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  • Faculty

Mr. Young Completes the Maryland Ironman.

PHOTO: Brunswick/Schiffman

Math teacher and swim coach John Young competed in an Ironman triathlon on Saturday October 1 in Cambridge Maryland. The course starts with a 2.4-mile swim in the Choptank River, followed by a 112-mile bike race through the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, and a 26.2-mile run on flat-country roads.

Young and his family arrived to Maryland on the night of Wednesday, September 28 and spent the next few days checking in, finalizing equipment, and mentally and physically preparing. The weather was rainy and windy with conditions that would continue to impact the the coastal course throughout the weekend. Due to safety concerns, Young made the decision to cancel his warm-up swim on Friday.

The night before the event, organizers sent an email to racers informing them that, due to flooding, the bike ride would be eight miles shorter than planned. While disappointed by the news, Young says he knew it was the best decision given the circumstances and focused on the day ahead.

The first leg of the course, the 2.4-mile swim, was scheduled to start at 6:45 a.m. the next day. That morning, Young and the other racers lined up at the shore and were faced with less than ideal conditions; the water was dark, choppy, and cold. At 6:40 a.m., organizers told racers that the swim would be postponed for 30 minutes to see if condition would improve. They did not. A little after 7:10 a.m., the decision was made to cancel the swim. Racers has 35 minutes to change and get ready for the bike race.

Young, again, was initially disappointed by the cancellation, but agreed that it was the best decision, as even the support kayaks that were sent out to scout conditions could hardly stay afloat. In the moment, he barely had time to even consider the decision, as he needed to prepare himself for the next leg.

The bike ride was flat, but windy. Due to flooding, an additional four miles were taken off the course, bringing the total to 100 miles. For Young, this was 100 miles of constant pedaling, with little to no opportunity for coasting. Despite flooded conditions, he was able to finish the course without any bike trouble in 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 15 seconds (06:42:15), achieving a faster time than more than 100 other racers.

PHOTO: Brunswick/Schiffman

After beginning the running portion of the course, Young was informed by another racer that there were "some puddles" in the section of the course near town. These puddles turned out to be ankle deep on the average-statured racer; for Young, the water went up to his knees. At this point, he knew it was unlikely that he would get a personal best and strove instead to finish. Despite conditions, he was able to complete the 26.2-mile run in 7 hours and 24 minutes, which is only about an hour and a half slower than his very best marathon time.

Young finished the Ironman with a time of 14:21.34 between 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. that night. He credits much of his success to wife, Sue; son, Owen; coach Brian Hammond; and members of the Pingree community, who have always supported and encouraged him to do his very best. He was also deeply touched by the support of Cambridge, Maryland community members, who he could hear shouting his personal mantra, "Be the Hammer," as he came through town.

PHOTO: Brunswick/Schiffman

While it will be some time before Young embarks on another Ironman, he says he does hope to give it another shot one day to see how he would do with the added swim leg. But if he does it, it will be for purely for himself, he says, with as little fanfare as possible.


PHOTO: Brunswick/Schiffman

PHOTO: Brunswick/Schiffman

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  • Athletics

Girls' Soccer wins its third New England Championship title in four years

Girls' Varsity Soccer took home the NEPSAC Class B New England Championship title this fall, their third title win in four years. After back-to-back championships in 2013 and 2014, the Highlanders moved up a division in 2015, but came up short, falling 2-0 to Rivers in the semi-final.

This fall, led by captains Abby Dirks '17, Meg Foye '17, and Olivia Pena '17, the team came back ready for another shot. The squad won the Eastern Independent League and went on to play Middlesex in the first round of the NEPSAC Tournament, beating Middlesex 6-2 at home. The Highlanders then faced a strong Pomfret team in the semi-final round, with a game decided by penalty kicks. Goalkeeper Holly Stam'18 came up strong and the team advanced to the final.

Pingree faced St. Marks in the championship game on Sunday, November 20. Their opponents got on the board first in the 22nd minute, before senior Lexie McNinch was able to knock in a pass from Taylor Casale '17 to even the score. Just seconds before the end of the first half, St. Marks scored again to make it 2-1. But McNinch and Casale had other plans. The duo set up another goal in the 58th minute, making it a tie game.

With the game still tied at the end of regulation and two extra periods, the teams faced off in a penalty shootout. Six Pingree seniors took the shots for Pingree, with Stam in goal against the St. Mark's kickers. Pingree came up triumphant in the sixth round, with a goal from McNinch.

"I saw a lot of heart," said coach Doc Simpson. "A group of seniors who refused to lose."

This is Pingree's first ever Class B New England title.


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  • Students

Abhi Sambangi '18 helps create a prototype for a lightweight, cost-effective vaccine carrier.

Over the summer, Pingree junior Abhi Sambangi participated in the TiE Young Entrepreneurs business competition, an event sponsored by TiE Global, a non-profit organization focused on fostering youth entrepreneurship.

