Nearly 200 local teens spent a day recently at a unique classroom: the Carmans River.
Environmentally minded students from four Suffolk County high schools -- Bellport, Patchogue-Medford, Longwood in Middle Island and William Floyd in Mastic Beach -- joined forces last month for "A Day in the Life of the Carmans River," an inaugural day of simultaneous study. The river, about 10 miles long, courses through each of the four participating school districts.
The students collected water samples to measure nitrates, salinity and oxygen levels, among other things. The baseline data will be used in the future to see how much, or how little, water quality has changed.
"In this day and age, students are not as connected as we'd like them to be to nature," said Ivan Suarez, Longwood High School's Advanced Placement environmental science teacher. "These students are now stewards of the environment, looking after the Carmans River and learning about natural history. This is a guided nature experience by kids and for kids."
In all, 13 river locations were tested. Longwood pupils focused on the river's northern section, which runs through their district, and students from the other schools focused on the river's southern sections.
Teams also collected fish and insects, cataloged birds and reptiles, and kept journals on their experiences.
Findings indicated the water is in healthy condition and cited the presence of insects with "low tolerance for pollution," Suarez said.
The data will be entered into the records of the state's Department of Environmental Conservation and a Web page managed by Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Longwood students also will participate in a video conference in the spring with students in Pisa, Italy, who conducted a similar project, to compare the differences in water quality between the two locations.
The Central Islip Union Free School District has appointed several new school principals.
Tracy Hudson is principal at Charles A. Mulligan Intermediate School. She previously was assistant principal at Bellport Middle School and replaced Brenda Jackson, who now is principal of Cordello Elementary School. Jackson replaced Sharon Dungee, who now is assistant superintendent for education and administration.
Jessica Iafrate is the principal of Marguerite Mulvey Elementary School. She previously was principal of the district's early childhood center and replaced Catherine Vereline, who now is principal of A.T. Morrow Elementary School. Morrow's previous principal, Betty Ceccarini, is principal of the early childhood center.
Brett MacMonigle is the principal at Ralph G. Reed Middle School. He previously was assistant principal of Newfield High School in Selden and replaced Chris Brown, who now is the district's administrator for testing and assessment.
Patricia Essenfeld is the new principal of Dickinson Avenue Elementary School, and Pat DeStefano is the interim principal of East Northport Middle School. Essenfeld and DeStefano replaced Anne Whooley and Joanne Kroon, respectively, who retired.
Essenfeld previously was assistant principal of Minnesauke Elementary School in East Setauket. DeStefano was his school's assistant principal.
Louis Antonetti and James Horan are principals of Sachem High School East and Samoset Middle School, respectively, both in the Sachem school district. Antonetti replaced Rory Manning, who now is principal of Harborfields High School in Greenlawn. Horan replaced Mary Cavanaugh, who retired. Each man previously served as his school's assistant principal.
Eight Long Island schools received "Heroglobin" Awards from the New York Blood Center for collecting some of the highest number of blood donations among local schools during the 2011-12 academic year.
Winners were Chaminade High School, Mineola; East Rockaway High School; Holy Trinity High School, Hicksville; Sachem High School East, Farmingville; Sachem High School North, Lake Ronkonkoma; Seaford High School; Nassau BOCES' Joseph M. Barry Career and Technical Education Center, Westbury; and Western Suffolk BOCES, based in Dix Hills.
"The kids are enthusiastic about it, and that spirit is inspiring," said Tania Cintorino, co-adviser of Seaford's Student Council, which helped collect 20,000 donations last year. "They talk it up with friends and family and post facts around school to raise awareness of the need for donors. We also advertise at sporting events and in the community."