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Nassau School Notebook: Moriches student named a top state youth volunteer

Caitlyn Michiels, a fifth-grader at Moriches Elementary School,

Caitlyn Michiels, a fifth-grader at Moriches Elementary School, has been selected as one of New York State's top youth volunteers for 2021 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. She is pictured here with boxes of eyeglass donations that she collected with the help of Suffolk County Legislators' offices. Credit: Kim Siwicki

A Moriches student is one of the state's top two youth volunteers in a nationwide program that honors outstanding acts of volunteerism.

Caitlyn Michiels, a fifth-grader at Moriches Elementary School, has been named one of New York's two state honorees — and one of 102 nationwide — in this year's Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. She will receive a $2,500 scholarship, an engraved silver medallion, and is eligible to become one of 10 national honorees in May.

Caitlyn, who has a rare eye disease called anterior bilateral uveitis, was selected for her work with her nonprofit Caitlyn's Vision. Her initiatives included collecting about 700 pairs of eyeglasses for children in need in partnership with Lions Club International, raising some $30,000 to fund eye care for children, and purchasing fluorescent light covers for her district's elementary schools to help those with visual impairment, attention disorders and epilepsy.

"I hope I will be able to keep helping children for a long time and would love to find new ways of helping kids with visual impairments," Caitlyn said.

Long Island high schools also had seven of the state's eight distinguished finalists: Alexandra Delafraz, Great Neck North; Sophia Gottlieb, Mount Sinai; Jensen Herbst, Smithtown West; Lucia Ibrahim, East Hampton; Emily Kovacs, Northport; Kristen Longworth, South Side; and Asmita Mittal, Syosset.

The program is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

VALLEY STREAM

Giving Club

Shaw Avenue Elementary School has launched a Giving Club to help students give back to their community.

The 20-member club gathers virtually each week via Google Meet. Their recent efforts have included collecting 203 pairs of new socks for the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless and a letter-writing campaign to show appreciation to nurses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I'm so impressed by these wonderful children who come to each meeting eager and excited to help others," said the club's adviser, Kristin Princiotta.

COUNTYWIDE

'Souper Bowls'

Many Long Island schools put a charitable twist on football's biggest event last month by hosting food drives called "Souper Bowls."

In Massapequa, Alfred G. Berner Middle School's Challenge Club hosted a drive that collected 26 boxes of food for the YES Community Counseling Center. Donors placed their items into a box representing the football team they thought would win: the Kansas City team or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In Freeport, Leo F. Giblyn Elementary School collected 723 food items for local families in need as a culminating event to the school's Great Kindness Challenge.

In North Bellmore, the district's five elementary schools collected nearly 2,000 canned goods for the Bellmore-Merrick Community Cupboard.

ISLANDWIDE

Code-a-thon

Seventeen Long Island students were among the winners of the 2021 Code-a-thon coordinated by the nonprofit We Connect the Dots. The competition, which had three levels of difficulty, challenged pupils to create websites that offer a solution to a societal problem.

Long Island's first-place winners and their districts were: Massimo Marino, Bellmore-Merrick; Maxwell Gomberg, Bridgehampton; Sabaa Khan, Levittown; Donato Fiore, Lindenhurst; and Chigozirim Ifebi, Sewanhaka. Long Island's second-place winners were: Jeremy Gordan, Commack; Stephen Jones, Half Hollow Hills; Anthony Ficalora, Lindenhurst; Calder Raio, Northport-East Northport; Ellie Shapiro, Port Washington; Alvin Paul, Sewanhaka; and Alex Gordan of Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville. Long Island's third-place winners were: Harris Cantley, Commack; Wayne Williams, Lindenhurst; Kimone Walker, Sewanhaka; and Kaylee Barbieri, West Islip.

In addition, Mustafa Mozawalla of Valley Stream Central High School District was on a team that won the Most Engaged Team Prize.

— MICHAEL R. EBERT

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