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Westlake, St. Cecelia shine at science fair

Palm Harbor's Westlake Christian School sent eight middle school students and their projects to the 2012 Pinellas County Science and Engineering Fair. Competing against public and private middle school students from across the county, every Westlake science project took home a ribbon.

"Westlake is blessed to have students who work hard to push the boundaries of knowledge in their subject areas and excellent teachers who provide our students with high expectations, generous support and excellent leadership," said Rick Pucci, Westlake's principal.

Sixth-grader Luke Weaver won first place for The Effect of Laptop Screen Brightness on Laptop Battery Life; sixth-graders Frankie Pucci and Ricky Pucci won second place for Hydro-environment and Red Mangrove Growth; sixth-graders Jake Kuhn and Jesse Prester won third place for What's Happening to Our Sandbar?; sixth-grader Quinten Smith won third place for Safe Drinking Water for Pets; sixth-grader Tori Gobo won third place for Plant Growth: 24-Hour Light Versus 12-Hour Light; and eighth-grader Katie Glass won third place for Acid Rain Effects on Seed Germination.

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Seventh-grade students from St. Cecelia Catholic School recently received recognition for their wins at the Pinellas Regional Science and Engineering Fair awards ceremony Feb. 8 at Largo High.

The winners are Ethan Gregos, first-place ribbon in Engineering; Emily Paul, second-place ribbon in Earth and Space Science; Mackenzie Kelly, third-place ribbon in Zoology; Adam Opyrchal, second-place ribbon in Physics and a Society for Science and the Public special award for outstanding performance; and Alexander Prunoske, fourth-place ribbon in Botany.

Danny Slattery won a second-place ribbon in Physics and a Society for Science and the Public special award for outstanding performance and was chosen to compete at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair April 3-4 in Lakeland.

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St. Cecelia eighth-graders Gabe Brown and Nolan Purdy, and seventh-grader Destini Eckles-Curtis, won second place at the Odyssey of the Mind Buccaneer Bay Regional competition Feb. 18 at Strawberry Crest High, Dover. They will advance to the state competition in April at the University of Central Florida, Orlando.

Competing in Division II, Weird Science Team members Brown, Purdy and Eckles-Curtis created and presented a performance about a group of scientists on an expedition to uncover the cause of mysterious events.

The location of the expedition was selected from NASA Earth Observatory photographs. The performance included sample collection and reporting, a technical representation of the mysterious events, the appearance of actually traveling and a team-created device that the scientists used on the expedition.

Teachers Beth Lusnia, Jodi Cliffel and Barbara Bailey served as team coaches.

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Emily J. Billing of Clearwater has been elected captain of the women's varsity sailing team at Yale University for the 2012-2013 academic year. Billing, a junior, was chosen by majority vote of her peers to lead the No. 1-ranked team in the country.

The 20-year-old is an environmental studies major at Yale and has been a member of the sailing team since the start of her freshman year.

An accomplished Laser Radial sailor who has competed all over the world, Billing had never sailed FJs or 420s, the other two boats most frequently raced in collegiate sailing, prior to entering college.

Now, she consistently finishes in the top five at major regattas in all three vessels. In 2011, Billing finished third overall at the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association Women's Single-Handed Nationals and was starting B-division skipper for the team's Atlantic Coast Championship victory. She was a member of the US Sailing team in 2009, and named to the US Sailing Elite Youth Development Team in 2008 and 2007.

Billing has demonstrated leadership skills off the water as well. The summer following her sophomore year at Yale, she served as director of the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club summer sailing program, teaching sailing lessons, recruiting and hiring staff, and organizing and managing the 10-week operation.

Billing graduated as salutatorian of the class of 2009 of Clearwater High. She is the daughter of David R. Billing of Clearwater Beach and Anne E. Unger of Clearwater.

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The Institute for Creative Arts awarded its first, fully-paid welding scholarship to Casey Kieman of Dunedin.

The scholarship was provided by the generosity of Judy and Dick Muny of Dunedin and Ohio.

The Institute for Creative Arts, located in Dunedin, is a co-op of artists who share studio space and provide instruction in the metal arts and other media.

Westlake, St. Cecelia shine at science fair 02/28/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 4:35pm]
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