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Collecting holiday food for those in need

New Hyde Park Memorial High School students Jasmine

New Hyde Park Memorial High School students Jasmine Garcia, left, Maya Guzman and Daniella Malliae pack boxes with donations made to the Key Club's annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. Credit: Sewanhaka Central High School District

The generosity of students and staff in local schools is making the holiday season extra special — and extra tasty — for those in need across Long Island.

Dozens of school food drives gave students a chance to combat hunger by filling kitchens of less-fortunate families with everything from Thanksgiving turkeys to Christmas cookies.

In Locust Valley, nearly 100 families received baskets with all the fixings for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, from donations of items ranging from stuffing mix to cranberry sauce — as well as gift cards totaling $650 — to the Grenville Baker Boys and Girls Club.

Students in the West Hempstead district’s five schools donated nonperishable food items for holiday baskets as part of a food drive coordinated by the high school’s Key Club. In addition, the middle school’s family and consumer science classes prepared desserts, and seventh- and eighth-graders crafted holiday cards and baked loaves of pumpkin bread for the baskets.

In Levittown, Division Avenue High School hosted an inaugural Turkey Bowl Championship. Teens on the bowl’s 16 flag football teams contributed nonperishable food items to the Levittown Food Pantry at the district’s Wisdom Lane Middle School.

In Bellmore, John F. Kennedy High School’s Student Government helped collect more than 40 boxes worth of food through drives at the school and outside a local Stop & Shop in mid-November.

“Some shoppers even helped by donating frozen turkeys, a staple at the Thanksgiving dinner table,” said Brad Seidman, the school’s co-faculty adviser to the Student Government.


State winner

Alexis Tillman, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School, is among 102 students nationwide — and one of two students in New York — named state winners of the 2015 Wendy’s High School Heisman Award.

The program recognizes high school seniors for their excellence in academics, athletics and community involvement.

Tillman was awarded $1,000 for her school.

She was among 1,020 state finalists — 10 young men and 10 young women named in each state and the District of Columbia. One male and one female were chosen as state winners.


Terrorism talk

Massapequa High School’s AP Government and Politics classes received firsthand insight on terrorism last month during a visit from Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security and chair of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

King spoke of the government’s efforts to deter terrorism and the “tough process” of securing funding for those affected by 9/11 and superstorm Sandy, school officials said. He also took questions on topics ranging from the 2016 presidential election to the legalization of marijuana.

“His expertise in terrorism proved timely as students approached the recent terror attack on Paris with a new understanding,” social studies teacher Daniel Bachman said.


All-State musicians

A total of 329 Long Island student-musicians were among more than 900 statewide selected by the New York State School Music Association to perform at the association’s 2015 Winter Conference, held this month in Rochester.

The performances included eight All-State groups: wind ensemble, symphonic band, instrumental and vocal jazz ensembles, string orchestra and symphony orchestra, and women’s chorus and mixed chorus.

All-State selection is divided into 15 zones, which represent geographic areas within the state and take into account the student population in those zones. They were chosen from more than 6,500 sophomores and juniors statewide who were evaluated by NYSSMA judges last spring.

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