One son's now in col­lege, but the Ylitalo fam­i­ly re­mains a for­mi­da­ble pres­ence in re­gion­al and state sci­ence fair com­pe­ti­tion — and that's good news for Stillwater Area High School.

This month, Max Ylitalo, 15, a sopho­more, won the right to rep­re­sent Minnesota at the I-SWEEEP (International Sus­tain­a­ble World Energy Engineering and En­vi­ron­ment Project) O­lym­pi­ad in Houston in May.

His pro­ject, "Gar­bage Re­duc­tion to Energy Pro­duc­tion: Con­vert­ing Waste Paper to Etha­nol," cap­tured the en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­cel­lence a­ward at the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair, the e­vent that qual­i­fied him for the Houston trip.

Ylitalo and five oth­er Stillwater Area High stu­dents — Nate Far­mer, Ben Far­mer, Han­nah Far­mer, Max Vogel and Pe­dro Angulo-Umana — also ad­vanced to the state sci­ence and en­gi­neer­ing fair to be held March 30 to April 1, a school dis­trict news re­lease said.

Last year, Ylitalo's old­er broth­er, Andy Ylitalo, com­peted in the In­tel International Science and Engineering Fair. His pro­ject was ti­tled, "Functionalization of Hex­ag­o­nal Bo­ron Ni­tride Monolayers and Analysis with Trans­mis­sion E­lec­tron Mi­cros­co­py."

Andy Ylitalo, a 2013 Stillwater gradu­ate, now at­tends Stan­ford University.

Last year, Ca­ro­line Ylitalo, the boys' moth­er, told the Star Tribune that work­ing on sci­ence projects dur­ing cold-weath­er months is a fam­i­ly tra­di­tion.

Max Ylitalo, con­tacted by the news­paper when school was canceled in Jan­u­ar­y due to cold weath­er, said at the time that he didn't mind the time off be­cause it would al­low him to hone the pres­en­ta­tion as­pect of this year's pro­ject, which he said in­volves mak­ing bio­fuel out of re­cycled pa­per.

In May, Max Ylitalo also will rep­re­sent the state as a stu­dent ob­serv­er at this year's In­tel fair in Los An­ge­les.


High school exchange program recognized

Stillwater Area High School last month received the 2014 Top AFS School award in recognition of its student exchange program.

Officials at the high school, with an enrollment just shy of 2,100, were presented with the honor at the Feb. 27 school board meeting. The award is given out each year by the AFS-USA, a leading foreign exchange organization.

Criteria include partnering with AFS "to promote global citizenship through intercultural learning — both inside and outside of the classroom."

According to a news release posted on the Stillwater School District's website, the school was recognized for hosting 30 AFS students from 20 countries over the years, sending its own students abroad and incorporating "intercultural learning in the curriculum," all in the name of "fostering global competency" in its student body.

"We're so thankful and proud to work in educational partnership with schools like Stillwater Area High School," Tonya Muro, director of school outreach and educational partnerships at AFS, said in the release. "These educators are at the forefront of bringing global awareness and intercultural experiences to their students. In doing so, they are providing students, teachers and the greater community profound opportunities to broaden their knowledge of other cultures and peoples, which is indispensable in this day and age."

Anthony Lonetree, LIBOR JANY