A team from Islip High School took first place --...

A team from Islip High School took first place -- and set a new world record -- at the 2015 Long Island Championship Pumpkin Fling held at the Suffolk County Farm and Education Center in Yaphank. Credit: Islip School District

Islip High School can safely say that the fling is their thing.

A 12-student team from the school placed first — and set a new world record — at the 2015 Long Island Championship Pumpkin Fling, held at the Suffolk County Farm and Education Center in Yaphank. The competition challenges students to create and operate a machine to throw a pumpkin of up to 5 pounds as far as possible without using an engine.

The team’s winning distance of 1,313 feet — about a quarter-mile — broke its own Long Island record of 1,049 feet and the world record in the high school division by almost 100 feet. The latter record was set at the world championships in Delaware in 2013.

This is the 11th time Islip has won the high school division in the school’s 13 years of participation.

“Everyone in the audience — their jaws just dropped,” team coach Ken Phalen said of the launch. The pumpkin went so far it landed behind a tree line.

The team’s trebuchet, named Jack-O-Splatter, had a 24-foot aluminum arm that was part of a sailboat mast and is attached to a landscaping trailer reinforced by a local auto body shop. Several local businesses donated parts to help the team — including Gershow Recycling, General Doors in Hauppauge and Malvese Equipment Co. in Riverhead, Phalen said.

Placing second and third in the high school division were teams from Hauppauge and Deer Park high schools, recording launches of 410 feet and 376.7 feet, respectively.

An unopposed team from Islip Middle School placed first in the fling’s middle school division with a launch of 634.7 feet.


New principal

Dan Danbusky has been appointed principal of Northport High School. He replaced Irene McLaughlin, who now is the district’s assistant superintendent for human resources.

Danbusky most recently served as the high school’s assistant principal, a position he held since 2012. Before that, he was a social studies teacher, coach and dean over the course of 11 years in the Brentwood school district.

“During his time at Northport High School, he has cultivated a student-centered focus and has proven to be very skillful at building positive, respectful relationships with students, staff and families,” Northport Superintendent Robert L. Banzer said.


Rice donations

Eastern Suffolk BOCES’ Jefferson Academic Center had donated more than 500,000 grains of rice as of last month through Freerice.com, a nonprofit website that lets players donate to charities by participating in multiple-choice quiz games. The website is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Programme.

For every 10 questions that students answer correctly, Freerice donates 10 grains of rice to starving families worldwide. The Jefferson center’s students hit the 50,000 mark for correct answers by taking quizzes in topics such as math, science and vocabulary.


Signature Schools

Sixteen L.I. high schools are among 119 schools nationwide selected as 2016 GRAMMY Signature School semifinalists by the GRAMMY Foundation for making an “outstanding commitment to music education,” the organization said.

The high schools are Comsewogue in Port Jefferson Station, East Meadow, Freeport, Garden City, Great Neck North, Great Neck South, Herricks, Hewlett, Huntington, Long Beach, Miller Place, Paul D. Schreiber in Port Washington, Plainedge, Valley Stream Central, W. Tresper Clarke in Westbury and Walt Whitman in South Huntington.

Schools were judged on an extensive survey they submitted about their music programs. Finalists will be announced in March and receive a grant ranging from $1,000 to $6,000.

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