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District News

 Byram Hills High School Senior Wins Neuroscience Research Prize

Rachel Chernoff, a senior at Byram Hills High School, has won a 2019 Neuroscience Research Prize from the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society.

 Rachel Chernoff, a senior at Byram Hills High School, has won a 2019 Neuroscience Research Prize from the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society.
 

Rachel Chernoff, has won a 2019 Neuroscience Research Prize

Byram Hills High School senior Rachel Chernoff has won a 2019 Neuroscience Research Prize from the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society.

A student in the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program, Rachel won $1,000 and was invited to present her research at the 71st annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Philadelphia in May. She is one of four winners.

Stephanie Greenwald, director of the three-year science research program, said Rachel is truly deserving of the honor.

“She has worked hard developing her research and perfecting her presenting skills,” she said. “Now she will attend this national conference, walk amongst professional neurologists and talk about her work colleague to colleague. I know this is something she always dreamed of. She truly represents the notion that perseverance and dedication are rewarded in the end. We are so proud of her.”

Rachel was recognized for her novel study that involved ischemic preconditioning, a research technique that protects the brain from future stroke damage by depriving its blood supply in short episodes.

Using this technique, she investigated the source of a specific type of brain cell that helps with immunity and clearing cellular debris. As part of her work, Rachel noticed behavioral differences after ischemic preconditioning between male and female mice, which may point to a hormonal difference in their reactions to neural trauma.

Together, her results lay the groundwork for the use of ischemic preconditioning as a potential preventative technique to reduce the damage from strokes.

The Neuroscience Research Prize, which has been awarded since 1993, honors students whose skill and talent show potential for scientific contributions in the field of neuroscience.

Byram Hills High School Senior is a Finalist in Regeneron Science Competition

Byram Hills High School senior Brent Perlman has been named a finalist in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search, honored for his biological engineering research with photosynthesis that could lead to therapeutic treatments for heart attacks, strokes and cancer or the creation of organs in a lab. 
 

Brent Perlman - Regeneron Finalist

Byram Hills High School senior Brent Perlman was named a finalist in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search.

Brent, a student in the school’s three-year science research program, was one of 40 finalists announced today by Regeneron and the Society for Science & the Public. The students move on to the final round in Washington, where they will compete for $1.8 million in awards in March.

“I’m beyond excited about being named a finalist,” Brent said. “It’s thrilling to be recognized by such a prestigious competition, and I am thankful for the opportunity to share my research with such a large audience. I’m eager for my work to be displayed in Washington D.C., as this recognition increases the chances that its applications could one day help to improve the lives of people suffering from a variety of debilitating diseases.” 

“I would have never been able to complete my research or receive this honor without the help of my mentors at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Dr. Glenn Gaudette and Dr. Joshua Gershlak, or my science research teacher Stephanie Greenwald. I’m so grateful for all of their guidance and support throughout the past three years.” 

Principal Christopher Walsh offered his congratulations.

“We are so proud of Brent for this accomplishment,” he said. “He has dedicated so much of himself to this work and it is great to see it acknowledged on such a large scale. His work has the potential to have such a huge impact on society and yet he is still as humble as ever.”

The 40 finalists will undergo a rigorous judging process, interact with leading scientists, show their research to the public and meet members of Congress during their time in Washington from March 7 to 13. Each will receive at least $25,000 for participating in the week; those who finish in the top 10 receive prizes that range from $40,000 to $250,000. The top awards will be announced on March 12.

Brent’s research involved photosynthesis, the process plants use to produce oxygen and sugar from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. He induced photosynthesis in human cells for the first time by isolating chloroplasts, the photosynthetic components of plant cells, from baby spinach leaves. He then cultured these isolated chloroplasts with human cells, which incorporated the chloroplasts, and subsequently conducted photosynthesis. 

The ability of human cells to photosynthesize allows them to generate oxygen, which they are normally unable to produce. The oxygen produced by these photosynthetic cells promotes healthy tissue and organ development and growth, and can help treat different diseases.

Brent's research has applications in the engineering of functional organs in a lab; the treatment of heart attacks, strokes, and cancer; the delivery of biopharmaceuticals to affected human cells in the body; and even space travel. 

“Brent is a true scientist,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Byram Hills Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program. “From the moment I met him he asked thoughtful questions, took enormous risks with his work and did all of this with great kindness and appreciation for those around him. We are all so proud of his accomplishment.”

