Long Island high schoolers recently got a taste of being restaurateurs for a day.

A total of 38 three-person teams went head-to-head last month in the first Plainview Challenge, a competition of entrepreneurial skills where teams pitched fictional ideas for a restaurant establishment.

First place went to a team from Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills -- Aneesh Shah, Natalie Haebich and Ron Qiao -- that presented a concept for a health-food restaurant called Fitness in Time. It specialized in organic dishes and fast service.

"I believe the solution to all the obesity issues in the world can be alleviated with this fun and novel restaurant," said Shah, noting the team aimed to start the business in Manhattan. "It would get a great deal of exposure, and we can use innovative marketing strategies to get our name out there."

Each team was given one hour and 45 minutes to complete a full business plan, said Jennifer Santorello, a business teacher and adviser to the Business Honor Society at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School, which hosted the event. The business plan included such details as where the restaurant would be located and what type of food would be served. Teams then presented their ideas to a panel of judges.

Second place went to Dan Goldbaum, Scott Leo and Matt Farber of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School. The school also had the third-place team of Dan Borko, Jake Egert and Jordan Ross.

"It was an extremely successful day," Santorello said. "It's important for kids this age to know they have options in business and take a strong interest in it."

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Other high schools represented were Half Hollow Hills West, Commack, Lawrence, Northport, Sanford E. Calhoun in Merrick, and Long Island Lutheran in Brookville.



Backpacks for needy

Several volunteer groups recently gathered at J.W. Dodd Middle School to fill 1,000 backpacks with donations of first-aid kits, school supplies and clothing for young girls living in poverty around the globe. The event, "Packed to Empower," was organized by Freeport High School senior Brea Baker.

"We have gathered to say we will do our best to put a smile on the faces of young ladies around the world and to let them know someone is not only thinking about them but praying for them," Baker said.



National writing winner

Ireanna Peralta, a fifth-grader at Connolly Elementary School, was recently named one of 10 national winners of a writing contest sponsored by Scholastic's Storyworks magazine. To win, Ireanna submitted her opinions about how the main character should stand up for himself in one of the magazine's recent stories titled "The Awesome Powers of Ethan Z."

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In other news, Glen Cove High School's Spanish classes recently hosted an in-school Mexican holiday market in which they bought and sold home-baked goods and Mexican food using imitation pesos.



Funds for Make-A-Wish

Raymond J. Lockhart Elementary School recently raised $3,400 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to send an 8-year-old girl with congenital myotonic dystrophy on a Disney cruise. To raise money, students in grades K-6 collected pledges from family and friends this fall based on the number of laps they could walk or run around the athletic field.

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"Granting wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions instills the best virtues you could possibly want in children," said Lockhart principal Stephen Scarallo.

In other news, East Lake Elementary School students created and sold 700 origami cranes and brought in $1,400 for earthquake victims in Japan through the nonprofit Students Rebuild.


Robotics teams formed

Forty teams of local students kicked off the 2012 season of the FIRST Robotics Competition earlier this month at the Javits Lecture Center at Stony Brook University. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

The teams -- along with 2,000 others nationally -- received this year's game rules via a NASA satellite transmission from the FIRST headquarters in New Hampshire. They also received a kit of parts to begin building their robots over the allowed 42-day period. The Long Island regional competition will be at Hofstra University on March 29-31.

"The [competition] is not just about the design and building of sophisticated robots," said Scott Schuler, acting president of the School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, the event's sponsor. "These students each develop maturity, professionalism and teamwork skills that enrich their lives."