Article by Rachel Buzeta, Class of 2015:
On Saturday, January 31, Kellenberg Memorial High School hosted the Western Nassau Division C Regional Science Olympiad Competition. Representing 19 schools from Long Island, 34 teams came to compete.
Donning team shirts with clever science puns, students did their best to make their presence known. Our hallways were soon bedecked with streamers, posters, and balloons of various school colors. Walking through the hallways in the early morning, the enthusiasm was palpable. Events started promptly, and students keen on displaying their knowledge scurried to the appropriate classrooms.
Students competed in 22 events, which covered an assortment of scientific fields ranging from astronomy to epidemiology and paleontology to trajectory. After spending innumerable hours with their necks craned over books and eyes glued to computer screens, it was finally time for the students to prove their understanding on subjects they grew to love. However, some events not only tested academic prowess, but one’s aptitude for engineering. Participants came prepared with balsa wood bridges, wooden planes, bungee drop mechanisms, and calibrated vehicles. The excitement of the day then concluded with the highly anticipated award assembly held in the school auditorium.
Due to the efficiency of the scorers and administration, results were calculated a whopping 25 minutes earlier than expected. The loud chatter of the audience quickly hushed as Brother Nigel Pratt, S.M. approached the podium. As regional coordinator for the Western Nassau division, Brother Nigel devoted countless hours insuring that the day’s events ran smoothly. After some opening remarks, Mr. Kenneth Karchinski, a member of the Kellenberg staff who plays a large part in the organization of our region, took the stage. Medals were awarded to the top seven teams in each event. Mr. Karchinski announced the team names and results were projected on screen. Students roared and cheered as their school names were called. Smiling widely each winning participant completed a dramatic procession onstage.
However, not a single school was cheering more loudly than Kellenberg. Our A team medalled in an astonishing 17 out of 22 events. B team medalled in six, while C team, comprised only of freshman, medalled an unprecedented 7 times.
First place medals were won by James Trainor and George Becker in Air Trajectory, Erika San Antonio and George Becker in Bridge Building, Erika San Antonio and Brigid O’Keefe in Bungee Drop, Joseph Levano and Matthew York in Dynamic Planet, Rachel Buzeta and Mary Guardino in Forensics, Rachel Buzeta and Calvin Bernic in Fossils, Joseph Levano and Matthew York in Geological Mapping, and William Santos and Patrick White in Scrambler.
Second place medals were won by Christel Remy Kuck and Matthew York in Entomology, George Becker and Patrick White in Mission Possible, Victoria Loucks and Sabrina Munoz in Forensics, Gia Stanco and Sabrina Munoz in Invasive Species, Francesca Mistron and Emily Huber in Bridge Building, Lourdes Rohan and Kaitlyn Romaine in Bungee Drop, and Owen Haffner and Brendan Connelly in Scrambler.
Third place medals were awarded to Victoria Loucks and Mark Franolich in Scrambler and Francesca Mistron and Claire DeMarco in Mission Possible. In addition, fifth place medals were earned by Rachel Buzeta and Brianne Polehinke in Anatomy and Physiology, Joseph Levano and Calvin Bernic in Astronomy, James Trainor and Calvin Bernic in It’s About Time, Katherine Lloyd and Gia Stanco in Entomology, and Victoria Loucks and Matthew Kelly in Fossils.
Sixth place medals were awarded to Mary Guardino, James Trainor, and Christel Remy Kuck in Experimental Design, Brianne Polehinke and Brigid O’Keefe in Green Generation and Invasive Species, Matt Kelly and Timothy McKenna in Mission Possible. Lastly, seventh place medals were won by Brendan Connelly, Claire DeMarco, and Faith O’Connor in Experimental Design, Lourdes Rohan and Emily Huber in Fossils, and Owen Haffner and Claire DeMarco in It’s About Time.
As our students made a number of trips to the stage, their necks were adorned with a rainbow of medals. Their medals clinked as they triumphantly proceeded to the stage time and time again. After the results of all 22 events were announced, Brother Nigel approached the podium to announce the overall team rankings. The top seven teams qualified for states, and as the rankings continued to appear on screen the anticipation grew. When Chaminade A was awarded third place, it was obvious that first and second place would be a battle between Kellenberg A and long-time rival Great Neck South A.
Brother Nigel took an ominous pause and then revealed that the two teams had tied. At his words, a resounding gasp echoed through the auditorium. Our students were on the edge of their seats, desperately clenching each other’s arms. Both Great Neck South A and Kellenberg had scored 73 points. Brother Nigel then revealed that according to National Science Olympiad rules the team with the most gold medals would win first. After another pause, the captains of Great Neck South A were called to retrieve the second place trophy.
Thus, unintelligible shouting, gasps of both relief and disbelief, and crying filled the air. Catharses of impeccable proportions were released when our students realized that Kellenberg A had won first. The whole team joyously jolted on stage to claim the hefty trophy. Our school has qualified for States for 19 years straight, but this was the first time our school had won Regionals in five years! It was surely one for the history books!
As this year’s president of Science Olympiad, words can hardly describe the pride I have for all my teammates. We’ve all worked so hard, sacrificed countless weekends, and studied until our brains hurt. When I realized thatSaturday was my last Regionals after being in the club four years, I couldn’t help but grow nostalgic. However, I could not imagine a better way to end my last Regional. The incredible performances from the A, B, and C teams prove that we not only have a great season ahead, but we also have a great future for the club in years to come.
However, our team’s work is not done just yet. States is on March 13 and 14. It will be held at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. Our students are excited and eager as they continue to prepare for our next major competition.