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Student Aims For The Stars

Not many high school students can say they know how to fly a plane, build a heat shield or act as mission control for a flight. But these are just some of the skills Hicksville High School junior Veronica Ann Morrish picked up at the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy, an international program that encourages students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Morrish applied for the prestigious program last year and was selected based on her academic merit and two essay prompts. She says she has always loved the mystery of space.  

“I always found it fascinating growing up,” Morrish said. “It’s such a great unknown, we have no idea what’s up there. It would be such an amazing opportunity to actually go up to space and explore.”

At the beginning of March, Morrish flew down to join 304 students from 38 countries at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alamaba. Every day of the weeklong program, she engaged in different activities such as shuttle missions, weightlessness training, simulated jet-fighter pilot training, scenario-based space-walking missions, and designing, building and testing rockets.

Morrish says one of her favorite activities was the flight simulation, where she got to learn how to fly a plane just like a real pilot.

“They taught you how to use everything and you got to fly around and take off like you were in an actual plane. It was honestly the most amazing experience, it was so cool,” Morrish said. “I was one of the three people who didn’t crash,” she notes with pride.

Morrish also got to hear from and meet with top scientists, engineers and former astronauts, including Robert “Hoot” Gibson.

“He was really inspirational,” says Morrish. “He inspired me to work harder to do what I want to do with my life.”

Before the training, Morrish had been leaning toward a career in psychology but now says she would like to become an engineer or pilot. She says that her week at the leadership academy taught her valuable leadership and speech skills, as well as helped her form new friendships with other space-loving teens from around the world.

“I really grew as a person. It was an amazing opportunity and it changed my life,” she said.

News

Vastra boutique finds a niche

in hand-embroidered dresses

Who says a bride has to wear white on her wedding day? For South Asian brides, no color is off limits including brilliant reds, blues and golds. For the past 17 years, Vastra in Hicksville has been helping brides from New York and across the country find the perfect dress for their special day.

There’s no lack of Indian sari boutiques in Hicksville but according to Marketing Director Prachi Jain, what sets Vastra apart from the others is its emphasis on one of a kind, hand-embroidered Indian dresses.

Many would consider it rude to play with your food. That is unless, you’re participating in the Long Island Potato Festival. The event, which was held in Cutchogue, NY, included a mashed potato sculpting contest which was dominated by Hicksville’s Sarah Tsang, who won first place in the youth division.

Contestants were allowed to use any tools and materials to help bring their creation to life. Sculptures were left on display throughout the day and voted on by festival goers.


Sports

Somehow LSA, the Levittown Swimming Association, has always been a part of our Hicksville summers. My family’s introduction to the organization in 1975 began when our two older daughters tried out for the Parkway Swim Team, one of the nine teams that competed through July and most of August.

It was no small task for the younger girl, swimming her first full lap in the deep end of the pool to qualify at age six, but both girls made the team and donned the coveted gray tee shirts as the trees cast their shadows over the pool water at the end of practice.

I’m convinced that the soul and the center of Hicksville is Cantiague Park. And why not? Every weekend it’s a beehive of activity ranging from tennis matches, hand ball games, basketball and baseball games, swimming, hockey and of course ‘the beautiful game’ called soccer. Cantiague has two professional soccer fields that are perfectly manicured and begging to be played on. And they were. This weekend was the finals of the East Meadow Soccer Tournament which is one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the nation, sponsored by the US Soccer Federation. There were 18 boys and girls teams in the finals and a large staff of referees.

Two of the refs were Steven Orozco and Randy Vogt who told me how soccer had been growing and has now become the second most popular participation sport in America with 25 million of us watching this year’s World Cup.  I also met and interviewed Joe Codispoti who along with Tim Bradbury is the head coach of Rockville Centre United, a U16 boys club.  This U16 team has a group of standout players led by  Jack Graziano, AJ Codispoti and Pat Basile who have been playing together for six years.


Calendar

Close Encounters with Benevolent ETs and Ascended Masters

August 29

Adventures in Genealogy

September 4

Greek Festival

September 5-7



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com