Friends Academy has proved it is Nassau County's best in chess for the third consecutive year.

A team from the Locust Valley school took first place last month in the Nassau County Interscholastic League Chess Championship by sweeping all six boards in the final round and defeating a team from Jericho High School by a score of 45-0.

In the semifinal round, Friends Academy beat a team from Great Neck North High School by a score of 27.5 to 17.5.

"I'm thrilled by our team's achievement," said Polly Duke, the academy's director of chess. "We've got a bunch of really terrific individuals that work hard on chess outside of school."

To reach the playoffs Friends Academy went undefeated in seven regular season matches during the fall to finish as the league's top seed, Duke said.

Team members were Anthony Cortese, Will Duke, Nathaniel Hogg, Jahan Khan, Ethan Nyein, Alex Pakh and Jesse Wilensky.

"We have so much depth on this team," said Cortese, a freshman who is the team's captain. "Other teams have a drop-off after the first or second board, but we are solid all the way through."

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Duke said plans for the team include a national competition this fall in Dallas.



National Grid grant

Mineola High School's Environmental Club recently took first place in the Northeast and received a $1,000 grant from the National Grid Foundation for its proposal to expand a current bottle-cap recycling program to the elementary level.

More than 200 schools nationwide competed for the grants, given in partnership with the Alliance for Climate Education.

The Mineola program, in its fifth year, requires students to collect plastic bottle caps and deposit them in collection bins set up in the cafeteria. The bottle caps are sent to Aveda, a Minnesota-based company that uses them to create shampoo bottles.

The club plans to use its grant to purchase and decorate bins that will be used at each of the district's four elementary schools.



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Safe Hearts

Portledge School's Safe Hearts Club coordinated certification of the school's entire senior class in CPR last month, for the third consecutive year, through an all-day training session held in conjunction with American Heart Month and Valentine's Day.

Training was led by representatives from Nationwide Instruction for Cardiovascular Education in Dix Hills and a certified instructor from the American Red Cross.

"We have heard many stories of young athletes collapsing while playing sports," said Samantha Kravietz, the club's co-founder. "Unfortunately, in an otherwise healthy teen there often are no outward symptoms to signal that a sudden cardiac arrest is at hand."


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Balloon popping

A team of science students from Wantagh High School, titled "Baker's Dozen, Plus 2," beat out 10 tristate area teams to win first place last month in the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest Regional Competition held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City.

The annual competition challenged students to create a mechanical device that would inflate and pop a balloon.

This is the second consecutive year that Wantagh High School has won at the competition's regional level. The team is preparing for the national competition this month in Michigan.



Charity Champions

Twenty-one Long Island schools have received, or will receive, $1,000 grants this school year from Charity Champions, a program of MSG Varsity and Cablevision's "Power to Learn" initiative that promotes volunteerism and encourages area high schools to raise funds for a charity of their choice.

Each school also receives $500 for the furtherance of the students' charitable activities.

Recipient high schools are Commack, Garden City, Kings Park, Long Beach, Mattituck, Mineola, Mount Sinai, Shoreham-Wading River, Smithtown East, Smithtown West, Southold, Southampton, Connetquot in Bohemia, H. Frank Carey in Franklin Square, Harborfields in Greenlawn, Holy Trinity in Hicksville, Long Island Lutheran in Brookville, Sanford H. Calhoun in Merrick, St. Dominic in Oyster Bay, Ward Melville in East Setauket, and Wellington C. Mepham in Bellmore. (Cablevision owns Newsday.)