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Bedford Hills Class Names Baby Falcon on Cuomo Bridge

 Cheryl Pease's class poses in front of the falcon cam

Cheryl Pease’s fifth-grade class at Bedford Hills Elementary is basking in their 15 minutes of fame. Mentioned on CBS, Pix11, News12, Lohud and more, the class helped name one of the four baby peregrine falcons that were born in a nest box on the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

Their pick? Jet.

The contest, held by New York State Thruway Authority and Veolia Water, gave third through sixth graders in Westchester and Rockland counties an opportunity to name the young falcons. More than 100 names were nominated, and a panel of judges whittled them down to the top 10.

Two names from Bedford Hills Elementary School made it that far: Jet, which was thought up by Brandon Lobo Hernandez in Cheryl Pease’s fifth-grade class and Coco Puff, submitted by Cecily Hagedorn in Annrose Fluskey’s fourth-grade class.

After almost 200,000 votes were tallied, Jet found itself a winner in the top four.

“When they found out they won, the class erupted,” Pease said.

They had been following the falcons’ journey since before they were even born. Susan Bretti, the school’s library media specialist, introduced students to the live falcon cam before the eggs hatched.

“The kids were really jazzed watching the falcons and they were really excited when the eggs hatched,” Bretti said.

The live view helped get students really interested about the endangered birds of prey.

“We saw a live cam of the baby falcons and their momma!” one student said.

“We watched the mom feed her babies,” another added.

“The little chicks slept in a huddle!” said a third.

During library, the students learned more. In fact, a haiku they read about falcons inspired the name Jet. Brandon chose the name because he and his classmates learned falcons were “fast, like a jet.”

To decide which names to submit to the contest, students from each third- through fifth-grade class submitted names and then the whole school picked their favorite name from each class.

When the school realized they had two contenders in the top 10, they went into overdrive. Computer Aide Bob Alspach worked with two students in Darleen Ferraro’s third-grade class to create a video urging their fellow students to vote.

“We watched online to see where our name was in the voting ranks. It kept gaining traction, which got the students more and more excited,” Pease said.

It became a community activity. They began urging friends and family and everyone they knew to vote.

 “I told them, one of the students from our class picked the name Jet, please vote!” said Mateo.

When the winner was announced to the school over the PA system, the enthusiasm was clear.

“You could hear the roar all the way down the hall,” Bretti said.

In addition to naming one of the babies, the bridge will be lit up in the school’s colors and a certified falconer will visit the class for a presentation.