■ Huajing Maske, director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Kentucky, has received a 2013 Confucius Institute Individual Performance Excellence Award.
Maske received the award at the opening ceremony of the eighth Confucius Institute Conference on Dec. 7 in Beijing. The award is given to 15 individuals worldwide among the directors of 430 Confucius Institutes (90 in the United States), 250 Confucius Classrooms and the university leaders whose institutions have Confucius Institutes. The award was presented by the vice premier of China.
This is the second year in a row that the UK Confucius Institute won one of the two competitive awards presented by the Office of Chinese Language Council International, colloquially known as the Hanban. Last year the UK institute won one of only 25 Confucius Institute of the Year awards.
The mission of the UK Confucius Institute is to serve as Kentucky's gateway to China in the areas of education, arts, culture and business.
■ Public and private schools in Fayette County collected more than 43,000 pounds of food valued at more than $72,000 during the fall Kids Can Fight Hunger drive for God's Pantry Food Bank. Awards were presented at a Dec. 10 reception, with Deep Springs Elementary, Sandersville Elementary and Lafayette High School topping their respective divisions.
This year, God's Pantry accepted monetary donations counting toward a school's overall poundage at a conversion rate of $20 for 124 pounds. Schools were placed in four divisions based on total enrollment, and each group's winner received $500.
Two schools earned special honors: Jessie Clark Middle School collected the most pounds of food, and Sandersville Elementary raised the most money.
Also new in 2013, schools participated in a food box decorating contest for a $250 grand prize. Photos of the entries were displayed on the food bank's Facebook page, and Edythe J. Hayes Middle School received the most likes.
In addition, elementary and middle school students were invited to compete in a coloring contest illustrating the theme "together we can solve hunger." First place ($25 gift card) went to Luke Sylvester of Glendover Elementary; the runner-up ($15) was Kevin Diaz of Glendover; Kacie Hughes of Edythe J. Hayes Middle took third place ($10).
■ T&M Robotics from Northern Elementary took first place in the SumoBot showdown Dec. 14 as teammates Trent Wilburn and Mason Clark used math and engineering skills to build and program an NXT Mindstorm LEGO robot to disable or shove their opponent's robot off a 4-foot circular competition board.
Students and families representing seven schools from three counties filled the Beaumont Middle School gym to watch as 32 elementary and middle school teams competed in the double-elimination tournament. Second-place honors went to Jaylen Johnson of Bryan Station Middle School; Northern's Logan Bauer came in third.
The STLP State Championship, set for April 22 in Rupp Arena, will include a SumoBot contest for Student Technology Leadership Program students, and another open tournament is planned May 17 at Beaumont Middle.
■ Lafayette High School students Azure Rowe, Katie Simon and Madison Jones took first place in the late fall Stock Market Game with a portfolio valued at $120,817. In this classroom competition, teams in grades 4 through 12 receive a virtual $100,000 to invest in stocks and mutual funds using a real-world Internet trading simulation. They research and evaluate companies and stock data to make their investment decisions.
Statewide, third-place honors went to Cassidy Elementary's Emerson Mattmiller, Luke Stone, Keenan Wilson and Evan Winkler. Another Cassidy team, made up of Nate Feese, Jonah Kelley, Bennett Shrensker, Daniel Wilds and Ian Young, came in fourth.
For the late fall session, 366 teams, 48 teachers and 1,402 students participated throughout Kentucky. Lafayette's Mukendi Kalala, Julian Little and Ethan Peck finished in ninth place.
■ Charissa Riley, a fine arts teacher at Henry Clay High School, has received a $500 American Education Week scholarship from the Fayette County Education Association, or FCEA. The group's board voted Dec. 10 to recognize Riley, who is pursuing her Rank 2 at Georgetown College.
FCEA, which is made up of local teachers, also recently gave $250 classroom grants to Kim Binzer of Harrison Elementary, Colin Broderick of Bryan Station High, Keri Duncan of Liberty Elementary, Jonathan McClintock of Henry Clay High and Tonya Ratchford of Martin Luther King Jr. Academy. This fall's grant recipients were selected by the FCEA building representatives.
■ Winburn Middle School received the Outstanding Delegation Award at this fall's Kentucky Youth Assembly, a hands-on program where students manage state government for three days. Winburn was applauded for the highest quality of participation, level of preparedness and behavior exemplifying the Y's core values.
Thirty-one middle schools participated in the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association's event Dec. 1 to 3, which included one day in Frankfort where students debated important issues facing the commonwealth.
The Winburn group included: advisers Veronica Melton, Michelle Cason and Michelle Green; and students John Adkins, Shelby Amato, Becca Armstrong, Katrina Baniak, Anna Baskin, Katie Beal, Shashank Bhatt, Praneeth Bhatt, Max Bograd, Bobby Bose, Anaya Brown, Carrie Byrd, Gus Carlson, Eli Carter, McKenna Carter, Rachana Charla, Kelly Chen, Adarsh Chithrala, Jin Cho, Trip Church, Caleb Clark, Griffin Coates, Taetum Crawford, Emily Crum, Chloe Devre, John Felty, Andrew Frohock, Alex Frohock, Zsombor Gal, Reka Gal, Rehan Ghanta, Delia Gibbs, Kathleen Gibbs, Ben Givens, Mikaili Gore, Will Graves, Leighanne Guettler-James, Josh Harris, Karina Henson, Katherine Hinds, Conner Holt, Nicholas Imam, Ella Jensen, Kevin Jing, LaMargret Johnson, Ellora Kamineni, Ashwin Kamineni, Rohith Kesaraju, Akhil Kesaraju, Olivia Klee, Enio Kuvliev, Will Lain, Ryan Landry, Christian Lauritzen, Jenny Lee, Austin Li, Eleanor Liu, Cici Mao, Shelby McCubbin, Kenna Miller, Matthew Mitchell, Lametria Mock, LaMondra Mock, Sai Naidu, Powell Oliver, Frisele Pharisien, Angelina Pius, Frankie Rice, Ashley Rowell, Noah Scott, Brian She, Jeffrey Shen, Luke Sills, Megan Slusarewicz, Daryn Smith, Sydney Sun, Rebecca Turney, Olivia Tussey, Samantha Underwood, Andrew Vogel, Bailey Watkins, Kyle Wesley, Drew Whitley, Hugh Withers, Rocco Wrentmore and Calvin Wu.
The Kentucky YMCA hosts the nation's largest youth and government program. Through experiential learning, service and community activism, the youth association fosters critical thinking, leadership and social responsibility. For more information, contact community outreach director Emily Feeney at (502) 227-7028 or go to Kyymca.org.
■ Some 258 teachers in the commonwealth have achieved National Board Certification this year, ranking Kentucky sixth nationally in teachers earning National Board Certification in the class of 2013. National Board Certification demonstrates that teachers have attained the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare students for 21st-century success. Kentucky now has a total of 2,980 National Board Certified Teachers, making it 10th in the nation.