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Students raise money, collect supplies for hurricane victims

Students at Valley Stream Memorial Junior High School

Students at Valley Stream Memorial Junior High School have been collecting items to help residents of Puerto Rico following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Credit: Valley Stream Central High School

Hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico are getting a helping hand from local students through donations of supplies and money.

Long Island schools have hosted a variety of fundraisers — from bake sales to car washes to movie nights — to provide much-needed relief to families affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Students at East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School raised more than $1,200 through a car wash to aid the community of Rockport, Texas, which was devastated when Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm. The school plans to hold fundraisers through the end of October and then adopt a Florida community affected by Irma.

“The people of East Rockaway were very caring and generous and understood the victims’ losses, as they endured similar circumstances after superstorm Sandy,” social studies teacher Don Poland said.

In Locust Valley, student government officers at the middle and high schools raised nearly $900 through a cash donation drive during the month of September, with proceeds given to the nonprofit Island Harvest. The district’s elementary schools held a weeklong drive to collect supplies, including batteries, flashlights and hygiene items.

In Lynbrook, Waverly Park Elementary School raised $217 by selling paper bracelets during lunch periods. In addition, the district’s North Middle School raised more than $800 for the American Red Cross, while its South Middle School collected supplies for Harvey victims in partnership with the New York District of Kiwanis International.

In Jericho, Schechter School of Long Island’s Kesher Club for Social Action and student government collected $2,000 in gift cards that were sent to Beth Yeshurun Day School in Houston.


New principal

Robert Neufeld has been appointed principal of Searingtown Elementary School in the Herricks school district. He replaced Elizabeth Guercin, who now is the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Neufeld most recently was principal of Hiawatha Elementary School in Lake Ronkonkoma in the Sachem school district, where he previously had served stints as principal of three junior high schools and four elementary schools since 1974. While in that system, he also implemented the Cornell Cooperative Home and School Program and founded the Suffolk County Elementary Principals’ Association.

“Searingtown school has wonderful connections between home and school,” Neufeld said. “It is through these connections that we support a love of learning. The values of respect, responsibility, compassion and good citizenship are always close at hand.”


New principal

Jason Martin has been named principal of Floral Park Memorial High School in the Sewanhaka Central High School District. He replaced Kathleen Sottile, who now is the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Martin previously served as principal of Rippowam Middle School in Stamford, Connecticut. Before that, he was an assistant principal and physics teacher at Westhill High School in Stamford.

“I am honored to work alongside such a committed and connected learning community,” Martin said. “I look forward to getting to know my staff on personal and professional levels, to find out what they value and ultimately establish an unwavering trust throughout the building.”


Interim superintendent

Jennifer Gallagher is interim superintendent of Long Beach school district. She replaced David Weiss, who now is head of U.S. Public Schools for International Baccalaureate.

Gallagher most recently was the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. She will work with the district’s chief operating officer Michael DeVito and executive director for human resources Michele Natali as a collaborative team to share responsibilities of the superintendent.

The district’s Board of Education plans to name a new superintendent by midyear, with a start date of no later than July 1.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly described the effort of the Lynbrook district’s South Middle School in collecting supplies for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

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