St. Vitus students receive state science awards

Friday, August 21, 2015 - Updated: 7:00 am

Eighteen of St. Vitus School’s seventh- and eighth-graders participated in the 58th annual Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science Region IX competition in February at Slippery Rock University. Three students from the New Castle school won special awards.

Mariah Bupp received a first place, achieved a perfect score and won a PJAS Region IX Director’s Award for junior high chemistry.

Ricky Zheng took a first place and won a PJAS Region IX Director’s Award for junior high engineering.

Matthew Moore earned a first place, achieved a perfect score and won an award based on judges’ recommendations, the Junior High Chemistry Award, plus $100 cash from the Slippery Rock Chemistry Department.

Also winning first places were the following: Elliott Armstrong, Jesse Brightshue, Jack Bussard, Blake Houk, Anthony Morgan, Angelina Pagley, Dominique Pagley, Hunter Williams and Braiden Wills. Sara Brunelle, Isabella Burick, Antonio Dattilo, Bryce Enscoe, Elizabeth Mrozek and Nicholas Voytko received second-place awards.

Approximately 470 students in grades 7-12 from southwestern Pennsylvania presented their science and math research projects in the competition.

The 12 first-place winners from St. Vitus competed in PJAS state competition May 17-19 at Pennsylvania State University. The PJAS state competition at Penn State hosted 3,000 students who earned first-place awards at regional meetings.

Marguerite Wills is St. Vitus School’s science instructor and sponsor. Leah Ann Williams and Robert Penrose are co-directors of PJAS Region IX. State awards were as follows:

First-place winners: Mariah Bupp, “What is the Effect of Heat on Enzyme Activity?”; Jack Bussard, “Do Distractions Affect Free Throw Percentages?”; Matthew Moore, “Which Athletic Beverage Contains the Most Electrolytes?”; Anthony Morgan, “Does a Customized Basketball Routine Affect Percentage?”; Hunter Williams, “How Can I Make the Fastest Store-Bought Arrow Even Faster?”; and Braiden Wills, “Do Hand-Held Backlit Devices Affect Your Vision?”

Second-place winners: Sasha Armstrong, “Are Your Eyes Playing Tricks on You?”; Jesse Brightshue, “Does Practice Make Perfect?”; Blake Houk, “How Does Turmeric Affect Daphnia magna?”; Angelina Pagley, “Are Cheer Bases Hurt More Than Flyers in a Stunt?”; Dominique Pagley, “Does Crossed Hand/Eye Dominance Affect Basketball Shooting?”; and Ricky Zheng, “Which Produces More Energy: Wind or Hydropower?”

St. Gregory

Students at St. Gregory in Zelienople received high TerraNova scores and several eighth-graders were awarded academic scholarships for high school.

The 2014-15 school year also brought some fun for seventh- and eighth-grade students, who traveled to Niagara Falls, New York. Students also participated in the school’s first Lip Dub event, which can be viewed on the school website, stgregzelie.org.

The St. Gregory Wolves basketball team’s hard work paid off, with the junior varsity girls bringing home the section championship and four teams qualifying for playoffs. The boys junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams made it to the Elite 8 this spring.

St. Gregory is expecting the 2015-16 enrollment to be 259, which includes preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Students in sixth through eighth grade will continue to use their Chromebooks on a daily basis. Eighth-graders will be introduced to geometry, and seventh- and eighth-graders will have their second year of computer programming class, which was well received by students and parents.

St. Kilian

The largest Catholic school in the diocese graduated 46 eighth-grade students following the 2014-15 year.

Students enjoyed many educational enrichment activities, including a Kids’ Science Safari and an assembly with Ben Franklin from Mobile Ed. The sixth grade enjoyed a field trip to the NASA Experience in West Virginia, while the seventh grade explored Camp Lutherlynn. The eighth grade traveled to an Amish village in Lancaster.

During the past school year, St. Kilian sent 14 students to the Pennsylvania Regional Science and Engineering Fair. Out of 1,100 students, St. Kilian students placed second in sixth-grade physical science, fourth place in sixth-grade consumer science and fourth place in seventh/eighth-grade physics.

Students also won seven individual awards from sponsors U.S. Steel, Valspar, Michael Baker Inc. and FedEx Ground.

The forensics team placed eighth overall out of 26 schools in the finals, with six first-place individual winners.

Other school-sponsored extracurricular activities included the Challenge of Champions, Math 24 Competition, essay writing competitions and the Diocesan Spelling Bee.

Five St. Kilian students advanced to the Math 24 quarterfinals, and one student advanced to the semifinals. Three eighth-graders won writing awards in the National Campaign to Stop Violence “Do the Write Thing” Competition, and four won writing awards in the Veterans of Foreign Wars “Patriot’s Pen” contest. Sixth-grader Thomas O’Toole won the 22nd Annual Diocese of Pittsburgh Spelling Bee after 21 rounds.

Two seventh-grade students participated in the Diocesan All Star Band. Kate Burke and Jada Chvilicek were among 69 students from 29 different Catholic schools that were selected to play in the 2015 All Stars Concert at Central Catholic High School in April. Both were first-section musicians from their district honor band who auditioned for their seats in the All Stars.

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