The 2013 Magnificent 13

Kean, Fordham, Stevens, Montclair State, NJIT. These are just a few well-known colleges that will be attended by some of the students from the group that Roselle Park High School (RPHS) Chemistry teacher Raymond Bangs termed ‘The Magnificent 13″. With majors that include Biotechnology, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Pre-Med, and Biology, these students will continue on the path to further their education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math which was cultivated in their RPHS Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry class with Mr. Bangs.

Even though the year is not yet completed and the AP Chemistry exam is still to take place on May 6th, the Roselle Park Board Of Education (BOE) took time during the last BOE meeting in April to honor the efforts and achievements of Gabrielle Connolly, Juancamilo Escobar, Catalina Gaviria, Mirna Giron, Halisa Gjokaj, Arianna Kalkandis, Alissa Moritz, Zachary Oertel, Andrew Ojeda, Parth Patel, Klaudio Peshtani, Ludmia Savaille, and Victor Suarez.

Their teacher, Mr. Bangs, praised their hard work, citing that most of them have completed a course in Physics, half of them have studied AP Biology, and a majority are taking Honors or AP Calculus. During the presentation he stated, “I compliment them [the students] on their commitment to AP Chemistry. Weekly, they pursue lab work – often remaining engaged in lab investigations until 6 and 7 o’clock p.m.”

Raymond Bangs: AP Chemistry students are of a special mindset. They have set high goals for themselves;  At Roselle Park High School we have acquired state-of-art Chemistry laboratory equipment which equals or exceeds the capability of most first year college chemistry/engineering lab experiences. Consequently, professors quickly identify the lab skills our students bring to their campus.

“It is not uncommon for our AP Chemistry students to be invited to conduct research at the collegiate level during their first year,” Mr. Bangs stated in a Q&A after the presentation, “I constantly challenge them in order to test their aspirations and to raise their personal benchmark . . . We invest many long hours together in pursuing an understanding of the intricacies of chemistry. After 38 years in the classroom, I can cite a multitude of former students in whom I take great pride for their contributions to the advancement of science.”

The appreciation of dedication goes both ways for the Magnificent 13, with the students acknowledging the importance of a good teacher.

“The experience presented through Mr. Bangs’ AP Chemistry program is nothing short of extraordinary,” commented Klaudio Peshtani, “Not only has the course augmented my ability and intellect towards the subject, but it has also prepared and strengthened me, as well as every other student, mentally. Our vigorous studies and practice has shaped each and everyone one of the 13 AP Chemistry students at a mastery level to be more than confident when stepping into the college level of chemistry. I give great acknowledgement to our teacher, Raymond D. Bangs. His unique way of teaching simply cannot be matched. Every single subject and chapter is covered and tested upon us until it is mastered. Over-all this program was an incredible experience that is worth the commitment.”

Gabrielle Connolly added, “AP Chemistry has had a tremendous impact on my life. The hard work is worth it. I feel extremely well prepared to face the challenge of majoring in Chemistry at Montclair State University. Mr. Bangs has really inspired me!”

Andrew Ojeda remarked, “I have learned from older friends who have taken AP Chemistry with Mr. Bangs that the work ethic he demands is synonymous with the expectations of a typical college level class.”

It seems that all the hard work – which included having students meet during the summer months prior to the beginning of the AP Chemistry course, staying after school till evening with laboratory research, and gathering on Saturdays prior to the AP exams to take practice tests – has paid off not only educationally but financially as well. It was calculated that each of the Magnificent 13 will be awarded an average of $10,000 a year by their respective colleges in the form of academic scholarships.

Mirna Giron saw firsthand how AP Chemistry gave her a head start when she visited her future college campus, Kean University, where she will be pursuing a degree in BioTechnology. She said, “I observed that much of the lecture information and laboratory skills being presented [at Kean] were a review of my high school AP Chemistry program. I feel confident that I am well prepared to begin research as a first-year student.”

Finally. Parth Patel, who recently attended ‘Accepted Students Day’ at Stevens Institute of Technology, where be will be studying Biomechanical Engineering, summed up the significance of investing in one’s education. He stated, “As I sat in on several college lectures, I realized I was on the same educational level as the current upperclassmen. I felt proud that after all the hard work I had invested in AP Chemistry, I knew more about the fundamentals of engineering than the other incoming students visiting that day.”

A gallery of other photographs from the presentation can be viewed at Roselle Park News’ Facebook Page (link).

Below is a photograph with 10 of the Magnificent 13 (from left to right: Halisa Gjokaj, Victor Suarez, Ludmia Savaille, Alissa Moritz, Catalina Gaviria, Andrew Ojeda, Mr. Raymond Bangs, Gabrielle Connolly, Klaudio Peshtani, Parth Patel, and Mirna Giron).