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Students in Walsh science fair moving onto regionals

Fri, Feb 12th 2021 10:00 am

OLEAN — Students at Southern Tier Catholic School and Archbishop Walsh Academy once again participated in the annual Science Fair competition, with the winners planning to compete in a regional competition.

Thomas Manko, president and principal of Walsh and STCS, said the fair had approximately 100 student participants in grades five through 12. The top three winners from each grade can now enter their projects in the virtual Twin Tiers Regional Science Fair.

Manko said a “unique twist” to this year’s competition is that the students videotaped their project presentations to present online for judges to watch and critique.

“The judges who are our faculty this year watched the videos all day yesterday, last night and this morning to assess them and arrive at the winners,” Manko added.

He said the actual ceremony on Thursday was live-streamed on the school’s Facebook page to adhere to pandemic guidelines for safe gatherings.

“So their classmates got to watch the ceremony live,” Manko added.

Science teacher Lois Housler said she let the students create their display boards and videotaped them at home, if possible.

“We had a pair of parents set up a website and they uploaded all of the science fair videos … we’ll be getting the link (for the website) out soon,” she explained.

Housler said the projects are diverse and touched on topics that included the birthing time of lambs, and experiments with horses, such as studying the heart rate of the equine during different activities.

“These kids not only came up with these amazing projects, but they did all of the research, they collected data and came to conclusions,” Housler said. “Then they evaluated their own work.”

Students who commented on their projects included Xavier Laverty, a senior, who experimented with how to turn regular milk into lactose-free milk, as he is lactose-intolerant himself.

Another senior, Teddan Shaw, said he studied how salt affects plants.

“I ended up growing five plots of plants and I wondered how much salt it would take to kill them,” he remarked.

An eighth-grade student, Mychal Forney, said her experiment involved testing how personality affects memory.

“I narrowed it down to extroverted and introverted” individuals, Forney said, noting she used family members and students as her test groups. “The introverts have the highest level for memory.”

Students who received honors and certificates for their experiments, in the order of first-, second- and third-place, are: fifth grade — Mali Przybyla, Ashton Ortego and Allison Anastasia, both second-place and Cruz Throp; sixth grade — Amelia Miller, Elisabeth Snyder and Nolan Zink; seventh grade — Alexander Dove, Madison Vinelli and Jon Neeson; eighth grade — Mychal Forney, Luca Quinn and Rosco Clute; ninth grade — Maria Rickert, Anna Sophia Widger and Jon Przybyla; 10th grade — Samantha Soyke, Payton Howard and Colton Schuman; 11th grade — Noella Policastro, Dominic Esposito and Alexandria Hays; 12th grade — Xavier Laverty, Kianna Gilson and Teddan Shaw.

In commenting on the status of the school, Manko said the enrollment is at 164 and growing.

“After the mid-winter recess, we might enroll three more elementary students,” he said. “We have a new director of development, Lizelle Esposito, who is a volunteer here.”

He said Esposito and her husband, Rich, have a son enrolled in the high school program and wanted to help redesign the website and take a different approach with the Facebook page.

Manko said the redesign and upgraded Facebook page has gotten the school’s message out to more people and resulted in more inquiries.

“We’re doing well, compared to what we thought we would do in the pandemic,” he continued.

The campus, as with other parochial and private schools across the country, has remained open for in-person classes, for the most part, during the 2020-21 school year. In addition, the high school provides advanced educational standards for its students.

“In the high school, we have an international baccalaureate diploma program for grades 11 and 12,” Manko noted. “We’ve reached two dual credit agreements, one with Jamestown Community College and the other with Hilbert College.”

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)




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