Hempstead High School's Select Chorale hit a high note last month with a first-place victory in the 2011 Young Prague Festival in the Czech Republic.
The 24-member ensemble -- the only group in the competition from the United States -- defeated five choirs from around the world in the mixed-choirs category, receiving a nearly perfect score from the judges. The school earned a Silver Level Award, the highest recognition in the category.
"We had a certain level of confidence going in, but it was still a surprise to win," said chorus director Rachel Blackburn, noting the festival was open to vocal groups with members ages 15-26. "Our style set us apart. There's a rich tone because of how we sing from a cultural point of view."
Blackburn said her select chorale has 14 Hempstead High students and 10 recent graduates who live in the community. Their performance included a required rendition of "Stultitia" by Jirí Teml, as well as versions of "The Word Was God" by Rosephayne Powell, "Come Let's Rejoice" by John Amner, and the ballad "Danny Boy."
To become eligible for the festival, Hempstead was invited to compete by Vermont-based performance tour operator Music Contact International, based on the school's having won a Gold Award at the 2009 International Choir Festival in Italy.
"The best part was probably making friends with the other groups," said Arielle Mitchell, a Hempstead junior who is a soprano.
Blackburn said the choir's money for the trip was raised through benefits and community donations. They are still waiting to read one key piece of information: the judges' feedback.
"It was written up in Czech, so I'm in the process of getting that translated now," she said. "But I'm sure it was good."
Island Trees Middle School and Roslyn High School both had first-place and second-place teams at the state level earlier this month in eCYBERMISSION, a Web-based competition sponsored by the U.S. Army that encourages kids to identify a problem in their community and propose a scientific solution. First-place teams won $1,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds and advance to a regional competition, while the second-place teams won $500 bonds.
Island Trees' first-place team consisted of Ryan Jaeger, Rob LiVoti, Tom Piscopio and Mike Smith, while Roslyn's top team was Anvit Kalra-Lall, Ross Kaplan and Andrew Penner. Island Trees' runner-up team was Dan Dmuchowski, Steve Hogan, David Joyce and Nick Piarulli, while Roslyn's runner-up team was Cassandra Chan, Oona Intemann, Raina Kamdar and Jacqueline Steinberg.
David Weiss has been named superintendent of Long Beach public schools effective July 1, replacing Robert Greenberg, who is retiring. Weiss recently served as assistant superintendent for secondary education and chief information officer of the Commack school district.
Sean K. Murray has been named principal of East Elementary School effective July 1, replacing the retiring Ronni Reimel. Previously, Murray was assistant principal of Norman J. Levy-Lakeside Elementary School in Merrick.
Student speeches win
Four Nassau County students were winners last month in a public speaking competition coordinated by the Theodore Roosevelt Association in Oyster Bay. The competition -- held at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site -- required teens to recite original five-minute speeches on Roosevelt. The first-place winner was Kelley Garland of Wantagh High School, who won $1,000. Zack Shapiro of MacArthur High School in Levittown was second, while Matt Provenzano of Seaford High School and Justine Ré of Wantagh were third.
Science, math winners
Fourteen Long Island high schoolers were winners in various categories at the 2011 Noyce High School Science & Mathematics Symposium at Dowling College in Oakdale. The event -- coordinated by the National Science Foundation and New York State Marine Education Association -- allowed teens to showcase various research projects and attend science workshops.
Commack: Steve Jang and Casey Keller of Commack High School; Huntington:Holly Flores of Huntington High School; Islip: Emily Smith of Islip High School; Lindenhurst: Courtney DiGia of Lindenhurst High School; Manhasset: Jonathan Tam of Manhasset High School; Mineola:Nick LaBarbera of Mineola High School; North Babylon: Peter DeBlasi and Kevin Schmid of North Babylon High School; Port Washington: Sahil Doshi and Drew Feldman of Schreiber High School; Sayville: Kathreen and Susan Mangaluz of Sayville High School; West Islip: John Blank of West Islip High School.