Brent has a pending patent for his process of creating photosynthetic human cells, and plans to continue his research in the fall at the University of Pennsylvania, where he will study in the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management. 

“My dream is to one day create my own biotech start-up based on my research into human photosynthesis. Maybe we will all be green with chloroplasts in the next 20 years!” Brent said.

Brent, 17, was one of seven Byram Hills seniors named as scholars in the first round of the talent search, which bills itself as the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. Nearly 2,000 students entered the competition. 

In the 30 years the school has competed in the Science Talent Search, Byram Hills has had 111 scholars; 20 of them, including Brent, have gone on to become finalists.

Winners of the talent search have gone on to win top science and math honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 13 National Medals of Science.
 

Byram Hills “Pink the Rink” Fundraiser Nets Nearly $14,000 for Breast Cancer Research

The Byram Hills Athletics Department is grateful to everyone who participated in the varsity ice hockey team’s seventh annual “Pink the Rink” game and fundraiser, which raised $13,817 for breast cancer research last week.

The fundraising effort included the sale of baked goods and “Pink the Rink” merchandise at school, a chuck-a-puck contest and Friday night’s game at the Brewster Ice Arena against John Jay High School of Cross River.

The Byram Hills Bobcats skated in pink jerseys and socks in honor of those affected by breast cancer. The team exceeded its fundraising goal of $12,000, and donated $13,817 to the American Cancer Society to fight breast cancer.

“The team always works to top their previous effort,” said Rob Castagna, the Byram Hills director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics. “They did so once again by raising over $13,000 to donate to the American Cancer Society.”

2019 Byram Hills Pink the Rink Team

The Byram Hills High School varsity ice hockey team at Friday night’s “Pink the Rink” hockey game and fundraiser. The team raised nearly $14,000 to fight breast cancer.


“We’re incredibly proud of our varsity hockey team for this tremendous effort for an important cause,” Mr. Castagna said. "Congratulations to both school communities for coming together to support the teams on the ice and throughout this successful fundraising campaign."

Seven Byram Hills High School Seniors Named Scholars in Regeneron Science Talent Search

Byram Hills High School is pleased to announce that seven seniors have been named top scholars in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search, a high honor that recognizes the independent scientific research they conducted in the high school’s three-year Authentic Research Program.

Byram Hills High School is pleased to announce that seven seniors have been named top scholars in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search, a high honor that recognizes the independent scientific research they conducted in the high school’s three-year Authentic Research Program.

The students are Samantha Abbruzzese, Alan Chang, Rachel Chernoff, Alessandra Colella, Ethan Jacobs, Brent Perlman and Jonah Schwam.

Byram Hills Regeneron Semi-Finalists

Seven Byram Hills High School seniors were named scholars in Regeneron Science Talent Search. From left in the rear is Alessandra Colella, Alan Chang, Ethan Jacobs, Jonah Schwam, in the center is Rachel Chernoff, and in the front from left is Samantha Abbruzzese and Brent Perlman.

In all, 300 students were selected as scholars from nearly 2,000 entrants in this first round of the math and science competition founded in 1942. Each scholar wins $2,000 and moves on to the next round, and Byram Hills receives $14,000, or $2,000 per scholar, for STEAM education.

“Our seven top scholars represent the tremendous, groundbreaking work of our entire Authentic Science Research senior class of 27 students,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of Byram Hills’ science research program. “Their hard work, sacrifice and determination brings great promise to the future of science. We are extremely proud of them.”

The Byram Hills winners were overjoyed, hugging and cheering in the science research classroom along with their teachers.

“It’s really rewarding,” Alan Chang said. “It’s just really nice to know that the program is being recognized for all of the hard work that everyone’s putting into it.”

The Society for Science & the Public, which runs the competition, selects scholars based on their exceptional research skills, commitment to academics, innovative thinking and promise as scientists.

"These amazing young people have demonstrated an exceptional degree of hard work and passion for discovery, said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public. “We are inspired by their brilliant thinking, and look forward to continue supporting them in their scientific endeavors."

On January 23, 40 of the 300 scholars will be named as finalists. In March, the finalists will go to Washington, where they will speak before judges and present their work to the public as they compete for more than $1.8 million in prizes. The winners will be announced on March 12.

The competition was founded to provide a national stage for the county’s young scientists to present their original work to professional scientists, following the belief that scientific advances are key to solving worldwide challenges.

