Westhampton Beach Elementary School students show off the new backpacks...

Westhampton Beach Elementary School students show off the new backpacks they received, accompanied by Westhampton Beach High School junior Arianna DeMattei. Credit: Westhampton Beach School District

Thousands of Long Island students kicked off the first days of school in style, thanks to the generosity of local residents.

Donations of new clothes, backpacks and school supplies helped children in need, with the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless making one of the largest efforts.

The Amityville-based nonprofit distributed about 2,500 backpacks and school supplies to children in need. Those efforts included a Back Pack Pirates Summer Festival, a one-day summer camp experience that provided back-to-school clothes, shoes and jackets to nearly 400 homeless children from local shelters and foster care programs.

“Many of the children have barely known anything other than clothes from strangers or hand-me-downs,” said Greta Guarton, the coalition’s executive director. “It’s important for them to feel excited, enthusiastic, and ready to learn and be treated at the same level as their peers.”

On the East End, more than 500 students in the Center Moriches, Quogue and Westhampton Beach school districts received backpacks and supplies courtesy of Backpacks for Fellow Students, a fundraiser that began five years ago as a bat mitzvah project for Westhampton Beach junior Arianna DeMattei. Since its inception, the effort has provided more than 1,000 backpacks to students.

In Bohemia, members of Connetquot High School’s Helping Hands Club filled 42 backpacks with items ranging from colored pencils to notebooks. The backpacks were distributed to families in need whose children are in the district’s seven elementary schools.

Commack Road Elementary School in Islip received supplies from Hauppauge-based SportsPro Camps, which asked its summer campers to donate for local underprivileged kids.

“The generosity of the counselors and campers affords children at Commack Road the chance to start the school year on a positive note,” the Brian McCarthy, the school’s principal.


Interim superintendent

Peter C. Scordo has been named interim superintendent of the Eastport-South Manor Central School District, replacing Joseph Steimel, who held the position on an interim basis.

Scordo most recently served as superintendent of the Elwood school district before retiring in June. He also has served as superintendent of the Hauppauge and Malverne districts. Scordo was the first permanent superintendent of Eastport-South Manor Central High School District in 2000, before the merger that formed the current K-12 school district in 2003.


New middle school principal

Tracy Adams is the new principal of Longwood Middle School. She replaced Lisa Mato, who now is the district’s director of special programs and data reporting.

Adams had been the school’s assistant principal since 2012. Before that, she served as assistant principal of West Middle Island Elementary School and a teacher at Ridge Elementary School. She began teaching at a New York City charter school in 2000.

“Throughout my tenure as the assistant principal, my goals have always been to ensure the academic success of all students,” Adams said. “It is my belief students should be given the opportunity to develop into lifelong learners through a balanced education where parental and community involvement remains essential.”


Interim superintendent

Paul Casciano is interim superintendent of the Port Jefferson school district, replacing Ken Bossert, who now is superintendent of the Elwood school system.

Before joining Port Jefferson, Casciano served his entire 41-year educational career with the William Floyd school district in Mastic Beach, including eight years as superintendent.

“I have always held the Port Jefferson school district in high regard,” Casciano said. “I am looking forward to working with the school community and making whatever contributions I can during my term.”

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