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Long IslandEducation

Students to watch on Long Island: Fall 2017

They're young, gifted and full of good character.

Meet six Long Island students nominated by school staff members for Newsday.com's feature Students to Watch. These well-rounded achievers work hard at honing their skills. They're also known for their positive, can-do attitudes.

If you know of a student who is doing great things while inspiring others, fill out this form. Your entry may appear in a future edition of students to watch. Newsday.com is accepting submissions for only Long Island high school students.

Filip Konieczny, Valley Stream South High School

HOMETOWN: Valley Stream AGE: 17GRADE: 12 WHY YOU
Photo Credit: Courtesy Patricia Antonelli

HOMETOWN: Valley Stream

AGE: 17

GRADE: 12

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH HIM:

Filip Konieczny is a member of six honor societies and a science researcher working at the Columbia University Medical Center.

"Filip is an amazing young man who serves as a positive role model for his senior class," said Patricia Antonelli, his guidance counselor.

Konieczny is also the vice president of his class council and captain of the varsity volleyball team.

"He is a natural-born leader," Antonelli said.

In his spare time, Knoieczny competes in competitive ballroom dancing and volunteers.

"Where he finds the time to still volunteer feeding the homeless and working at his church is astounding," Antonelli said.

Ryan Adell, Kings Park High School

HOMETOWN: Fort Salonga AGE: 17GRADE: 12 WHY YOU
Photo Credit: Courtesy Jonneigh Briody

HOMETOWN: Fort Salonga

AGE: 17

GRADE: 12

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH HIM:

Ryan Adell is the founder of Next Generation Politics, a nonprofit organization that encourages young adults to take an active role in government, connecting them with each other and local elected officials through town halls, roundtable discussions and online forums. It has more than 40 high school chapters across five countries totaling more than 1,000 members.

Through the organization, Adell has met with officials including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former CIA director and four-star general David Petraeus. Jonneigh Briody, Adell's school counselor, said that Adell and his team have found continued success thanks to the enthusiasm and generosity of the movement's supporters.

"Ryan has spent next to nothing in establishing and growing the organization," she said."

Adell has led Next Generation Politics all while moving several times throughout high school, attending three different schools. Briody said Adell makes a concerted effort to get to know his teachers and counselors.

"His ability to adapt and be successful impressed me from the start," she said.

Nicholas Grana, Newfield High School

HOMETOWN: Port Jefferson Station AGE: 17GRADE: 12 WHY
Photo Credit: Courtesy Renee Davis

HOMETOWN: Port Jefferson Station

AGE: 17

GRADE: 12

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH HIM:

Nicholas Grana is an active member of the National Honor Society and a soccer player, but his passion is computer science. Ranked in the top 10 percent of his class at the end of his junior year, Grana is expected to graduate with an Advanced Regents diploma with a designation in science. Renee Davis, Grana's guidance counselor, said only a few students each year earn the diploma.

"Nick is a motivated and involved member of our senior class," she said.

Grana was awarded a scholarship from the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference for his development of an interactive 3-D and augmented reality Rubik's Cube. He has also created dozens of plugins for the video game Minecraft and developed his own mobile game, The Spin Zone.

"Nick's ability to manage his time effectively, maintain excellent grades, and actively pursue his interests are the hallmarks of an excellent, well-rounded student," Davis said.

Josette Peacock, Sacred Heart Academy

HOMETOWN: Oceanside AGE: 17GRADE: 12 WHY YOU SHOULD
Photo Credit: Courtesy Elizabeth Reilly

HOMETOWN: Oceanside

AGE: 17

GRADE: 12

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH HER:

A member of both the math and science honor societies, Josette Peacock has participated in several competitions, including the 2016 Siemens Competition and the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair.

This year, she plans to participate in the Regeneron Science Talent Search. Her research focuses on the role of the transcription factor SOX9 protein and SOX9 gene in the development of chemoresistance of epithelial ovarian cancer. Elizabeth Reilly, director of marketing and communication at Sacred Heart Academy, said that through this research, Peacock hopes to improve the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

Peacock "challenges herself regularly in academics and service," Reilly said. In her spare time, Peacock volunteers at the New Life Center at Winthrop University Hospital. For her work, she has received the Attorney General's Triple C Award and the Gold President's Volunteer Service Award.

Jennifer Berkowitz, Mineola High School

HOMETOWN: Mineola AGE: 17GRADE: 12 WHY YOU SHOULD
Photo Credit: Courtesy Karen Cordani

HOMETOWN: Mineola

AGE: 17

GRADE: 12

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH HER:

Jennifer Berkowitz is an anchor for the school's media network, producing and editing reports for school-wide broadcasts. She also interned for Anton News, writing for the Mineola American.

"Jennifer's creative nature and powerful voice were clearly evident in her articles," school counselor Karen Cordani said.

Berkowitz also provided training for teachers on the Touchcast Studio app, a video editing program, for them to use in the classroom.

"Jennifer is a talented writer, editor and broadcaster who has a bright future in journalism," Cordani said.

Raphael Iskra, Commack High School

HOMETOWN: Commack AGE: 17GRADE: 12 WHY YOU SHOULD
Photo Credit: Courtesy Alyson Catinella

HOMETOWN: Commack

AGE: 17

GRADE: 12

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH HIM:

School counselor Alyson Catinella describes Raphael Iskra as "purely magnetic."

"One would never know that Raphael was once a very shy little boy," she said.

Catinella said Iskra has a 104.4 grade-point average in the school's International Baccalaureate diploma program. His strongest subject is math: Iskra scored a perfect 800 on both the math section of the SAT and on the SAT Subject Test in math, Catinella said.

His "unrelenting work ethic and pioneering mind" are inspiring, she said.

Outside the classroom, Iskra conducts research at Stony Brook University's microbiology lab. He was also a part of the school's history bowl team, which competed in nationals, and an Eagle Scout candidate.

"Raphael naturally rises to leadership positions in everything he does," Catinella said.

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