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Potomac Stories

VPAC Field Trip Inspires

Last Friday, students in Honors Art History, Painting, and VPAC visited two major museums, The National Gallery of Art and The Phillips Collection. At The National Gallery, Art History students engaged in a "conversation with a painting," closely examining works they chose from the outstanding Baroque collections and reflecting on subject matter, techniques, aesthetic impact, historical influences, and social implications. All students also had time to explore East and West buildings independently in an unhurried way. At The Phillips Collection, we toured their current landmark exhibition, Bonnard's Worlds, enjoying that innovative artist's radiant use of color. 

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Peter Chang Visits Potomac

Renowned chef Peter Chang recently visited Potomac, bringing his wealth of culinary experience and success. Students from various classes, including Chinese language courses, the Adventure, Food, and Travel English elective, and juniors and seniors in the EFEB program were given the unique opportunity to hear about Chef Chang's inspiring journey and how he built his culinary empire. He emphasized that there are no shortcuts to success; the key lies in diligence and perseverance. Chang, who now owns 16 successful restaurants, captivated students as he prepared a traditional Chinese dish – which they were delighted to sample!

Students Tackle Harvard’s Economic Challenge

On Saturday, April 13, four seniors traveled to Cambridge, MA, to participate in the Harvard Pre-collegiate Economics Challenge, a competition that, this year, attracted teams from twenty-four schools across the United States. Graeme Evans, Sofya Donets, Ben Runde, and Natalia Vilela trained for several weeks and faced teams from Utah, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. While final results are still pending, Potomac won two of the three quiz bowl games they participated in and competed in an individual written test. The day included a talk by renowned Harvard economist Jason Furman and a supportive visit by alum Tea Picconatto ‘23, who is now a student at MIT. 

Students Present on Climate Change

This week, students in Science, Technology, and Society class presented their research on a problem related to Climate Change. The students focused primarily on renewable energy, investigating solar power (Paige Ramsey ‘24), geothermal energy (Kiki Bell ‘24), Wind Power (Jack Graham ‘24), and hydrogen cells (David Boehm ‘24). Jack Judd ‘24 analyzed the alteration of ice sheets that results in the formation of a water layer under the ice that accelerates the sliding of the ice into the ocean. All students offered insights on the problems investigated and presented experimental data to support potential solutions. The poster walkthrough was attended by their peers and members of the Upper School Admin Team. 

US Debate

US Debate formally recognized its 12 Academic All-Americans at a special luncheon hosted by Mr. Kowalik and Mr. McLane last week.  The 12 students honored by the National Speech and Debate Association represent a new single-year record for the program.  Seniors honored were Adrian Atwater, Taylor Burris, Graeme Evans, Z Forster, and Abigail Woldgebriel.  Junior honorees included Alexander Bauer, Sebastian Gardner, Annahita Kaashyap, Kasim Khapra, Ethan Maher, Sonali Sachdeva, and Meredith Vorndran. 

SERC Student News

Kate Choi ’25 competed in the 69th annual Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair last Sunday, winning a special award from the Biophysical Society for her research “Improving Racial Equity in Skin Cancer Detection via Artificial Intelligence.” She was also selected as the grand prize winner for her category, which helped her advance to compete in the 2024 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in May in Los Angeles. At the local fair, over 400 students presented their research projects in a wide variety of science and engineering fields. Projects were judged by over 150 professionals and 40 professional organizations and businesses. !

Congrats to Arav Bhargava on competing in the Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) 2024 a few weeks ago. In its 83rd year, the competition has consistently identified young innovators who will become tomorrow’s STEM leaders. Arav and the other 39 finalists were honored during an award ceremony emceed by American broadcaster Soledad O’Brien. Congratulations to both students. 

JSHS Regional Finalists Named

Students from Potomac’s Science and Engineering Research Center (SERC) program have been selected as regional finalists for the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS). The students began their projects during their sophomore or junior years and worked on them throughout the summer of 2023. 

Ben Runde’s ‘24 now published research focuses on using AI for early Alzheimer’s detection. Read the piece in the journal MDPI Brain Sciences. Arav Bhargava ‘24 developed a universal socket for prosthetic limbs that can be produced using a 3D printer, potentially reducing the cost significantly. He will present his research during this week’s Regeneron competition. Max Zeldes ‘24 explored making improvements to electroencephalography-based imagined speech brain-computer interfaces. Kate Choi ‘25 investigated ways to improve racial equity in skin cancer detection and presented her findings during regionals. Natalia Vilela ‘24 is researching a drug typically used for cancer treatment to assess its ability to prevent allergy-related anaphylaxis. Her work, also recently published, is available to read in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. She presented her research to allergists from all over the world during the 2024 American Association of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting. Congratulations to our SERC students; we are very proud of their accomplishments!