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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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Football team’s average GPA on rise

The line graph above shows the football team's average GPA from the fall of 2010 through the fall of 2011.BCHS football coach Ryan Sulkowski released his fall academic report last week showing large gains for his team during the first semester of the 2011-12 school year.

The team’s average GPA increased from a 2.69 last spring to 2.73 this fall. Football players collected 171 As, 168 Bs, 142 Cs and only 48 Ds and 27 Fs during the semester.

Sulkowski was very pleased with the improvements.

“As a football program we pulled together as a staff and made a commitment to improving the academics here at Baker County High School,” said the coach. “When I arrived the academic situation was awful in regards to our football student athletes and that was something that I knew we needed to immediately put an emphasis on.”

Sulkowski says that the coaching staff stresses academics on a regular basis. “These young men need to know that someone is constantly monitoring their academic progress. On a daily basis we have constant contact with about 8 percent of our student body, which is our football team. When they hear about it every day it sinks in and I believe that is where we are now,” he said.

He is particularly proud of the drop in ineligible players. Only two players were ineligible this school year, a drop from a two-year high of 15 in spring 2010.

Football players are coming to school more, averaging only 3.58 days absent.

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