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Nassau School Notebook: Long Island teams compete in Science Olympiads

A Great Neck South High School team, seen

A Great Neck South High School team, seen here competing virtually, took the top spot among high school teams at this year's New York State Science Olympiad. Credit: Great Neck School District

Teams from Great Neck South High School, P.J. Gelinas Junior High School in Setauket and R.C. Murphy Junior High School in Stony Brook are advancing to the national level after being among the top finishers at the New York State Science Olympiad.

This year's state olympiad, which was held virtually last month because of the COVID-19 pandemic, consisted of 68 high school teams and 53 middle school teams that qualified after participating in one of 24 regionals statewide. Teams vied in 15 events, such as "Disease Detectives" and "Sounds of Music," the latter of which challenged students to take a test on the physics of sound and build instruments.

Great Neck placed first among high school teams, while P.J. Gelinas and R.C. Murphy placed first and second, respectively, among middle school teams. The national tournament is on May 21-22.

To reach the state level, teams competed in one of five regional tournaments across Long Island. The high school regionals were won by teams from Great Neck South, Hauppauge and Syosset high schools, while the middle school regionals were won by teams from Great Neck South and Port Jefferson middle schools.

Other high school teams that reached the state level were from the following schools: Bay Shore, Bayport-Blue Point, Chaminade, Division Avenue, Earl L. Vandermeulen, Friends Academy, Half Hollow Hills West, Hicksville, Jericho, Kellenberg, MacArthur, Manhasset, Roslyn, Smithtown East, Smithtown West, Ward Melville and Wantagh.

Other middle school teams that reached the state level were from the following schools: Bro. Joseph C. Fox, Carrie Palmer Weber, Commack, Hauppauge, Hicksville, Manhasset, P.J. Gelinas, R.C. Murphy, South Woods, West Hollow and Wisdom Lane. SAIL, a home-school team, also advanced.

GARDEN CITY

New principal

Matthew Samuelson has been named principal of Garden City Middle School. He replaced Eric Nezowitz, who was the interim principal.

Samuelson has been assistant principal at upstate Irvington High School since 2016 and has also taught English in New Rochelle.

"I am excited and deeply honored to make the move to the principalship at Garden City Middle School," Samuelson said. "Together, our incredible faculty and dynamic community will continue the tradition of creativity, collaboration and dedication to achieving our goals."

JERICHO, NORTHPORT AND SMITHTOWN

Coca-Cola Scholar

Richard Ren of Jericho High School is one of 150 high school seniors nationwide named a 2021 Coca-Cola Scholar; he will receive a $20,000 college scholarship from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. Students were selected on such factors as leadership skills, academic achievements and community service from among more than 99,000 applicants.

Smithtown High School West senior Shannon Alptekin and Northport High School senior James Connor were among 251 regional finalists nationwide. Peter Thais of Hogansburg, who attends Saint Dominic High School in Oyster Bay, was also a regional finalist.

ISLANDWIDE

Schools to Watch

Jericho Middle School, Oceanside Middle School, Sayville Middle School and Longwood Junior High School in Middle Island are among 16 schools statewide re-designated as 2021 Essential Elements: Schools to Watch by the New York State Education Department in partnership with the New York State Middle School Association and the Statewide Network of Middle Level Liaisons.

The program recognizes schools that demonstrate continuous improvement and excel in four areas: academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational structure. Schools hold the designation for three years and then must be reevaluated.

"The middle school years represent a period of personal growth and development for young adolescents," Interim State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa said. "These educators are helping the children they serve to prepare for success in high school and thereafter."

— MICHAEL R. EBERT

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