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2014-2015 Award Winners

Woodland Hills Students Take Top Honors at K’Nex STEM Design Challenge

The Fifth Annual K’Nex STEM Design Challenge took place at Duquesne University on April 8th.  Teams of four students were challenged to move a ping pong ball four feet across a table using K’Nex pieces and at least one motor.  Woodland Hills Academy students Aaniyah Garner, Madeline Douglas, Ella Conti and Rosalie Van Deusen earned second place in the 4th-5th grade competition for their project, The Crown Jewel’s Return.  Shaffer 6th graders, Bilquisu Abdullah, River Beam, Sean Bright and Aiden Meininger, earned Honorable Mention in the 6th-8th grade competition for their design, Shaffer’s Ping Pong Park.  Congratulations on a superior accomplishment by these students and all the Woodland Hills students that competed in the K’Nex Challenge at Duquesne!

Woodland Hills Academy 5th Grade:  Madeline Douglas, Aaniyah Garner,

Ella Conti, Rosalie Van Deusen

Shaffer Elementary 6th Grade:  River Beam, Sean Bright,

Aiden Meininger, Bilquisu Abdullah

Shaffer and Academy Sixth Graders Win Second Place in Fairchild Challenge!

Congratulations to our 6th, 7th and 8th grade students who participated in the Middle School Fairchild Challenge at Phipps. The competition included schools from all around the Pittsburgh area, with over 1,500 students participating. They completed five different environmental challenges over the course of the 2014-2015 school year.   At the Fairchild Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, May 19th, sixth grade students from Shaffer and the Woodland Hills Academy learned that they won second place in the Fairchild Challenge!  They earned $500 to promote environmental education in their schools.  This is the third consecutive year that they have taken top honors in the Fairchild Challenge.  We are very proud of all of their achievements! 


Shaffer and Academy Students Place Second in Fairchild Challenge #5 at Phipps


     For Fairchild Challenge #5, the Sixth Grade students at Shaffer Elementary and The Woodland Hills Academy formed a group called E.A.R.T.H.! This stands for “Environmental Activists Ready to Help”!  Our mission this year was to teach students in the younger grades at our schools about important environmental issues and serve as their mentors in helping them engage in environmental actions to help our schools and the Earth.

     The environmental issues we introduced to the students in our schools included energy conservation, solid waste pollution, water pollution, water conservation and air pollution.  After researching the issues, we prepared presentations for each grade level in our school.  Each grade was given a different issue to focus on.  Once we taught our lessons, we mentored and supervised environmental action programs in each grade. The actions each grade level covered are listed on the chart. We learned so much about environmental issues by preparing to teach others and had a fabulous time mentoring the younger students in our schools!  Together, we all took action to help our schools and the EARTH!


Caden Ferita Wins Second Place in Fairchild Challenge #3 at Phipps

Art:  Plants and Polinators

Congratulations to Caden Ferita for winning second place in Fairchild Challenge #3 at Phipps.  The third challenge asked middle school students in grades 6-8 to create a colored pencil or graphite drawing of a Western Pennsylvania plant and its pollinator.  Caden created a stunning drawing of a Ruby Throated Hummingbird pollinating a Red Cardinal Flower. Hundreds of entries were submitted from the Western Pennsylvania area for the third challenge.  Caden’s drawing is on display at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps.  We are very proud of her award winning drawing and the entries submitted by the other students in Woodland Hills.


Shaffer Sixth Grade Students Take First Place

In Fairchild Challenge #2 at Phipps


Congratulations to Bilquisu Abdullah, Syed Rizvi and Sean Bright for earning first place in Fairchild Challenge #2 at Phipps.  The second challenge asked middle school students in grades 6-8 to create a photo essay about the relationship between people and edible plants. Over 265 entries were submitted for the second challenge.  The essay required the students to create a three-photo essay that told a story about how people interact with produce.  The Shaffer sixth graders took photographs of their younger siblings (also Shaffer Students) picking homegrown peppers, selecting carrots at a local market and cutting apples purchased at a local farm.  The essay was entitled “Homegrown, Healthy, Happiness” and was designed to show the importance and enjoyment of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.  We are very proud of their award winning photographs and the entries submitted by the other students in Woodland Hills.



Gianna Pasqualino Receives Special Merit Award in Fairchild Challenge #1


Sixth grade GATE students are participating in the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps Conservatory.  The Fairchild Challenge allows middle school students in grades 6-8 to learn about environmental issues through the completion of five unique and creative projects.  The first challenge asked the students to “unplug “from technology for a day and write about their experience in the form of an essay or a poem.  Over 800 middle school students from the Pittsburgh area competed in the challenge.  Gianna Pasqualino received a special merit award for her poem entitled “Strolling Through Autumn”.  Congratulations to Gianna and all the 6th grade students that participated in the first challenge!


Woodland Hills Sixth Graders Place Second in PA Math League Competition                

Shaffer Students, Aiden Meininger and River Beam, and Academy Students, Blake Thomas, Madeline Hildebrand and Laura Powers, took second place in Allegheny County in the Sixth Grade Pennsylvania Math League Competition.  Their team score of 139 also earned ninth place in the state of Pennsylvania. In addition, River Beam earned 5th place in the state with his indivdual score of 31.  Congratulations to all for an outstanding performance!