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Longwood's Best Buddies Chapter named 'Most Outstanding'

Kindergartners kicked off the first of school by

Kindergartners kicked off the first of school by coloring and wearing paper hats at Searingtown Elementary School in the Herricks School District. Credit: Herricks School District

The Best Buddies Chapter at Longwood High School in Middle Island has been named the nation's "Outstanding Chapter" for the 2018-19 school term.

The chapter received the designation during Best Buddies International's 30th annual leadership conference, which took place this summer in Indiana. The selection was based on the chapter's impact on inclusion and acceptance in the school community.

Longwood’s chapter, which was launched three years ago, fosters friendships between general and special education students by having them tackle activities such as crafting murals and attending the school's sporting events together. It has expanded to more than 100 members from just 80 at the chapter's inception.

"It makes everyone feel included," Longwood junior and chapter president Teasia Crenshaw said of the chapter's importance. "We're all the same and we go through the same type of problems."

To get selected, Longwood's chapter submitted photos and information about their numerous activities, which include unified basketball games and job skill training for special education members at the district's career center in Yaphank.

The chapter also educates elementary students about different disabilities during a series of Disability Awareness Days and hosted a Best Buddies Prom last school year that attracted more than 500 attendees across Long Island.

"It's just a great way to make friendships," said Longwood senior and chapter vice president Olivia Chichester, who attended the conference and accepted the award on the chapter's behalf.


New superintendent

Jared Bloom is the new superintendent of the Franklin Square School District. He replaced Ranier Melucci, who held the position on an interim basis.

Bloom most recently served as assistant superintendent of instruction and curriculum for the South Huntington School District. He also has served as the district's supervisor of assessment and technology.

"As a K-6 district, we have the unique opportunity to focus on the critical years that lay the foundation and path forward for our kids," Bloom said. "I look forward to working together with our Board of Education, administrators and staff to provide a safe, innovative, dynamic and supportive learning environment for all."


New principal

Sara Ortiz has been named principal of Meadow Drive Elementary School. She replaced SueCaryl Fleischmann, who retired. 

Ortiz has served as an instructional leader for the Mineola School District since 2016, designing and delivering biweekly professional development workshops across the district's five schools. She also has enhanced the district's integrated curriculum and led a team of educators in developing a program that issues badges to kindergartners for mastering new skills and concepts. 

"Mineola is a truly unique district and I am honored to continue working with this community, its students and this group of educators," Ortiz said.


9/11 events

Many local schools hosted special events earlier this month to commemorate 9/11.

In Massapequa, seventh-graders at Alfred G. Berner Middle School listened to audio recordings of people sharing their stories of that fateful day through the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. As they listened, the children wrote their feelings on paper footprints to "put themselves in the shoes" of those who witnessed the terrorist attacks, school officials said.

In Freeport, students dressed in red, white and blue for a ceremony and moment of silence in front of the New Visions School. They were joined by members of the Freeport Fire and Police departments, who read the names of local residents who lost their lives.

In Levittown at Gardiners Avenue Elementary School, fifth-graders brainstormed words that describe heroes and wrote about who their hero is and why.

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