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Nassau: LI's "Challenge" winners named

Nassau County winners of MSG Varsity’s “The Challenge”

Nassau County winners of MSG Varsity’s “The Challenge” from Oceanside High School: from left, Zach Zagorski, Blake Smith, David Sheynberg and Joe Fridman. Credit: MSG Varsity

Oceanside and North Babylon high schools have proved they can take on a challenge.

The two schools were recently named Nassau and Suffolk county champions, respectively, in "The Challenge," an academic competition televised on MSG Varsity that tests knowledge of history, current events, math, science, arts and literature in front of a live studio audience. In total, 192 high schools from throughout the tri-state area vied in this year's competition.

To become county champs, Oceanside and North Babylon teams beat out 31 other schools in their respective regions and earned $2,500 for their schools. They also qualified for the tri-state playoffs against five other regional champs.

Oceanside's team consisted of students Joe Fridman, David Sheynberg, Blake Smith, Justine Woods and Zach Zagorski. They lost to Mountain Lakes High School of New Jersey.

"These are busy, well-rounded students," said Oceanside social studies teacher Stephanie Bragman, the team's adviser. "It was hard to get them together once a week to practice."

"This team is very dedicated and this is something they take seriously," said North Babylon social studies teacher Erin Casserly, who co-advised the team with co-worker Tim Pescatore. Of the competition's importance, she said: "It's so visible. People can watch at home on TV and see what our children can achieve scholastically."

North Babylon's team consisted of students Brian Manzo, Katie Schneider, Max Servetas, Tim Smyth, Jessica Thomas. In the tri-state playoffs, they defeated Yeshivah of Flatbush before losing to Ardsley High School, which went on to become the overall champion.

MSG Varsity is owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday.



"Books 4 Our School"

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Regional School in Bellmore and PS 115Q Glen Oaks School in Floral Park were among 20 tri-state area schools to recently receive up to 100 new books through "Books 4 Our School," a program coordinated by the Brooke Jackman Foundation in conjunction with multimedia company NYMetroParents.

Ten of the winning schools rallied parents to garner votes and 10 others were selected at random, program officials said.

"Books 4 Our School allowed us to really engage parents and have them take a stand in their child's education," said foundation director Erin Jackman.



Video winners

Hebrew Academy of Nassau County recently won second place and a $5,000 prize in a nationwide video contest that required schools to make a video response to the question: "How does your school prepare students to be lifelong learners?"

The entry showed kids singing an original learning-themed song accompanied by photos of them learning in the classroom. The academy collected more than 2,800 online votes and vied against 45 other schools.

"This was never about the money for us," said the academy's principal, Rabbi Kalman Fogel. "It was about cultivating our school spirit, which it surely did. We couldn't more proud."



Burger King Scholars

Four Nassau County high schoolers received $1,000 college scholarships this spring through the Burger King Scholars Program coordinated by the Burger King McLamore Foundation. Nearly 2,000 scholarships were issued in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico based on grades, extracurricular activities and community service.

Massapequa: Casey Vieni of Plainedge High School; Mineola: Domenick Pugliese of Chaminade High School; New Hyde Park: Joyce Yun of New Hyde Park Memorial High School; Valley Stream: Anthony Bizzarro of Valley Stream Central High School.



Seventeen Long Island students were first-place winners in various categories at the 2012 New York State Leadership Conference & Skills Championship in Syracuse hosted by SkillsUSA, a nonprofit that prepares teens for careers in trade, technical and skilled services.

Dix Hills: Jared Schaffer of L.A. Wilson Technological Center; Floral Park: Samantha Deo, Marianela Gimenez, Juhi Mullick and Shivanie Muneshwar of Sewanhaka High School; Levittown: Richard Brown, Megan Dockweiler, Michelle Licciardo, and Shaelyn Nimal of Gerald H. Claps Career and Technical Center; Roosevelt: Derrick James of Roosevelt High School; Selden: Kateann Wherry of Newfield High School; Westbury: Julie Fithian, Michel Cabral-Martin, Jonathan Miller, Evan Pivnick, Sebastian Puerta and Jacob Shuster of Joseph Barry Career & Technical Education Center.

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