"The competition involves forming a team, creating a novel product, building a business plan and model around that product, and then pitching the business in front of judges," explains Sambangi.

Sambangi was a part of the Chilvaxx team that created a lightweight, cost effective prototype for a vaccine carrier that can prevent spoilage in third world countries and rural areas without access to modern refrigeration. The Chilvaxx system consists of a transportable, multi-layered, insulated bag with a temperature sensing sticker, and an insulating "cool box" that maintains an interior temperature of two degrees celsius.

The Chilvaxx team took home the first prize in the Boston regional competition, qualifying them for the global finals. Sambangi and his team members ultimately came in third place out of 21 finalists, willing $1000 in prize money.

"The best part for me," says Sambangi, "is that along the way of product development, I may have invented a new frozen chemical mixture that actually prevents vaccine spoilage, which I prototyped for use in our competition vaccine carrier model. I look forward to testing it further since the lab results so far are very promising."

Sambangi continues to test his material under the supervision of chemistry teacher Dr. Hamilton, who was a key advisor to Sambangi and the Chilvaxx team during the early development stages of the project.

"Dr. Hamilton has been extremely helpful throughout the entire process," says Sambangi.

The pair plans to continue to work out a formal testing procedure this fall.

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  • Arts

Students perform the fall theater production of She Kills Monsters on a custom-built, outdoor stage

The cast and crew of the fall theater production braved the elements this November for their performance of She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen, which they performed on a custom-built outdoor stage constructed entirely by students.

A wild, comedic romp into the world of fantasy role-playing games, She Kills Monsters is the story of Agnes Evans dealing with the sudden loss of her teenage sister, Tilly. When Agnes finds Tilly's Dungeons & Dragons notebook, she stumbles into a journey of discovery and action-packed adventure in the imaginary world that was Tilly's refuge. It's a dramatic comedy packed with fantastic fights, nasty fairies, lazy ogres and 90s pop culture that pays homage to the geek and warrior within us all.

The show was performed by two separate all-star casts over the weekend of November 18-20.

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  • Students

Community members participate in AVoice4Peace Song for Peace.

On Friday, September 30, members of the Pingree community, led by vocal music director Thom Smoker, came together to perform "Ukuthula," a traditional African Peace Hymn, as part of the AVoice4Peace organization's "A Song for Peace" movement. The celebration, which called on musicians from around the world to learn and perform the same song, was in honor of the International Day of Peace on September 21.

The Pingree Singers, Spectrum Vocal Ensemble, and Pingree A Cappella spent weeks rehearsing in class and on their own time with volunteer students, faculty, and staff members, before performing the song in front of the community at morning meeting.

You can watch a video of the performance above. The recording of Pingree's performance will be joined with other community recordings around the world as part of a documentary. Learn more at avoice4peave.org.

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  • Technology

Pingree is awarded one of fifteen prestigious Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grants

Pingree was recently awarded a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant to create a quick-release, fully adjustable and readily transferable smart pedal solution for drivers with achondroplasia, the leading cause of dwarfism. Pingree is one of 15 high schools nationwide to be selected as an InvenTeam this year.

InvenTeams are teams of high school students, teachers, and mentors that receive grants up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. This initiative of the Lemelson-MIT Program aims to inspire a new generation of inventors.

"One of our core pillars is navigating complexity, problem-solving independently and collaboratively," says Head of School Dr. Tim Johnson. "This grant is a shining example of how our students and faculty are applying their thinking to real-world challenges to make a difference."

Technology Educator David Medvitz initiated the InvenTeam application process last spring and attended training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to help prepare the final proposal. A prestigious panel of judges composed of educators, researchers, staff and alumni from MIT, as well as representatives from the industry and former Lemelson-MIT Award winners, assembled this fall and selected Pingree as one of this year's InvenTeam grantees.

The Pingree InvenTeam's goal is to attempt to solve a problem encountered by Math Teacher and Swim Coach John Young, who, as a little person, has difficulty reaching the standard pedals in an automobile and must therefore transfer his own pedal block extensions to school vehicles, a task that involves kneeling on the ground in all weather conditions and can take up to ten minutes.

As the school's official project description states, "The proposed pedal extender will easily and quickly attach and detach from any car and will be operated by a small motor and remote, allowing the user to raise or lower the extensions as needed. The proposed system will also allow the user to make and recall custom presets so that multiple users may easily retrieve their own settings in the same car. Finally, the system will be fully retractable, allowing operators who do not need extensions to operate the vehicle as they normally would, permitting anyone to use any car in comfort and safely at a low cost."

Over the next nine months, the Pingree InvenTeam will develop its smart pedal solution. In June, the students will showcase a prototype of their invention at EurekaFest at MIT in Cambridge, MA. EurekaFest, presented by the Lemelson-MIT Program, is a multi-day celebration designed to empower a legacy of inventors through activities that inspire youth, honor role models and encourage creativity and problem solving.

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