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LI schools bring changing seasons into classroom

Kindergartners and their parents at William E. DeLuca

Kindergartners and their parents at William E. DeLuca Jr. Elementary School in North Babylon decorated pumpkins after using them as part of a science lesson. Credit: North Babylon School District

The changing seasons has inspired many local teachers to put a unique twist on harvesting young minds.

Long Island schools have hosted everything from fall-themed English and math assignments to science experiments involving apples and pumpkins in an effort to incorporate autumn into the curricula.

In East Northport, third-graders at Dickinson Avenue Elementary School participated in STEM activities that ranged from creating pumpkin stands out of straws and tape to catapulting candy pumpkins using rubber bands, Popsicle sticks and plastic spoons. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

"We took that excitement for the Halloween season and turned it into an opportunity for students to make it academically driven," Dickinson Avenue general education teacher Nick Sperduti said. "It's not just the traditional paper and pencil."

In Nesconset, kindergartners at Tackan Elementary participated in activity stations centered around apples. One station challenged them to measure their own height in apples, while another asked them to predict how many seeds were inside an apple and then count them to see if their hypothesis was correct. 

In Hampton Bays, kindergartners at the elementary school created 3D models of pumpkins using paper bags, orange paint and pipe cleaners, while others constructed apple volcanoes by combining baking soda and vinegar into holes dug out of the fruit. 

In Amityville, second-graders at Northwest Elementary found leaves that had changed color during an outdoor walk and studied them using magnifying glasses as part of a lesson on chlorophyll.


New appointments

Russell J. Stewart is interim superintendent of the Smithtown Central School District, while Bryan Frank is the new principal of Accompsett Elementary. Stewart replaced James Grossane, who is now superintendent of the Sewanhaka Central High School District in Floral Park, while Frank replaced the retiring Jeanne Kull-Minarik.

Stewart previously served nine years as superintendent of the Center Moriches School District, and before that was principal, assistant principal, dean of discipline and chairman for health, physical education and interscholastic athletics at Commack High School. Frank was Smithtown's social studies director since 2017.

"I thank the Board [of Education] for this opportunity and am excited to work with them and confirm my commitment to the students of Smithtown," Stewart said.


Together Walk

Walt Whitman High School recently hosted its first Together Walk to help show support, understanding and acceptance of individuals with disabilities. It was created by senior Ally Clark, who is co-president of the school's Ambassador Club.

The event, which attracted more than 100 participants, included a walk around the school's track as well as raffles, refreshments and music provided by Regal Entertainment.

"This walk around the track is to show that no matter what is happening in your life, you have supporters and people who care," Clark said.


Red Ribbon Week

Many local schools strived to steer students from drugs and alcohol in recognition of Red Ribbon Week from Oct. 23-31. 

In Fort Salonga, the elementary school kicked off its inaugural celebration by having kids pledge to believe in themselves and make healthy choices. Pupils also participated in activities including in a poster contest in which winning illustrations were displayed in the school's cafeteria.

In St. James, elementary schoolers signed and pinned their pledges to scarecrows they created for display in front of the building in an effort to "scare away" destructive decisions, school officials said.

In Copiague, Great Neck Road Elementary hosted various theme days, including a "Stomp Out Drugs and Negativity" Day in which children wore their favorite pair of sneakers.

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