JFK High School team nets $3,000 award at STEAM contest


The time that two teams of STEM students from John F. Kennedy High School spent shadowing health professionals in the fall paid off this spring, when one of them won a $3,000 award in Northwell Health’s Spark Challenge on April 12.

Thirty-eight schools joined the competition, which began late last year. Sponsored by Northwell Health, the contest is intended to foster an interest in the health care field.

The competition was in two parts. In the first, students created posters that visually summarized their presentations. The second part was the actual presentation — a two-minute overview of what they had taken away from their experiences.

“The cool thing about this event is that it not only ignites enthusiasm and engagement in the students, but it also does that for our employees,” said Joe Moscola, of Northwell Health. “So it’s great to see that sort of ecosystem, if you will, of paying it forward.”

Teams from across Long Island competed for cash prizes as high as $5,000. More than 600 students took part in 50 site visits — double last year’s participation, according to Cheryl Davidson, Northwell’s senior director for workforce readiness. Teams were assigned partners from various health care facilities.

Science and STEM chairman Robert Soel said that Kennedy’s Advanced Science Research biology team won second-place for its oral presentation, and third for its career advertisement poster, which represented the Emergency Department of North Shore-LIJ.

The students will be able to use their prize money for a field trip chosen by the 14-member team and their teacher, according to Soel.

ASR adviser Barbi Frank led the team consisting of Olivia Mark, Nicole Khouryawad, Chloe Rome, Lucas Rosen, Jake Levine, Peter Giannaris, Jonathan Mashal, Nina Weissbach, Amanda Schleider, Hunter Moran, Whitney Sussman, Claudia Dryer, Vicky Dina and Lauren Rhakimov.

A second team comprised Alexandra Brinton, Samantha Beigelman, Dylan Judd, Daniel Wadler, Calvin Gibson, Jack Kelly, Scott Fingeroth and Justin Cacciatore, and was led by their adviser, Cara Prinzevalli.

“We are also very proud of the hard work and participation of our second Spark team, which created a presentation about their career shadow day experiences with the Northwell Department of Industrial Engineering,” Soel said.

Northwell representatives told the Herald that careers covered in the competition included a range of skill sets, both clinical and non-clinical. Students were partnered with culinary services, emergency departments, industrial engineering, procurement and telepsychology.

“We have over 6,000 job descriptions at Northwell,” Davidson said. “We want to make students aware of that, so they can make good career choices for their future.”

Timothy Denton contributed to this story.