Up Close and Personal

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Students in the Westhampton Beach School Districts got up close and personal with a baby great white shark during a unique lesson on Sept. 10.

During the lesson, science teacher Matthew Berkhout laid out the shark, which was recently found deceased on the shores of Fire Island, on a table for students to examine. Berkhout described the anatomy of the shark, answered questions and discussed the field research he conducts with his team as part of the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center’s (SOFO) Shark Research and Education Program.

The shark will soon be shipped to NOAA Fisheries’ Narragansett Laboratory in Narragansett, Rhode Island for further analysis. 

A New Year of Learning

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Westhampton Beach students became acquainted with their new teachers, routines and programs as they kicked off the 2019-20 school year on Sept. 4.

Staff members cheerfully greeted the eager elementary school students upon their arrival and escorted them to their new classrooms. The students got right to work, setting up their supplies, making new friends and learning more about their weekly schedules.

Middle and high school students began their year of learning by taking part in organization lessons and engaging activities. Some middle schoolers, for example, worked together in the school’s technology room to construct towers using paper and tape, while down the hall, others were setting up their binders.  

“We are looking forward to a year filled with outstanding academic and extracurricular opportunities for our students,” said Superintendent of Schools Michael Radday.  

Sparking Summer Research

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Six Westhampton Beach High School students have been collecting and analyzing data on a variety of subjects as part of Brookhaven National Laboratory’s SPARK summer research program. The students attend the program twice a week and will culminate their scientific research with a poster presentation on Aug. 15. The projects include “Microplastics in the Atmosphere” by Lola Anderson; “Elemental Composition of Dinosaur Fossils” by Matthew Daleo, Jade Hawkesworth and Evan Lockwood; “Heavy Metal Contamination of Kelp Species” by Keiran Lynch; and “Microplastics in Drinking Water” by Eric McBride. 

Return to the Badlands

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Four Westhampton Beach High School students returned to the Badlands in July to continue work they started as part of Westhampton Beach Middle School’s PALEOS program, led by science teacher Robert Coleman. 

High schoolers Julia Blydenburgh, Matt Daleo, Josh Kaplan and Griffin Scheuer, along with high school science research teacher Dr. Dianna Gobler, spent a week in the field acquiring data, formulating hypotheses and connecting with scientists to learn from their expertise. 

The students also visited the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota and prospected and uncovered 50 specimens in an attempt to identify potential “paleo-forest” locales within the Lance Formation in northeastern Wyoming. In addition, they helped to repair and reconstruct a triceratops orbital horn, created two casts of the Saurexallopus zerbsti track from the Zerbst Ranch Trackway, visited the Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming and attended the seventh annual Dino Shindig in Ekalaka, Montana.   

The students will apply what they learned on this trip to individual research projects ranging from Cretaceous turtles, to carnivorous versus herbivorous teeth from dinosaurs, to insects seen in the late Cretaceous Period based on tooth margins.  

“The level of maturity and high-level thinking demonstrated by these students is truly commendable,” said Coleman. “They engaged in sophisticated discussions with scientists and represented the true spirit of our school community.”

Westhampton Athletes Secure Distinction Award

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The New York State Public High School Athletic Association has recognized Westhampton Beach High School as a 2018-19 Scholar-Athlete School of Distinction.

To earn this recognition, 100% of the school’s varsity teams were required to earn Scholar-Athlete Team recognition during the 2018-19 school year. To become a Scholar-Athlete Team, a team must hold a GPA above 90%.

Westhampton Beach is one of 35 schools across New York State to earn the Scholar-Athlete School of Distinction designation.

The Westhampton Beach School District extends its congratulations to all 21 varsity teams that made this recognition possible.