• Josh Zoffer, of Chapel Hill, and his debate partner Ben Sprung-Keyser, won the World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC) in Chennai, India Jan. 4. Zoffer and Sprung-Keysers victory is the first win by Americans in more than a decade.
• Medical student Casey Allison Rimland has been named the second Gates Cambridge Scholar from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The NIH Cambridge Scholars program will pay for her medical school tuition and her fourth year of doctoral work while the Gates Cambridge award will fund her doctoral work for three years, with full tuition and fees at Cambridge University and living expenses for those three years. Rimland is the daughter of Randy and Melodee Rimland.
• Chapel Hill resident Leanne Joyce, 14, was named as one of N.C.s top two youth volunteers of 2014 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.
Leanne, an eighth-grader at Grey Culbreth Middle School, started a nonprofit that has benefited sick children and teens in 18 pediatric hospitals across 15 states by raising money for gifts including electronics, movies and gift cards. She was moved to donate after receiving a gift from a volunteer during her stay in a hospital due to a congenital heart condition.
• The Trash Terminators 2.0 team of students from Phillips Middle School was one of eight $15,000 first place award winners in the Lexus Eco Challenge. The Trash Terminators 2.0 were selected for diverting 80 percent of cafeteria trash from going to the landfill by starting and promoting cafeteria composting and creating worm bins for classrooms and home use.
• Pittsboro Elementary has been recognized by the state for being a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Model School. PBIS is a framework for assisting school personnel in adopting and organizing evidence-based behavioral interventions to enhance academic and social behavior outcomes for students.
• Seawell Elementary and Smith Middle chess club, consisting of approximately 30 students from both schools, recently attended the N.C. K-12 Chess Championship. There were 771 chess players from around N.C. in attendance at the championship. The Seawell K-5 team placed #1 in the K-5 bracket. For individual results, Neo Zhu took first place, with Leo DeJong in second, RJ Raynoe in sixth, and William Zhu with first in class E. Smith Middle teams took the first place trophy in K-8 U1000, second place in K-12 U1400, and first place in K-8 Open Championship.