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'Jeffbot' stands in for Long Island student while he recovers from appendicitis

A telepresence robot nicknamed

A telepresence robot nicknamed "Jeffbot" took the place of freshman Jeffrey Kaji, 14, a student at the Long Island School for the Gifted in Huntington Station, when he missed a week of school in November due to emergency appendix surgery.

  1. A new student created quite a bit of buzz last month at a school in Huntington Station.

A telepresence robot — equipped with wheels, a motor and a high-definition screen — acted as a futuristic substitute for Jeffrey Kaji, a freshman at the Long Island School for the Gifted who underwent an emergency appendix surgery that caused him to miss a week of classes. The robot was provided by A+ Technology Solutions in Bay Shore, a company that employs his mother, Margie.

Kaji, who has since returned to school, said the robot enabled him to have a "physical presence" in his classes from the comfort of his bedroom.

"You have a presence as a robot that you don't really have on Skype or on a cellphone," Kaji, 14, said. "The biggest issue was that everyone thought it was cool, so getting through the halls was a bit challenging."

The robot — nicknamed "Jeffbot" by Kaji's classmates — displayed the Babylon teen's face in real-time on a screen positioned five feet off the ground attached to a motorized base. Kaji navigated the 50-pound robot, which moved at 2 mph, by using a camera pointed at the floor and by pressing arrow keys on his home computer.

A teacher accompanied the robot in the halls to ensure it arrived safely to Kaji's classes, and a docking station was set up to recharge the robot overnight. A full three-hour charge equated to eight hours of "talk time," A+ representatives said.

"By the third day, it was seamless," Principal Roberta Tropper said. "I found myself walking down the hall talking to Jeff, like he was really there."

Tropper said she had to draw the line when Kaji, who has a role in the school's performance of "Shrek the Musical," asked to participate in rehearsals by using the robot onstage.

But, she said, "Jeffbot" did join Kaji's friends in the school cafeteria during lunch periods.

"He was able to be a part of the whole social scene," Tropper said. "It was just fantastic."


BELLPORT: Pharmacy practice

Pharmacy technician pupils at Eastern Suffolk BOCES' Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology in Bellport recently experienced what it's like to design pharmaceutical drugs as part of a project held in connection with National Pharmacy Technician Day.

The project challenged teens to conceptualize a drug of their own, determine its therapeutic use and precautions, and design the packaging and name. Ideas ranged from respiratory drugs to broken-heart cures.

"This exercise teaches them just how many critical components must be considered and how important it is they are all in synch," said pharmacy technician teacher Laurie Jessen.


GREAT NECK: Retiring superintendent

Thomas P. Dolan, superintendent of the Great Neck School District, announced his plans to retire from the position during the district's Board of Education meeting on Nov. 17. His retirement date hasn't yet been finalized, district officials said.

Dolan has been the district's superintendent since 2009, and before that he spent three years as superintendent of Franklin Square School District. He has also been principal of H. Frank Carey High School in Franklin Square and Cold Spring Harbor Junior/Senior High School.

"The time has come for me to write some other chapters of my life," he said at the meeting.

The Board of Education said that it will immediately begin its search for Dolan's replacement as superintendent.


ISLANDWIDE: NYSSMA ALL-STATE

More than 300 Long Island students were selected to attend the New York State School Music Association's 2014 All-State Conference in Rochester Dec. 4-7. The conference consists of nearly 900 high school musicians statewide in various ensembles, as well as more than 150 workshops and exhibitor showcases.

Nassau County selectees included:

Glen Head: Angelo Antinori, Simran Arya, Emma Haley, Julianna Holzmann and Grace Martino of North Shore High School; Great Neck: August Chen, Solomon Elyaho, Emily Gold, Leerone Hakami, Casey Poon and Benjamin Watson of Great Neck North High School; Elora Aclin, Angela Chi, Rachel Coons, Samantha Ng, Robin Shum, Helena Woroniecka, Anne Yim and Hyerin Yoon of Great Neck South High School; Herricks: Anushka Bahuleyan, Jingyi Chen, Kyra Koe, Scott LaMarca, Dustin Liu, Rachel Louie, Veronica Mak, Nicholas Mrakovcic and Alison Varghese of Herricks High School; Jericho: Daniel Bae, Katie Chan, Gregory Chestler, Ji Soo Kang and Dana Luong of Jericho High School; Manhasset: Kevin Chang, Ahmad Chaudhry, Michael Gabriel, Jessica Kim, Miriam Levitin, William McNamara and Typher Yom of Manhasset High School; New Hyde Park: Tayor Jessica Giallanza of New Hyde Park Memorial Junior-Senior High School; Old Westbury: Kuan Yu of The Wheatley School; Oyster Bay: Erica Haguisan of Oyster Bay High School; Plainview: Alexandra Baker, David Baker, David Gallub, Amanda Goldstein, Emory Granat, Ingoo Kang, Matthew Kurnit, Kristin Lunt, Andrew Miller, Jessica Senzer, Natalie Towba and Athina Vrosgou of Plainview-Old Bethpage High School; Port Washington: Christopher Bendix, Tessa Peierls and Wyndham-John Stopford of Paul D. Schreiber High School; Roslyn: Daveen Rim of Roslyn High School; Syosset: Rachel Baum, Agostino Bellocco, Emily Cushing, Jake Finkelstein, Jordyn Goldstein, Mary Kim, Ross Kliegman, Victoria Kong, Michele Ripka, Rohith Rokkam, Benjamin Senzer, Jacob Sugarman and Michael Zhu of Syosset High School.

Suffolk County selectees included:

Cold Spring Harbor: Emily Gallagher, John Sepanski and Timothy Sherlock of Cold Spring Harbor High School; Commack: Alexandra Ali, Jae Yoon Bae, Rahul Chakravorty, Courtney Corso, Veronica Lee, Sarah McMann, Stefanie Nicou and Shira Pollack of Commack High School; Dix Hills: Nathaniel Bear, Maurice Grossman, Brandon Kaplan, Scott Landman, Brian Rhee, Kathrine Thompson and Tiffanie Yang of Half Hollow Hills High School East; Gene Chen, Zachary Dornfeld, Tahra Friedman, Liana He and Irene Kim of Half Hollow Hills High School West; Elwood: Chanu Choi, Jasmine Pigott and Rebecca Saint Paul of John H. Glenn High School; Greenlawn: Alisa Chang, Danielle Holmes and Eliana Wiseblatt of Harborfields High School; Hauppauge: Laurel Albinder, Maria Johnsen, Alison Ma, William Recce, Justin Smith and Rebecca Trentini of Hauppauge High School; Huntington: Landary Rivas of Huntington High School; Kings Park: Jack Murphy of Kings Park High School; Melville: Arianna Paz of St. Anthony's High School; Northport: Briana Sierra, Jillian Farrell, Allison Gaines, Zeke Horton, Annie Nikunen, Benjamin Sherman, Emma Todd and Lindsey winter of Northport High School; Smithtown: Allison Brault, Devin Cornacchio, John Dervan, Meg Obata, Elizabeth Rose and Katherine Saslawsky of Smithtown High School East; Melissa Barnett, Melissa Callegari and Ryan O'Dea of Smithtown High School West; South Huntington: Caitlin Dermody, David Grey, Gregory Josenhans, Joonho Ko, Margaret Nostrand and Tyler Zeoli of Walt Whitman High School.

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