Nassau School Notebook: Great Neck South wins regional science bowl

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A team from Great Neck South Middle School has won first place in this year’s Long Island and New York City Regional Middle School Science Bowl.

The victory means the middle school has won the regional bowl for four consecutive years. It also means that Great Neck schools have swept the regional middle and high school bowls in back-to-back years, as a Great Neck South High School team won the Long Island Regional High School Science Bowl in January.

The bowl, which attracted 20 teams from 11 middle schools, is a “Jeopardy!”-style competition that featured topics including math and general, life and physical sciences. It is typically held at Brookhaven National Laboratory, but was held virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Great Neck South’s team members are Ashley Nguyen, Yilin Qiao, Allen Vee and Zican Zhang. They will next compete virtually in the National Science Bowl in May.

“We had a big morale boost after getting two life science questions correct in a row in an elimination round,” Qiao said of the regional bowl.

The regional bowl’s second- and third-place honors went to teams from Hunter College High School in Manhattan and another team from Great Neck South Middle School, respectively.

This year’s event also featured a Cybersecurity Challenge that tasked students with completing an encryption puzzle. First-place went to Anant Gupta of Great Neck South Middle School.


Activity wheel

Steele Elementary School has been using an outdoor hand-painted “activity wheel” during physical education classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The wheel, which offers fun fitness challenges while allowing for social distancing, was created using stencils made from cardboard boxes and paint donated by Ace Hardware in Baldwin.

Fitness stations include hopscotch, a maze and a walking trail with painted “grass” and a blue “lake.” They were created by physical education teachers Joseph Billi and Richard Garguilo.

“The dedication, passion and creativity evidenced in Mr. Billi’s and Mr. Garguilo’s work on the creation of the activity wheel have served to provide countless hours of meaningful physical activity for all children and has been a tremendous source of joy,” Steele Principal Nicole Hunn said.


New principal

James O’Brien has been named principal of Martin Avenue Elementary School in the North Bellmore School District, effective July 1. He will replace Leyna Malone, who will become the district’s executive director of pupil personnel services and special education.

O’Brien, who has worked in the district for 20 years, is currently the assistant principal at the district’s Saw Mill Road Elementary School. He has also taught sixth grade at the school.

“I’m definitely excited to work with the staff, the parents and especially the students,” O’Brien said. “I look forward to building relationships with the entire Martin Avenue School community.”


Kids of Distinction

Thirty-eight students have been named “Kids of Distinction” by Nassau County in recognition of their hard work, dedication and success.

The winners and their school districts were: Jacob Fine, Joshua Fine, Caroline Gross and Arjun Mehta, Jericho; Anna Catherine Cote and Jenna Halpin, Locust Valley; Daniel Ciccone, Manhasset; Stella Gold, North Shore; Mariela Altamirano, Tate Baehr, Kevin Biggiani, Joseph Brienza, Matthew Carlinsky, Kaitlynn Chang, Amelia Hahn, Ali Khalfan, Elise Kim, Chase Lordi, Liliana McEvoy, Jancarlos Moran, Kaela Miley, Samantha Myers, Julia Noboa, Katherine Pinnock, Peter Sapienza, Audrey Underberg and Marielle Vasquez, Oyster Bay-East Norwich; Carly Smithson, Roslyn; Jake Gagliano, Joseph Gagliano, Baani Gulati, Sabrina Guo, Uma Kaushik, Eesha Kaushik, Matthew Kusnetz, Anoushka Rishi, Ethan Silverstein and Aayush Turakhia, Syosset.


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