Local classrooms showed a wealth of holiday spirit this month, as schools made efforts to brighten the holidays for those in need with everything from toy collections to homemade cards to blood drives.
In East Islip, the high school's Interact Club joined with the Islip Rotary Club to volunteer as bell ringers for the Salvation Army at a nearby Stop & Shop, and the middle school Tri-M Music Honor Society penned inspirational messages in 150 holiday cards adorned with candy canes for elderly residents in the local community.
"This activity was a great way for kids to help brighten the holidays of those in hospitals and nursing homes," Tri-M adviser Judith Fischer said.
In Commack, Sawmill Intermediate School students created cards for sick children in Huntington Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip that were delivered by Courtney Galiano, a Commack alumni who appeared on Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance."
In Valley Stream, James A. Dever Elementary School displayed a "wish tree" and invited parents to purchase items that had been written on small tags to benefit less-fortunate families in the community.
In Lynbrook, the high school's Leadership/Key Club ran a blood drive to help replenish local banks in time for the holidays, when demand is high and supplies are low.
In Syosset, Our Lady of Mercy Academy held a toy drive that benefited The INN in Hempstead as well as children in families recently displaced by superstorm Sandy.
In Smithtown, Tackan Elementary School students created dozens of holiday cards for the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that aids severely injured service members.
Woodland Middle School's Art Club recently unveiled a mural that will hang in the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola. The piece depicts the building facade, a United States flag and the slogan "One person, one vote."
In creating the mural, students projected a photo of the building onto a canvas, then traced the image and painted it.
"As a former Woodland teacher, it was great to see the wonderful talents of these students," said Legis. Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), who attended the unveiling.
The Long Beach school district recently received donations of thousands of backpacks filled with school supplies from companies and schools in the wake of superstorm Sandy.
Donations included 1,300 such backpacks from Savin Engineers in Pleasantville, as well as supply-filled backpacks and $450 in gift cards from Chatsworth Avenue Elementary School in Larchmont, accompanied by letters from students there. Southgate Elementary School in Loudonville sent cleaning supplies and bottled water, among other items.
In addition, Staples donated $10,000 worth of school supplies, and 1,900 book bags were donated by the Brooke Jackman Foundation, a nonprofit that supports underprivileged kids.
Massapequa High School senior Angela Williams presented a self-developed anti-bullying program last month with a panel of experts that included school social worker Joanne Waters and mock trial team adviser Brandon Draper.
The program focused on educating teens and parents about the legal and social aspects of cyberbullying.
Williams surveyed 600 community members about cyberbullying and their knowledge of it. She determined that 42.6 percent of teens she surveyed said they had been subjected to some form of cyberbullying. Only 24.2 percent of parents she surveyed said they were aware of any cyberbullying.
"There are a lot of untold stories and more kids affected than people realize," she said.
Three Long Island school districts -- Huntington, Lawrence and South Huntington -- and Nassau BOCES were awarded grants last month under New York State's Virtual Advanced Placement Program, designed to boost access to online Advanced Placement courses for low-income students. Huntington received $348,000; Lawrence, $259,000; South Huntington, $499,000; and Nassau BOCES, $2 million.
The grants will enable students to participate in AP and pre-AP classes and exams, while providing professional development for teachers learning to teach the courses. The money also can be used to offset costs of exams and to buy needed technology resources to register and track pupil enrollment and performance in AP courses.
Statewide, 17 school districts and BOCES agencies split $17.3 million in grants.