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Suffolk School Notebook: Long Island students raise cancer awareness

Gianna Lorusso, a fourth grader at Bretton Woods

Gianna Lorusso, a fourth grader at Bretton Woods Elementary School in Hauppauge, encouraged community members to display decorated hearts on their front doors to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. Credit: Diane Lorusso

While the start of the 2020-21 school year has been centered around COVID-19, Long Island students have also focused on another important illness: cancer.

Many schools have participated in cancer awareness activities and fundraisers in recognition of Childhood Cancer and Breast Cancer awareness months in September and October, respectively.

In Riverhead, students in the district's five elementary schools participated in a campaign, titled 50,000 Burpees for Cancer Awareness, in which students completed as many burpees — also known as squat thrusts — as possible in a given period during physical education classes.

"Each burpee will show the strength of our students while representing those that are suffering from this disease," said Cherese Hinckson, a physical education teacher at the district's Aquebogue Elementary School.

In Hauppauge, Bretton Woods Elementary School fourth-grader Gianna Lorusso wrote a letter to families encouraging them to "whip" pediatric cancer by placing decorated hearts — called "Hearts of Gold" — on their front doors and making donations to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The school also posted pictures of students and staff holding their hearts on its website.

In Farmingdale, the high school hosted a fundraiser, titled "Make ‘Cents' out of Breast Cancer; Together we can Make 'Change,'" in which students donated spare change to see which grade could raise the most for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

In Islip, the high school's Junior Chamber of Commerce Club sold face masks decorated with pink ribbons to benefit the Islip Breast Cancer Coalition.


Garfield M. Langhorn Day

Pulaski Street Elementary School recently designated the second Friday of each October as Garfield M. Langhorn Day in tribute to a former student who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1969.

During the school's inaugural day on Oct. 16, each class incorporated Langhorn's story into their lessons. Principal Patrick Burke also spoke to students during lunch periods about Langhorn's service, and children were invited to share stories of their own relatives who have served.

Langhorn died when he threw himself on a live grenade to save fellow wounded soldiers, school officials said.


Fire safety

Many schools taught the importance of fire safety last month in recognition of National Fire Prevention Month.

In Lloyd Harbor, elementary schoolers created posters that featured prevention tips — such as testing smoke detectors, preparing a family escape plan and checking a fire extinguisher's expiration dates — that were displayed inside of Lloyd Harbor Elementary School.

In Southampton, elementary students explored the equipment inside a fire truck — such as a fire hose — and learned what to do in the event of a fire during a visit from the Southampton Fire Department.

In Copiague, kindergartners at Deauville Gardens East Elementary School created "fire heroes" out of construction paper and learned how firefighters risk their lives to keep communities safe.


The Flag Project

Six Long Island students were among 193 artists worldwide to have their original flag designs flown around the Rink at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan as part of the Rockefeller Center Flag Project, which received more than 1,200 entries based on the theme "Show Your Love for New York." Winners had their designs transformed into 8-by-5-foot flags that were flown during the month of August.

Student winners were Elias Sherman of Lynbrook High School, and Becca Hochman, Zahra Khan, Ella Schacter, Stasya Selizhuk and Ella Woods from West Hollow Middle School in Melville.

Claire Jung, a 2020 graduate of New Hyde Park Memorial High School, also won.


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