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Hospital Visit Sparks Inspiration

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Students in the science research program at Hampton Bays High School learned more about careers in the STEM and health care fields as part of Northwell Health’s Spark Challenge, held at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead on Jan. 13.

The Spark Challenge, which aims to ignite student interest in medicine, gave 12 Hampton Bays students the opportunity to work alongside top medical professionals. Students were paired with top hospital staff members based on their interests. Some met with hospital director Dr. Jean Cacciabaudo and top surgical teams to learn about cardiology, while others met with liaisons in the physical therapy and food and nutrition departments. Still others spent time with the clinical rotation manager, the director of nursing, the blood bank supervisor, the point of care and phlebotomy lab supervisor, the medical staff coordinator, the social work coordinator and the director of patient care.

“There was a focus on each of the students’ passions, interests and future career paths,” said science research teacher Dr. Stephanie Forsberg. 

The visit will be followed by a poster competition and presentation in April, which will include students from neighboring districts that participated in the Spark Challenge. 

Reading Together

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To foster a love of reading while bringing students together, Hampton Bays Elementary School has been hosting its annual “Reading Together” initiative, in which all students have read “Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows” by Asia Citro.   

Along with the reading, the students also participated in activities during the past several weeks that are related to the book, which tells the story of a young scientist who can see magical creatures.

To further engage students in this literary event, the school’s STEM lab adopted a bearded dragon that has been named Marshmallow after the dragon in the story.     

The initiative will culminate on Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 6 p.m., at the school’s annual Family Literacy/Author Illustration Night, where 16 local authors and illustrators will be on hand to autograph their books and share their life stories. 

Healing Through Music

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Bright smiles filled the halls of the Westhampton Care Center recently as Hampton Bays High School musician Gabrielle Caine led her peers in a musical performance. 

The performance was delivered by Harmony Healing, an organization Caine founded. Knowing that music has the power to heal and bring joy, the high school senior decided to create the organization as a way to share live music with those who don’t often get to hear it.  

As part of her project, Caine, a singer and cellist, has enlisted musicians from the Hampton Bays, Southampton and Sachem school districts to volunteer their time to practice and perform regularly at senior citizen centers.

“I have a passion for music, and I want to give back,” she said. 

Caine aspires to expand her new organization, turn it into a nonprofit and bring the initiative to more communities — all while starting college in the fall to study music business and industry and continuing to advance her own musical abilities.

Caine’s passion for music started at a young age, and she has continued to grow as a musician. In 2018, she performed at the Sydney Opera House as one of 85 vocal finalists in an international competition. This year, she will take the stage at Carnegie Hall, performing with the Honors Performance Series choir. 

When not involved in music, Caine is focused on her schoolwork. She was recently recognized as a Commended Student in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. Additionally, she is president of her school’s Interact Club, Rotary Youth Club and Tri-M Music Honor Society and a member of the National Honor Society and Science National Honor Society. 

Senior Pens Winning Essay

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Hampton Bays High School senior and aspiring journalist Julia Heming earned third place in the New York State VFW Voice of Democracy essay contest for her original and well-crafted entry. 

In her essay, “What Makes America Great,” Heming expressed that America is not just great for one single reason, but rather because of its diversity. She also spoke about the country’s military, academic opportunities, unity and political representation. 

Heming said that her winning essay is a testament to her love for, and roots in, America. The daughter of a U.S. Navy vet, she has ancestors on both parents’ sides who can be traced back to the Mayflower, as well as an ancestor who was an original signer of the Declaration of Independence.

“I am American as apple pie,” she said. 

When not writing essays, Heming serves as editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper, The Tide, and as an intern for the Southampton Press. She is also a member of her school’s Key Club and coaches cheer at Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional Catholic School.

She plans to study journalism in college.  


12th Annual College Awareness Day

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Hampton Bays Middle School hosted its 12th annual College Awareness Day on Jan. 8. The yearly event serves to motivate eighth graders to start thinking about their postsecondary plans.

Hampton Bays High School alumni who are currently enrolled in college led the event, providing the eighth graders with insight and perspective into college life. They answered questions about their college experiences and discussed their typical schedules, as well as their schools’ admissions process and extracurricular offerings. Following their presentation, the alumni spoke to seniors at the high school and answered their questions.

College awareness continued at the middle school throughout the week, as teachers wore their college apparel to school and encouraged students to think about their future alma maters. Students also participated in a door decorating contest, adorning their classroom doors with information about the colleges of their choosing.  

The Hampton Bays School District extends its thanks to the following participating alumni:  Sean Noonan (Penn State University), Thomas O’Connell (Binghamton University), Bridget Hughes (University of South Carolina), Jared Strecker (Syracuse University), Sarah Fassino (University of Rhode Island), Christina Coulton (Binghamton University) Maryrose O’Connell (SUNY Cortland), and Meghan Long (James Madison University).