The 26th U.S. Open Taekwondo Championships in Las Vegas came to a close with local athletes capturing gold, silver and bronze medals.

Master Kwangjin Ha is the owner of World Championship Taekwondo. His dojo has been in Fairfield for 15 years, moving from the Post Road to its location in the Sportsplex on Mill Plain Road nine years ago.

Ha, who is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in taekwondo, and six of his black-belt students competed against more than 2,000 competitors from 63 countries in the 2017 U.S. Open International Championship from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3.

Training to compete at this level was intensive, and Ha and his student athletes trained for weeks and even months prior to arriving in Las Vegas, where even more training occurred.

Ha competed against athletes from Canada, China, Mexico, Brazil, as well as from his native country of South Korea. He won a gold medal in the Over 30 Male Individual Poomsae category and a bronze medal in Pairs Poomsae.

All of Ha’s students also took home awards:

Sean Choi won a silver medal in Youth (10-11) Male Individual Poomsae.

Emily Weiss won a bronze medal in Under 30 Team Poomsae.

Brian Meagher and his pairs partner, Jenna Slota, from Taekwondo All In in New Jersey, won fifth place in Junior (15-17) Pairs Poomsae.

Alicia Gopal and Morgan Zippo competed in Junior (15-17) Female Individual Poomsae.

Sophie Grant competed in Under 30 Female Individual Poomsae.

The students’ skills will be put to the test again soon. The State Championship in Ansonia is on April 1 and the USA National Championship starts July 2 in Detroit. Ha’s personal goals are the 2018 Pan American Game, the 2018 World Championship and the Summer Olympics in 2024.

Off to college

Two Fairfield residents will be attending Eastern Connecticut State University for the spring semester. Ayana Jain and Jennifer Porpora enrolled at the school in Willimantic.

Scientific research

A Fairfield native got to assist with research about salamanders at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic.

Brian Lisk, a member of the class of 2018, aided biology professor Kristen Epp in efforts to further the understanding of salamander population dynamics and climate adaptation. Eastern’s biology department established monitoring plots during the summer and, using a common monitoring technique, the collaborators survey their plots for red-back salamanders three times each spring and fall, then contribute the data for analysis.

Lisk, who is majoring in biology, is one of the students who has participated in Epps’ salamander surveys.

The dean’s list

Four Fairfield residents made the fall dean’s list for their outstanding academic achievement at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Gazang Abdulla, Sarah Delmoor, Jake Haney and Max Kutsch earned a grade-point average of at least 3.5.

Dylan Fichera, of Fairfield, was named to the State University of New York at Geneseo’s dean’s list for the fall semester. To be on the list, a student must have achieved at least a 3.5 grade-point average while taking a minimum of 12 credit hours at the school.

Fairfield’s Eric Thompson and Katherine Vaugh were named to the fall dean’s list at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. Full-time students who complete 12 or more credits per semester and earn a grade-point average of 3.4 or higher are placed on the dean’s list that semester.

Emily Ann Devine,Krista Lynn Thurston and Matthew Joseph Greenhut, all of Fairfield, were named to the dean’s list with an academic record of 3.5 (or above) during the fall semester at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Chambers of commerce plan Danube cruise

The Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, together with the Greater Norwalk, Westport-Weston and Danbury chambers, will be taking a group trip to the scenic Danube River, stopping at imperial cities along the way, departing Sept. 28 and returning Oct. 7.

Chamber members, guests, family and the public are invited to visit one of the most spectacular rivers in the world, the Danube. Included in the trip are stops in Munich, Passau, Melk, Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava and Linz, with an optional, three-night extension stay in Prague.

Chamber trips are affordable, while providing the same high-quality travel of other tour groups.

For those who may be interested, there will be a travel overview presentation at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 21 by Chamber Discoveries at The Boathouse at Saugatuck, 521 Riverside Ave., Westport. Light appetizers and beverages will be served.

Attendees will see photographs, videos and hear about the imperial cities along the river, unchanged over the centuries, as they cruise along and pass through four European countries. Each city boasts unique and beautiful architecture, fine culture and specialty stores for shopping. On board the ship, with only 71 cabins, providing comfort without crushing crowds, guests experience superb dining with all meals included during the cruise, including complimentary, quality red and white wines from Europe’s great wine regions with every dinner onboard the ship.

Trip reservations made by March 3 will receive a $200 discount off the regular tour price. With the early bird discount, the starting price is $3,999, double occupancy.

If interested in learning about the trip, call the Fairfield Chamber at 203-255-1011 to reserve a seat. Walk-ins also welcome.

This trip is open and available to all interested travelers. Nonmembers are welcome to attend.