post since 2012.

Crossan served as the high school's assistant principal for more than 12 years and was a member of its Shared Decision Making Committee. She aided in the district's application of Project Save legislation and facilitated elements of the district's substance awareness, prevention and intervention action plan.

"I embrace the challenge of working collaboratively with our dedicated teachers and support staff to cultivate a learning environment that comprehensively prepares students for college and careers," Crossan said. "My objectives are to create a greater sense of school pride, to increase student engagement, and promote accountability and social consciousness."


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