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On Jan 29, the Citrus Regional Science and Engineering Fair (CRSEF) was held in the Citrus County Auditorium in Inverness.

More than 250 projects were displayed and completed, said Mary “Beth” Branch, educational specialist and teacher on special assignment at Citrus schools for STEM K-12. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math programs which, according to Google, have become a presidential priority because too few college students have been pursuing degrees in these fields.

More than 1,900 students completed science projects earlier this school year for fairs held at each of the county’s elementary, middle and high schools -- both public and private, Branch said. Of those, 102 elementary projects, 94 middle school, and 63 high school projects were entered in the regional fair, Branch said. “That is about 10 more projects than last year,” she noted.

“Each elementary school could send 10 projects to the regional fair,” Branch said. Regional fair winners will advance to the state event, which will be held during spring break, March 26-28, in Lakeland, she said.

The prestigious Ronald J. Worthington Award for Scientific Excellence was presented to CHS student Roland Truman for his project, Chemo-enzymatic Synthesis of Poly-N-acetyllactosamine (Poly-LacNAc) and Sialylated Glycans on GlcNA, in the Cellular/Molecular Biology & Biochemistry category.

The Ronald J. Worthington Award gives $500 for a project deemed to be an excellent representation of the Scientific Method, Branch said. The award was sponsored by Dr. Robert Brocket and Dr. Rushi Patel from the Citrus Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Center and presented by guest speaker Steven Barbieri.

“We were fortunate to have a guest speaker, who is a former student of Lecanto High School and supporter of the Citrus County Education Foundation and Citrus County Schools,” Branch said. “He believes in the potential and positive experience that science fair can have on our students.”

Other special awards included:

*Duke Energy presented its Hard Hat Engineering Excellence Awards to IMS student Joseph Brunk and AES student David Laplante. STEM Awards went to Julianna Amo, from CSMS and Abby Dyer from CRHS. Duke’s Science Enthusiasm Award went to Jack Steffek from CRES.

*The Citrus County Education Foundation gave $25 to elementary school students Skyler Blenco of CSES; Paul Branch, LPS; Reese Jackson, HES; Cade Perez, CRES; Darrin London, CRPS; and Mia Larazo, FRES, and awarded $50 each to high school students Carleigh Steel, from CHS; Jetta Zakaria, LHS; Diana Ward, CHS; and Kelly Sullivan, LHS.

*The Citrus County Council presented $100 each to the following middle school students for project focusing on water and the environment: Sienna Callaway, CSMS; Julia Parker, CSMS; Chase Herndon, IMS; Austin Edwards, CRMS; Lucia Dillerberger, IMS; and Walker Tyler, IMS.

*Homosassa River Alliance awards went to Sierra Creasy, AES; Noor Esoo, LHS; Austin Edwards, CRMS; and Thomas Krug, IPS.

*Academy of Environmental Science awards went to Parker Fortier, of RCES, and Thomas Krug, IPS.

*The Florida Association of Science Teachers awarded $25 each to Parker Fortier, RCE; Alyssa Camunas, CSMS; and Elizabeth Lantzy, LHS.

*This year’s top school winners were Citrus Springs Middle School and the Academy of Environmental Science.

*Junior (middle school) state qualifiers are Lucia Dillersberger, Alyssa Camunas, Riley Lutes, Allison Harder, Walker Tyler, Lilyana Rodriguez, Olivia Szylkowski, Kenny Witkowich, Stephanie Brake and Sienna Callaway. Alternates are Julia Parker, Christian Martone and Paige Woodhouse.

*Senior (high school) state qualifiers are Amanda Ellis, Elizabeth Lantzy, Nicole Moran, Truman Roland, Makiya Seminera, Carleigh Steel, Kelley Sullivan, Madison Verdone, Diana Ward and Jetta Zakaria. Alternates are Elise Leturno, Kacey Bowen and Abby Dyer.