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Student at Bellmore's Grand Avenue among Broadcom MASTERS finalists

Tyler Bissoondial, an eighth-grader at Grand Avenue Middle

Tyler Bissoondial, an eighth-grader at Grand Avenue Middle School in Bellmore, was recently chosen as one of the 30 finalists in the Broadcom MASTERS competition. Credit: Bellmore-Merrick School District

A student from Grand Avenue Middle School in Bellmore is one of 30 finalists nationwide in a middle school competition for science, technology, engineering and math — also known as STEM.

Tyler Bissoondial, an eighth-grader, has been named a finalist in Broadcom MASTERS, which is coordinated by the Broadcom Foundation and the Society for Science & the Public. This year’s competition received a record 2,537 applicants, with finalists selected by a panel of scientists and engineers. The competition’s name is an acronym for Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars.

Bissoondial won $500 and a trip to Washington, D.C., from Oct. 19 to 24. His school will receive $1,000 for STEM activities.

“I’m very excited, and I hope that once I get to nationals I’ll be able to do well,” Bissoondial, 13, said.

Bissoondial investigated the mechanisms by which salt stress affects the fertility of plants, demonstrating that changes in the level of specific molecules, called microRNAs, can affect their development and fertility. Understanding the mechanisms by which plants respond to salt stress can help develop strategies to improve fertilization and crop production, he said.

Bissoondial conducted the research as a seventh-grader under the guidance of science research teacher Tami Cruz. He was nominated to participate in the competition after winning first place last spring in the Long Island Science & Engineering Fair.

Other metro area students among the competition’s top 300 were Michael Jang of Commack High School, Caroline Crouchley of Garden City Middle School and Austin Crouchley of Regis High School in Manhattan. Austin Crouchley attended Garden City Middle School last school year.


New administrators

Ellen Semel has been appointed superintendent of Islip School District, and Michael Giacchetto has been appointed principal of Wing Elementary School. Semel replaced the retiring Susan Schnebel, while Giacchetto replaced Christopher Smalley, now the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Semel was previously the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction since 2006. Her achievements include implementing a leadership curriculum, a K-8 reading and writing workshop, and a cosmetology career program.

“I am looking forward to forming partnerships with our students, staff and community and continuing our commitment to excellence,” Semel said.

Giacchetto served the past four years as assistant principal of Udall Road Middle School in West Islip.


New principal

Valerie Filbry has been named principal of Alleghany Avenue Elementary School. She replaced Laura Newman, who retired.

Filbry was most recently a district literacy coach after joining as a reading specialist at Alleghany Avenue in 2005.

“As an educator and mother of three, it is my role to help children recognize their truest potential,” Filbry said. “By discovering their unique talents and passions in life, our children can reach for the stars and become the very best version of themselves in the process.”


International Day of Peace

Many Suffolk schools hosted activities last month to foster tolerance, kindness and understanding in celebration of the International Day of Peace.

In East Northport, Dickinson Avenue Elementary School students decorated pinwheels with peace-themed words, stuck their colorful creations into the school’s lawn and sang Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Teachers also initiated conversations on how to bring about peace locally and worldwide.

In Amityville, teens formed a human peace sign on the high school’s lawn and listened to peace-themed poems and songs performed by classmates and teachers. Art students also made peace posters that were a backdrop for the performances.

In Farmingville, kindergartners at Lynwood Avenue Elementary School read Todd Parr’s “The Peace Book,” learned the meaning of peace, and sponge-painted peace signs on paper plates.

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