Teens at Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills recently proved the extent of their constitutional knowledge in a big way.

The school's team beat nine other groups last month to take first place in We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution, a statewide contest of mock congressional hearings on U.S. Constitution topics, held in Albany.

The team will compete against 50 others at the national finals in Virginia on April 24.

"It's a lot of hard work, and they're seeing the reward of it," said social studies teacher and team adviser Scott Edwards. "That reward is knowledge."

The competition requires six four-member units from each school to make brief speeches on predetermined topics such as the history and philosophy of the Constitution. Then they answer questions from a panel of lawyers and government leaders serving as judges.

To reach the state level the Dix Hills team took first place at the Long Island level in January. Smithtown High School East and Herricks High School also reached the state finals.

"We're putting in 100 percent," said Half Hollow Hills East senior Chelsea Renter, who is team co-president with Jason Stern, also a senior. "The nationals will be the most intense yet, but we have a good chance."

The contest is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and run locally by the New York State Bar Association.


$15,000 for research

Dickinson Avenue Elementary School raised $15,000 last month to benefit the St. Baldrick's Foundation at an event in which 40 male students solicited sponsorships from family and shaved their heads.

Walt Whitman High School in Huntington Station and Commack High School held similar fundraisers that raised $12,000 and $11,000, respectively. The foundation funds childhood cancer research.


SADD'S Grim Reaper Day

East Islip High School students recently learned the importance of safe road habits through Grim Reaper Day, held by the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Club to raise awareness on the dangers of drinking and driving.

A gong sounded over the loudspeaker every half-hour to symbolize the frequency of drunk-driving deaths nationwide. At each sound, SADD members dressed as grim reapers asked a student to wear a T-shirt with the words "I've been struck by the reaper" and to remain silent for the rest of the day to symbolize a death.


Science fair winners

Three Suffolk students - Ruchi Shah and Garima Yadav of Sachem High School North in Lake Ronkonkoma and Rohit Ramani of Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills - were among 32 winners last month in the Long Island Science & Engineering Fair held at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.

They will join Nassau County students competing at the International Science & Engineering Fair in California May 8-14.


Virus poster winner

Ashley Barker, a third-grader at Birchwood Intermediate School, recently won first place in the Suffolk County Legislature's 2010 "Dump the Water" Poster Contest, which encourages kids to eliminate stagnant water around their homes to help reduce the spread of West Nile virus. Barker's artwork included the slogan "Avoid mosquito illnesses borne by . . . " with a series of photos and drawings of stagnant water. It will be used by the Suffolk County health department as part of its seasonal awareness campaign.


Madagascar school

Smithtown High School West donated $25,000 last month to the nonprofit Madagascar Ankizy Fund to establish a schoolhouse in Madagascar. It will be named Smithtown South and will have solar panels and computers.

Fundraising efforts spanned three years and included a badminton tournament, an awake- a-thon and a 5K run.


Math tourney winners

A team from R.C. Murphy Junior High School - Luran He, Harrison Li, Spencer Rosner, Akilesh Tangella and Carolina Zheng - took first place last month in the inaugural Suffolk County Middle School Math Tournament. The event required teams to complete 10 individual and 10 team math problems in topics that ranged from algebra to Venn diagrams.

Li and Crystal Wang of John F. Kennedy Middle School in Port Jefferson Station took first place in the tournament's seventh- and eighth-grade individual portions, respectively.


MSG Varsity V Awards

MSG Varsity and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' New York Chapter have teamed up to create the MSG Varsity V Awards to honor high-schoolers for original television content they produce. Winning schools will receive a $5,000 grant and be featured in a one-hour special on MSG Varsity in June.

Categories are arts and entertainment, best original production, best overall coverage, editing, news, sports, sports (full game), sports (reporter) and writing. The contest is open to those in a service area of Cablevision, which owns Newsday.

The submission deadline is May 7. For rules and entry forms visit msgvarsity.com.

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