Over the decades, the winners have had world-changing careers. The society says the winners have gone on to win 13 Nobel Prizes, 42 became National Academy of Sciences members, 19 were MacArthur Foundation fellows, 13 won National Medals of Science and five were Breakthrough Prize winners.

Here’s a closer look at the Byram Hills scholars’ work:

Samantha Abbruzzese: Samantha investigated the development of neurons from a mouse model of Huntington's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder. She determined the impact that different gene-regulating proteins have on these neurons. The findings of her study could be used to develop a therapeutic approach for patients with Huntington's disease.

Alan Chang: Alan’s work focused on understanding how a specific tumor suppressor gene mutation promotes cancer progression, an important step in improving the development of cancer treatments. He programmed a novel computational method of analyzing cells using machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence, and ultimately found several ways in which the tumor grew faster via immune evasion. By further applying this form of computational analysis, researchers can better understand genetic causes of tumor growth and increase the effectiveness of future cancer treatments.

Rachel Chernoff: Rachel's novel study used ischemic preconditioning, a research technique that protects the brain from a future stroke by depriving the brain of its blood supply in small amounts for brief periods. She investigated the source of a specific type of brain cell that helps with immunity and clearing cellular debris. As part of her work, she noticed behavioral differences after ischemic preconditioning between male and female mice, which may point to a hormonal difference. Together, her results lay the groundwork for the use of ischemic preconditioning as a potential preventative technique to reduce the damage from strokes.

Alessandra Colella: Using novel statistical measures, Alessandra investigated if variable responses in neuropsychological tests could be an indicator of the fogginess known as chemo-brain. Her findings could lead to a more accurate way of measuring cognitive decline in cancer patients.

Ethan Jacobs: Ethan mapped the population of river otter, beaver, muskrat, and raccoon species in three rivers in the Northeast. He used a novel method based on environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis to detect excreted DNA in collected water samples. His results help to further develop overall eDNA-based research, provide data for the distribution of mammal species in multiple rivers, and enhance the time and cost efficiency of population mapping methodology.

Brent Perlman: Brent induced photosynthesis in human cells by first isolating chloroplasts, the green components of plant cells that produce sugar and oxygen using the sun’s energy, from spinach leaves. By culturing the isolated chloroplasts in the same well as human cells, the cells incorporated and sequestered the isolated chloroplasts without digesting them, conducting photosynthesis over a period of 11 days. Brent's research has applications in the engineering of functional organs in a lab; the treatment of heart attacks, strokes, and cancer; the delivery of biopharmaceuticals to affected human cells in the body; and even space travel.

Jonah Schwam: Duchenne muscular dystrophy, caused by a point mutation on the DMD gene, leads to progressive decay in muscle tissue; however, it remains unknown which muscle cell type is most affected. Jonah used a novel CRISPR gene editing system to create modified muscle tissue consisting of dystrophic mature muscle cells and cured muscle stem cells. This model demonstrated the relative importance of muscle stem cells in regenerating dystrophic muscle tissue, optimizing all future gene therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Seven Byram Hills High School seniors were named scholars in Regeneron Science Talent Search. Pictured from left in the back row: Principal Christopher Walsh, Science Chairperson Debra Cayea, Science teacher Caroline Matthew, and scholars Alan Chang, Jonah Schwam, Ethan Jacobs, Brent Perlman and Superintendent Jen Lamia, in the middle is Authentic Science Research Program director Stephanie Greenwald, and in the front row from left, Rachel Chernoff, Alessandra Colella and Samantha Abbruzzese.

 

Tri-M Music Society Members 2018

October was filled with celebration as dozens of Byram Hills High School students were recognized for their accomplishments through induction into the Cum Laude Society, the World Language Honor Society and the Tri-M Music Honor Society.

Twenty-two seniors were inducted into the Byram Hills chapter of the Cum Laude Society in an evening ceremony on October 25. The students comprise the top 10 percent of the class based on their weighted GPAs.

2018 Byram Hills Cum Laude Society Induction Members

Twenty-two Byram Hills High School seniors were inducted into the Cum Laude Society during an October 25 ceremony. Pictured in front, from left, are: Samantha Abbruzzese, Ellen Amico, Abigail Binder, Alan Chang, Zachary Cogan, Rahul Gupta, Tyler Harp, Isabelle Ilan, Elyse Kanner, Emma Lucchino, David McDaniels, and in the back, from left: Sydney Nepo, Pietro Perez, Brent Perlman, Lindsey Perlman, Griffen Rakower, Jonah Schwam, Hayley Siegle, Dylan Starker, Nicole Tissot, Zachary Tuzzo and Spencer Weinhoff.

