Dozens of local teens recently took on the title of Olympians, if just for one day.
Five-student teams from 15 local high schools went head-to-head last month in the 28th annual Long Island Physics Olympics, a science-themed competition at Farmingdale State College that tests pupil knowledge of physics through "Jeopardy!"-style questions and team challenges.
The first-place team overall came from Division Avenue High School in Levittown. Teams from Wellington C. Mepham High School in North Bellmore, Bethpage High School and Massapequa High School finished second, third and fourth, respectively.
"The competition this year was particularly keen with 11/2 points separating the top three teams," said Ed McDaniels, president of the Long Island Physics Teachers Association, which co-sponsored the event along with Farmingdale's physics and astronomy departments.
Division Avenue's team members were Garret Leotta, Ryan Maricondo, Darwin Nato, Gregory Rovenger and Joshua Sherman. Physics teacher Jeff Miller was the team's adviser.
"We couldn't be prouder of this outstanding achievement and the exceptional students who captured this year's winning trophy," said Francesco Ianni, the school's principal. "The sophistication of their mathematical and scientific knowledge is a testament to their drive to succeed and the inspiration they receive from their teacher Jeff Miller."
Grim Reaper Day
East Islip High School's Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapter recently educated classmates on the consequences of drunken driving through a Grim Reaper Day.
Every 25 minutes a gong sounded over the school's loudspeaker and a student dressed as the Grim Reaper removed a peer from class and asked him or her to wear a black T-shirt and remain silent for the rest of the school day. These "victims" were meant to signify a life lost in an alcohol-related accident.
"I know it's a difficult day for many, but it is extremely important that students know there is a consequence with each decision they make," SADD adviser Bridget Lopiccolo said.
Big STEP in robotics
Riverhead High School took second place statewide out of 11 teams last month -- the highest rank of any Long Island team -- at the New York Science and Technology Entry Partnership (STEP) Robotics Competition in Albany. Team members were Perla Leon, Nylejah Green and Jessica Juarez-Lopez, along with Dale Samuel, who is home-schooled.
The competition required teams to use LEGO Mindstorm software to design and build a robot that was programmed to lift a ball from a basket and deposit it inside another basket.
Edward J. Bosti Elementary School students recently raised more than $13,000 for the American Heart Association through a Jump Rope for Heart campaign in which children solicited sponsorships from family and friends and then jumped rope in the school gymnasium. The program was jointly sponsored by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
In other news, children at the Connetquot school district's Arthur Premm Preschool in Oakdale recently took a ride on the Long Island Rail Road between Oakdale and Patchogue as part of a lesson on transportation and train safety.
Nine Long Island students beat out 188 entries last month in the second annual Create Something Great Recycled Sculpture Contest, sponsored by Locust Valley's Portledge School at the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center in Oyster Bay.
The contest challenged pupils to build sculptures out of recycled items around a theme of nocturnal animals. Winners were selected based on creativity and aesthetic quality.
Pre-k to first-grade winners were Russell DeVito of Emanuel Lutheran School in Patchogue, Noah Capps of Portledge School in Locust Valley, and Madison Melillo of Bayville Primary School. Second- to third-grade winners were Ellie Spangler of Robert Seaman Elementary School in Jericho, Julia Palandri of East Street Elementary School in Hicksville, and Caroline Yee of Landing Elementary School in Glen Cove. Fourth- to sixth-grade winners were Kyra McLaughlin of Munsey Park Elementary School in Manhasset, Tyler Sanchez of Notre Dame School in New Hyde Park, and Heather Abbene of Maplewood Intermediate School in Melville.