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February 2015

Town Hall Meeting

St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) Chair Bev Slough will host a Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, February 24 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at Creekside High School, 100 Knights Lane, St. Johns. This event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

Technology, growth, capital funding and advocacy will be the focus of this meeting and each topic will be covered by Slough or SJCSD administrators. Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner will provide remarks at the start of the meeting. There will also be time allotted for questions and comments from attendees.

“Our school district has realized a 5 percent increase in students this year alone,” said Slough. “We continue to grow at a rapid pace and must figure out ways to fund new schools to accommodate our children. This can only be done by working together as a community, and determining ways that each one of us can help.”

The northwest portion of St. Johns County is one of the fastest growing areas in the region. Slough periodically holds Town Hall meetings to ensure that parents and children are informed with correct and accurate information.

St. Johns County Science Fair Winners

Charis Wang and Cassia Wang, both of Ponte Vedra High School (PVHS), won top honors as the Best Overall in the Senior Division of the 2015 St. Johns County Science Fair held yesterday at Sebastian Middle School. Their winning project was “The Prevalence of Beta Lactamase Genes in Oral Streptococcus Species in a Healthy Population: Molecular Analysis by Polymerase Chain Reaction.”

Aishva Kothari, of Gamble Rogers Middle School (GRMS), won for Best Overall in the Junior Division. Aishva’s project was entitled, “What Contact Solution Best Sterilizes Contact Lenses.”

Approximately 100 science projects represented by 120 participants were involved in the St. Johns County Science Fair. This annual academic competition is designed to challenge students to meticulously apply science process skills and content knowledge in order to investigate scientific questions of their own choosing. Participants also experience the importance of practicing science ethics and responsibility on a personal level. The best overall winners will be recognized at the School Board meeting on Monday, March 9.

Sixteen students representing five St. Johns County schools will attend the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair in Lakeland, March 31-April 2. The participants are Drew Adams, Landrum Middle School (LMS); Mark Calvin, LMS; Joshua Fernandez, LMS; Trey Glod, LMS, Aishva Kothari, GRMS; Taylor Kaminisky, LMS; Lillian Neidhardt, Liberty Pines Academy (LPA); Luke Snyder, LMS; Madison Toonder, Home School; Jordan Bartfield, PVHS; Harrison Snowden, PVHS; Charis Wang, PVHS; Cassia Wang, PVHS; Matthew Hart; PVHS; Matthew Norton, PVHS and Brighton Ancelin, Creekside High School (CHS); Adam Snowden, PVHS; Steele Tarleton, PVHS; Steven Medarev, PVHS; Maxwell Fine, Allen D. Nease High School (NHS); and Aaron Gimmel, NHS. Charis and Cassia Wang will attend the International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, PA in May.

Participation in the fair is open to St. Johns County public, private and home school students in grades 6-12. Marna Fox, program specialist for K-12 science, physical education and health, is the district science fair coordinator.


Behavioral: first — Jordan Bartfield and Harrison Snowden, PVHS; second — team of Chase Lendry, Maharanth Sankar and John Molm, PVHS; third — Michael Fletcher, St. Augustine High School

Cellular Biology/Medicine and Health: first — Charis Wang and Cassia Wang, PVHS; second — Matthew Hart and Matthew Norton, PVHS; third — Yooree Ha, PVHS; honorable mention — William Tatum, PVHS; Mughil Sriram, NHS

Chemistry/Environmental: first — Aaron Gimmel and Maxwell Fine, NHS; second — Chloe Smith Lopez and Amanda Crist, NHS; third— Laura McLeod, NHS

Engineering/Physics: first — Adam Snowden, PVHS; second — Steele Tarleton and Steven Medarev, PVHS

Computer/Physics: first —Brighton Ancelin, CHS; second —Connor Bradley, CHS


Behavioral/Bio/Medicine/Health/Microbiology: first (tie)— Mark Calvin and Trey Glod, LMS; and Aishva Kothari, GRMS; second — Staten Maughan, LMS; third — Madison Mintzer, Cathedral Parrish School (CPS)

Botany/Zoology: first — Taylor Kaminsky, LMS; second (tie) — Chandler Garcia and Jack McMichael, LMS and Christian Middleton, FCMS; third (tie)— Gabriela Cordero, PBMS; and Lindsey Barshick, PBMS

Chemistry: first — Joshua Fernandez, LMS; second — Anna Setzer, LPA; third—Nadia Kurek, CPS; honorable mention — Trey Chesser, FCMS

Engineering/Computer Science: first — Luke Snyder, LMS; second — Frank Puzzini, FCMS; third — Ryan Neill, FCMS; honorable mention — Logan Ely, CPS

Environmental: first — Madison Toonder, Home School; second — Lillian Neidhardt, LPA; third — Keelin Weaver, CPS

Physics: first — Drew Adams, LMS; second — Franco DaLuisio, LPA; third — Alyssa Goodyear, FCMS; honorable mention Leah Dantin, Palmer Catholic School

Broadcom Masters nominees: Luke Snyder, Mark Calvin,Trey Glod, Aishva Kothari,~ Taylor Kaminsky, Joshua Fernandez, Madison Toonder, and Drew Adams.


