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 Huntington, the high school's Creative Crafts classes created about 200 ornaments and holiday cards that were donated to Trees for Troops, a national program that provides members of the armed forces and their families with free farm-grown Christmas trees.
"If families cannot be together due to their deployment, Trees for Troops is providing them with the trees for the holiday season, and we are providing them with ornaments to give them a feeling like they're home and not forgotten," Huntington junior Lainey Carney said.
In Elwood, John H. Glenn High School students filled 35 shoe boxes with donated items — including small toys, hygiene items and school supplies — as part of Operation Christmas Child, a project of the international relief organization Samaritan's Purse.
In Port Jefferson, Earl L. Vandermeulen High School's Varsity Club collaborated with junior Liam Cooper to sell wreaths at $15 each to be part of wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery through the nonprofit Wreaths Across America.
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.
Thomas Knott has been named principal of Coram Elementary in the Longwood Central School District. He replaced Susan Connolly, who retired.
Knott served the past five years as an assistant principal at the school, where he is credited with initiating a Code of Conduct Committee and served as the campus leader for the Leader in Me initiative. He joined the district as a middle school teacher in 2001.
"I look forward to continuing to provide equitable learning environments for all students, creating strong classroom communities, and continuing the established excellence here at Coram," Knott said.
Wall of Heroes
Smithtown High School West held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last month for a "Wall of Heroes" that is designed to pay tribute to alumni who have served in the armed forces. The wall currently contains 70 plaques that each feature an alumni's name, branch of service and graduation year.
The project began as part of a social studies leadership class assignment under the director of teacher Joan Havranek. It was spearheaded last school year by students Sophia Emma, Paige Diecidue, Chloe Mango, Shayna Moses and Rociel Raymundo.
"This wall is here because of our veterans who have faithfully served our country to protect our freedoms and liberty," West Principal John Coady 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.