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STVM, students win top State Science Day awards

5/19/2011 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

St. Vincent-St. Mary High School students participating in State Science Day May 7 included those shown above, from left: (front row), Jessa Blankenship, Alex Pianalto, Meghan Gorbach, Sasha Kovalchick and Erica Wolf; (second row) Katherine Engels, John Giles, Jonathon Stone, Sean Gaffney, Vincenzo Volpe, Stephen Hall and Erin McNulty; and (third row) teacher/adviser Joanna Price, students Nick Neill, John Friess, Oliver Hildebrandt and Matt Schwenning and teacher/adviser Joanna Miller.
Photo courtesy of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School
AKRON — St. Vincent-St. Mary High School (STVM) was awarded the Harold C. Shaw Outstanding School Award and, with it, $250,000 in awards and scholarships at the 63rd annual State Science Day May 7. 

Hosted by The Ohio State University, State Science Day is the state championship event in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. Almost 1,200 students representing 299 schools in 66 Ohio counties advanced to the state-level competition from 15 district science days. STVM had 16 students advance to the state competition, according to school officials.

More than 1,000 judges evaluated student-originated, inquiry- and technologically based projects and awarded more than $3.7 million in scholarships and awards.

The STVM team earned 14 “Superior” and two “Excellent” ratings to capture the Shaw Award, the highest honor given to a school at State Science Day, according to school officials.

“I believe a school with rich traditions and strong athletic teams can also create futuristic students who are well-prepared for the 21st century and are true scholar-athletes,” said STVM Headmaster David Rathz.

The STVM state champion science team members receiving a “Superior” rating were: freshmen Meghan Gorbach (Fairlawn), Erin McNulty (Silver Lake), Katherine Engels (Green), Sean Gaffney (Copley) and John Giles (Copley); sophomores Nick Neill (Stow), Stephen Hall (Fairlawn) and Vincenzo Volpe (Cuyahoga Falls); juniors Jessa Blankenship (Norton), Sasha Kovalchick (West Akron) and Alex Pianalto (Fairlawn); and seniors Oliver Hildebrandt (Fairlawn), Matt Schwenning (Richfield) and Jonathon Stone (South Akron).

Team members receiving an “Excellent” rating were freshman Erica Wolf and junior John Friess (both of Fairlawn).

The following students also won special awards:

√ Blankenship: American Chemical Society Columbus Section Chemical Sciences Award;

√ Friess: Future Physician Scientist Award, Engineering Achievement Award, Edison Center Materials Science and Engineering Award and Governor’s Thomas Edison Award for Advanced Materials;

√ Gorbach: Ohio Wesleyan University State Science Day Scholarship;

√ Hall: Stone Laboratory Scholarship, Ohio Wesleyan University State Science Day Scholarship;

√ McNulty: Ohio Wesleyan University State Science Day Scholarship;

√ Neill: Nursing Award;

√ Pianalto: Heidelberg Science Scholarship and Otterbein University State Science Day Scholarship;

√ Volpe: Governor’s Thomas Edison Award for Advanced Materials: Engineering Achievement Award, and Edison Center Materials Science and Engineering Award;

√ Wolf: Cleveland Museum of Natural History Outstanding Naturalist Award, Governor’s Thomas Edison Award for Excellence in Biotechnology and Biomedical and The Wilds Conservation Career Training Scholarship.

STVM officials stated the school’s science students participate in the science inquiry process every year through the STVM Center for Science and Technology (CST). The CST is a center for inquiry-based learning using start-of-the-art technology and featuring a Distance Learning Lab that enables students to collaborate with other students and researchers worldwide as they perform experiments and analyze data.

Much of the work in the CST is in partnership with The University of Akron (UA) through the Partners in Progress program, according to STVM officials. Eight students from the Science Inquiry Team have been working with UA polymer scientists and engineers throughout the school year.

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