The ASM Materials Education Foundation Award: Steven Medarev and Steele Tarleton, PVHS American Psychological Association Award: Jordan Bartfield and Harrison Snowden, PVHS

Arizona State University Sustainability Award: Maxwell Fine and Aaron Gimmel, NHS

MU Alpha Theta Award: Brighton Ancelin, CHS

NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Award: Madison Toonder, Home School

Office of the Surgeon General Award: Zachary Fleming, LPA

Pearson Publishing Award: Frank Puzzini, FCMS; Alexander Chema, NHS; and Tala Mansouri and Gabriela Castello, NHS

Ricoh Americas Corporation Award: Mac Tibitts, CPS

The Stockholm Junior Water Prize: Chloe Smith Lopez and Amanda Crist, NHS

US Air Force Awards: Luke Snyder, LMS; Matthew Jung, LPA; Jacob Harpster, Linear Magnetic Accelerator, SAHS; Brighton Ancelin, CHS

Women’s Geosciences Award: Lillian Neidhardt, LPA

US Naval Research Award: Drew Adams, LMS; Adam Snowden, PVHS; Arman Tabassian, PVHS

Yale Science and Engineering Award: Adam Snowden, PVHS

Carlisle Interconnect Industries Award: Erica Lee, PBMS; Thomas Costello, CPS; Laura McLeod, NHS

Intel Excellence in Computer Science Award: Brighton Ancelin, CHS

St. Johns County Medical Alliance Award: Aishva Kothari, GRMS; Charis and Cassia Wang, PVHS

Florida Power and Light Awards: Luke Snyder, LMS; Adam Snowden, PVHS

Volunteer of the Year for Region II

Lyn W. Gabrielsen, a volunteer at Ocean Palms Elementary and Landrum Middle schools, has been selected as the Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year for Region II by the Florida Department of Education. This honor makes Gabrielsen one of the top five adult volunteers in the state.

Nominated by Ocean Palms Elementary School (OPES), Gabrielsen has an enormous ability to raise funds for projects and also spends countless hours making sure the school grounds are in great shape. Classroom sets of iPads, a refurbished teachers’ lounge, and student playgrounds are just a sampling of benefits realized by OPES through her efforts. A typical day for her consists of helping out with morning duty and the crosswalk, checking on needs in the front office and staying for various committee meetings. The new music teacher at OPES was equipped with a state-of-the-art digital piano for her classroom and accompanying materials, all due to Gabrielsen’s efforts.

“With a smile that can light up a room and positive energy that radiates wherever she is, Lyn Gabrielsen is a mighty force around the campus of Ocean Palms,” said Principal Jessica Richardson. “One of her greatest character traits is her humility. She continually places others in front of herself and works tirelessly to ensure that students, staff, and teachers have exactly what they need so they can focus on teaching and learning.”

Gabrielsen believes in collaboration within the community and among schools. She spends much of her time at Landrum Middle School (LMS) counting band money and assisting with fundraising efforts. She works regularly with her peers at neighboring schools and is always eager to coordinate activities that benefit the entire school district. While many people can claim hundreds of volunteer hours, it is difficult to match Gabrielsen’s servant leadership and commitment to individuals, families and the community. When Gabrielsen’s children started elementary school she was surprised to learn of how many school families were in need. Springing into action, she collected more than $3,000 in less than a week for these families. She was also responsible for creating the first ever “Otters Night Out” for parents at OPES, which raised almost $30,000 in its inaugural year.

Through all of her work within the school district, she somehow finds the time to volunteer in the community for events including the Pink Ribbon Classic, Furyk and Friends Golf Classic and Halloween Doors and More benefitting Community PedsCare. She has also served on the advisory board at her church for the last four years and chairs its fundraising gala.

“It is evident that Mrs. Gabrielsen is dedicated not only Ocean Palms Elementary, but to the entire district,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner. “The volunteers, teachers and administrators who came out to offer congratulations on her being named the Region II Adult Volunteer of the year was overwhelming. We are very fortunate to have her in our district.”