Science whiz kids at North Hollywood High School received a boost in their preparations for the national Science Bowl Finals when Mayor Richard Riordan stopped by to offer a bit of encouragement Friday.
"I wish you luck when you go to Washington, D.C.," the mayor told the North Hollywood team, which won the regional title three weeks ago. "But I know for you it's more skill than luck. You're going to go out there and beat their rear ends."
Only the championship-winning "A Team" will travel to Washington in May for the finals, but Riordan, who donned a Science Bowl T-shirt for the event, also offered congratulations to North Hollywood's "B Team," which finished third.
The mayor delivered a personalized cake and Imax theater tickets to the students as a reward for their strong performance.
"This is really the icing on the cake," said senior Greg Marsden, who was recently named one of 40 finalists in a nationwide science talent search sponsored by Westinghouse. "It's the fulfillment of an 18-month dream and a lot of work."
To help the students prepare for the finals, Riordan moderated a mock Science Bowl between the two North Hollywood teams. In a close match, the "A-Team" finished on top.
Principal John Hyland said the mayor's visit was a well-deserved pat on the back for the students.
"I think the recognition is important. We are a public school and we can compete with any school in the nation," Hyland said.
Riordan's visit to North Hollywood came after two earlier stops in the San Fernando Valley.
In Lake View Terrace, the mayor met with residents near Little Tujunga Wash to praise an emergency cleanup effort in which more than 150,000 cubic yards of dirt was removed. No homes were damaged in the area during the recent storms.
Later, Riordan visited the LAPD's North Hollywood station, taking a firsthand look at a new computer system known as FASTRAC, which allows police to identify crime trends statistically. FASTRAC stands for Focus Accountability Strategy Teamwork Response and Coordination.