A South Hempstead school has found a green way to plant the seeds of learning.
William S. Covert Elementary School in the Rockville Centre school district held a ribbon-cutting ceremony this summer for a new greenhouse on school grounds that is serving as an educational tool and a way to introduce kids to healthy eating.
The school also is launching a gardening club in the first week of October, and those students will be in charge of monitoring lettuce seeds planted this fall in the greenhouse.
"The theory behind it is if you grow it, then you're going to be more apt to try it," said teaching assistant Patti Mullooly, who heads the greenhouse committee with co-worker Lynn Woods. Of the school's first meal using greenhouse produce, she said: "There were kids eating salad who had never eaten a salad before in their entire lives."
The small greenhouse, built of metal and Plexiglas, was made possible by a $4,000 grant last year by the Rockville Centre Education Foundation. The first planting consisted of lettuce seedlings that pupils started in their classrooms last winter, Mullooly said, and then moved to beds surrounding the greenhouse in early May.
The lettuce from that initial yield was used in lunchroom salads in June.
"The greenhouse is an excellent enrichment tool for teaching children about the value and importance of utilizing resources from earth," Covert principal Darren Raymar said. "It is also a wonderful school and community endeavor that affords students, parents and staff to come together."
The school plans to add composting bins that use food scraps from the cafeteria.
Echele May is the new principal of Meadow Elementary School, replacing Joan Flatley, who retired. May was principal of Shubert Elementary School in North Baldwin, which closed in June. She also has been an assistant principal, math academy teacher, and English as a Second Language teacher at Bayview Avenue Elementary School in Freeport.
Anael Alston is the new principal of Richard S. Sherman-Great Neck North Middle School. He replaced Denise Nolan, who retired. He said he is eager to help prepare students "for the academic rigors and social and personal changes they will experience."
Since 2005 he was principal of Robert M. Finley Middle School in Glen Cove. He also was assistant principal and acting principal at East Hampton Middle School, assistant principal at Memorial Junior High in Valley Stream, and assistant principal at Baldwin Middle School. He began his career as a social studies teacher in Queens.
Dominick Palma is superintendent of Merrick Union Free School District. He replaced Ranier Melucci, who retired.
Palma previously served as assistant superintendent for curriculum and student services at West Babylon Union Free School District. He also held positions in the South Huntington school district and the Valley Stream Central High School District.
"It is apparent there has been a strong emphasis on educating Merrick students as 'whole children' -- addressing academic, physical and social-emotional needs as interconnected," Palma said in a recent letter to the community. "I am looking forward to continuing this tradition. School should be a place where children feel safe, cared about and are excited to learn."
Essay contest winners
Four Long Island students won grand prizes in an annual essay contest sponsored by the Long Island Presidents' Council, a consortium of Long Island public school teachers and staff committed to public school education.
The winners were Stefanie Carta, a second-grader at Guggenheim Elementary School in Port Washington; Haylee Olson, a fifth-grader at Dayton Avenue Elementary School in Manorville; Jonathan Louie, a sixth-grader at South Woods Middle School in Syosset; and Karishma Shah, a junior at Syosset High School.
Each received $5,000 and recorded their essays at WBAB and WBLI studios with help from Ray Adell Media Enterprises. The essays will air on 11 local radio stations as part of a feature about the excellence of Long Island schools, the council said.
The essays also will be broadcast in Spanish translation on WBON.