Central Students Win $9,000 in Spark Challenge

Spark Challenge Pic 1
On April 6, under the guidance of science teacher Katie Prudente, students from Valley Stream Central High School’s Sophomore Advanced Science Research Team won the $9,000 Grand Prize at the Northwell Health's third annual Spark Challenge. Held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, this event provides students with an opportunity to engage with career professionals and gain an understanding of the interdisciplinary team approach to patient care.

Aleena Abraham, Maheen Babar, Kayla Dhanipersaud, Melisha Gonseka, Patricia Joseph, Ronie Rocca and Khadija Zahid came in first place in both their presentation and their poster creation. They competed against approximately 80 other schools and 800 students, and focused on the Physical Therapy field. The team members emphasized the idea that a physical therapist is by a patient’s side from start to finish, which they supported with the slogan, “They’re there for you at your worst, helping you get back to you.” They expressed how a physical therapist plays a positive role during a patient’s recovery process, often acting as a coach, and helps to keep the patient optimistic and hopeful.

The CEO and President of Northwell Health, Michael Dowling, was so impressed by the students’ work that he decided to triple the award amount.

The Central students prepared for this challenge through both research and field experience. Back in November, they visited the Orzac Center for Rehabilitation and witnessed a simulation of a patient's post-hospital care treatment from start to finish.

Ms. Prudente praised the students for their outstanding effort. “I am incredibly proud of them and believe their confidence, enthusiasm and hard work led them to this impressive victory,” she said.