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Suffolk School Notebook: LI teams named regional winners in ExploraVision

A Commack High School team is among 22

A Commack High School team is among 22 regional winners nationwide - including four from Long Island - in the 29th Annual ExploraVision Competition. From left are Commack's director of science Jill Johanson, science research teacher Nicole Fuchs, team members Ishaan Singh, Mitchel Ghermezian and Amantej Rana, Principal Leslie Boritz and science research mentor Jeanette Collette.  Credit: Commack School District

Four Long Island teams are regional winners for imagining technologies that might exist two decades from now.

Teams from Jericho High School, Commack High School, Jericho Middle School and John H. West Elementary School in Bethpage are among 22 regional winners nationwide in this year's ExploraVision Competition. They were selected in the grades 10 to 12, 7 to 9, 4 to 6 and kindergarten to 3 divisions, respectively.

The regional winners are now competing in the national phase, which asks teams to build webpages and short videos, with national winners to be announced on May 4. First-place teams in each division win $10,000, while second-place teams win $5,000.

"Winners must be innovative and forward-thinking, astute at research, and practical," Commack's director of science Jill Johanson said. "We are so proud of our students; they are among the best at these essential 21st century skills."

Jericho High School's project proposed a low-cost system that uses deep neural networks to generate novel lysin amino acid sequences to target specific human pathogens, while Commack's project strives to improve prosthetic fingers by creating a machine-learning program that can predict which supporting nerves activate during specific arm, hand and finger movement.

Jericho Middle School's project focuses on a futuristic treatment for Alzheimer's disease that employs endonasal endoscopic machinery and nanomotors, and John H. West's project is an affordable mosquito trap for communities dealing with excessive populations of the flying pests.

The 29th annual competition was coordinated by the National Science Teaching Association and Toshiba.


New superintendent

Jill Gierasch has been appointed superintendent of the Cold Spring Harbor School District, effective July 1. She will replace Robert C. Fenter, who is retiring.

Gierasch has served as superintendent of the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District since 2018. Before that, she was the deputy superintendent and the assistant superintendent of curriculum during a 10-year span in the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District.

"I have known Ms. Gierasch for well over a decade and have long respected her strengths in curriculum development, technology innovation and serving the needs of the students in her charge," Fenter said.


'Classrooms to Careers'

A group of students at Brentwood High School has launched a new podcast series, "Classrooms to Careers," that aims to introduce high schoolers to local industry employers and showcase postgraduation work opportunities. The episodes can be accessed on the Anchor app.

The podcasts' first two episodes featured Suffolk County Labor Commissioner Rosalie Drago and Smithtown High School West's InvenTeam, which was recently one of 13 recipients nationwide of a $10,000 grant to create an invention by the Lemelson-MIT Program.

"This series serves as a wonderful opportunity for our research students to use their voices to inform other Brentwood students — and several other listeners — of potential career opportunities, which in turn, opens several new doors," said Brentwood School District Superintendent Richard Loeschner.


'Go APE' winners

Seven Long Island high schoolers won Awards of Excellence in the Art League of Long Island's 14th Annual "Go APE" Advanced Placement Student Exhibition, which featured the artwork of 124 students from 37 schools. It ran virtually through April 9.

Award winners and their high schools were: Aleena Abraham, Hicksville; Jordan Brand, Baldwin; Keren Dial, Valley Stream South; Sarah Hauk, Sayville; Emma Romano, Oceanside; Kathryn Yi, Jericho; and Kristine Zhou, Syosset.

"The last year pokes its way into this show as a whole, and certainly into the pieces of our winners," said the league's program manager, Andrea Lawl Manning. "Ideas about life, loneliness and isolation, cultural and social issues weave into these works."


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