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 forces with the Islip Rotary Club to volunteer as bell ringers for the Salvation Army outside a nearby Stop & Shop. Meanwhile, East Islip Middle School's Tri-M Music Honor Society penned inspirational messages in more than 150 holiday cards -- each adorned with a candy cane -- 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, a time when demand is high and supplies are low, school officials said.
In Smithtown, Tackan Elementary School students created dozens of holiday cards for the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that aids severely injured service members.
'Solve for Tomorrow'
Bridgehampton School is one of 75 national semifinalists in Samsung's "Solve for Tomorrow," a national competition that challenged schools to answer the question "How can science or math help improve the environment in your community?" The school will receive a kit that includes a camcorder, laptop and editing software to create their videos.
Bridgehampton's idea consists of a cooking invention that would reduce pollution and environmental degradation. Fifteen schools will win grants this spring worth about $40,000, Samsung said.
Candy after Sandy
Maud S. Sherwood Elementary School second-graders who missed Halloween as a result of superstorm Sandy recently received a special treat: bags of candy and handwritten letters from fourth-graders at upstate Groton Elementary School.
Groton teacher John D'Antoni is a 1995 graduate of Islip High School.
"It felt so good to know they thought of us," Sherwood second-grader Shania Moonlal said.
Eastern Suffolk BOCES has received a $10,000 grant from the Collectors Foundation, a Michigan-based philanthropic movement among collector vehicle and boat enthusiasts supporting youth as well as the future interests of these hobbies.
The foundation awards grants to organizations dedicated to hands-on education through historic vehicles and vessels.
Eastern Suffolk BOCES administrative coordinator Audrey Gottlieb applied for the grant to enable Edward J. Milliken Technical Center in Oakdale to offer an automotive club and provide students with the opportunity to build a T-bucket, a style of hot rod based on a Model T Ford.
"We want to give students an exciting, meaningful project to work on throughout the year," principal Tom McGrath said. "I think it would increase student confidence and spark an interest in the automotive field."
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, an initiative designed to boost access to online Advanced Placement courses for low-income students. Huntington received $348,000, Lawrence received $259,000, South Huntington received $499,000 and Nassau BOCES received $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.