Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Science Olympiad

By: Sharukh K. ‘17

On Saturday February 6th, 2016, Staten Island Academy’s Science Club left campus at 5:30 AM and travelled all the way to Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood, NY to compete in its annual Science Olympiad. This was only the Academy’s second year competing, being that the Science Club just started two years ago, and even though we are still developing as a team, we did a phenomenal job.

Last year, which also happened to be our first year competing, Wesley D, ‘17 and Ryan A. ‘17 earned 10th place in the competition, “Write It. Do It”. In this competition, one teammate has to write a procedure to an experiment that the other teammate will use to complete it. Competing against schools like Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, and Staten Island Tech is not easy, but with our determination and diligence, we did it. This year, the Academy won two awards, one in “rite It. Do It” and the other in “Electric Vehicle”. In “Write It. Do It” Wesley D. ‘17 and Ryan A. ‘17 earned first place and in “Electric Vehicle” Wesley D. ‘17 and Trip M. ‘17 earned eighth place. Both of these events had around forty-five teams that competed and to place in the top ten, earning a medal is a great accomplishment; especially given it was only our second year.


The Science Olympiad is much more than kids working hard and concentrating on winning. It is also a place where kids from high schools get to spend time with each other and enjoy the experience. Morenike M. ‘16 was willing to share her experiences and said, “I thought the Olympiad was definitely fun and a good educational experience. My favorite part was competing in Protein Modeling with Kevin G. ‘16 because we trained for it so we worked cohesively throughout the event.” Kevin G. ‘16 also shared his experiences and said, “The Science Olympiad was very fun and I enjoyed designing experiments, playing with chemicals, reflecting lights off of mirrors, and after the events were over, playing games with other kids on the Science Club and Dr. Ward.”

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Wesley D. ‘17, founder and leader of the Science Club, shared with us his thoughts on the Science Olympiad, “The NYC Science Olympiad is a chance for SIA students to compare their scientific prowess to some of the best schools in the metropolitan area. Last year, our single team placed 51st overall out of 61. This year, our first team, made up of all returning members, placed 33rd overall out of 63, while our new second team placed 53rd. I would say this is a huge and unprecedented improvement, considering it has only been two years. We will aim for twentieth or less overall next year. Hopefully, we can compete in states, which requires 7th place or less overall. Though we received medals for 1st and 8th in two events, we will need similar results in the other twenty-three events that also count towards our placement. My favorite part was watching everyone build and test their awesome devices for the events. It felt good knowing that many of us prepared heavily for the event, and thirsted for the win. Winning individual awards is great, but what I really want is one of the team awards given to teams who go on to states.”

Even though it was the students who won the awards, the only reason that the Science Olympiad ran so smoothly was because of our dedicated faculty members. On this past Olympiad, we had Mrs. O’Hara, Mrs. Meyer, Mr. Wollney, and Dr. Ward accompany us on the trip. This was sadly Dr. Ward’s last Science Olympiad being that it is her last year teaching at the Academy. She was also willing to share her experiences and said, “By far what I love the most about Science Olympiad is hanging out with all of my students and doing science outside of the our normal classes. The club really felt camaraderie this year. Each open lab was so relaxed and simultaneously buzzing with activity. This year I learned a great deal about self-propelled airplanes and electric cars and watched in awe as Philip and Patrick hit target after target with their air trajectory device in the atrium. Science is always fun for me, but spending time with my students while they show me their love of science is something I will always cherish.” Overall, the Science Olympiad is a fun event and hopefully we do as well next year as we did this year and enjoy the experience at the same time.

dna essay question

By: Kaleigh M

Mrs. Caren Platis has been leading the Model UN club at Staten Island Academy for 18 years! As a rookie participant for the most recent Model UN Conference, it was amazing to see the results of the hard work and commitment she has put into this program over the years. All of the students are grateful and appreciate of everything she has done to make this program one of the best, which led to the assembly of SIA’s largest delegation in 25 years. Mrs. Platis put her “all” into every mock session, every paper she read and re-read, and every conference she led.

I recently had the great opportunity to ask Mrs. Platis a few questions about her years leading the Model UN club at SIA.  When asked what made her want to go back to Model UN every year, her exact words were, “The students and the faculty of course! What better way to spend a frosty January weekend each year than with my fun-filled colleagues and several dozen excited, sleep-deprived, food-focused teenagers, at a huge pseudo-political conference?”

homework monopoly

MUN Faculty 2016

Of course I had to ask Mrs. Platis what memory stands out to her the most throughout her 18 years of leadership. Her all-time favorite Model UN memory was when she and Mr. Weissman took a small delegation to Beijing, China in 2010. For this opportunity, they brought ten delegates who competed among 2,000 other students mostly from other Asian nations. There were two awards won among the ten SIA students, which made Mrs. Platis and Mr. Weissman very proud. Many people associate the city of Philadelphia with their famous Philly Cheesesteaks. Another fond memory Mrs. Platis has is the “Cheesesteak Eating Contest” they held for several years. One student ate a total of 10 Philly Cheesesteaks in one weekend. It is important to note the record is still unbroken to this day. Perhaps someone will break it next year.

