Holiday cheer was spread in a variety of ways this month by students across Long Island.
Many local schools hosted holiday-themed community service efforts — ranging from gift drives for less-fortunate families to music performances for elderly residents — to help make the season more enjoyable for those near and far.
In Massapequa Park, the East Lake Elementary School's Student Council hosted a drive that collected new unwrapped toys, including board games and action figures, to benefit sick and underprivileged children through the Wantagh-based John Theissen Children's Foundation. The drive, which ran through Dec. 18, has been held at the school for more than a decade.
"It's important because some kids can't afford toys, and donating toys can make all kids happy on Christmas Day," East Lake fifth-grader Allison Parmiter said.
In West Hempstead, the school district's Parent-Teacher-Student Association held a holiday book fair at the Barnes & Noble in Carle Place that culminated with a performance of seasonal songs by the high school's chamber orchestra and chamber choir. The store also was decorated with artwork by students from the district's five schools.
In Amityville, a group of about 20 students from Memorial High School and Edmund W. Miles Middle School painted holiday scenes — incorporating items such as holly, ornaments and snowmen — on the windows of local businesses.
In East Rockaway, Centre Avenue Elementary School's sixth-grade concert choir performed carols and played games with residents of the nearby Charles H. Formont Senior Center.
Observatory bee hive
Massapequa High School's Go Green class will be enhanced this spring through an observatory bee hive that will allow students to witness bees construct and operate a honeycomb. The wood and plexiglass observatory is a self-sufficient system that will hold about 5,000 bees.
The unit's construction was spearheaded by Massapequa junior and Boy Scout Matthew Horne, who worked on it with the help of six volunteers as part of his Eagle Scout Service Project.
"It's a great asset for the classroom," Massapequa health educator Michael LaBella said. "It brings a real-life aspect to the class, which is the purpose of the agricultural-based course."
New academic space
The Green Vale School, an independent school for students in pre-nursery through eighth grade, recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil new academic space that includes a building and renovated spaces in the school's Iselin Center.
Specific additions and enhancements include a new library, science labs, innovation labs, production studio, art gallery and collaboration areas and flexible classrooms. There is also a Katz Center for Teaching & Learning dedicated to advanced training for teachers.
"Our community's love for Green Vale and belief in its future has been abundantly clear in the form of ever-increasing generosity to the school," Head of School Jesse Dougherty said.
Schools of Excellence
Six Long Island PTAs and schools have been named 2019-21 National PTA Schools of Excellence in recognition of their "commitment to building an inclusive and welcoming school community," National PTA officials said. They are among 326 nationwide to receive the honor.
The schools recognized are Merrimac Elementary School in Holbrook, Northside Elementary School in Farmingdale, Old Bethpage Elementary School, Plaza Elementary School in Baldwin, Stanley D. Saltzman East Memorial Elementary School in Farmingdale, and Woodward Parkway Elementary School in Farmingdale.
To earn the designation, the PTAs and administrators made a yearlong commitment in identifying and implementing an action plan for school improvement based on the National PTA's National Standards for Family School Partnerships and Transformative Family Engagement.