A Williston Park school recently closed out the school year on an especially high note.

Schechter School of Long Island, a Jewish private day school, dedicated a new music room last month that was created with the help of freshman Alexander Taub and his family, who donated money as part of his bar mitzvah project.

The room includes new chairs and desks, a sound system, guitars, a computer, a MIDI keyboard, drums, and music books.

The project follows the addition of a music lab — equipped with 12 electric pianos — built two years ago that was part of a bequest from the Estate of Annette Ostrow.

"We are, perhaps, the only school on Long Island, in which every child, from kindergarten, learns to read music, play piano and compose," said Head of School Cindy Dolgin. "In a time when the arts are being cut in the public schools, we have just begun to gear up."

The dedication ceremony featured separate performances by sixth-graders on recorders, seventh-graders on percussion instruments and ninth-graders on acoustic guitars, as well as a concert by Youth be Told, a rock band composed of Schechter students.

"We're hoping this will be the beginning of what will be a culture of music at the school," said Joan Cohen, Schechter's Upper School music teacher. "Music creates a soul in kids."

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The school also launched a music theory club earlier this school year and plans to offer music electives in the fall.



International philosopher

Chang Jeong, a senior at Bethpage High School, was one of two students from the United States to compete this spring at the 2013 International Philosophy Olympiad in Denmark, school officials said.

The Olympiad challenged students from 41 countries to write a philosophical essay on one of four topics in a four-hour period, in a language other than his or her own native language.

Jeong penned an essay on Socrates and Søren Kierkegaard in Spanish.



Merit scholarship

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Alexandra Shi of Jericho High School was recently announced as one of about 1,000 winners nationwide of corporate-sponsored scholarships financed by 200 foundations and business organizations and issued through the National Merit Scholarship Corp. Her award became available after the initial scholarships were announced this spring, the corporation said.



New playground

Seaford Manor Elementary School is one of two grand-prize winners in a Healthy Playground Makeover Sweepstakes coordinated by Together Counts, a health program created by Discovery Education and the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation.

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The school got a $30,000 grant to improve its wellness program and install a new playground before the 2013-14 school year.

Seaford Manor Elementary won out over about 300,000 contestants nationwide by collecting online votes, school officials said.



Essay contest finalist

Mottie Geller, an eighth-grader at Hebrew Academy of Nassau County Middle School, recently was named one of six finalists nationwide in the Morris J. and Betty Kaplun Foundation's 22nd annual essay contest.

Students were asked to respond to the question: "What person of importance to the Jewish people, biblical, historical, or contemporary, would you like to meet and why?"

Geller's essay focused on Jonas Salk, who is best-known for developing the polio vaccine. He won a $750 prize.



Schools make the list

Dozens of Long Island schools made a list last month of the nation's 2,000 best public high schools by Newsweek and The Daily Beast. The list was based on the schools' ability to produce college-ready graduates and considered factors ranging from graduation rates to the percentage of pupils in Advanced Placement courses.

Long Island's highest-ranked high school was Jericho at the 32nd spot. Other top local high schools and their rankings were: Great Neck South, 67; Manhasset, 75; The Wheatley School in Old Westbury, 92; Syosset, 104; Cold Spring Harbor, 119; Garden City, 139; Locust Valley, 145; Harborfields in Greenlawn, 151; Herricks, 177; Great Neck North, 181; Half Hollow Hills West in Dix Hills, 248; Paul D. Schreiber in Port Washington, 264; John F. Kennedy in Bellmore, 268; Elwood-John H. Glenn, 277; Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK, 278; Hewlett-Woodmere, 303; South Side in Rockville Centre, 312; Half Hollow Hills East in Dix Hills, 314; Bethpage, 353; Commack, 355; Sanford H. Calhoun in Merrick, 360; Floral Park, 384; Oyster Bay, 425; North Shore in Glen Head, 433; Valley Stream South 440; Oceanside, 463.