Four LI students nominated for U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

Michael R. Ebert for Newsday

Originally published in Newsday

Four Long Island teens are among 25 statewide nominated for one of the nation's highest honors for high school seniors.

The students — Arpie Bakhshian of Lynbrook High School, Karyme Hurtado of East Hampton High School, Thomas Gomez Morrobel of Freeport High School, and Aditya Sehgal of Half Hollow Hills High School West in Dix Hills — have been nominated for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program by the New York State Education Department.

"Each of these students has worked incredibly hard during high school, and their accomplishments are testimonials to their tremendous effort," said the state's interim education commissioner, Shannon Tahoe. "I thank our legislators for recommending these stellar students."

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars will select scholars based on factors such as academic success, artistic excellence and community service. Semifinalists will be notified in April, and scholars will be announced in May.

Winners will receive a trip this summer to Washington, D.C., as well as a medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House.

"[Thomas] is a role model in and out of the classroom and is a shining example of a well-rounded young person pursuing his dreams," said Assemb. Judy Griffin (D-Rockville Centre), who nominated Morrobel. 

Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), who nominated Bakhshian, said: "Her wealth of accomplishments is proof that hard work and passion for one's community can make a difference at any age."


Four Long Island students have been named winners in the 2020 New York State Youth Art Month Flag Design Contest sponsored by the New York State Art Teachers Association in partnership with Sargent Art. This year's contest received more than 200 submissions statewide.

Sarah Lucas of Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School in Port Washington was the overall winner, Vanessa Espinoza of Babylon High School was the high school winner, Eliza Harnden of Carrie Palmer Weber was the middle school winner, and Gabriella Cimino of East Lake Elementary School in Massapequa Park was the elementary school winner. 

Lucas was awarded art supplies valued at $500 for herself and $1,000 for her art teacher, while the others received art supplies valued at $100 for themselves and $300 for their art teachers.


"Hour of Code"

Many local students learned the fundamentals of computer programming last month as part of the nonprofit's "Hour of Code," a worldwide effort held in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week.

In East Norwich, children engaged in game-based activities using the Python and JavaScript programming languages during a STEM Night at James H. Vernon Middle School. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

In Merrick, pupils at Norman J. Levy Lakeside Elementary coded snowmen in 3D using XYZ, a web-based editor that creates application program interfaces.

In Bethpage, kids in grades 3-5 districtwide were tasked with a coding challenge set in the world of the video game Minecraft.


Top STEM schools

Ten Long Island high schools were named to a list of the top 500 STEM high schools nationwide this fall created by Newsweek in partnership with the website

The local high schools named to the list and their rankings were: Great Neck North, 147; Great Neck South, 163; Jericho, 182; North Shore, 321; Harborfields, 336; Roslyn, 347; The Wheatley School, 429; Garden City, 457; Syosset, 470; and Cold Spring Harbor, 487.

The rankings recognized schools that offer "skilled teachers who keep up with developments in these fields and who create dynamic learning environments to engage students," the magazine said.