On November 9th local students gathered at Cleveland State University for the 27th Annual Young Astronaut Day. They competed in engineering tasks that required them to work together creating and testing prototypes over a two-hour period. Students explored the same challenges that engineers are working on to get humans back to the moon and Mars. We are proud to announce that Birchwood School students met and excelled at these challenges winning first place in the team competition. They also earned awards individually in the following events:
Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent Search is known for recognizing high achieving students. However, their mission also incorporates parents and teachers in a quest to support gifted students. In fact, elementary and middle school students who are recognized based on their exceptional PSAT ™ 8/9, SAT ®, or ACT ® scores can, in turn, nominate their teacher.
This recognition was bestowed on Chuck Debelak, of Lakewood, based on his impact on just one of his students. However, the award highlights his career-long achievements in innovative, gifted education.
Birchwood is pleased to announce that six of our students qualified to attend the annual NUMATS Award Ceremony sponsored by Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS) or received recognition for outstanding achievement based on performance on the PSAT™8/9, SAT®, or ACT®. The award ceremony was held on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois on Saturday, June 29. The top 1 to 2 percent of the more than 11,500 high-achieving students who participated in NUMATS in 2018-2019 qualified for the award ceremony, so this is an exceptional scholastic achievement. Additionally, students in the top 3 percent also received recognition as outstanding achievers and were sent a certificate noting their accomplishment and received a merit scholarship toward programming offered by the Center for Talent Development.
Birchwood School of Hawken is proud of Jordan Gordon (grade 6), Angela D’Souza (grade 6), Benjamin Miyares (Grade 6), Areesha Nouman (grade 6), Cadence Guo (grade 7) and Manan Raina (grade 7) for their outstanding achievement and invitations to the awards ceremony. The Center for Talent Development conducts NUMATS for academically talented students in grades 3-9. Students qualify for the search by attaining outstanding achievement in math and/or verbal subscores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Birchwood students who qualify for testing take either the PSAT™8/9, SAT® or ACT®. The purpose is to establish ceilings for student learning and to propose coursework that matches student abilities most of which Birchwood already does.
Over 3,000 students in grades 6-12 from across the world met at the final level of National History Day June 9th-13th. After winning local and regional levels the top two entries in each category were invited to the University of Maryland, College Park, to compete on the national stage, where local students earned well-deserved recognition. Birchwood sent ten students to the competition and four of them placed in the top three of their category.
What began as a science lesson on native plants and pollinators and their importance to our lives and region quickly expanded as Birchwood’s fourth graders became captivated by the issue. They learned that according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), pollinators critical to our food supply like bees, butterflies, moths, birds, bats, and beetles are declining due to habitat loss, disease, parasites, and environmental contaminants. They also learned that the benefits of native plants expand beyond providing habitat for critical pollinators but also help our region hold up better to extreme weather events such as flooding, drought, heat, and cold.
On April 6, Birchwood’s district level winners participated in the regional Power of the Pen creative writing tournament at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School. Abby Gemechu (7th grade of Avon) won 5th place overall and Best of Round 2 for her story, “Diving Boards and Other Mistakes.” Dhyani Nautiyal (7th grade of Lakewood) won 6th place overall and Best of Round 1 for his story, “A Little Break.” Congratulations to Abby and Dhyani who will compete at the state level on May 23-24 at the College of Wooster.
Birchwood is proud of all of the students who qualified for the regional competition: Eric Vaziri (8th grade of Westlake), Max Wang (8th grade of Avon), Sofia Boyd (7th grade of Cleveland), Camille Boyer (7th grade of Cleveland), Abby Gemechu (7th grade of Avon), and Dhyani Nautiyal (7th grade of Lakewood). The 7th grade team also placed 3rd at the district and the regional tournament.
On April 27, Birchwood students competed in the state level of National History Day at Ohio Wesleyan University. Students conducted in-depth research into a topic of their choosing on this year’s theme, Triumph and Tragedy in History. They presented their work through writing, performance, or other physical and electronic media. Their yearlong endeavors are often compared to college or even masters level research. Their hard work was rewarded with ten students winning awards and moving on to the national competition at the University of Maryland, June 9-13.
On April 12-13, Birchwood School’s Future Problem Solving team competed in the State Bowl at Solon Middle School. In preparation, the team conducted extensive research on the worldwide problem of stress and offered many creative solutions in competition. Their hard work paid off as nine students out of the twenty-three-member team of state qualifiers won awards.
On April 23, 2019, Birchwood School of Hawken co-founders, Chuck and Helene Debelak, traveled to Fenn Tower where they were recognized as one of Cleveland State University’s Fascinating Alumni. It is their dedication to each student “becoming” (a phrase often heard around Birchwood School of Hawken) and their commitment to providing Cleveland residence exceptional education at a reasonable cost that caused this spotlight to fall on them.
Ari Eman placed second in Ohio and was named as a finalist in the nation-wide Letters About Literature Competition. As a finalist, his letter is included in a special commemorative booklet and is invited to a special awards ceremony and luncheon to be held at the Main Branch of the Cleveland Public Library on Saturday, May 11. Additionally, Ari received a cash prize of $75.
