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Long IslandNassau

School Notebook: Envirothon winners

Teams from Wantagh High School and Sachem North High School in Lake Ronkonkoma took the top spots last month for Nassau and Suffolk counties, respectively, at the 2012 Long Island Envirothon.

The annual competition consisted of written exams and outdoor challenges in aquatics, forestry, soil and wildlife, as well as an oral presentation about non-point source pollution, at Usdan Center for Creative and Performing Arts in Wheatley Heights. Thirty-eight Long Island teams competed.

For winning, team members received $500 scholarships and Canon digital cameras, as well as a color printer for their school. They will compete at the state level this week in Geneva.

"This is a team of students that are intrinsically environmentally aware," said Valarie Sebastiano, a Wantagh science teacher and team adviser along with Frances Galan-Pena. "They worked very hard and earned it. We're very proud."

Wantagh teammates are Teresa Clark, Ariane Jong, Jake Kaplan, Jillian Rodesk, Isabella Swyst and Danielle Tralongo. Sachem North's team is Tyler Breitfeller, Aly Gruber, Charlie Horn, Sharon Luebs, Ruchi Shah and Danielle White.

"The team met on weekends and vacations to practice, and I think this level of commitment is what really set them apart," said John O'Neill, who with Monica Marlowe advised Sachem North's team. Sachem North has won the Suffolk title for the past eight years, he said.

The local competition was coordinated by the Soil & Water Conservation Districts of Nassau and Suffolk counties.

GARDEN CITYCancer fundraiser

Stewart Avenue Elementary School recently raised more than $14,000 -- the highest amount of any Long Island school -- for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Students donated money to use duct tape to fasten second-grade teacher Christine Becconsall and librarian Jim McAleese to the gym wall. Other rewards included a chance to smash a pie in the face of principal Linda Norton.

LAWRENCETrivia Challenge

A team from Rambam Mesivta, a private Jewish school, was the high school winner in the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County's 2012 Trivia Challenge. Students solicited pledges and took a 100-question test covering academics and popular culture.

South Woods Middle School in Syosset won the 7th/8th-grade level, Manhasset's Munsey Park Elementary School won the 5th/6th-grade level, and a team from Long Beach School District won the 4th-grade level.

COUNTYWIDEMerit Scholarships

Sixteen Nassau County high school seniors were among 2,500 nationwide this month to receive $2,500 college scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corp. based on their "accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies."

Selected students were Anjali Agarwalla of Herricks High School, James Agolia of Chaminade High School in Mineola, Hannah Blumberg and William Zhou of Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington, Brian Chang and Rosario Dispenza of Great Neck South High School, Liting Chiang, Zohaib Shaikh and Tom Wang of The Wheatley School in Old Westbury, Ray Kim of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School, Luke Massaro of John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, Alex Paseltiner of Great Neck North High School, Dan Pollack of Roslyn High School, Lauren Saunders of MacArthur High School, Anjeli Song of Jericho High School and Joan Wang of Syosset High School.

ISLANDWIDEBest music programs

Nineteen Long Island school districts were among 176 nationwide last month named Best Communities for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to advance participation in music. To be selected, districts answered surveys about their funding for music programs, graduation requirements and participation in music classes.

Winning districts were Baldwin, Bay Shore, Commack, Connetquot, Fishers Island, Great Neck, Half Hollow Hills, Hewlett-Woodmere, Jericho, Long Beach, Longwood, Manhasset, Massapequa, Mineola, North Babylon, Oceanside, Port Jefferson, South Huntington and Syosset.

"We know communities are struggling to maintain funding for many education programs, and we applaud these communities that remain committed to a complete and quality education that must include music and the arts," NAMM executive director Mary Luehrsen said.

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