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North Castle Daily News

Byram Hills  Ali Brocato
Byram Hills Ali Brocato and Stephanie Greenwald
Byram Hills Applauds Siemens Semi-Finalist

October 23, 2017
Byram Hills High School senior, Alexandra  Brocato, a member of the Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program, was recently recognized by the National Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology for her extensive, multi-year research project.

She was named a semi-finalist in the Siemens competition and is one of only eight high school students in Westchester County honored in this prestigious competition.

This year more than 1,860 projects were submitted, with 491 students recognized as semi-finalists, according to the competition materials. This group of students and their projects are judged to determine who will advance on to six regional competitions held in November. Winners of the regional contests earn the opportunity to compete in the National Finals at George Washington University in December where $500,000 in scholarships will be awarded.

Ali completed her work on Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a hereditary condition that causes spinal nerve cells to die. The condition affects many children, which Ali said particularly touched her. SMA is a leading genetic cause of infant mortality. Her research focuses on identifying significant symptoms of those afflicted with SMA in order to create a trajectory of the disease. By understanding the progression of SMA, drug therapies can be introduced at an earlier stage allowing doctors to prevent the disease from taking over a child’s body.

Ali joined the Byram Hills science research program, which now has 84 students with 31 seniors, when she was a sophomore. By her junior year, she had to find a mentor scientist to work with on her particular project and it was a daunting task. But after 106 emails she finally connected with Dr. Lee L. Rubin and Dr. Scott Lipnick at the Rubin Laboratory in Harvard University’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology.

She worked there this summer and was the only high school student in the Harvard-based lab. Her work focused on analyzing data from nearly 1,000 patients to determine which symptoms appear early and in what order, and to create a quantitative model to aid therapy and treatment. One of her first tasks, though, was to learn a statistical programming language called R.

“The hope is that early intervention could prolong the quality of life in these children,” she said, adding that she will continue her research and will submit her paper to the upcoming 2018 Regeneron Science Talent Search.

Stephanie Greenwald, the program director of Byram Hills’ Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program, praises Ali for her project and work ethic. "I am proud of the work Ali has completed this year. Her study elucidates the disease trajectory of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I believe her work will aid both researchers and physicians in their attempt to find suitable treatment for this disease. Ali has shown great determination and strength throughout her research journey,” added Greenwald, who works with teacher colleagues Dr. Caroline Matthew and Megan Salomone.

Ali plays competitive club soccer, varsity soccer, and this summer competed at  the 2017 World Maccabiah Games in Israel where her team won a gold medal. She is also the co-editor-in-chief of The Oracle, Byram Hills High School newspaper.

Byram Hills High School Varsity Baseball Team and Grade Activities Board Fund-Raise to Benefit Hurricane Relief

October 10, 2017
Members of the Byram Hills High School (BHHS) Varsity Baseball team, along with members of the district’s Grade Activities Board (GAB) have organized a fund-raiser to benefit the many people suffering from the aftermath of the recent devastating hurricanes. The contributions raised will aid in the efforts of the not-for-profit, High Socks for Hope Foundation.

The fund-raiser will take place on the high school campus during lunch hours, starting Monday, October 16 and run through Saturday, October 20. Tables will be set up during lunch time and manned by members of the varsity baseball team and Grade Activities Board.

For a suggested donation of $10.00, donors will receive a commemorative Hurricane Relief/High Socks for Hope wrist band. Those who wish to donate on line can do so by going directly to High Socks for Hope website:

"Byram Hills High School students have a proud tradition of supporting people in their time of need,” said BHHS Principal Christopher Walsh. “The 2017 Hurricane season has devastated so many areas and impacted hundreds of thousands of people in unimaginable ways. Our students have decided to organize a fundraiser to benefit victims of this hurricane season. They are happy to be working with High Socks for Hope, an organization that has a proven track record of making sure 100% of all donations go to those most in need. I am very proud of our GAB and the varsity boys baseball team for initiating this great fundraiser and for making it an opportunity for our entire school to demonstrate once again how charitable we can be."

High Socks for Hope is the not-for-profit foundation started by New York Yankees relief pitcher David Robertson and his wife Erin. The foundation was established in 2011 to help David’s hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama recover from a devastating Tornado. Their mission is to create long-term relief for natural disaster survivors and homeless, disabled or destitute veterans with their primary focus on reestablishing the lives of disaster survivors, providing supplies to gut-out, and demold destroyed homes and furnishings to make their houses a home once again. All donations raised through BHHS’s Hurricane Relief fund raiser will be earmarked for their hurricane relief efforts with 100% of proceeds going directly to relief efforts.

“We are so grateful to have the opportunity to partner with members of the Byram Hills High School student body in our hurricane relief efforts to bring assistance to so many in need,” said David Robertson. “The devastation from the 2017 hurricanes is so wide spread and there are so many families in need. It’s amazing what we can do when we come together to help others.”

Since the inception of High Socks for Hope, the foundation has helped victims of disasters in Alabama, Florida, Illinois, New York, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Texas. In addition to supplying disaster victims with emergency supplies, necessities and home furnishings, they have helped fund the building of several Habit for Humanity homes.

The BHHS Hurricane Relief initiative was spearheaded Scott Saunders, who is BHHS head varsity baseball coach and Physical Education teacher, and Jennifer Croke, Byram Hills School District K-12 Physical Education Coordinator and BHHS Physical Education teacher.

Byram Hills High School National Merit Semifinalists
Byram Hills National Merit Semifinalists

September 27, 2017
Seven seniors from Byram Hills High School have been named National Merit Semifinalists in the 2018 competition. The seven students are: Rachel E. Ackerman, Alexander R. Melnick, Jack A. Lorenzo, Jackson R. Deitelzweig, Stella Li,  Jonathan J. Mui, and John P. Duarte.

“You are truly seven of the top scholars in the country,” Dr. Michael McGrath, Chairman of the guidance department at Byram Hills High School, told the students the day after the announcement. “This is a significant achievement. To say we are proud of you is an understatement.”

Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced on September 13 the names of approximately 16,000 students throughout the country as semifinalists in the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. The  nationwide pool of semifinalists represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest scoring entrants in each state, explains the NMSC. About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

“These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring,” according to a news release from the NMSC.