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East Hampton High School
Assemblyman Fred Thiele welcomed students from the East Hampton High School Chamber Ensemble on March 19. They performed on the south concourse of the Empire State Plaza in Albany in celebration of “Music in Our Schools Month,” sponsored by the New York State School Music Association.

The visiting group included the ensemble’s director, Troy Grindle, and students Amy Orozco, Kiana Magat, Abelia Martinez, Raymond Chan, Rachel Osborne, Diego Hernandez, Kate Estuye, and Tyler Simpson.

Riverhead High School

Independent/Courtesy Riverhead Central School District
Riverhead High School senior Josuel Jerez Puello, seen here with artist/professor Neill Slaughter and Parrish Art Museum Director Terrie Sultan, was recognized by the museum for his art.

Riverhead High School senior Josuel Jerez Puello was recently recognized by the Parrish Art Museum with an award of excellence, as part of the museum’s annual student art show.

Puello earned the award for his graphic arts piece, The Depth of Our Advancements, which he created in Adobe Photoshop.

Puello realized his passion for graphic design after arriving in the United States from his native Dominican Republic four years ago. He works with 2D graphics and enjoys manipulating photographic images.

He intends to continue his study of graphic design in the fall at Suffolk County Community College and to pursue a career in video game design.

Hampton Bays High School

Independent/Courtesy Hampton Bays School District
Hampton Bays High School Class of 2018 valedictorian and salutatorian Sydney Caldwell and Matthew Zbikowski.

Hampton Bays High School seniors Sydney Caldwell and Matthew Zbikowski have been named the Class of 2018 valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.

Caldwell has had numerous academic accomplishments throughout her high school career, including recently earning third place in the category of transitional medicine at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair.

She has also applied to the Regeneron (formerly Intel) and Siemens science contests. Aside from working on her research, Caldwell serves as captain of the varsity gymnastics team, cheerleading squad, and spring track team. She is also a member of the Future Business Leaders of America and the Key Club.

Although still finalizing her college selection, Caldwell intends to study cellular and molecular biology this fall.

Zbikowski is also a dedicated scholar and an active participant in school activities. He is captain of the robotics team and a member of the Key Club, student council, jazz band, and select choir.

While he too has not made a final decision on which college he will attend in the fall, Zbikowski plans to study engineering.

In other Hampton Bays High School news, students worked together to cultivate unity and empathy within their school through Compassion Week, which kicked off March 5.

The week commenced with an assembly led by Jared Scott of Teen Truth, who promoted the idea that solutions to problems within a school must come from the students. “You are the source of change,” he told them.

Following the assembly, 60 students took part in an ambassador workshop with Scott. The students, selected for participation by their teachers, were trained in developing their natural leadership skills and abilities through a series of group and individual activities, and were challenged to make a real difference within their school.

The week continued with schoolwide activities, including a volunteer-a-thon and a kindness challenge. Students also began work on an art project that will send a message of hope, love, and support to the students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Compassion Week was coordinated by the high school’s student council and initiated by freshman Tara Lauther, who brought the idea to the school after attending a Compassion Without Borders workshop in November.

“I felt we needed to bring more empathy and compassion into our school,” said Lauther, who is also a member of her school’s Key Club, Leos Club, and Gay-Straight Alliance.

While she started planning Compassion Week in January, Lauther said her resolve became stronger after the horrific tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where her best friend, Gina Montalto, was killed. Lauther and Montalto had met while Lauther was living in Florida.

“She was always smiling,” Lauther said. “That’s how we became friends.”

Independent/Courtesy Assemblyman Fred Thiele
Assemblyman Fred Thiele welcomed the East Hampton High School Chamber Ensemble, which performed last month on the south concourse of the Empire State Plaza in Albany.