Mineola High School's Mustangs marching band beat out six other...

Mineola High School's Mustangs marching band beat out six other bands statewide to place first in the Small School 1 class at this year's New York State Field Band Conference Championships.  Credit: Renee K Productions Photography

Mineola and Hicksville high schools took first place in two of six categories at this year’s New York State Field Band Conference Championships.

The annual event included marching bands from about 50 high schools statewide this fall performing roughly 10-minute shows that were evaluated on factors including musical and visual presentation. It was held at the JMA Wireless Dome in Syracuse.

Mineola High School’s Mustangs marching band scored 93.550, which was the highest among local schools and beat out six other bands statewide to place first in the Small School 1 class. Meanwhile, Hicksville High School’s Marching Comets scored 91.150, which beat out eight other bands statewide to place first in the Large School 2 class.

“We are immensely proud of the countless hours and tireless dedication that our students and staff have put into accomplishing their goals,” said Karen Bernstein, Mineola’s supervisor of fine and performing arts.

Hicksville’s supervisor of fine arts, Chad Wyman, said: “We are incredibly excited and proud of our award-winning Hicksville High School marching band. The students and staff worked so hard this year.”

Other top-performing local schools were: Roslyn High School, which placed second in the Small School 1 class with a score of 92.250; Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School, which placed second in the Large School 3 class with a score of 84.900; and Division Avenue High School in Levittown, which placed third in the Small School 2 class with a score of 85.775.


International finalist

Dylan Friedman, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School, was one of 12 international finalists for the designation of Wildlife Artist of the Year as part of a juried exhibition coordinated by UK-based wildlife conservation charity David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.

Friedman’s submission was a colored pencil drawing of a Gippsland water dragon, which is a large lizard typically found in Australia. It was selected out of more than 1,400 entries from 61 countries based on narrative, originality and technical skill.

As a finalist, Friedman attended an awards ceremony in London. He and the other top artists were also asked to create a second postcard-sized artwork, with proceeds from their sales going to the foundation’s conservation work.


LuHi academic hub

Long Island Lutheran Middle & High School has announced a $15 million project to transform its 31,000-square-foot main classroom wing into a state-of-the-art academic hub. The project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2024.

The improvements will include robotics, engineering and science labs and “flexible rooms” for co-curricular activities, the school said. The upgrades are part of a five-year strategic plan aimed at modernizing campus facilities.

“These new learning spaces will inspire students and educators to innovate, question, experiment and pursue excellence,” said John Buck, head of school.


New principal

Matthew Jurgens has been named principal of Nassau BOCES Jerusalem Avenue Elementary School.

He replaced Shaundrika Langley-Grey, who is now an assistant director for curriculum and instruction for Nassau BOCES.

Jurgens was previously assistant director of special education for the Levittown school district and before that was assistant director of special services for the Oyster Bay-East Norwich school district. He has also been a special education coordinator for the Commack school district.

“I want us to develop new programs and curricula that will bring us to the next level, and I want to ensure that parents are strong partners in the process,” Jurgens said.


Cosmetology program

Patchogue-Medford High School recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new cosmetology program, which will allow students to complete the requirements necessary to apply for their cosmetology licenses by graduation.

The program is the eighth career and technical education, or CTE, program offered in-house at the school. It is available to juniors and seniors and already has two full sections and a waitlist due to “exceptional student interest and excitement,” school officials said.

“Since 2019, our CTE programs have grown with the support of our community and districtwide staff and give our students the chance to set postsecondary goals that cater to their passions,” said Raymond Ruiz, the district’s director of career and technical education, business and technology.


Dungeons & Dragons

John F. Kennedy Middle School has created a Dungeons & Dragons Club to give students the opportunity to participate in the classic fantasy role-playing game, which has recently increased in popularity due to the film of the same name released earlier this year.

The club, which attracts about 30 students each week, gives children the chance to make new friends as well as to enhance their problem-solving and social skills, school officials said.

“I started playing Dungeons & Dragons when I was in high school,” said adviser and “lead dungeon master” Nicolle Geraghty. “They were strangers, but they didn’t stay that way for long.”


Cybersecurity lab

Walt Whitman High School recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new cybersecurity lab, which is designed to showcase the growing computer science offerings within the South Huntington school district.

During the ceremony, Walt Whitman students gave visitors a tour of the lab. They explained what projects they are currently working on in the school’s cybersecurity course, which is in its second year.

“[The lab] gives students real-world opportunities to learn about how to correct and navigate through some of the potential dangers of the internet,” said John Murphy, the school’s interim principal.

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