Long Island's future sleuths recently went head-to-head in a contest to prove who has the region's best forensics skills.
The 14th annual CSI Challenge attracted more than 500 students from 26 local high schools, attempting to solve a murder mystery that involved a dozen fictional chefs vying for the title of "World's Best."
The competition, held last month at LIU Post in Brookville, is intended to give teens interested in forensic science and criminal justice an opportunity to experience the fields in a professional setting.
The top team came from Smithtown High School East. The second-place and third-place teams were from Plainedge High School and Islip High School, respectively.
"There wasn't one shining star on our team -- they all consistently well-performed," said team coach Maria Zeitlin, a science research coordinator at Smithtown East. Of the event's importance, she said: "The competition is really quite amazing in its ability to foster thinking."
This year's challenge consisted of about 40 teams, each of which worked on identical crime scenes that included everything from inflatable dummies to footprints in dough, Zeitlin said. Teams presented their findings to a mock court and were evaluated using a scoring system to determine how well each school had managed its criminal investigation.
The event was sponsored by the Department of Forensic Science and Department of Chemistry in LIU Post's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in conjunction with Forensics World, an organization that strives to engage students in forensic science, criminal investigation and law.
John Quincy Adams Primary School was the scene of an emotional reunion recently, as kindergartner Ryan Hughes was surprised by his father Michael Hughes, a U.S. Army staff sergeant who had served overseas for the past nine months.
During the visit, Michael Hughes -- a financial planner and father of three -- answered questions about his experiences during his four deployments.
"This was a wonderful opportunity to reunite a family," principal Christine Criscione said.
Annalisa Welinder, a violinist and seventh-grader at Port Jefferson Middle School, won second place in the Long Island Philharmonic's 26th annual Young Artist Competition for Strings. Welinder, 13, performed the third movement of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor and Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen.
The contest challenged students to audition for a chance to play with the group at a gala last month at Oheka Castle.
The competition's first-place winner was Angela Wee, a junior at Syosset High School.
Nat Geo Bee
Fifteen Suffolk County students were among 100 statewide to compete last month in the state level of the National Geographic Bee, a geography contest sponsored by the National Geographic Society.
To reach the state level, students in grades 4-8 first competed in school bees, and winners then took a qualifying test, with the top 100 scorers competing in Albany.
The county's finalists were Erik Williams of St. Patrick School in Bay Shore, Luca Magariello of Cold Spring Harbor Jr./Sr. High School, Liam Mackey of East Hampton, Olivia Dimijian of Hampton Bays Middle School, Dylan Burgess of Oldfield Middle School in Greenlawn, Josh Langman of Long Island School for the Gifted in Huntington Station, Clara Dunlop of North Country Road Middle School in Miller Place, Noah Rothstein of Robert Moses Middle School in North Babylon, David Burg of Northport Middle School, Eric Vladimir of East Northport Middle School, Leland Held of Port Jefferson Middle School, Lorenzo Meir of Accompsett Middle School in Smithtown, Sydney Bracht of Great Hollow Middle School in Nesconset, Drake Eggleston of Paul J. Gelinas Junior High School in East Setauket, and Angelo Spiratos of Udall Road Middle School in West Islip.
Ten high school seniors from Long Island are among about 800 black students nationwide selected to receive achievement scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corp.
The scholarships, which range from a single payment of $2,500 to $10,000 a year, were issued based on academic achievements and are financed through grants from 31 corporate organizations and professional associations.
Winners are Deven Hurt and Asia Stewart of Bay Shore High School, Avery Samuel of Bellport High School, Alicia Hamilton of Central Islip High School, Lindsay Griffiths of Walter G. Connell Copiague High School, Maeve Daniels of Grace Christian Academy in Merrick, Rob Louis of Roslyn High School, Simon Wynter of The Stony Brook School, Leigha Carryl of Syosset High School, and Samara Ford of Valley Stream North High School.