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Suffolk Notebook: Islip team wins Future City contest

A team from Islip Middle School demonstrated its tech knowledge last month by taking top honors in the regional level of the National Engineers Week Future City Competition.

The 11 students created a futuristic city called Fa'a Filemu - which translates to "the way of peace" - in American Samoa, an unincorporated territory in the South Pacific Ocean region that suffered an 8.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami last year.

The contest requires student teams to design an entire city. This year's theme was to devise affordable living spaces for people who have lost their homes in a disaster or financial emergency.

The team will compete at the national finals next week in Washington, D.C.

"It's a very involved process," said Excel Gifted and Talented Program teacher and team mentor Julia Johnson. "The kids pushed their work ethic to a level where they achieved something great."

To compete, each of 30 teams in the metropolitan area used SimCity 4 Deluxe software to create a pseudo city, then wrote a 500-word essay and built a model that had to cost less than $100. They presented and defended their designs before a panel of judges at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU on Jan. 23.

"Our city included everything from floating hotels to wind turbines to 'elevation stations,' which are elevators inside mountains," said eighth-grader Bryan Ramirez. The design also addresses issues ranging from traffic congestion to water pollution, he said.

Other team members were Katie Barry, Hope Cunningham, Ethan Fields, Natalie Guinam, Andrew Hart, Annmarie Karmakar, Ryan Keller, Tessa Siedenspinner, Lauren Sparks and Rosie Turner.


'09 grads discuss college

Sixty alumni from Ward Melville High School's class of 2009 returned to their alma mater last month to discuss college life and share their experiences as college freshmen.

The alumni panelists - who attend schools ranging from Suffolk County Community College to Harvard University - held a Q&A with the senior class. Admissions staff from various local colleges conducted a series of mock interviews. At night, parents joined students for lectures on college planning and financial aid.


Matrimony and the law

Huntington High School's street law students recently held a mock wedding to illustrate issues involved in matrimonial law. Teacher Suzi Biagi presided as students read vows and encountered audience objections. "Chances are most students will marry and have a family in the future and now they have a better understanding of the seriousness of the legal contracts they enter into," Biagi said.


Ace mechanics move on

Lance Liebenow and Daniel Mirocco - seniors at Eastern Suffolk BOCES's Edward J. Milliken Technical Center in Oakdale - recently won the regional level of the National Automobile Technology Competition.

At the event, two-student teams diagnose and repair vehicle problems within an allotted time. They will compete in the state finals later this month in Queens.

Other Suffolk County teams advancing to the state level are Pat Jakubiuk and Tyler Shea, and Eric Cobb and Trevor Perry of H.B. Ward Technical and Academic Center in Riverhead, and Tom Avelin and Rob Gilman of Wilson Technological Center in Northport.


Practice in public speaking

Twelve students from Sayville Middle School recently tackled the art of public speaking in a visit to Petite Fleur Nursing Home in Sayville. They individually recited poems and stories and sang songs. The school's knitting and crochet club also donated 18 handmade blankets. "Our students were poised and unaffected by the unfamiliar surroundings," said reading teacher Susan Rafferty, who noted that many of the 40 residents sang or tapped along.


Art contest winners

Senior Amelia Pape of West Babylon High School recently beat 44 Long Island students to win the scholarship award at the second annual High School Art Competition sponsored by Suffolk County Community College. Pape, whose entry was a colored pencil drawing called "The Ape," received a scholarship to take a spring studio class at the college.

Carolina Murillo, a senior at Brentwood High School, won first place for her photo titled "Sunlit Strips." Caylin Costa of Commack High School and Jose Zelaya of Brentwood High School finished second and third, respectively. All three won plaques.


MLK remembrances

Schools throughout Long Island celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day last month with character education and cultural programs designed to promote tolerance and diversity.

Wenonah Elementary School in Lake Grove initiated a two-week Kindness & Justice Challenge. Students made New Year's resolutions and determined how they could work to benefit their school and community.

Students at Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School in Miller Place competed in a scavenger hunt based on facts about King, while students at Wing Elementary School in Islip created a "rainbow salad," including chocolate chips and marshmallows, as a symbol of diversity.


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