Going for the Gold

Vini Lanka, 14, a member of the Twin Pine Composite Squad-ron, Civil Air Patrol, recently conducted a workshop on creative planning for the cadets, challenging them to create a unique squadron and display customs and courtesies of Civil Air Patrol within a creative skit. The Civil Air Patrol presents aerospace education and cadette programs to young people ages 11 to 21 interested in being involved with emergency services. From there, many join the Air Force.

“They had to create a squadron including uniforms and guidelines,” she says. “Each group had a different solution.”

A student at Grover Middle School, Lanka is a member of the school’s National Talent Network’s Cognetics team. Last year, she received her silver award as a member of a cognetics team. She continues her participation in the program both as a member of a cognetics team and as a candidate for the Gold Satori Award.

“Cognetics is a team sport of the mind,” says Lanka, who became involved with the group through a friend, Anusha Eamula; her cousin, Padma Lanka, a former Plainsboro resident; and Jashan Singh, a friend from South Brunswick.

Born in India, Lanka lived in East Windsor for four years before moving to Plainsboro five years ago. Her mother, Sharadha, is a legal and accounting manager with a computer services company. Her father, Ram, is a pharmaceutical troubleshooter with Schering Plough.

Lanka studies Indian classical dance with Kathak Ushamaharaj in Plainsboro. Performing since she was seven, she is involved with the Indian Foundation of Metropolitan Princeton. She has been in dance competitions in New York City and performed in Chicago during the summer.

Rutgers Challenge

High School North advanced to the semi-final round of the Sixth Annual Rutgers Academic Challenge to be held at the Busch Campus, Rutgers, on Wednesday, March 10. At the first round tournament, held recently at Rutgers, teams of eight high school students tackled interdisciplinary activities that promote social studies, language arts, mathematics, and science.

Team members include Preetika Rao, Siyi Wang, Amanda Lee, Peter Wu, Julie Goswami, Thenappan Chandrasekar, Yifei Chen, and Joanne Yuan. Advisers are Jim Looney and Holly Crochetiere.

The top three teams vie for statewide championship on Tuesday, March 16, in a videotaped three-way quiz match at NJN Public Television Studios in Trenton. The tape will be televised on Thursday, April 1, at 6:30 p.m.; Friday, April 2, at 1:30 p.m.; and Sunday, April 4, at 6 p.m.

Math Honors

Mathletes at High School North and High School South tied for the second place in the 28th Annual Mathematics Contest for New Jersey Secondary Students. Sponsored by the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey, the contest revives the centuries-old traditions of problem-solving contests.

High School North team members include Taktin Oey, Alex Yang, Philip Cheng, Andrew Del-man, Apurva Dabholkar, Stephen Cohen, and Victor Chu. Oey received honorable mention in the individual contest.

High School South members include Dan Le, Ilia Izmailov, Xiang An Qi, James Yan, Peter Wei, Carey Li, and Mike Zhao. Le and Izmailov received honorable mention in the individual contest.

Poetry Workshop

Joan Ruddiman, faculty member of Grover Middle School, organized a poetry workshop at the school for 34 students in grades 7 and 8. On the program were Gloria Rovder Healy, founder and facilitator of Writer’s Ink; Craig Canfield, poet laureate of Tinton Falls; New Jersey author Frank Finale; and poets Jane Norella, Carl Hoffman, and Vince Larken.

The poets shared a variety of styles and types of poems and discussed how they prepare a poetry anthology for publication. They all offered insights on publishing, the nature of writing, and sources of inspiration. The program was made possible by a grant from the PTSA of Grover Middle School.

Future Doctors

Michael Page and Ronald Huang participated in a mini-medical school program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Page is a junior at High School North and Huang is a junior at High School South.

The program, “Achieving Excellence in the Sciences,” begins with an overview of the medical school.

Science Award

High School South sent two teams to the New Jersey Regional Competition of the National Science Bowl on February 28, and one of them captured the third place award. Twenty-four teams from 17 area high schools competed in the double-elimination tournament at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The students answered questions in biology, chemistry, phys-ics, astronomy, mathematics, and general sciences.

Members of the High School South team placing third include Jerrald Chen, Abhinav Jha, David Koppstein, Kyle Viswa-nathan, and James Yan. Members of the second participating team from High School South are Sanjay De, Brain De, Charu Dhavalikar, Sidharth Kakkar, and Nik-hil Jha. The coach for both teams is teacher Meenakshi Bhattacharya.

College Dean’s Lists

University of Maryland: Taryn Sarstedt, West Windsor. She is majoring in psychology at the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Quinnipiac University: Eric Basil of Plainsboro, senior, majoring in public relations at the School of Communications. He graduated from West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, Class of 2000.

St. Joseph’s University: Kristen Charette, West Windsor. She is a junior double majoring in elementary education and special education.

Salisbury University: Heather Zurich, Plainsboro.

Vanderbilt University: Carly Ann Williams, West Windsor, School of Engineering.

William Paterson University: April Sardinas-Wyssling of Plains-boro. A communications major, she also plays softball and field hockey for the school. She graduated from High School South, Class of 2003.