Principal Christopher Walsh congratulated them for their tremendous accomplishments as their proud family members and teachers looked on in the cafeteria. He noted that while the requirement for induction is easy to calculate, the students’ educational journeys have been anything but simple.

“Behind each GPA, there are stories of perseverance, struggle, growth and enlightenment, late-night studying, weekends spent with schoolwork, extra time with teachers after school and many other sacrifices that helped them get here,” he noted. “This induction is just a small acknowledgment of all of your hard work, dedication and sacrifice.”

Mr. Walsh told the audience that the students were encouraged to invite the adults who have influenced their education, and he recognized the many educators in the audience.

“This tradition of inviting past teachers, coaches and administrators to be part of the celebration represents the best of Byram Hills,” he said. “I was asked by this group of inductees to extend invitations to more faculty than in any class before them, which says a lot about them.”

The Cum Laude address was delivered by special education teacher Joy Reynolds, who recalled being inspired by “The Miracle Worker,” the biographical movie about Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan.

2018 Cum Laude Address by Joy Reynolds

The Cum Laude address was delivered by special education teacher Joy Reynolds.

“Helen understood that Annie was the key to her escape from darkness and isolation,” Mrs. Reynolds said. “She finally understood the power and the beauty of effective communication. She finally understood what it meant to have a teacher and a friend.”

“My wish for all of you sitting behind me is that you learn the value and the impact of your words, that you exercise your strong minds, that you forge ahead with persistence and resilience and that you rise above to discover, build and celebrate the unique abilities of all people,” she told the students.

The students inducted into Cum Laude were: Samantha Abbruzzese, Ellen Amico, Abigail Binder, Alan Chang, Zachary Cogan, Rahul Gupta, Tyler Harp, Isabelle Ilan, Elyse Kanner, Emma Lucchino, David McDaniels, Sydney Nepo, Pietro Perez, Brent Perlman, Lindsey Perlman, Griffen Rakower, Jonah Schwam, Hayley Siegle, Dylan Starker, Nicole Tissot, Zachary Tuzzo and Spencer Weinhoff.

The faculty inductees were Jennifer Laden, the Social Studies Chairperson, and Christopher Lewick, who teaches math.

2018 Cum Laude Faculty Inductees Jennifer Laden and Christopher Lewick

The faculty members inducted into the Cum Laude Society were Jennifer Laden, the Social Studies Chairperson, and Christopher Lewick, who teaches math.

The Cum Laude Society is a nonprofit organization founded in 1906 that honors academic achievement in secondary schools. It has 382 chapters, primarily in independent schools. The Byram Hills chapter is one of about two dozen public school chapters.

On October 10, 64 seniors who study French, Italian or Spanish were inducted into the World Language Honor Society. These students were honored for their consistent academic excellence, maintaining an A or A+ average for three consecutive years of the same language. (See box for names of the inducted students.)

At the induction ceremony, World Languages Chairperson Melissa Stahl praised the students’ language and communication skills and encouraged them to continue growing into global citizens.

“As you continue through this final year at Byram Hills, be daring, seek out and embrace differences among people, learn about yourselves through the eyes of someone else, and lastly, speak up,” Ms. Stahl told them. “Use your language, whichever one you choose, to improve the world around you for all of us.”

Nine students were inducted into the Tri-M Music Honor Society in an October 4 ceremony filled with beautiful music with several student performances.

2018 Tri-M Music Society Members

Byram Hills High School music faculty with the newly inducted and veteran members of Tri-M Music Honor Society.

“We recognize these young adults not only for their wonderful talent, but for their dedication to their communities, their academic achievement and for their leadership in our music program throughout the years,” said Deepak Marwah, the Director of Fine Arts.

The inducted students were: Christina Ferrari, Emma Keatley, Caroline Kelly, Elena Lowe, Seth Morrison, Sydney Nepo, Ethan Resnik, Jake Wild and Adam Zeng. Superintendent Jen Lamia received an honorary membership into the society, and a posthumous honor was given to Michele Delamonico, the beloved math teacher who died last spring.

At the ceremony, Dr. Lamia called her induction one of her proudest moments, an honor that reflects her love of music and support for Byram Hills students.

“Music has always been the greatest gift to me,” Dr. Lamia said. “It’s why I’m passionate about supporting our students in Byram Hills music programs. It’s a lifelong gift we give to our children.”