Suffolk County high school students have begun preparing for future jobs by using a new and unique learning tool: drones.

Students in Eastern Suffolk BOCES’ Edward J. Milliken Technical Center in Oakdale have been using drone technology in their heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) classes since March, as part of an effort to make them more desirable to potential employers.

The drone technology lessons make Milliken Technical Center the first local school to use unmanned aircraft in a career and technical education classroom, school officials said.

“The students are loving it — it’s created a buzz,” Milliken HVAC teacher Nick DeBlanco said. “Our whole goal is to help make them more employable, as a lot of companies today are in the infancy of using drones.”

The drone, a DJI Phantom, was purchased using a $1,500 mini-grant and comes with a camera mount that enables students to get close-up views of equipment in high places. A rotating group of 70 students has been learning to operate the device using a flight simulation app on their iPads and then physically using the drone for about one hour each week.

To challenge students, DeBlanco created an obstacle course to test precision flying. One obstacle challenges teens to fly the drone close enough to read codes placed atop school lampposts, while another challenges them to land the drone inside a hula-hoop-sized wood ring from about 100 feet away.

The teens will receive certificates indicating their flight hours upon graduation, DeBlanco said. The school is in the process of registering the drone this year in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration policy.

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HAUPPAUGE

Interim superintendent

Neil Lederer became interim superintendent of the Hauppauge school district on Jan. 5. He replaced Patricia Sullivan-Kriss, who retired after nine years in the role and in July will become superintendent of the West Hempstead school district.

During his five-decade career in education, Lederer has held a range of positions in several Long Island districts — including superintendent, interim superintendent, principal, assistant principal and teacher. Most recently, he served as interim principal of Long Beach High School.

“I have the utmost respect and admiration for the phenomenal educations and support staff in Hauppauge School District, and I am looking forward to collaborating with them as well as students, families and other stakeholders in the months ahead,” Lederer said.

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WESTHAMPTON

Family Connect Night

Westhampton Beach Elementary School has launched a new initiative, titled Family Connect Night, to help kids spend more quality time with loved ones.

The program, which is held the first Tuesday of every month, allows students to forgo homework for that evening so they can spend time participating in a range of activities — including playing board games, cooking and sharing photo albums. The children are then encouraged to share their activities with classmates the following day, school officials said.

“We believe the family unit is the foundation of our school,” Westhampton Beach Principal Lisa Slover said. “Spending family time, without interruption, is crucial in keeping families close while also supporting our students’ academic endeavors.”

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COUNTYWIDE

Zone Awards

A total of 116 seniors from 58 Suffolk County high schools received Suffolk Zone Awards last month from the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. Each school named one male recipient and one female recipient based on academics, leadership and physical performance.

Huntington-Smithtown area winners were: Ben McNeill and Courtney Gallagher, Commack High School; Michael Szokoli and Domenica Piccoli, Elwood John H. Glenn High School; Brian Dice and Julia Stewart, Half Hollow Hills High School East, Dix Hills; Riley Forte and Connie He, Half Hollow Hills High School West, Dix Hills; Bryan-ardo Leveque and Georgia Viggiano, Harborfields High School, Greenlawn; Bryan Seltenreich and Catherine Vaughan, Hauppauge High School; James Smoot and Alexandra Koumas, Huntington High School; Kevin Reichardt and Noelle Perciballi, Kings Park High School; James Mincone and Juliet Yeomans, Northport High School; John Boyzok and Antonina DeStefano, Smithtown High School East; Nick Peragallo and Natalia Lynch, Smithtown High School West; Michael Lorello and Christina Lofaso, Walt Whitman High School, South Huntington.

Babylon-Islip area winners were: Haubry Gomez and Katherine Eastwood, Amityville Memorial High School; Brett Frole and Megan Nerney, Babylon High School; Anthony Sblendorio and Jamie Soldinger, Bay Shore High School; Brandon Croteau and Kerrigan Miller, Bayport-Blue Point High School; Jigme Rigzin and Brazil McCray, Brentwood High School; Livingstone Harriott Jr. and Osarumwense Oriakhi, Central Islip High School; Daniel Lewis and Caleigh Ruais, Connetquot High School, Bohemia; Steven Szabo and Dawn Gioia, Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School; Alvin Sime and Theresa Grimaldi, Deer Park High School; William Reed and Alexa Mattera, East Islip High School; Bryan Seltenreich and Catherine Vaughan, Hauppauge High School; Conner Coleman and Cheyenne Coughlin, Islip High School; Cabel McCandless and Catherine Casella, Lindenhurst High School; Jake Colonna and Rhiannon McGloin, North Babylon High School; Jake Passaretti and Amanda Fitzgerald, Sachem High School East, Farmingville; Darius Townsend and Valerie Schiffner, Sachem High School North, Lake Ronkonkoma; Travis Brown and Nicole Farese, Sayville High School; Kevin Dolan and Janine Conway, St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School, West Islip; Kevin Siefert and Megan Casey, West Babylon High School; Daniel Mottes and Paige Sherlock, West Islip High School; Matthew Rosa and Alicia Tambe, Wyandanch High School.

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Brookhaven-North Fork winners were: Austin Haynia and Luna Khalil, Comsewogue High School; Brendan Walker and Rosemary Volinski, Greenport High School; Sean Rausch and Amanda Ress Liere, Longwood High School, Middle Island; Jack Dufton and Courtney Penny, Mattituck-Cutchogue Junior-Senior High School; Andrew Farina and Melody Young, Centereach High School; Matthew Sharp and Jordynn Aiello, Newfield High School, Selden; Jack Pavelchak and Margaret Tuthill, Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School, Riverhead; Dylan Bogdan and Danielle Bambola, Miller Place High School; Shane Walker and Erica Shea, Mount Sinai High School; Matteo DeVincenzo and Elisabeth Gwydir, Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, Port Jefferson; Craig Perrino and Shannon McGreevy, Rocky Point High School; Jake Passaretti and Amanda Fitzgerald, Sachem High School East, Farmingville; Darius Townsend and Valerie Schiffner, Sachem High School North, Lake Ronkonkoma; Peter Kropf and Kenna McCarthy, Shelter Island High School; Kieran Clasen and Rebecca Nolan, Shoreham-Wading River High School; Noah Mina and Paige Messana, Southold Junior-Senior High School; Patrick Morelli and Katherine Wang, Ward Melville High School, East Setauket.

Brookhaven South Fork winners were: Brandon Croteau and Kerrigan Miller, Bayport-Blue Point High School; James Jankowski and Natissa Scott, Bellport High School; Jamari Grant and Harriet DeGroot, Bridgehampton High School; Matthew Almond and Megan Ricci, Center Moriches High School; Axel Alanis and Cecilia Blowe, East Hampton High School; Alexander German and Gillian Belfiore, Eastport-South Manor Junior-Senior High School; Tyler Carbone and Alexis Fotopoulos, Hampton Bays High School; Robert Stingo and Casey Dugan, Patchogue-Medford High School; Harrison Yardley and Erica Selyukova, Pierson High School, Sag Harbor; Michael Minogue and Alexandra Ambrose, Southampton High School; Devin Laube and Shea Casey, Westhampton Beach High School; John Bilotti and Allison Conn, William Floyd High School, Mastic Beach.