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Nassau: Jericho student wins Brain Bee

From left, the 15th annual Brain Bee’s third-place

From left, the 15th annual Brain Bee’s third-place winner Ali Barlas of Sachem High School East in Farmingville, first-place winner Preeti Kakani of Jericho High School, and runner-up Crystal Zheng of Jericho High School. Credit: Long Island University

A Jericho student has proved to be the region's best high school brain in the field of neuroscience.

Preeti Kakani, a Jericho High School senior, took first place among 58 students in Long Island University's 15th annual Brain Bee, a live question-and-answer competition that tests teenagers' knowledge of the nervous system. Kakani also was a finalist in this year's Intel Science Talent Search competition.

Runners-up were Crystal Zheng, also of Jericho High School, and Ali Barlas of Sachem High School East in Farmingville, respectively.

This was Kakani's fourth year competing in the bee. She was third last year and in 2012.

"I've always been interested in neuroscience, but the Brain Bee has helped me learn more and develop a love for it," she said, adding that the victory was "really meaningful to me."

To prepare, contestants were asked to study Brain Facts, a primer on the brain and nervous system published by the Society for Neuroscience. During the competition, they gave answers on stage on topics such as genomics, intelligence and memory.

"It's kind of an intense competition," said Barlas, the third-place winner. "For students who want to go into neuroscience, it's an absolute must."



Good Samaritans

The Glen Cove school district's Board of Education recently issued certificates of commendation to high school students Elijah Ambles, Brandon Aviles and Corey Dinkins for demonstrating "outstanding character" by frequently helping out community members.

The teens most recently shoveled snow for local senior citizens and disabled residents without taking compensation.

The district was notified about the volunteering teens by Bonnie Arnett, a blind resident of Glen Cove who was assisted by the trio this winter.

"They have been doing this for years for free," assistant principal Allen Hudson said.



Rube Goldberg contest

Wantagh High School teams placed second, third and fourth last month out of 12 tri-state area teams in the 2014 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City.

The contest, which is named after the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, challenges teams to design and build overly complex contraptions to perform a simple task.

This year's task was to zip a zipper. Machines were judged on their complexity, machine flow, creativity, humor and storytelling.

The first-place winner was a team from North Rockland High School.



WordWright Challenge

Garden City and Merrick high school students were among the nation's top-ranked students in the WordWright Challenge, a reading competition for those in grades 9-12 that requires analytical reading of many kinds of prose and poetry.

The competition includes both individuals and teams. Participating in this year's contest were 59,000 teenagers and 596 teams, WordWright officials said.

In Garden City, a team of sophomores tied for 10th place nationally at their grade level. In Merrick, four freshmen at Sanford H. Calhoun High School -- Alaina Anderson, David Bekore, Eric Stewart and Rebecca Unz -- were ranked among the 109 highest-scoring freshmen nationwide.

Medals and certificates will be awarded in the summer to pupils who progress the most over the course of the year.



U.S. Presidential Scholars

Thirty-four Long Island students are among more than 3,000 candidates nationwide in the 2014 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program based on their academic and artistic achievements, leadership and community involvement, among other things.

A group of 560 semifinalists will be named next month. Finalists -- one boy and one girl from each state -- will be named in May by the U.S. Department of Education.

Nassau County candidates are: Benjamin Gelman and Aryeh Kaminetsky of Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys in Woodmere; Nathan Siegelaub of East Meadow High School; Elijah Mas of Farmingdale High School; Steven Menelly of Garden City High School; Skyler Kanfer and Radhika Viswanathan of Great Neck South High School; Angel Ding and Daniel Lerman of Herricks High School; Ken Aizawa, Andrew Greenblatt and Min Seong Kim of Jericho High School; Maxwell Hu and Baldwin Mei of Manhasset High School; Brittany Kwait of Oceanside High School; Genevieve Halka of Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset; Jackson Shain of Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington; Jordan Fishbach of Roslyn High School; Andrew Bloniarz of Wantagh High School; Brian Keohane of Wellington C. Mepham High School in North Bellmore; Lauren Perrt of The Wheatley School in Old Westbury; and Moshe Schneiderman of Yeshiva Gedolah Ateres Yaakov in Hewlett.

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