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Biology students present diabetes research at UF symposium

From left, Sydni Starling, Deirdre Riggs, Sarah Farnesi, Devon Burns and Kelsey Brown.Four high school sophomores ventured to the 49th Annual Junior Science, Engineering and Humanities Symposium last week at the University of Florida to present a study on diabetes research they conducted in the classroom this school year.

The young ladies from the health academy — Kelsey Brown, Devon Burns, Sydni Starling and Sarah Farnesi — were selected from 127 students in biology teacher Deirdre Riggs’ classes to attend the three-day event and share their conclusions.

Ms. Riggs had her students pen a two-page paper about whether a rare form of diabetes called MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes in the Young), that shares characteristics of Type 2 diabetes more common in overweight adults, is inherited or caused by environmental factors like lifestyle and diet.

The papers counted as final exams and followed laboratory research partially funded by the university as part of a program to enrich high school science classes by incorporating more hands-on activities.

Last summer, after an application process, Ms. Riggs was chosen to attend a two-week training session at UF along with about 20 other Florida high school teachers.

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Day 100 of the school year at Pre-K Kindergarten Center

Students and teachers at the Pre-K Kindergarten Center on E. South Blvd. marked the 100th day of the school year February 3 by dressing up like geriatrics.

Teachers dawned grey wigs, robes, slippers, bifocals  or all of the above  and some like school principal Bonnie Jones completed the look with a walker. Children participated as well, some employing hair nets or faux beards made of face paint.

Activities for the day also incorporated the number 100.

“We’ve had so much fun today,” said pre-K teacher Amy Dennison, adding that one lesson tasked children with counting out 100 fruit loops and forming them into a necklace.

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MES marks Florida Arbor Day with tree planting

County Forester Andy Lamborn plants a river birch tree at Macclenny Elmentary.Florida Arbor Day arrived at Macclenny Elementary the afternoon of January 19 when students lent many a helping hand to plant four river birch trees in the school’s backyard while learning about them from county forester Andy Lamborn of the Florida Forest Service.

Two hundred and sixty nine students in all were briefed about the history of Arbor Day and trees themselves — how they clean the air, soak up water and nutrients from the soil and contribute to many, many things we use everyday, including toothbrushes and paper products.

Groups of four classes at a time gathered outside their classrooms around a pre-dug hole and potted river birch tree, which Mr. Lamborn said was chosen over other varieties because of its heartiness.

“It can handle just about anything,” he said.

The soil at Macclenny Elementary is rich with clay, likely used as fill material during the school’s construction, but the river birch can still thrive there. It’s also cold tolerant.

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