Thirty of MMI Preparatory School’s 42 participants earned first awards in the 59th annual Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science (PJAS) regional competition and will advance to the PJAS State competition May 17-19 at Penn State’s University Park campus.

MMI’s 42 students completed a total of 45 projects for the competition. Thirty students earned first awards with a total of 32 projects. Additionally, 11 students received second awards and two garnered third awards.

Viva Barrett, Rachael Betz, Lindsay Horvat, Amelia Minzola, and Benjamin Putnam all placed first with a perfect score.  Betz (Excellence Award Microbiology), Horvat (Geisinger Fellowship), Kai Mele (Perseverance Award), Minzola (Excellence Award Biology), Nathaniel Neidlinger (Excellence Award Computer Science), Putnam (Perseverance Award), Morgan Strecker (Excellence Award Botany) and Jessica Zheng (Excellence Award Math) received special awards during the competition.

Louis DeAngelo and Jessica Zheng earned first awards with two projects and Darren Zheng received a first award with one project and second award with a project on allergies.

Other first award winners were Morgan Allen, Olivia Bartholomew, Annabel Dobash, Brenna Eckhart, McKenna Gallagher, Natalie Graham, Aaron Haber, Katherine Lewandowski, Noah Long, Ashley Loss, Thomas Mayernik, Jillian McGeehin, Hiba Muhammad, Manal Muhammad, Dustin Paul, Jacqueline Snyder, Kennedy Tavaris, Grace Warner, and Colin Williams.

In additional to Darren Zheng, second-award winners were Diane Arias-Tejeda, Morgan Hosier, James Kelly, Kate Malay, Abigail Sparich, Connor Spencer, Ethan Stine, Daniella Vasquez, Kaylee Witner, and Alexandra Young.

Julie Amentler and Kimberly Amentler both earned third awards.

The Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science competition is designed to stimulate and promote interest in science through the development of research investigations. The competition is open to all students in grades seven to 12 who wish to participate. Students conduct scientific research in one of the 12 scientific categories of research and present their findings to a panel of judges at the regional competition.

PICTURED: first row, from left: Olivia Bartholomew, Jillian McGeehin, Brenna Eckhart, Annabel Dobash, Kate Malay, Jessica Zheng, Manal Muhammad, Rachael Betz, Lindsay Horvat, and Amelia Minzola. Second row: Susan Moyer (PJAS Advisor), Abigail Sparich, Diane Arias-Tejeda, Viva Barrett, Natalie Graham, Hiba Muhammad, Katherine Lewandowski, Morgan Strecker, Ashley Loss, Morgan Allen, Daniella Vasquez, and Melissa McHale (PJAS Advisor). Third row: Nathaniel Neidlinger, Ethan Stine, Connor Spencer, Kennedy Tavaris, Julie Amentler, Jacqueline Snyder, Kimberly Amentler, Alexandra Young, McKenna Gallagher, Morgan Hosier, Grace Warner, and Amanda Shonk (PJAS Advisor). Fourth row: Michael Mele (PJAS Advisor), Darren Zheng, Kai Mele, Dustin Paul, Benjamin Putnam, James Kelly, Colin Williams, Noah Long, Thomas Mayernik, Louis DeAngelo, and Justin Vincent (PJAS Advisor).


About MMI Preparatory School

For 140 years, MMI Preparatory School has been providing dedicated area students with a comprehensive and inspiring 6th through 12th grade college preparatory program that maximizes each individual’s academic, social, and character potential in preparation for success in college and beyond. The school is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS).  MMI is a school where every student can reach their full potential: academically, ethically, and socially. For more information about MMI Preparatory School, visit or call 570-636-1108.