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Nassau School Notebook: John F. Kennedy team wins Spark! Challenge

A team from John F. Kennedy High School

A team from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore was the first-place winner in this year's Northwell Health Spark! Challenge. Credit: Bellmore-Merrick Central School District

A team from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore won a local contest that challenged students to join a medical department for a day and design a poster that represents the career they observed.

John F. Kennedy's 17-student team won the first-place poster award, valued at $2,000, in Northwell Health's Spark! Challenge based on their visit last fall to Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park where they learned about electroencephalograms and how the placement of sensors on the head produces outputs.

This year's challenge consisted of about 1,000 juniors and seniors from more than 50 high schools visiting about 80 hospital, departments and facilities within Northwell Health.

"It is truly remarkable and inspiring to see the impact our teams have had on these amazing students and, in turn, the compassion the students have shown for our phenomenal teams," said Northwell Health's senior corporate director for workforce readiness Cheryl Davidson.

Teams from Valley Stream South and Baldwin high schools won the second- and third-place poster awards valued at $1,500, respectively, while teams from Great Neck South and Plainedge high schools won awards valued at $500 for the Facebook favorite and rookie poster, respectively. 

Teams from Hampton Bays, Lindenhurst, Patchogue-Medford, Stella K. Abraham, Valley Stream Central and Valley Stream South high schools won Presentation Awards, valued at $1,000.

The awards celebration was canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak, but several teams donated their winnings back as a show of support to essential workers.


Lexus Eco Challenge

Herricks High School's The Cli-Mates team and Jericho High School's Finding Nano team were among eight first-prize winners of $15,000 in the final challenge of this year's Lexus Eco Challenge, a national contest that asks students to create practical solutions to local environmental issues.

The Cli-Mates developed a low-carbon dieting plan, which helps reduce the amount of greenhouse emissions, and educated their community through various events and online initiatives; Finding Nano created a sustainable ultrafiltration membrane using nanocellulose and designed an app that detects fracking contaminants. 

The teams had already won $10,000 for being among 32 winners in the contest's Air & Climate Challenge and Land & Water Challenge, respectively. The contest was created by Lexus and the publishing company Scholastic.


Car parades

Many students received well wishes from educators in recent weeks through car parades designed to lift their spirits amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District, staff from the district's four schools drove around holding homemade signs to spread positivity to children at home. Hillside teacher Susan Schluek's sign said, "Counting down the days until we are together."

In Baldwin, Plaza Elementary School's teachers and staff participated in a roughly 30-car parade led by Principal Mark Gray. Teachers waved, blew kisses and honked horns as they passed pupils' homes. 

In Farmingdale, more than 100 district teachers and administrators participated in a five-hour car parade that began at Weldon E. Howitt Middle School.


Scholarship winners

Eight Long Island students are among about 1,000 high school seniors nationwide named winners of corporate-sponsored scholarships through the National Merit Scholarship Corp. The scholarships range from single payments of between $2,500 and $5,000 to annual stipends of up to $10,000 that are renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study.

Winners and their high schools are: Aaron Angress, Mount Sinai; Caleb Deitsch, Syosset; Viveka Jain, Hicksville; Miles Kim, Half Hollow Hills West; Rachelle Lee, Jericho; Daniel Min, Herricks; Alexa Wiencek, East Meadow; and Sharon Zhong, Wheatley School.


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Caleb Deitch, who was among the National Merit Scholarship winners.

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