Many schools have been spreading warmth this winter through clothing drives to help individuals in need across Long Island.
In Merrick, Cub Scout Pack 206 partnered with four schools in the Merrick and North Merrick school districts for a drive that collected more than 500 new winter coats. The items were donated to the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless in Amityville.
"The results went beyond our wildest expectations," Pack Leader Michael Kearney said. "The time the boys spent standing out in the cold will benefit so many less fortunate people."
In Lynbrook, Marion Street Elementary School's Student Council organized a "mitten tree" initiative in which community members donated more than 250 mittens, scarves and winter hats. The clothing was hung on a tree in the school's lobby before going to the Salvation Army.
In Deer Park, students in the Deer Park Junior Community Association at Robert Frost Middle School and John F. Kennedy Intermediate School collected 200 hats, 200 scarves and 150 pairs of socks for the outreach program at nearby Saints Cyril and Methodius Church.
In Elwood, the middle school's Student Council spearheaded a collection that filled two large plastic bags with coats for the Helping Hand Rescue Mission in Huntington Station.
"It's great to give back to our community, because right now is a hard time for a lot of people," said Elwood Student Council representative and seventh-grader Camila Avila.
Hauppauge High School senior A'Kai Littlejohn, a designer of womenswear, had one of his gowns appear on ABC's "The Bachelor" on Jan. 4. The black gown was worn by Chelsea Vaughn, a model and contestant on the show.
Littlejohn previously appeared on the second season of Lifetime's "Project Runway: Junior" in 2017. He also debuted his first solo collection two years ago at New York Fashion Week.
In addition, he received the Emerging Fashion Designer Award at the Cinémoi Network's CinéFashion Film Awards in 2019.
Brenda Almendarez-DeBello has been appointed principal of Tamarac Elementary School. She was previously the school's interim principal.
Almendarez-DeBello served as an assistant principal at Sachem High School East in Farmingville since 2017. Before that, she was an administrative intern and a bilingual math teacher for five years in the Uniondale School District and a math teacher in Queens.
Almendarez-DeBello "has proven herself time and time again as an outstanding leader and educator," Sachem Central School District Superintendent Christopher Pellettieri said.
Summer School for the Arts
The New York State Education Department has waived tuition for its 2021 New York State Summer School for the Arts, which will be held virtually this summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Interested students can apply through the school's website: oce.nysed.gov/nysssa.
The four-week program consists of intensive work and interaction with acclaimed artists and performing arts companies in seven component schools: ballet, choral and vocal studies, media arts, modern dance, orchestral studies, theater and visual arts. Applicants must participate in an audition process and be in grades eight through 12 — or grades six through 12 for the School of Ballet.
"Our [Summer School for the Arts] staff have poured their passion into ensuring that their exceptional students can continue to grow artistically and personally by transforming the curricula for optimum online learning," Interim State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa said.