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LI school fundraisers boost childhood, breast cancer awareness

Lindenhurst High School’s girls varsity field hockey team

Lindenhurst High School’s girls varsity field hockey team wore gold T-shirts and laces to show support for pediatric cancer awareness during a game against Half Hollow Hills School District. Credit: Lindenhurst School District

The fight against cancer fueled fundraising energy and creativity from students and staff members at schools across Long Island in recent weeks.

Dozens of schools hosted events and activities tied to Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September and Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

NASSAU EVENTS: In Massapequa, the district's fall athletic teams raised $1,500 through donations and the sale of gold bracelets and ribbons in support of pediatric cancer research. They also wore gold clothing -- from socks to headbands -- for one game and created "Night on the Town" baskets of movie and restaurant gift certificates for families of children at Winthrop-University Hospital's Cancer Center for Kids in Mineola.

"This is a great example of community spirit," Massapequa High School Principal Barbara Williams said. "These athletes exhibited exceptional character."

In Glen Cove, members of Robert M. Finley Middle School's National Junior Honor Society and Student Council raised $400 for the American Cancer Society through sales of pink bracelets and faculty donations linked to wearing pink for a day. Finley students also participated in the society's "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" walk for the Eastern Long Island region, held Oct. 4 at Dowling College.

Teachers at Seaford Manor Elementary School raised about $300 through a Lee National Denim Day in which they made donations to wear denim in support of breast cancer awareness. Proceeds went to the American Cancer Society.

In Locust Valley, the high school's girls varsity soccer team volunteered selling chili and raffle tickets at the Bayville Waterside Festival to benefit the Matthew Fetzer Foundation.

"They are a great bunch of girls and I am extremely proud of them," Locust Valley coach Ann Monsees said.

SUFFOLK EVENTS: In Lindenhurst, the high school's Key Club and girls varsity field hockey team raised funds in memory of Christina Renna, a student who died at 16 in 2007 after a battle with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of cancer. The team members wore gold shirts and laces to show support for pediatric cancer research during a game against the Half Hollow Hills school district, while club members sold baked goods to those in attendance.

"This is a small something that we can do to bring awareness to a bigger issue," Lindenhurst coach Jessica Scheno said. "This is a special group of girls. They are not only dedicated to their team, but to their community."

In North Babylon, students and staff at Woods Road Elementary School raised $1,075 by participating in team-building activities while wearing gold shoelaces they purchased for $5 as part of a Lace Up 4 Pediatric Cancer initiative. Proceeds benefitted local children in the North Shore-LIJ Health System.

In Port Jefferson, students in the district's three schools participated in a "Paint Port Pink" program to raise funds for the Fortunato Breast Health Center at nearby John T. Mather Memorial Hospital. Fundraisers ranged from selling pink Frisbees to placing pink flamingos on the lawns of those who made donations.

In Rocky Point, 20 faculty and staff members at the middle school competed in an inaugural contest to eat whipped cream pies topped with pink sprinkles, raising $650 for the nonprofit Side-Out Foundation.

LONG BEACH: New principals

The Long Beach school district has two new principals: Paul Romanelli at Long Beach Middle School and Kathleen Connolly at East Elementary School. Romanelli replaced Michele Natali, now the district's executive director of human resources, and Connolly replaced Sean Murray, now the district's director of elementary curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Romanelli most recently was assistant principal at Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School, and before that was dean of students and a math teacher at Oldfield Middle School in Greenlawn for 10 years. Connolly previously was director of curriculum for the Baldwin school district, where she held various administrative roles since 2006.

PLAINVIEW: New principals

The Plainview-Old Bethpage school district has three new principals: Alice Bowman at Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School, Karen Heitner at Pasadena Elementary School, and Greg Scesney at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Kindergarten Center.

Bowman, who previously was assistant principal at Floral Park Memorial High School, replaced John McNamara, now assistant superintendent for instruction in the Wantagh school district. Heitner, who earlier was the kindergarten center's principal, replaced Paulette Miller, who retired. Scesney previously was the center's assistant principal.

ROSLYN: New appointments

Gerard W. Dempsey Jr. is interim superintendent of the Roslyn school district, replacing Dan Brenner, who retired. Dempsey, who was Roslyn's superintendent from 2006-07, also has been superintendent of the Farmingdale and Plainview-Old Bethpage school districts. Most recently, he was superintendent in residence at Eastern Suffolk BOCES from 2012-15.

"I am very pleased and excited about returning to Roslyn, a community I know well," Dempsey said. "During my previous year in the school district, I developed a great respect for the people of Roslyn and for their deep commitment to public education."

Craig Johanson is the new principal of Roslyn Middle School. Johanson, who had been the school's assistant principal, replaced Jack Palmadesso, who retired.

BOHEMIA: New principal

Kenneth Costa is the new principal of Connetquot High School, replacing Richard Shear, who held the position on an interim basis.

Costa, who was Connetquot's assistant principal during the 2003-04 school year, most recently was assistant principal of Sagamore Middle School in Holtsville. He also has been an assistant principal at Sachem North High School in Lake Ronkonkoma and at Patchogue-Medford High School, as well as dean of students at Brentwood High School.

"In my position as principal, I'm looking forward to working with students, parents and teachers to make this the best school year in the history of our district," Costa said.

DEER PARK: Brotherly love

Deer Park High School freshman Dylan Poppe got a special surprise when his brother Kevin, a Class of 2013 graduate who had been away at U.S. Army boot camp since January, visited the school in September. An unsuspecting Dylan was preparing for a quiz in social studies teacher Vanessa Whitney's classroom when the reunion occurred.

The younger Poppe gave his brother a "huge bear hug" that almost knocked him over as his classmates erupted in applause, school officials said.

"It was a heartwarming moment and one I will always treasure," Whitney said.

SHIRLEY: Down syndrome video

Sammy Ferguson, a fourth-grader at John S. Hobart Elementary School, was one of about 450 children, teenagers and adults worldwide selected to have their photographs included in the National Down Syndrome Society's 2015 Times Square Video -- an annual presentation on the famous square's jumbo screen.

The video aired on the morning of Sept. 19, when the society was holding its Buddy Walk in Manhattan. More than 1,000 photos were entered.

"It is very important to us to educate others about Trisomy 21," Sammy's mother, Tracy, said of the genetic disorder.


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