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John Jay Middle School Students Receive Accolades

CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – Two John Jay eighth-graders have received awards for their work in music and science, respectively.

Pete Miller, a piano player and percussionist, has won the nationwide Student Music Award sponsored by Down Beat , a jazz magazine. He submitted two jazz standards for competition: “Five Hundred Miles High,” by Stan Getz, and “There Is No Greater Love,” by Isham Jones.

Miller began playing piano at age 5. He wanted to quit, but his mother persuaded him to complete a minimum of eight lessons. After the eight lessons, he said he was hooked.

“I loved it,” he said.

For years, Miller played on an old upright piano but recently has acquired a new baby grand piano.

Miller has studied music with Rusty Cloud from the Lagond Music School and is a member of the JJMS band and jazz band. He also assists various high school and middle school bands. He currently is composing orchestral pieces and is a fan of jazz musician Jamie Cullum and composer Danny Elfman.

Zury Cutler is the recipient of two science awards. He won the first place award at the JJMS science fair for his project involving the properties of a heron's fin. He then continued on to compete in the Tri-County Science Fair where he won first place in the chemistry category and in a combination of all categories.

This was not a first-time, first place achievement for Cutler. He took first in last year’s competition also for his creation of a bionic hand.

Last year, Cutler also entered the 3M and Discovery Kid contests. He was the state winner and was categorized as “The Top New Scientist in NYS 2011.” His entry was a working model of a mostly self-sustaining vehicle. The vehicle possessed solar panels, wind turbines and a generator.

Although he has several years before it is time to make plans for college, Cutler said he hopes to attend Cornell University in order to become a material physicist.

“I’m excited by the idea that this occupation is a conglomeration of many types of science,” he said. “I would be utilizing various manipulations in order to create new properties.”

Culter's other interests include school plays, cooking, the arts, and video editing. He currently is working on a documentary and novel based upon a video game.

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