Credit: Elwood School District

Striving to make the holidays happier for people far and near, students in schools across Long Island collected everything from toiletries to toys to winter clothing for those in need.

In Elwood, fifth-graders at James H. Boyd Intermediate School raised $300 to purchase a gift card to fund internet access for a soldier in the 101st Airborne Division.

Meanwhile, Elwood-John H. Glenn High School’s World Language Honor Society filled 50 shoe boxes with toys and school supplies for children as part of the “Operation Christmas Child” program of Samaritan’s Purse, a humanitarian aid organization.

“This is our first time doing this,” said Nicole Correia, the society’s co-adviser. “We really wanted to give back worldwide and hope to continue to expand this initiative year after year.”

In Bohemia, Edward J. Bosti Elementary School in the Connetquot school district donated pajamas for families in local shelters, with children’s book publisher Scholastic donating a book for each item of clothing. Last year, the district collected more than 450 pairs of pajamas.

In East Northport, fourth-graders at Fifth Avenue Elementary School collected various items — such as stuffed animals, puzzles and books — and donated them to underprivileged students at a school in the Bronx.

In Port Jefferson, Edna Louise Spear Elementary School held a Holiday Help program in which families bought items written on paper mittens on a tree in the school’s lobby.


Romantic musician

Oliver Wu, a pianist and fourth-grader at Nassakeag Elementary School, was among three first-place winners this fall in the ages 6-10 category of the American Fine Arts Festival’s 2016 Romantic Music International Competition, titled “Golden Era of Romantic Music.”

He was the sole first-place winner from New York.

For winning, he got the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall and in Germany, and a scholarship to attend the festival’s summer music courses in Europe.

Kevin Xu, a pianist and sophomore at Ward Melville High School, placed third in the competition’s ages 15-18 group.


“Project Runway”

Two Suffolk County teens — Chris Russo of Riverhead High School and A’kai Littlejohn of Hauppauge Middle School — are among 12 nationwide scheduled to appear on Lifetime’s “Project Runway: Junior.”

The program, filmed during the summer, premieres on Dec. 22. To be considered, the teens sent an application and an audition tape and went through a series of interviews.

The competition’s first-place winner will receive a scholarship to attend the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, a home sewing and crafting studio and a $25,000 cash award to help launch their line.

“I love abstract or geometric designs of all kinds,” said Russo, a senior. “I trust in myself and my own sense of design.”


Early childhood education

Nearly 500 Long Island educators gathered last month for a first-time conference that included workshops and lectures on improving early childhood education.

The event, held at the Melville Marriott, was presented by Long Island Pre-K Initiative, which identifies challenges to local preschool education and creates strategies to meet them.

The initiative is administered by Nassau BOCES in partnership with Eastern Suffolk BOCES, Western Suffolk BOCES and the Child Care Councils of Nassau and Suffolk, and is funded by a grant co-administered by the Rauch and Hagedorn foundations.

“Children need to be taught differently when they are younger, and this conference provides educators with the opportunity to share best practices and developmentally appropriate strategies,” event chair Adrienne Robb-Fund said.

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