Schools: Top Students; Raising Money to Fight Cancer

The South Huntington School District has announced Anthony Maida as valedictorian and Zahra Choudry the salutatorian of the 2023 graduating class.

Maida is hoping to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with Purdue a second choice, and majoring in mechanical engineering.

He is a member of the Walt Whitman wind ensemble, a percussionist in the pit orchestra, a pianist in the jazz band, and the president of The Collective recording studio. Back to science, he is president of Whitman’s Coding Club, and a member of Mathletes and Science Bowl. He was also part of Brookhaven National Lab’s High School Summer Research Program working on detecting insider cybersecurity threats. Anthony has been inducted into the National Honor Society, as well as the Math, English, Tri M (Music), and World Language Honor Societies at Walt Whitman. He is also a National Merit Scholarship finalist.

Choudry has applied to 24 colleges and universities, and is waiting to hear some good news. The “yes” she wants to hear the most would be from Harvard, but her other top schools are Stanford, Yale, Princeton, UCLA or UC Berkeley.

Zahra came into the South Huntington School District in 6th grade when her family moved to Long Island from Pakistan, in what she describes as “a classic story to seek a better life.”

“I’m blessed to be in this society and to experience amazing schooling here,” said Zahra.

 She is founder and president of Walt Whitman’s Muslim Students Association, president of SADD, a member of the Speech and Debate Club, the Fashion Club, World Language Honor Society, Student Ambassador for the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, member of the Science Bowl, and is doing an internship with Brookhaven National Lab in their quantum computing program.

Fighing Childhood Cancer

Students and staff in Northport raised more than $51,000 to fight childhood cancer through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The annual event invites students, parents and community members to “Brave the Shave” by shaving their heads in solidarity with children battling childhood cancer.

DiNapoli Finds Big Losses During Pandemic

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released a review of recent federal data on Monday about  the Covid-19 pandemic’s negative effects on student performance in New York. In response, he urged New York school districts to assess their plans for spending federal pandemic funds and to target funds toward children most in need.

New York received $15 billion in emergency education aid during the pandemic from the federal government, with $14 billion from three rounds of the Elementary and Secondary School Relief Fund (ESSER) assistance. This aid was aimed at elementary and secondary schools and must be obligated by September 2024. Based on data from the COVID-19 Relief Program Tracker, through Jan. 31 New York’s school districts have spent roughly 40% of ESSER funds.

“The classroom disruptions caused by the pandemic have hurt New York’s students. Academic losses were greater for younger students, with fourth grade scores dropping more than the national average,” DiNapoli said. “School districts must act quickly to take full advantage of available resources to help students that are most in need get caught up, before time runs out.”

Recent data from The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows student performance dropped significantly in 2022 from 2019. New York’s average score remained steady for eighth grade reading but declined in eighth grade math (down 6 points). The state’s losses in fourth grade math and reading scores were double the national average and exceeded 45 other states in math and 38 other states in reading. The average drop for fourth grade math scores (10 points) was so severe that McKinsey & Company estimated this learning loss to be the equivalent of nearly an entire school year.

Over the same time frame, fourth grade math proficiency rates declined across all gender, racial and ethnic groups, and the decline was steepest for Asian and Pacific Islander students, at 14 percentage points. Students from low-income households also experienced steep declines in fourth grade math proficiency rates from 24% to 18%.

DECA Winners in Northport

16 Northport High School DECA business students competed at the NY State DECA Career Conference in Rochester, NY.  Students competed by completing written exams, role plays and case studies, and two Northport High School students have qualified for the International Career Conference that will take place in Disney World this April.

Charlie Friedman and Sebastian Komedaled on their exams in Quick Serve Restaurant Management and Accounting Applications. Jessica Ochoa medaled on the exam and role play and was in the top ten
overall in Apparel and Accessories. Ian Gallo was top ten overall in MarketingCommunications which he earned by medaling in the exam and role play.  Olivia Aguirre earned a third-place overall trophy in Retail Merchandising and Hannah Cho earned a second-place overall trophy in Entrepreneurship.  Olivia and Hannah qualified for the International Career Conference.

Half Hollow Hills Math Students Named to Institute of Creative Problem Solving

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