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Bravo to three winning students — and to Long Island education

Three Long Island students, Jillian Parker, of Half Hollow Hills High School West, and Arooba Ahmed and Jiachen Lee, both of Half Hollow Hills High School East, all 16 and juniors, won the 2017 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology team prize on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. The trio will share the $100,000 grand prize in taking the top spot in the team category. Credit: News 12 Long Island

Congratulations to the team of outstanding young scientists from the Half Hollow Hills school district who won the national Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology for their research on the role of proteins in cell division. The research could help to stop the spread of cancer and viruses, and in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s.

High school juniors Jillian Parker, Arooba Ahmed and Jiachen Lee were awarded the $100,000 grand prize on Tuesday, an accomplishment that honors the Island’s continuing tradition of nurturing young talent in the sciences. In the 2017 Siemens contest alone, 11 Long Island students were regional finalists and 56 were semifinalists.

Contest winners tend to come from wealthier districts, although not always; others including Brentwood have obtained private grants to support their work. Long Island’s educational and business communities should develop a central program that would allow many more gifted math and science students to have the same opportunities.

National competitions, engineering contests and science fairs encourage students to set high goals, learn to collaborate with peers, and achieve social recognition along with classmates who do so in sports and the arts. Their success also rewards the taxpayers who have invested in their work.

These endeavors bring national recognition of the outstanding talent on Long Island. All of the students, teachers and top-level research organizations involved in these projects are winners in the competition to advance a vibrant high-tech economy, especially biotechnology, on Long Island.