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Village Board Commends Mineola High School Students

Intel Semi-Finalist, National Merit Finalist Shine at Board Meeting

Two Mineola High School students were honored at village hall Wednesday night for their distinguished accomplishments, both of which had one elected official stumped of its wordage.

Seniors Jessica Shi and Bethanne Bartscherer are among the high school’s best and brightest, according to principal Ed Escobar who was joined by science research teacher Dr. Ellen McGlade-McCulloh and Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler.

“They’re both very, very enthusiastic students,” Escobar said. “They come from very nurturing caring homes and they’ve been educated by very, very caring challenging teachers.”

Escobar has spoken about Shi and Bartscherer at past school board meetings and stated he’s ecstatic for the two seniors. “We’re extremely proud of Jessica and Bethanne. They’re both very gifted students,” he said.

Shi, a National Merit finalist in the top 99 percentile in the country, will be this year’s valedictorian of the class of 2011, and Bartscherer is the first Intel Semi-Finalist in the Mineola School District’s history. Shi had also applied for the Intel competition, but was not accepted as one of the approximate 300 students chosen from across the United States.

“I’m proud of just applying because it’s pretty tough,” Shi said, “It’s even worse than a college application, I would have to say.”

Her project, the title of which is very long, basically “means that one plant protein has to recognize a pathogen protein in order for the plant to defend itself.” Shi conducted her project last summer at Michigan State University.

Shi told the board that she actually wants to go into psychology or behavioral research. She has been accepted into MIT early, but is also waiting to hear from four other schools.

“She’s keeping her options open,” Nagler said, prompting a laugh from those in attendance.

Bartscherer’s project was entitled “Comparing Novel Cholinergic Agonists’ Potency in Inhibiting Cytokine Production.”

“And to a lay person that means in English?” Mayor Larry Werther asked.

Bartscherer explained her research has to do with stopping inflammation in the cells, which is the root cause of some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and “eventually the best of what I tested will be used to make drugs to treat the diseases caused by inflammation.”

One of the girls’ teachers is also a member of the village board, Trustee Paul Pereira, who chaperoned the two when Shi and Bartscherer went to Europe as part of a class trip and taught both of them AP European History in the ninth and tenth grades.

“I’d like to think that that [the trip] had something to do with it but listening to the titles of their research I know that it had absolutely nothing to do with it,” Pereira stated, laughing.

Bartscherer intends to become a surgeon and while she has been accepted into Binghamton and Stony Brook, she is waiting on nine other schools including Cornell, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Tufts, Boston College, Harvard and Yale.

“I’m looking at senior citizenship in not too many years so I hope your research will lead to something that will help me out,” Werther said laughing.

Each of the girls were presented with citations of accomplishment from the board of trustees.

“It is one of the most important things we can do to ensure ourselves as a community and as a nation and when an educational system goes out of the way to distinguish itself by bringing scholars up through the ranks and also the parents of those scholars who place the emphasis on what is right and what their children should be doing,” Werther said.