Huntington High School’s Science Olympiad team is back and in a big way. Following a multi-year hiatus, Huntington returned to the Science Olympiad competitive fold by making a sensational splash in last weekend’s competition at Ward Melville in East Setauket.
Huntington’s program was revived after teachers Dame Forbes and Lori Kenny saw a group of students flourishing in science classrooms and the duo decided the time was right to jump back into the high powered initiative.
Along with Mrs. Forbes and Mrs. Kenny, department faculty colleague Amelia Saggesse went about putting together a new team. “We knew this would be a big task and it would be a building year to get back into the thick of the national competition, but it was just what we needed,” Mrs. Kenny said. “We had so many interested students it was difficult to form the team, to be honest. It had to consist of a maximum of 15 students with no more than seven seniors competing in 28 events to vie for a spot to states.”
Huntington’s Science Olympiad team includes Rachel Moss, Noah Morris, Luke Eidle, Nathaniel Gamboa, Hadley Clayton, Haley Mortell, Samuel Roberts, Michael McCooey, Aidan McCooey, Mathew Hearl, Amelia Reilly, Jack Farrell, Arashdeep Singh, Ryan Hoffmann and Sebastian Stamatatos. Claudia Villatoro and Robert Jean-Gilles were the team’s alternates.
“Science Olympiad competitions are like academic track meets,” according to the organization’s website. “Each year, a portion of the events are rotated to reflect the ever-changing nature of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and technology. By combining events from all disciplines, Science Olympiad encourages a wide cross-section of students to get involved. Emphasis is placed on active, hands-on group participation. Through Science Olympiad, students, teachers, parents, principals and business leaders bond together and work toward a shared goal.”
It was a long day for Huntington’s team members and their fellow contestants. “Students take exams or compete with pre-built models in groups of two over the course of a day,” Mrs. Kenny explained. “The top six teams qualify for states.”
Huntington took home five medals in the competition and placed 16th overall in a field of 45 high school teams. Ms. Moss and Mr. Morris captured first place in Ecology, eighth in Remote Sensing and 10th in Write it; Do it. Messrs. Gamboa and Hearl finished eighth in Material Sciences and Ms. Clayton and Mr. Singh placed 10th in Forensics.
“Participating in Science Olympiad for the first time this year was a very positive experience,” Ms. Moss said. “I competed in four official events as well as one trial event. During the award ceremony we honestly did not have any expectations in terms of placing. The 45 competing teams included some that had been training for months, with only the top ten receiving recognition. So when Noah and I placed first for ecology, we were beyond excited. Then, as two other Huntington pairs received awards and Noah and I placed in two more events ourselves, I felt like the long day of test taking was completely worth it.”
Huntington is expected to field a very competitive team in 2019. “I am disappointed that I won’t be able to do this competition again, but I have complete confidence in the current juniors and think they’ll do a tremendous job leading the team next year,” Ms. Moss said.
Looking back over the reinstatement of the team and program, the Huntington teachers-coaches are pleased with how everything has unfolded and the students’ reactions to it all.
“For our first time back in five years we couldn’t be more excited,” Mrs. Kenny said. “Students were enthralled with the day from the start until the end. Laughter and passion abounded and tears of joy were sparked during the medal ceremony. It’s events like this that drive the coaches and students. In the coming year we plan to develop two teams and incorporate more into the classroom curriculum to boost our STEM passions. Watch out Long Island, we’re back hunting for medals.”