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Spectacular Staples Students Save Seaside Heights

You can’t keep some kids away from Staples High School.

Even on Sunday.

Last week — at the teen-ungodly hour of 8 a.m. (really 7; it was the day the clocks changed) — 52 students gathered for the 4th annual Staples Spectacular Student Challenge.

The Stapleites — including, for the 1st time, 5 freshmen — had 12 hours to read, analyze, research, synthesize, and finally solve, a real-world problem.

Welcome to education, 2013-style.

And this being 2013, the problem involved natural disasters.

An all-junior team of (from left) Jack Cody, Baxter Stein, Katie Zhou, Melissa Beretta and Max Liben take a well-deserved break.

The students were asked to use Seaside Heights, New Jersey — an area ravaged by Hurricane Sandy — as a case study. Their challenge was to recommend ways that coastal towns and regions can prepare for — and recover from — future hurricanes.

Working in teams of 4 and 5, they had to first:

That was only Part 1.

Next came the task of developing a plan to abate the effects of future hurricanes on Seaside Heights, and provide aid. Students had to:

All by 8 p.m. that night.

Juniors (from left) Nick Stern, Tyler Marks and Connor Mitnick solve the hurricane problem. Not pictured: Ben Goldschleger.

Though President Obama, Congress, Governor Christie, FEMA, and bajillions of other people have worked steadily on this issue since October, the Staples students were undaunted.

Using the internet; skills gained in math, science, history, social studies and many other classes; collaboration, and their own very significant brains, they produced an enormous range of responses.

Those will be examined closely, by a panel of judges. The top teams will make formal presentations next month — adding “communication skills” to the long list of criteria students are expected to master in 2013.

The 52 teenagers who competed in this year’s Spectacular Student Challenge were there for a variety of reasons. They love competition, academic rigor, open-ended questions, and the flexibility and creativity of solving a real-world challenge.

The scholarship prize money — $35,000 was awarded in the 1st 3 years — is important too, of course.

But they’d probably be there even without that lure. In fact, one student thought next year’s challenge could be even tougher.

He wants to add “a twist” to the problem at some point during the day.

This all-sophomore quartet included (from left) Nick Kveitaia, Killian Jampierre, Andrea Mahieu and Mehar Kirmani.

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