Open sign-ups will be held for a "Special Needs Cheerleading Program" from 1 to 2:30 p.m. today and Sundays June 22 and 29 at the Marple Sports Arena, 611 South Park Way, Broomall.

The new team is open to boys and girls ages 8 to 17 who have mild to moderate mental retardation or Down syndrome, and are physically functional.

The children will practice for an hour and a half on Sundays from July until April, and participate in a Delaware County competition as part of a pilot study conducted by Amanda M. Kingsland, a Clifton Heights resident and an occupational therapy student at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Liberty Cheer Institute is sponsoring the program, and providing gym space and staff services.

Kingsland said the aim is to enhance the children's quality of life, give them a turn in the spotlight, and provide more extra-curricular opportunities for children with disabilities.

The first special-needs cheerleading team began in 2001 in Lexington, Ky., Kingsland said, and there are more than 160 teams across the country.

Participation in the pilot program is free. Space is limited.

For more information, contact Kingsland at

or 610-405-8457.

James O'Shea, a sixth grader at

St. Laurence School

in Upper Darby, ranked third in the nation in the First In Math program.

About 3,000 schools, 20,000 teams and 300,000 students competed in the national online math program, in which students earned electronic award stickers for each level they completed.

O'Shea's classmate, sixth grader Jordan Bryan, ranked 52d in the nation in the contest. St. Laurence School ranked 19th in the nation.

Other Delaware County schools ranked nationally were

St Pius X School

in Broomall at 26th;

Evans Computer Magnet School

in Yeadon, 30th; the

Haverford School

, 40th; and

Bell Avenue Elementary School

in Yeadon, 73d.

Several local graduating seniors will receive a $1,000 scholarship through the Comcast Foundation for their commitment to community service, leadership skills and academic achievement.

The Leaders and Achievers winners included John Novoshielski, of

Garnet Valley High School

, who will attend Penn State University; Maria Gazmin, of

Academy Park High School

in Sharon Hill, who hasn't decided on a college; Erika West, of

Chichester High School

in Boothwyn, who will attend American University in Washington; and Sean Haggerty, of

Strath Haven High School

, who will attend Point Park University in Pittsburgh.

Across the nation, 1,965 high school seniors received $1,000 Comcast Leaders and Achievers scholarships this year. For more information, visit

.

More than 90 seventh-grade girls met and networked with professionals in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics May 23 at

Penn State Brandywine

's annual Math Options Career Day.

Students participated in nine educational sessions at the college in Middletown. Girls made different formations of silly putty to study the effect of varying cross-linking levels on the polymer properties.

They also designed and built straw structures, compared drugs, and learned how to incorporate their picture into a personal home page, using Hyper-Text Mark-Up Language tags.

Chester resident Curtis Fisher accompanied 10 students and two other teachers from

Village Charter School

in Chester Township to participate in the program. Fisher, a Brandywine alum, received an Outstanding Alumni Award in education at the campus' 40th Anniversary Gala in May.

Other participating schools included

Chichester Middle School

, Boothwyn;

Darby Township School

, Glenolden;

Delaware County Christian School

, Newtown Square;

E.T. Richardson Middle School

, Springfield;

Garnet Valley Middle School

, Glen Mills;

Northley Middle School

, Aston;

Our Lady of Charity School

, Brookhaven; and

St. Joseph School

, Aston.

- Ed Mahon