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Nassau School Notebook: Half Hollow Hills team wins 'We the People'

A team from Half Hollow Hills High School

A team from Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills has been named the state champion of a competition called "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution."  Team members, see in this Zoom screen, competed virtually this year. Credit: David Pitman

A team from Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills has won the state championship for demonstrating its knowledge of the U.S. Constitution.

The competition, "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution," asked students to defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues — ranging from foreign policy to freedom of speech — by participating in simulated congressional hearings before a panel of judges acting as members of Congress. Students competed virtually via Zoom this year.

This is the third time in four years that the state championship was won by a team from Half Hollow Hills East. The team will compete virtually this spring in the national finals.

"I'm always amazed at how hard they're willing to work, but to do it in this setting, in some ways, was the most satisfying," said the team's coach David Pitman, a social studies teacher at the school.

Team members were Justin Adler, Wahub Ahmed, Jasmine Alicea, Abigail Bonat, Jesse Boxenhorn, Brooke Broder, Kiosha Fowlkes, Christopher Goldblatt, Jessie Grill, Ean Huang, Fatima Khwaja, Jillian Martin, Gabrielle Michals, Jason Nguyen, Hannah Nissenbaum, Lauren Novak, Zahreena Rahimi, Kayla Renard, Jennifer Sachs, Rayanna Shwom, Kira Sundberg, Gianna Tantillo, Khushi Thakkar and Victoria Tong.


Theme winner

MacArthur High School sophomore Jason Yevin is the winner of a theme search contest for the National PTA's 2022-23 Reflections Contest, which challenges students nationwide to create original artwork on a specific theme.

Yevin's winning phrase was "Show Your Voice!" and netted him a $100 prize. He thought of it after reflecting on the use of face masks and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2020, school officials said.

"Jason is a wonderful student and this recognition could not have happened to a better kid," said MacArthur ceramics teacher Deja Gomes-Vance, who encouraged him to enter the contest.


Spreading love

Many students spread love throughout their communities earlier this month with activities held in recognition of Valentine's Day.

In Baldwin, the district's elementary schools created 1,300 cards with heartfelt messages for veterans in hospitals and nursing homes as part of a "Valentines for Vets" program. The effort was organized by the offices of Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Assemb. Judy Griffin (D-Rockville Centre).

In Mineola, students and staff districtwide collected several boxes worth of items — including gift cards and toiletries — for Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts through an initiative held in collaboration with Assemb. Edward Ra (R-Franklin Square) and Gina Sillitti (D-Manorhaven).

In Floral Park, first-graders in Megan White's class at Floral Park-Bellerose Elementary School created about 50 cards for children in hospitals through the organization Cards for Hospitalized Kids.


New York Recycles

Three Long Island students were among the first-, second- or third-place winners in the 18th Annual New York Recycles Poster Contest sponsored by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York Recycles Steering Committee. For winning, their recycling-themed artwork appears in the 2021 New York Recycles calendar.

Luna Pankratz of Oquenock Elementary School in West Islip placed first in the grades K-3 category, Matthew Otto of West Middle Island Elementary School placed second in the grades K-3 category, and Nava Strobel of the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns & Rockaway High School placed second in the grades 10-12 category.

Runners-up included Derek Pankratz of Oquenock in the K-3 category, Fatimah Chaudhary of Longwood Middle School in the grades 4-6 category, and Gianna Bailey of Smithtown High School West in the grades 7-9 category.


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