Office of the Superintendent of Schools
65 McCampbell  Road
Holmdel, NJ 07733
tel: 732-946-1800 
 fax: 732-946-1875

Contact:     Robert McGarry, 732.946.1800

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While the signs outside many schools this month encourage students to “recharge” or “relax” Holmdel High School rising junior, Annie Cao has chosen to add a third “re” to her summer plans and “research.” Annie spent part of her summer recess conducting research as part of the Waksman Student Scholars program at the Waksman Institute at Rutgers University, a program with which the Holmdel High School Science department has had a long-standing relationship. 

During this two and a half week workshop Annie was able to build upon the knowledge and skills she gained in Holmdel’s noted Honors Advanced Research course. According to Supervisor of Science and Math Alicia Killean, the Waksman Student Scholars' Program (WSSP) has been an integral part of Holmdel High School's Honors Advanced Research class for many years.  In the program, students like Annie learn the fundamentals of isolating, sequencing and analyzing segments of DNA of an organism never before analyzed.  In essence, students conduct original research, and when their research is successful, the results are published in the national database, National Center for Biotechnology Information. “When the scientific world goes to NCBI and references these clones they will write that our students are the first authors,” said Holmdel High School teacher, Dr. Josephine Blaha. 

"Our partnership with the Waksman Institute has been a tremendous boon for our Honors Advanced Research class over the years,” said Principal William Loughran. “In addition to the research opportunity, the summer institute gives us the opportunity to cultivate student leaders who can then transfer their knowledge and skills to other students in the class,” he added. According to Dr. Blaha, Annie will serve as her Teaching Assistant when the Honors Advanced Research course gets under way at the high school this coming year. 

With just two weeks on the job, the district’s new Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Dineen Seeley has already taken notice of the many opportunities Holmdel provides to help students push their learning limits. “Our district is so fortunate to teachers like Dr. Blaha who encourage students to pursue rigorous opportunities to challenge themselves and gain real-world experience,” she said, “As a rising junior at HHS, she is already an accomplished researcher!” Dr. Seeley added.