Looking ahead, Mrs. Platis feels the best years of SIA’s Model UN will occur in the future, but I think we all know some of the best years and memories were experienced with her at the helm. I also asked Mrs. Platis what legacy she hopes to leave for the club and the next Leadership Team. She responded by saying that she hopes that she has, “instilled a sense of stewardship and honor” in everyone. Mrs. Platis also said that she always asks the leaders to leave the program better than they found it.

Passing the Gavel

Passing the Gavel

I wanted to make this article special so I asked a few students about their favorite memory from any past Model UN. Trip M (Grade 11) has been doing Model UN for the past three years and will be part of the Leadership Team next year as a senior. Trip begins to share his most memorable “Platis moment” by saying that Mrs. Platis is certainly legendary at Staten Island Academy. He states, “The most eventful ‘Platis memory’ I have is most certainly the fall of 2015, when Mrs. Platis broke her arm after falling over a student’s luggage.” He says that the students tend to blame Mr. Weissman for the incident. After this occasion, Mr. Weissman became known as the “bone crusher” and “the ticking time bomb.” Another Model UN memory that Trip remembers was talking to Mrs. Platis and the other faculty during his freshman year one night after his first conference. Trip said that he was alone in a large committee, but after he spoke to her he felt more confident in himself. Trip ended with saying, “I am happy to say that Mrs. Platis has played a major role in my development as a debater, but also as a person.”

I also asked Ryan D (Grade 12) who was on the Leadership Team this past conference what his favorite memory was from his four years participating in Model UN. Ryan’s favorite memory was very special and meaningful. He said his it was when Mrs. Platis appointed him, John H, and Morenike M to be on the Leadership Team for the 2015-2016 Model UN conference. This was a special moment because the three of them worked so hard in their years at Model UN working in small, intense committees. Mrs. Platis has made everyone’s Model UN special in one way or another.  Of course we had to find out what Mrs. Platis favorite memory was from her last Model UN conference at SIA. She said, “At this last conference I was very pleased to see a strong sense of harmony and cooperation among delegates, both new and experienced. We were thrown a few curve-balls this year, yet the students were flexible, responsible and positive.”

I am sure that Mrs. Platis has made every Model UN a memorable one that is never to be forgotten. Something Mrs. Platis also shared with me is how grateful she feels to have been accompanied by Mark “the Bone-Crusher” Weissman who would sit with her in the hallways late into the night and make her laugh until she cried. Mrs. Platis will always be our fearless Model UN leader and we hope to live up to her legacy in the years to come.

Model UN

By: Maxine V.

Model UN was a weekend filled with scintillating debate, hours and hours of conference, and loads of fun at the infamous Delegate Dance. As a rookie, I went into Model UN just hearing about it from the people who went in the previous years. However, I definitely wasn’t prepared for what I walked into late Thursday night. I watched as people entered into committee with stacks upon stacks of research, speeches, resolutions, etc. I soon realized that Model UN was more than the average person would consider a “club”. In order to be successful, you must research your given topic thoroughly until you know it like the back of your hand. Not only do you have to do research, but you must abide by the conditions assigned to you by your committee. That may mean representing a country you’ve never heard of before or having to place yourself back fifty years to when the committee was dated.

The committees range from ten people in a Crisis Committee to two hundred in a General Assembly. The competition is intense and all countries must be able to speak on their feet and quickly think of answers to questions being asked of them by countries with opposing ideas. As the committee sessions pass, the goal of the committee is to formulate a reasonable solution to the problem at hand. During the last day of committee, countries must vote on resolutions that clearly maintain order between all nations.

Staten Island Academy’s delegation was the biggest yet, with about fifty-five kids. While all of our delegates were outstanding, there were two in particular who received accolades for their contribution to debate. Trip M’ (Grade 11), won Outstanding Delegate in his committee about Pontiac’s Rebellion in which he represented Shawnee. John H’ (Grade 12) received a verbal commendation for his contribution to debate in his committee as well.

Yes, hours (19 hours to be exact, I counted) of committee got to be extremely exhaustive towards the end of the weekend. However, the weekend was not purely filled with sitting in a room discussing politics. On Friday and Saturday night, the Model UN staff provided fun events for delegates to attend after a full day of working hard. While the Delegate Fest was a fun, low-key event, the Delegate Dance was the main attraction. On Saturday night, hundreds of delegates piled into a ballroom and danced with friends they had gotten acquainted with throughout the weekend. It was a great way to end the event with a little hard-earned fun.

MUN 2016 will be one to remember, not only because of all the fun we had, but because it was Mrs. Platis’ last year as moderator. Mrs. Platis has been doing Model UN for over twenty years and her last one was surely eventful. From a rookie’s point of view, I can truly say it was a great learning experience for me and I cannot wait to be back at Model UN next year!