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Long IslandEducation

John F. Kennedy High School student named national finalist

In Mastic Beach, about 130 second-graders at Tangier

In Mastic Beach, about 130 second-graders at Tangier Smith Elementary School did their best pirate impersonations last month as part of International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Credit: William Floyd School District

A John F. Kennedy High School student has been named a finalist in a prestigious national science competition for the second consecutive year.

Tyler Bissoondial, a freshman at the Bellmore school, is one of 30 finalists in the ninth annual Broadcom MASTERS, which is a science competition for middle schoolers and a program of the Society for Science & the Public. He is the sole finalist from Long Island.

His project was titled "Identification and Characterization of Salt-Tolerant Mutants in Raphanus sativus [Radish]." It focuses on global soil salinization, which is an emerging problem facing crop productions.

As a finalist, Bissoondial will compete for more than $100,000 in awards at the finals in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 25-30.

"Many people are not aware of the impact of soil salinity on crop production," Bissoondial, 14, said. "With increasing salinization and climate change, we need to develop more crops that can cope with these harsh environmental changes. My research helps identify radish plants that can survive and grow well in high saline environments."

About 2,300 students nationwide were nominated for the competition by placing among the top 10% of middle school competitors at society-affiliated regional and state science fairs. From those entrants, 300 were selected as semifinalists and 30 as finalists. 

Other local semifinalists were Adhith Jacob and Dillon Moi, both freshmen at Wellington C. Mepham High School in Bellmore.


New principals

Bayport-Blue Point School District has two new principals: Robert Haas at Bayport-Blue Point High School and John Andruszkiewicz at James Wilson Young Middle School. Haas replaced Gaurav Passi, who is now assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Manhasset School District, while Andruszkiewicz replaced Haas.

Haas, who previously served five years as the middle school's principal, also has been an assistant principal at the high school and the district's social studies chairman.

Andruszkiewicz previously served seven years as an assistant principal at Lindenhurst Middle School. Before that, he was a social studies chairman and teacher in the Three Village Central School District and a social studies teacher in the Sachem Central School District.

"It is an honor for me to be returning to Bayport-Blue Point High School as the principal," Haas said. "I am looking forward to working with the great staff of the high school to continue exploring new opportunities for all students."

"I am honored and humbled to be a part of such a wonderful educational community," Andruszkiewicz said. "The Bayport-Blue Point School District is one that I have long held in high esteem. I am looking forward to building on our school’s continued commitment to our student's academic, social and emotional successes."


New principal

Christopher Herrschaft is the new principal of Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach Elementary School. He replaced Catherine Honeyman, who is now the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Plainedge School District. 

Herrschaft previously was assistant principal of North Country Road Middle School in Miller Place. He also has been a business education teacher and dean at Miller Place High School.

"Having grown up in this community I have a deep understanding and affection toward the impact this school district, its teachers, faculty and staff have on its children," Herrschaft said. "I look forward to establishing a partnership with the community and identifying new ways to impart a love of learning on all the students."


New principal

Bryan Miltenberg has been named principal of Aquebogue Elementary. He replaced Phil Kent, who retired.

Miltenberg previously was assistant principal of Islip Middle School since 2017. Before that, he was director of academic intervention at M.S. 323 The Scholars' Academy in Queens and the creator and facilitator of online teaching courses for the New York City Department of Education. 

"It is a tremendous honor to be able to serve the Riverhead community," Miltenberg said.

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