The importance of giving was a popular lesson this holiday season in schools across Long Island.
In Huntington, the high school's art students created more than 100 snowman ornaments out of polymer clay for patients at Huntington Hospital and the Project TOY initiative of the Tri-CYA and Family Service League. Project Toy stands for "Treasures Our Youth."
"Every year I ask my students to make something we can donate to a charity during the holiday season," Huntington art teacher Kim Valerio said. "I am proud of the enthusiasm and the care my students put into the project."
In East Setauket, six-graders at Minnesauke Elementary School baked more than 200 biscuits for the Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center in Huntington. A center representative visited the school in response to the donation, accompanied by a dachshund waiting to be placed in a "forever home," school officials said.
In Hampton Bays, the elementary school's fourth-graders and student council held a toy drive in conjunction with the nonprofit Airborne Tri Team to benefit pediatric patients at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore. The toys were accompanied by holiday cards written by the fourth-graders.
In Greenlawn, the homeroom collecting the most toys for the Family Service League won a holiday bagel breakfast at the Harborfields district's Oldfield Middle School.
Helen B. Duffield Elementary School recently unveiled a new Mindful Room to help students find inner peace and relieve stress during the school day. The room includes comforting elements such as a nature sound machine, cascading water fountain and inspirational quotes.
Joanne Pisani, the school's youth and family services coordinator, also conducts self-awareness activities in tandem with her health lessons and leads meditation sessions in which students practice poses such as "crane," "frog" and "lotus."
"Whether they are upset or overwhelmed, it is a safe comfortable place where a student uses the breathing and coping strategies to come back to center," Principal Lisa Farrell said.
A total of 110 seniors from 55 high schools in Suffolk County received Suffolk Zone Awards last month from the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
Each high school names one female recipient and one male recipient based on academic, leadership and physical performance.
Local winners and their high schools were: Ashley Sanz and Carlos Ponce, Amityville; Riley Ford and Brendan Watt, Babylon; Catherine Surian and Patrick Mangels, Bay Shore; Caitlin Kelly and Michael Grogan, Bayport-Blue Point; Alyssa Mantione and Samuel Hampson, Bellport; Giselle Castaneda and Jonathan Hernandez, Brentwood; Aziza El and James Fairchild, Bridgehampton; Allison Carpenter and Alex Hermsdorf, Center Moriches; Sophia Alois and Alex Mazzella, Centereach; Jennifer Donis and Elian Escoto, Central Islip; Taylor Weber and Sean Coveny, Commack; Sophia Azzara and Thomas Tommaso, Comsewogue; Karly Hokenson and Harrison Finnerty, Connetquot; Abigail Romero and Jackson Bright, Copiague; Michaela Rapisarda and Ryan Brooks, Deer Park; Erin Decker and Christopfer Criollo, East Hampton; Melissa Sconone and Christopher Palmer, East Islip; Kasey Choma and Anthony Gambino, Eastport-South Manor; Caroline Miller and Rocco Fratarcangeli, Elwood; Emelyn Azurdia and Jose Mateo Arias, Greenport; Abigail Newman and Ethan Koval, Half Hollow Hills East; Ashley Rogers and William Jennings, Half Hollow Hills West; Christina Coulton and Patricio Pulla, Hampton Bays; Shanon Tully and Justin Klei, Harborfields; Colleen Buckley and Michael Knopf, Hauppauge; Paige Lennon and Henry Cartwright, Huntington; Riley Coleman and Christopher Giuliani, Islip; Angelica Svolos and Nicholas Van Deusen, Kings Park; Shay McCandless and Robert Commisso, Lindenhurst; Kanesha Strider and Alexander Miller, Longwood; Julie Seifert and Tyler Olsen, Mattituck; Kimberly Dallas and Justyn Baldeo, Miller Place; Holly McNair and Kenneth Wei, Mount Sinai; Olivia Bond and Loui Chen, Newfield; Sierra Echevarria and Brendan Didier, North Babylon; Olivia Carner and Maxwell Napoli, Northport; Kayla Martin and Wyatt Reksten, Patchogue-Medford; Delaney Vu and Alexander Bonacci, Rocky Point; Lindsey Gelderman and Andrew Oakland, Sachem East; Bella Lorenzo and Nicholas Gambino, Sachem North; Haille Ross and Jack Davis, Sayville; Mia Clark and Michael Payano, Shelter Island; Emma Kirkpatrick and Joshua Louser, Shoreham-Wading River; Grace Young and Kevin Cawley, Smithtown East; Emily Eng and Erick Reuter, Smithtown West; Alessandra Ponzio and Matthew Dolan, St. John the Baptist; Megan Robinson and Thomas Gabriele, Southampton; Marie Mullen and Michael Daddona, Southold; Andrianna Monzon and Grant Calendrille, Earl L. Vandermeulen; Grace Roiland and Christian Viteri, Walt Whitman; Alexis Reinhardt and Arthur W. Berry III, Ward Melville; Hannah Heller and Evan Restivo, West Babylon; Kimberly Arena and Maximus Albanese, West Islip; Tori Cummings and Liam McIntyre, Westhampton Beach; and Hailey Loughlin and Anthony Hristidis, William Floyd.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled the first name of Joanne Pisani, youth and family services coordinator at Helen B. Duffield Elementary School in the Connetquot district.