OBEN Students win Kids of Distinction Awards
Five students from the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District were named Kids of Distinction by Legislator Joshua A. Lafazan during the First Annual Kids of Distinction Awards Ceremony at the Cultural Arts Playhouse in Syosset, Feb. 4. The honor, given to 25 outstanding students in Nassau County’s northern Legislative District 18, recognizes students who excel in athletics, academics and community service, as well as those who are all-around standouts.
Oyster Bay High School senior Steven Masiakos was recognized by Leg. Lafazan for his community service as a boy scout. Steven, an Eagle Scout, has been a boy scout in Oyster Bay since he was 11 years old. Steven’s Eagle Scout service project involved helping to resolve a pesky rodent problem at President Theodore Roosevelt’s home at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay during the four years that it was closed for renovation. With the assistance of Steven’s former Scoutmaster, who is also a National Park Ranger at Sagamore Hill, they constructed five barn owl nesting boxes that were installed in the woods on the edge of open fields surrounding the house. The boxes helped repopulate the species by providing safe nesting and breeding areas, and provided a means of natural rodent control of the surrounding fields and the house itself. The project was completed in early September 2018 and Steven became an Eagle Scout on Oct. 13, 2018.
Sophomore Sindy Agurcia Velasquez was honored for being an all-around outstanding student. Sindy was nominated by English as a New Language (ENL) teacher Ms. Sara Duque-Cuniglio. She said in her nomination letter, “Sindy only arrived in the country a few years ago and, since her very first day here, has always stood out from her peers for her talent in writing and art, as well as for her compassion for others and thoughtfulness.”
James H. Vernon School students Aari Gupta, grade 4, and Jocelyn Schadler, grade 5, also received awards as all-around outstanding students.
Nominated by his teacher Ms. Janet Link, Aari was described as having a “thirst for learning.”
“He grasps new math concepts easily and enjoys a challenge every chance he can get, engaging in higher-level mathematical thinking,” Ms. Link wrote. “He just finished writing a feature article about space and planets, complete with hyperlinks. He uses sophisticated vocabulary for a 4th grader and enjoys teaching others about his topic. Aari is a bright young man who responds well to constructive criticism and rises to the occasion to make his work even better than it was before.”
“Jocelyn is an amazing 5th-grade student,” wrote her teacher Ms. Suzanne Gentile in her nomination letter. “She has a burning desire to achieve greatness with everything she does. She is a dedicated student who is always doing what is asked of her and she has not missed one homework assignment all year long. As bright as she is, she is also a reflective learner, who takes any and all strategies her teachers have to offer. She truly will be a lifelong learner.”
Her teacher also praised her for her maturity, confidence, and willingness to help others. “At such a tough age, where some children lack confidence, Jocelyn stays true to herself and leads by example,” Ms. Gentile wrote. In addition, Jocelyn was named an All-County musician in band this year.
Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School 2nd grader Adrianna Henn was nominated by her teacher, Mr. Brian Agostini, who called Adrianna “a great student and an all-around amazing individual.”
“Adrianna is always the first person to lend a helping hand to a classmate in need,” Mr. Agostini wrote. “She shows a maturity that is rare in most 7-year-old students.”
Strong academically, Mr. Agostini noted that she is an active participant in all classroom discussions and if she doesn’t understand how something works, she will not stop until she figures it out. This is Adrianna’s first year attending Theodore Roosevelt Elementary and “has fit in without hesitation,” Mr. Agostini wrote. “Adrianna Henn is a natural born leader and the true definition of a ‘kid with distinction’.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Laura Seinfeld said, “We applaud our students for their hard work and determination in and out of the classroom, and congratulate them for being among the first students in the county to be recognized by Leg. Lafazan with this award.”