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Little Neck fifth-grader wins statewide award

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Olivia Perdoch, a fifth-grade elementary school graduate from PS 94 in Little Neck, took home first prize in the statewide I*m*a*GREENation competition, a state Senate-sponsored contest that offers students in grades one through eight the opportunity to explore new perspectives on environmental problems.

At the May 7 ceremony in Albany, Olivia won a Division II (fourth- and fifth-grade division) medal for teaching a lesson to second-graders about the dangers neighborhood littering poses for waterways and local animals.

“It was a fun thing to do because I like working with the little kids,” she said.

For Olivia, this was nothing new. She learned about recycling in second grade and contributed to PS 94’s conservation efforts as one of the school’s recycling monitors, she said. In this role, Olivia sifted through classrooms’ recycling bins after school, checking for non-recyclable waste.

Olivia also had teaching experience. She served as a class monitor for science teacher Andrea Franke, helping children with scientific concepts and applications. One day when Franke was absent Olivia taught the class, she said. She credits Franke as her inspiration behind the project.

“She said I was good at teaching so I should try it,” Olivia said.

State Sen. Frank Padavan presented Olivia with her award at a ceremony for all the first-place winners in Albany. After the ceremony, Padavan gave the Perdoch family a tour of his office, and had one of his assistants show them around Albany, Olivia said.

Her project also received first prize in a contest run through a Udall’s Cove preservation organization, Olivia said.

Also placing in the competition from the 11th Senate District was Barbara Waring's art class from the Lowell School in Bayside. The class received third prize for a quilt, with each student contributing a different patch about the environment.

“The contest develops an awareness of the environment through the spirit of competition,” said John Gallagher, Padavan’s spokesman. “Its purpose is to encourage dialogue about recycling and waste production between schools, children and adults.”

Although she is not sure if teaching is in her future, Olivia plans to do her part to keep the dialogue going for years to come.

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