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May 30, 2017 • Headline News
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South Ripley honors student for creating bionic arm

A regular meeting of the South Ripley Board of School Trustees took place on May 15. Members present were: Tim Taylor, Becky Turner, Randy McIntosh, Jeff Cornett, Robert Garcia, Steve Patrick, and Carol Holzer. Superintendent Robert Moorhead was also present.

Cheryll Obendorf, Genesis Pathways to Success, presents STEM Star awards to Bio Med teacher Max Howard and Bio Med student Clarisse Zigan. Board president Tim Taylor also presented Clarisse with a congratulatory certificate from the school board for her excellence in STEM academics.

Superintendent Moorhead and Bio Med Teacher Max Howard recognized South Ripley Bio Med student Clarisse Zigan for constructing a bionic arm. Howard stated Zigan’s efforts were the best he had seen yet. The arm moves up and down, tendons move both ways and the hand can even pick up a cup. Cheryll Obendorf with Genesis Pathways to Success was present and announced that Zigan was named the May 2017 STEM Star.

Howard informed the board of some exciting upcoming opportunities for Bio Med students. Margaret Mary Hospital is offering a Summer Medical Scholars program, which is a two week summer intensive hands on program.

There were 12 positions offered to students in 14 counties, and South Ripley High School students were awarded 5 of the 12 positions. Students Maria Gentile, Mackenzie McQueen, Chance McMeans, Amber Roberts, and Alexis Roberts were chosen as participants for the program.

NOTE: Read more school board news on the front page of the Osgood Journal.

Zigan named May STEMstar

“Clarisse goes above and beyond in every class, but especially her science, math and engineering classes. She also has a very witty sense of humor and is really fun to have in class,” said Max Howard, her Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Biomedical Sciences instructor.

May STEMstar Clarisse Zigan works on a project in the lab.

Clarisse is a junior at South Ripley High School and maintains a 3.96 GPA. She is in the third year of the biomedical sciences program where she won the 2017 Bioengineering Challenge with a bionic arm she designed and demonstrated at the competition. She is enrolled in the fourth and final PLTW biomed course for her senior year. Clarisse also attends the Ripley County Engineering Academy.

According to Paul Thole, Ripley County Engineering Academy instructor, “She is a great example of a student who has ‘learned how to learn.’ Clarisse is a very talented engineering student and loves a challenge. She often goes beyond the requirements of the project … way beyond! A great example of ingenuity and hard work, she will be a great engineer!”

Clarisse was recently named a top Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics student in Indiana. She is a member of South Ripley’s math and science academic teams, is an EcO Network student ambassador, participated in a Conexus internship last summer at MSW Packaging, and was selected to attend the Richard Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders.

“It is exciting to see Clarisse taking advantage of the opportunities provided in our PLTW biomed and engineering programs,” South Ripley Superintendent Rob Moorhead said. “She is certainly a very impressive young lady and a great representative of South Ripley. She has a bright future indeed.”

Clarisse is undecided about her career interests and currently is leaning toward bioengineering or neurology. An opportunity to job shadow with a neurologist is on her schedule for the end of the school year. She also runs cross-country and track on South Ripley’s teams. She is active in many school clubs, has completed six community service projects in the last couple of years and is a member of Ripley Youth Outreach, an initiative of the Ripley County Community Foundation.

Genesis: Pathways to Success began the STEMstar program in January 2017 to recognize students and educators who are making strides in STEM. To nominate a STEMstar fill out the STEMstar form at

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