Happening at the Great Neck Public Schools District – The Island Now


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High School Teams Advance in Chamber Music Society Competition

Four teams of high school musicians from the Great Neck Public Schools have been selected to advance in the first-ever Young Musicians Innovation Challenge, sponsored by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Participants include three teams from North High School, and one team from South High School.

The Young Musicians Innovation Challenge encourages teams of high school students to develop an innovative project that would benefit the chamber music world. A total of nine teams will advance in the competition and present their proposals to a panel of judges via Zoom during a preliminary round.

The three teams of North High students that will advance in the competition are: Stephany Barbu, Daniel Choi, Kevin Khadavi, Nina Phillips, and Shuyuan (Julie) Sun; Scott Levy, Joshua Li, Jason Mei, Mizuki Natsu, David Zeng, and Alex Zhuang; Sara Rafaeil, Ashley Schlusselberg, Sahar Tartak, Maverick Williams, and Christopher Yang.

Members of the South High team that will advance are: Arianna Alvarez, Yonathan Eilon, Rosanna Gao, Eli Newman, and Nancy Schoen.

The Young Musicians Innovation Challenge was open to high school students in the New York Tri-State Area, Philadelphia, PA, and Miami, FL. Student projects focus on areas such as performance, pedagogy, access, social impact. Proposals are adjudicated based on creativity, viability, sustainability, and ways in which projects address diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Up to five teams will be selected as finalists in the competition. Finalists will receive a $1,000 award for their school to implement the students’ proposed project by the end of the 2020–21 school year.

The North High chamber music program is coordinated by Dr. Pamela Levy, performing and fine arts department head/vocal teacher, and Joseph Rutkowski, instrumental music teacher. The South High chamber music program is coordinated by Michael Schwartz, performing arts department head/instrumental music teacher, and Janine Robinson, vocal teacher.

South High Defends Championship Title at Regional Science Bowl

For the second consecutive year, a five-member team from South High School took first place in the Long Island Regional High School Science Bowl, sponsored by Brookhaven National Laboratory. A total of 24 teams competed in this year’s interactive virtual competition on Jan. 30.

All five members of the defending 2020 Regional Championship team from South High returned for the 2021 event. Team members Bradley He, Matthew Tsui, David Wang, Jansen Wong, and Anthony Zhan won first place again this year and will advance to the National Finals from Apr. 29 through May 3.

South High has consistently placed in the top three at this regional event since 2015. The team coach is Dr. James Truglio, biology and science research teacher at South High.

At the Science Bowl, teams face off in a fast-paced question-and-answer format that tests students’ knowledge in a wide range of disciplines including biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics, energy, and math.

The Long Island Regional High School Science Bowl is one of 112 regional competitions that feed into the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl (NSB). Launched in 1991, NSB is one of the nation’s largest science competitions.

North High Students Preserve History through Names, Not Numbers

Students in the Jewish Student Union Club at North High School are creating Holocaust survivor documentaries as part of an international program known as Names, Not Numbers. Through this year-long project, students learn about the Holocaust, record interviews with survivors, and preserve history for future generations.

Fifteen students started preparing for the project earlier this school year under the direction of faculty advisor Hanna Bokhour, a Hebrew language teacher at North High. Jewish Student Union Club members and Ms. Bokhour were recently joined by Principal Dr. Dan Holtzman and Names, Not Numbers founder Tova Rosenberg via Zoom to record the first of several sessions for the project.

During the Zoom meeting, Dr. Holtzman, Ms. Bokhour, and Ms. Rosenberg spoke about the importance of the Names, Not Numbers program and provided an overview of the documentary process, which will continue over the next few months.

The 15 North High students will work in three teams of five students. Each group of students will meet with a different Holocaust survivor currently living in Nassau County or Queens. Ms. Bokhour partnered with the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center of Nassau County to find survivors to participate in the project.

Leading up to their interview with the survivor, students will work with a professional journalist to develop their interview skills. Students will conduct research, prepare questions, direct and film the interview, and edit the footage to create a documentary telling the survivor’s story.

Throughout the process, students will also record their own experiences for a second documentary that will tell the story about how they created their oral history film. This mini-documentary will be entitled, “Names, Not Numbers: A Movie in the Making.”

Names, Not Numbers is an international oral history film project that preserves the first-hand accounts of Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans. These documentaries will serve as a bridge between the survivors and future generations. Video documentaries are housed in major libraries and Holocaust museums and centers.

Thoughtful Thursdays at JFK School

On Thursday, Jan. 28, students and staff at the John F. Kennedy School launched their newest school-wide initiative, Thoughtful Thursdays. This initiative supports the school’s year-long theme: J.F.K. = Justice, Fairness, Kindness.

Fifth-grade students introduced the Thoughtful Thursday initiative during a school-wide Zoom assembly. One Thursday each month, students and staff will wear their JFK spirit apparel to show unity as they participate in a community service activity.

Service projects will demonstrate the importance of giving back to the community and the lasting, positive impact of showing kindness. Planned activities include creating valentines for veterans and writing letters of thanks to first responders.

This year’s theme, J.F.K = Justice, Fairness, Kindness, was first announced during the school’s annual reading week celebration in November, and it has been incorporated into classroom and building-wide activities throughout the school year.

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