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Long IslandEducation

Schools use Halloween as a teaching tool for students

Linett Rosario Jimenez, a kindergartner at Great Neck

Linett Rosario Jimenez, a kindergartner at Great Neck Road Elementary School in Copiague, examines the different parts of the pumpkin using a magnifying glass. Credit: Copiague School District

The arrival of autumn proved to be an effective learning tool for kids across Long Island.

Local schools have hosted everything from fall-themed art projects to science experiments involving apples and pumpkins in an effort to bring the changing seasons into the classroom.

In Huntington, high school students participated in a Halloween lab experience with six science stations, including one in which they extracted pigments from a leaf and another in which they focused on the diffusion of pumpkin seeds using common kitchen chemicals.

“I wanted to incorporate the joy of the day with my love for science and share that with my students,” Huntington science teacher Lori Kenny said. “It was a complete blast, filled with some spooky music to top it off.”

In Copiague, kindergartners at Great Neck Road Elementary School examined and identified the parts of a pumpkin, used adjectives to describe them, and painted pumpkin pictures using red and yellow to make orange. Meanwhile, kindergartners at Norwood Avenue Elementary School in Northport counted seeds and learned about pumpkin life cycles.

In West Islip, third-graders at Oquenock Elementary School created a picture graph after tasting different kinds of apples in the school’s STEM lab. They also solved apple-related math problems and wrote sentences using their senses to describe the apples.

In Cold Spring Harbor, science teachers at the high school dressed as Albert Einstein to blow up pumpkins as part of a lesson about combustion, exothermic reactions and oxidizing agents.


Community Wellness Day

The Connetquot school district hosted its first-ever Community Wellness Day last month to promote mindfulness practices and healthy lifestyle choices among local families. The four-hour event, held at the high school, had more than 40 vendors featuring physical, mental, nutritional and holistic components of wellness.

Activities included yoga and meditation sessions in classrooms, and booths set up in the school’s gymnasium featuring representatives from businesses including HeartBeet Farms in Centereach and LA Fitness. There also were presentations by local doctors.

“The collaborative efforts of all enhanced the true essence of the Connetquot community,” said Gail E. Santo, the district’s director of pupil personnel services.


New principal

Lucia Laguarda has been appointed principal of Flower Hill Primary School. She replaced Paula Nickerson, who held the position on an interim basis following the departure of Marlon Small in September. Small left to become assistant principal for curriculum, instruction and accountability for the South Country school district in East Patchogue.

Laguarda has served as director of professional personnel for the Riverhead school district since 2015, and before that served as the principal of elementary schools in California and Massachusetts. She began her career as a bilingual classroom teacher in 1992.


Spooktacular fundraiser

The Miller Place school district hosted a Halloween-themed dance that raised more than $9,000 for cancer research in memory of Joshua Faithfull, a 16-year-old student who died earlier this year from a rare malignant melanoma of the brain and spinal cord.

Proceeds went to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Funds were raised through admission fees and raffles for items including a Nintendo Switch gaming console, tickets to a New York Rangers game and a spa gift card. The event included activities such as pumpkin decorating, beanbag tosses and face-painting.

“The outstanding success of this event is a tribute to how deeply loved Josh was in our community, and how much he is missed,” Superintendent Marianne Cartisano said.

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