School Notebook: John F. Kennedy team wins state CyberPatriot contest

John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore has taken the state crown in a cyberdefense competition for the fourth consecutive year.

The team of James LaSalle, Brandon Lin, Param Nagpal, Kai Rodger and Christopher Prainito took the top spot statewide this winter in the platinum tier — the highest of three award types — in the open division of this year’s CyberPatriot VIX Competition, coordinated by the Air ForceAssociation. Overall, the team placed 49th nationwide, which is the school’s highest-ever placement.

The competition, which this year attracted more than 5,000 teams, is designed to motivate students toward careers in cybersecurity or other professions in science, technology, engineering and math — also known as STEM.

“They’ve been getting better and better every year,” said Rob Soel, the team’s coach and STEM chairman for the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District. “The same way some kids just want to go home and play video games, the kids who are on this team go home and figure out how operating systems work.”

Participating teams were challenged to solve a variety of security flaws in computer operating systems—ranging from improper firewalls to unauthorized users—as well design virtual networks and complete a quiz.

Other local winners included a team from the Civil Air Patrol’s Lt. Quentin Roosevelt Cadet Squadron in Wantagh, which placed first in the middle school division.


‘Clean Water’ winners

A fourth-grade team from Leo F. Giblyn Elementary School were winners of the New York Boat Show’s First Annual Clean Water Campaign Contest, which invited students statewide to create projects that depict how reducing plastic use helps protect the environment.

The students’ efforts included collecting 100 plastic bottles and other used plastic materials that were then transformed into 3D artwork ranging from sea turtles to octopuses. They also wrote persuasive essays and designed posters to raise awareness about plastic pollution.

The contest took place during the annual boat show in January at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.


Auto Tech Challenge

Adam Tuzza Jr. of Longwood High School placed second last month in a regional automotive technology challenge hosted by Universal Tech Institute in Exton, Penn. The competition consisted of an individualized written exam followed by a faceoff in a variety of hands-on assessments in which participants demonstrated their auto technology skills and knowledge.

Tuzza was awarded a $5,000 grant that will allow him to train for a career in the transportation industry at one of 13 UTI campuses nationwide.

The first-place spot went to a student from New Milford, Connecticut.


‘Souper’ Bowls

Many schools put a community service twist on last month’s Super Bowl LVI by holding food collections called “Souper” Bowls.

In Lindenhurst, students and staff at Albany Avenue and West Gates elementary schools collaborated to collect more than 2,000 canned goods for local pantries, including Long Island Cares.

In Massapequa, Alfred G. Berner Middle School’s Chiefs Challenge Club organized a drive that collected 34 boxes of nonperishable food items for Long Island Cares. Students and staff placed their items into a box representing the team they thought would win the game, either the Cincinnati Bengals or Los Angeles Rams.

Children donated about 800 cans of soup during a weeklong competition at Floral Park-Bellerose Elementary School in Floral Park, with the school’s second and fifth grades ultimately tying and being crowned champions.

In Long Beach, West Elementary School held a drive to benefit the pantry at Long Beach High School. Each grade had a goal of 100 items in celebration of the school year’s 100th day.

In West Babylon, children collected more than 2,200 cans of soup and other food items as part of a competition to see which class could donate the most at Tooker Avenue Elementary School. The winners were Christine Kozak’s and AnnMarie Ayerle’s classes, which collected 332 and 313 items, respectively.

Elementary schoolers in Westhampton Beach donated more than 200 nonperishable items for local pantries by placing them into bins representing the team they thought would win the game, either the Cincinnati Bengals or Los Angeles Rams. The final tally was 138 for the Bengals and 73 for the Rams.


Jewish knowledge contest

Five Long Island students were named winners last month in the regional semifinals of this year’s International Jewish Knowledge Competition, which challenged students to demonstrate their knowledge of the religion. The winners advanced to compete March 13 in the JewQ International Torah Championship, which will feature finalists from Hebrew schools worldwide.

The winners were Eva Halimi of Chabad of Great Neck, Ethan Nourmand of Chabad of Brookville, Spencer Shoenfeld of Chai Center Noskin Hebrew School in Dix Hills, Shylo Sinn of Lubavitch of the East End, and Aryah Youseflaleh of Lake Success Chabad.

The regional event was held at Chai Center of Dix Hills.



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