A number of local schools were buzzing last month as students eagerly joined the fight against childhood cancer.
The buzz was all part of fundraisers for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a childhood cancer charity, in which children solicited donations from family and friends and then shaved their heads to demonstrate solidarity with kids who typically lose their hair during treatment.
The Northport-East Northport school district led the way by hosting an event that raised $120,000 through the participation of 325 district students and 712 adult community members. The Commack school district's event raised roughly $80,000 and attracted 305 total shavees.
"I was incredibly overwhelmed at people's generosity -- especially considering the economic times," said Lee Tunick, a Commack math teacher who headed the school's event.
For Commack, it was the students' third annual fundraiser, having raised $25,000 and $53,000 previously. Tunick credited the volume of this year's donations to the district's decision to involve all eight schools with each school having a contact person who reported to him.
Northport's event spanned two days -- one for students, one for community members.
"I think people like when regular folk help other regular folk," said John McKenna, Northport's event organizer. "It also makes a child that felt like an odd-man-out due to hair loss feel like one of all the rest."
Other schools hosting St. Baldrick's events that yielded high donations were James H. Boyd Intermediate School in Elwood with $28,000, Walt Whitman High School in South Huntington with $8,793, and Oquenock Elementary School in West Islip with $5,321, according to the foundation's website.
Half Hollow Hills Central School District will receive $30,000 over the next three years from the Asia Society to further develop Chinese instruction for its students. The grant was given in conjunction with the district's acceptance into the Confucius Classrooms Network, which recognizes 100 "exemplary" Chinese language programs targeted as model sites in American schools.
As a network member, Half Hollow Hills will be matched with a partner school in China to enhance opportunities for language learning, joint projects and shared resources.
Global family time
William Floyd High School students and their families took a closer look at various cultures last month during a Global Interactive Family Time (GIFT) that included everything from homemade ethnic foods to multi-language bingo to bilingual karaoke. The second annual event attracted about 600 people -- twice last year's attendance.
The program was held in conjunction with the school's celebration of National Foreign Language Week in mid-March.
'Electrify Your Strings'
More than 250 students in the North Babylon school district had the opportunity to learn from a professional musician last month during a two-day visit from Mark Wood, a founding member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Wood's workshop, "Electrify Your Strings," focused on improvisation for acoustic and electric strings and culminated with a concert for the community.
"We feel it's very important for young students to see what lies ahead and for the more experienced students to be encouraged by what they have achieved," said Kim Lowenborg-Coyne, the district's director of art and music programs.
All National Honors fest
Twelve Long Island high school students were among 19 statewide and 300 nationwide selected last month to participate this summer in the National Association for Music Education's All National Honors Festival at Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
"[We] are thrilled to have such a representation from New York," said Marc E. Greene, president of the New York State School Music Association. "It shows that our music education programs are strong, despite current economic challenges we are all facing."
Selected students were: Remy Martin of Central Islip High School; Conor Simons, Thomas Lynch and Andrew Stack of Chaminade High School in Mineola; Collin Richardson of Huntington High School; Sara Barsky of Jericho High School; Megan Chang of Manhasset High School; Sarah Losner of Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick; Rosina Bellocco and Suehyun Park of Syosset High School; Daniel Wang of W. Tresper Clarke High School in East Meadow; and Francesco Logozzo of Westhampton Beach High School.