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Suffolk notebook: Auto-repair team wins state prize

Tom Avelin and Rob Gilman - seniors at Northport High School and Western Suffolk BOCES' Wilson Technological Center in Dix Hills - took first place recently in the New York State skills competition sponsored by the Greater New York Auto Dealers Association.

The contest required two-person teams to correctly diagnose and repair problems on a rigged Toyota 4Runner within two hours. The winning pair received $30,000 each in scholarships and a Toyota Tacoma for use in Wilson Tech classes.

They will compete against 30 teams nationwide for about $3 million in prizes at the New York International Automobile Show at the Jacobs Javits Center in Manhattan on Tuesday.

"The way we do it is we circle the car a few times and we make an initial diagnosis, then we'll get more in-depth," Gilman said of the team's strategy.

At the state level, the team accurately diagnosed the 4Runner as having a malfunctioning airflow sensor, rear blinker and power window switch, among other things. The duo finished third in the Long Island regionals in January.

Avelin said the team was better prepared at the state level to work with Toyota's Technical Information System, an online diagnostic library.

A Wilson Tech team also took first place in the state last year and went on to finish 16th in the national competition.



1,000 new computersCentral Islip School District recently unveiled a districtwide initiative that will add 1,000 new computers and nearly 300 interactive Smart Boards to its seven schools by June. The goal is to engage students in more interactive learning.

A large portion of the $2 million in upgrades is being funded by grants, district officials said.

"This design makes sound academic sense for our students as doors open for their imaginations to learn beyond the two-dimensional world of traditional textbooks," said Board of Education member Fred Philips.


HAUPPAUGESupport for heart patient

Nina Annunziata, a junior at Hauppauge High School, has raised $1,700 through T-shirt and bracelet sales in support of Tracy Borchers, a district volleyball coach whose 2-year-old daughter suffers from an underdeveloped heart. Items included the slogan: "Volleyball is in our hearts, let's help hers."

Borchers has been on a leave of absence to care for her daughter, school officials said.


LINDENHURSTAnti-smoking effortsFifth-graders from Our Lady of Perpetual Help School learned about the dangers of smoking last month during a series of activities held in honor of National Kick Butts Day.

Eighth-graders trained by nurses from North Shore-LIJ Center for Tobacco Control led younger students through exhibits that included a display of healthy pig lungs alongside human lungs blackened by tobacco. Eighth-grader Nicole Gardocki also spoke to classmates about her grandfather's recent diagnosis of emphysema after decades of smoking.

Eastern Suffolk BOCES' Brookhaven Technical Center and other Island schools also celebrated Kick Butts Day.


RONKONKOMALearning about S. America

Fourth-graders at Cherokee Street Elementary School were recently introduced to the cultures of Bolivia, Chile and Peru during a Skype videoconference with Sheethal Rao, a niece of assistant principal Patricia Murthy. Rao is on a fellowship in South America with Kiva, a nonprofit that offers micro loans to small businesses in developing countries.

Bilingual student Steve Vidal started the session by greeting Rao using an interactive Smart Board and classmates followed with questions about each country's government and weather. They also viewed online maps to explore the region's geography.


COUNTYWIDE$30,000 grantEastern Suffolk BOCES' Mobile Outreach Parent Child Home Program has received $30,000 in grant funding from the Edith Glick Shoolman Children's Foundation, a nonprofit that fosters the healthy development of children's intellectual, social and emotional skills.

The program was founded in 2001 and serves homeless families with children in Suffolk County who do not have access to educational programs.


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