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Kites to the skies at Westside Elementary

First grader Zachary Gainey eyes his shark kite. Also pictured in the background is Savannah Smallwood.Plenty of colorful kites depicting lady bugs, butterflies, sharks and Spiderman, to name a few, flew through the air at Westside Elementary School in Glen St. Mary on March 16.

With little wind to lend a hand, children, including  third grader Lillia Munn above, sought out plenty of running room to dash back and forth in hopes of keeping their kites aloft.

A number of parents joined the fun, often untangling kites strings, keeping them out of trees or otherwise assisting with the endeavor. Groups of students took turns occupying the open field on the campus’ east side for the annual outdoor event.

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Junior scores ‘near-perfect’ on SAT

Reagan MckendreeReagan McKendree wasn’t shocked she achieved a near-perfect score on the SAT recently, but what it means for her future puts a smile on her face.

The Baker County High School junior scored 2320 out of 2400 points on the exam used as a common benchmark for college admissions and scholarship eligibility.

The 16-year-old from Cuyler garnered 220 out of 240 points on the pre-SAT, so she expected to do well on the SAT. “But I wasn’t thinking a perfect score on the math and reading,” Ms. McKendree said the morning of February 21, five days after taking the five-hour test.

She didn’t miss a single question on the reading or math portions of the test, but lost points on the writing and grammar sections.

“I was pretty happy,” said Ms. McKendree, adding that she didn’t realize how extraordinary her score was until guidance counselors and other faculty members, “made such a big deal of it.”

“I was like, ‘well, OK.’ This is a pretty big deal,” she said.

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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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