Furthermore, eighteen Birchwood students were named semi-finalists. The fifth and sixth grade category, garnered over 400 entries and the following students moved past the first round of judging: Aanya Lakireddy, Alex Sideris, Eashan Kosaraju, Katie Leonardi, Ari Emam, Cadence Guo, Dilan Nadkarni, Jad Alsouss, Jennifer Song, Manan Raina, Nadine Nouraldin, Omar Issa, Sebastian Boyer, and Saumya Mahajan.
On March 11-14 eight Birchwood seventh and eighth grade students participated in the Northeastern Ohio Science and Engineering Fair at Cleveland State University. Out of the nearly 700 projects from over 80 schools, every Birchwood entrant received an award and many were also presented with additional special awards.
Birchwood students in grades 6-8 participated in a qualifying round of Future Problem Solving where after extensive research, they used a complex six-step process to outline the problem, solutions, and action plan regarding food waste and loss. Due to their outstanding performance, 23 students will be moving on to the state level competition at Solon Middle School on April 12th and 13th.
On Saturday, March 16, with cold temperatures and a brisk wind blowing, 54 Birchwood sixth, seventh, and eighth graders were undaunted as they competed at the district level of the National History Day competition held at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland History Connection. With a mixture of nervousness and excitement, students presented their projects to a team of judges and were evaluated on the historical quality of the projects, the connection to the theme of Triumph & Tragedy in History, and the overall quality of the presentation. The results were outstanding, with 23 students advancing to the state competition with a total of 13 projects.
Three Birchwood students in grades 3-4 were delighted to learn that the transformation stories they submitted in the Cricket contest earned national recognition. Maliha earned second place for her piece entitled, “My New Hair.” Johnny, who wrote “Caterpillar,” and Caroline who wrote “Wiggle, Wiggle, Caterpillar,” received honorable mention awards. Congratulations writers!
Birchwood School of Hawken's MathCounts team placed 3rd at the state level competition on March 9th. Led by their coach and school co-founder, Chuck Debelak, students John Shin, Ehren Collins, James Mamone, and Aidan Berard proudly represented their school’s strong math program. John Shin finished in 12th place individually.
On March 2 the 25-member Science Olympiad team traveled to Case Western Reserve University to compete against 13 Greater Cleveland area teams. Each team is comprised of fourth through sixth grade students. The competition includes 25 events that test knowledge of various scientific topics and engineering skills. The Birchwood Team placed 2nd in Division A! Congratulations for this record winning performance!
On Saturday, February 23rd, Birchwood School’s MathCounts team placed first in the chapter round of competition at Cleveland State University. In one of four challenging levels, the countdown round (where speed and accuracy are tested), the team also placed first. In addition, three students placed individually: Ehren Collins placed 3rd, John Shin placed 4th, and Aidan Berard placed 6th.
MathCounts is a national competition that gives middle school students the chance to compete against their peers leveraging camaraderie and rivalry to make math fun. More than a quarter-million students participate each year with competitions held in all US states and territories.
Their coach and Birchwood’s co-founder, Chuck Debelak, attributes the team’s success directly to their hard work saying, “They have been practicing challenging math problems on Thursdays and Saturdays since mid-October.” The team has earned their place at the state level competition on March 9th.
Birchwood 7th and 8th grade students earned gold key, silver key, and honorable mention for in the 2019 Scholastic Writing Awards competition. Ehren Collins was given Scholastic’s highest gold key award for his fantasy, “One Giant Leap for Mouse-kind.” Eric Vaziri earned the silver key for his short story, “The Game.” The following students earned honorable mention: Joseph Dang for a short story entitled, “The Whiteboard”; Hope Ptacek for her short story, “My Pal”; Jaden Stainforth for his short story, “A Dog’s Adventure”; James Mamone for his science fiction, “He’s Here”; Qiwen Wu for her short story, “Therapy”; and Van Weinmann for his short story, “The Sneakers.”
The prestigious Scholastic Writing Awards has been celebrating students’ vision talent and creativity since 1923. Their mission is to identify teens with exceptional artistic and literary talent and present it to the world. We are so honored to have northeast Ohio students recognized in this way.
Six Birchwood students were awarded recognition in Cricket magazine’s September story-writing contest and were published in the January 2019 edition. This national competition invited children to submit a story about an act of kindness. Zain Daoud earned an Honorable Mention award. Mei-Li Mann won second prize for her story entitled “Hanging with My Cousins” about including family members in a gymnastics practice session. Ted Alten, Kartik Gulati, and Zain Abbas also received Honorable Mentions for their creative stories. Jonathan Samulak’s piece, “An Act of Kindness,” about being the recipient of kindness by strangers, garnered third place.
Birchwood students, Ehren Collins, John Shin, Samuel Pan, Aidan Berard, Angela Shang, and Rebecca Chin, finished among the top 5% of all math students in the US in the American Mathematics Competition (AMC 8).