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Long IslandEducation

Long Island schools creatively mark Hispanic Heritage Month

Transitional bilingual students at Caroline G. Atkinson School

Transitional bilingual students at Caroline G. Atkinson School in Freeport perform a Mexican folk song that involves passing a lemon around a circle, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month activities. Photo Credit: Freeport School District

Many Long Island schools added a cultural twist to their curricula in recent weeks in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which ended Saturday after kicking off Sept. 15.

In North Bellmore, fifth-graders at Martin Avenue Elementary School made Mexican folk art, known as papel picado, by cutting designs into colored strips of construction paper using scissors or hole-punchers and then gluing them together to finish their designs.

The kids also created self-portraits in the style of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

“We always want a great project to excite them when they come back to school,” Martin Avenue art teacher Jill Emmer said. “It makes multiculturalism real for our students.”

In Freeport, 15 transitional bilingual students at Caroline G. Atkinson Intermediate School wore sombreros as they performed the Mexican folk song “Al Citrón” last month at a board of education meeting.

In Amityville, the high school’s Hispanic Heritage Club presented a flag dance that paid tribute to nations with significant Latino populations, and a video featuring famous Hispanics, including politicians, scientists and musicians.

The event culminated with a performance by singer-songwriter Raffi, who focused on different types of Spanish music, such as salsa and tango.

“The students loved it — they embraced the music and were so into it,” said Maria Leon-Piñeros, co-adviser of the school’s 40-member Hispanic Heritage Club, which launched last school year. “In this anti-immigrant era, it’s good for students to validate who they are as a valued member of society.”


New principals

The Sewanhaka Central High School District has two new principals: Christopher Fiore at H. Frank Carey High School and Christopher Salinas at Sewanhaka High School. Fiore replaced Valerie Angelillo, and Salinas replaced Debra Lidowsky, both of whom have retired.

Fiore had served as assistant principal at Eastchester High School in Westchester County since 2010 and earlier was the school’s English department chairman and athletic director.

Salinas was a principal and director of assessment in upstate Elba. Before that, he was a principal in upstate Fairport and in Avon, Connecticut.

“In collaboration with our students, staff, parents and district leadership, we will provide a positive student-centered environment that will enable all students to become successful lifelong learners,” Salinas said.


New principals

The Long Beach school district has two new principals: Jeffrey Myers at Long Beach High School and Patrick McKinney at West Elementary School. Myers replaced William Stroud, and McKinney replaced Sandra Schneider, who retired.

Myers most recently was assistant principal at Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School. Before that, he was a social studies teacher and dean of discipline in North Babylon.

McKinney previously held administrative and teaching positions for six years at the Cultural Arts Academy Charter School in the East New York section of Brooklyn.

“I am looking forward to establishing meaningful relationships with each member of the community in order to support an already strong learning community while maintaining high expectations for every student,” McKinney said.


Students of the Year contest

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has launched a first-ever fundraising competition titled “Students of the Year,” enlisting Long Island high schoolers to raise money for blood cancer research. The person who raises the most after six weeks will win a $2,500 scholarship.

A leadership committee will select participants based upon their applications, and those chosen will form small teams to help with the campaign. Three teens also will win a $500 Citizenship Award.

Applications are online at The deadline is Friday, Oct. 21.


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