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LI schools raise funds for childhood, breast cancer awareness months

Members of East Islip High School's boys and

Members of East Islip High School's boys and girls volleyball programs took a stand earlier this month in the fight against breast cancer. Credit: East Islip School District / Maureen Meier

Long Island schools joined the fight against cancer by raising funds and awareness in recognition of childhood-cancer and breast-cancer awareness months.

In Northport, the high school’s girls volleyball team raised more than $8,000 for Danielle DeSimone, an alumnae with leukemia, during a Digs for Danielle game against Walt Whitman High School. The school’s field hockey program also hosted a Play 4 a Cure tournament in which nine Suffolk County teams raised some $2,200 for the National Foundation for Cancer Research.

“A few years ago, I had the idea for a multiteam scrimmage fundraiser,” Northport coach Gina Walling said of the second annual tournament. “It’s really inspiring to see girls come together for this cause that affects so many women — especially here on the Island.”

In Centerport, students from Smithtown High Schools, East and West, and Harborfields High School raised roughly $9,000 through a charity swim at the hamlet’s yacht club hosted by the nonprofit Swim Across America. Proceeds go toward research at hospitals and cancer centers, the nonprofit said.

In Nesconset, Great Hollow Middle School raised about $3,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through a Coaches vs. Cancer event that featured field hockey, football and soccer games. Students and staff also dressed in yellow to show awareness of childhood cancer.

In East Islip, the high school’s boys and girls volleyball programs raised more than $1,100 for the Side-Out Foundation as part if its Dig Pink initiative. Fundraising efforts included sales of Dig Pink T-shirts as well as baked goods during game day.


Courtyard Learning Lab

Frank P. Long Intermediate School hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this month for a Courtyard Learning Lab, which is designed to serve as an outdoor instructional space and allow for group concerts, plays and presentations.

So far, the lab has enabled students to participate in beautifying an outdoor garden, engage in outdoor STEM activities and work on writing skills while sitting in the grass with Chromebooks. Rain gardens have also been installed to draw moisture away from the building and turf flooring has helped reduce maintenance.

“The students and faculty have been extremely joyful and enthusiastic while using the courtyard to extend their learning,” principal Stefanie Rucinski said.


New principals

Hauppauge School District has two new principals: Christine O’Connor at Hauppauge Middle School and Christopher Cook at Hauppauge High School.

O’Connor was previously the high school’s principal and replaced Maryann Fletcher, who retired. Cook served the past three years as principal of Boston Preparatory Charter Public School and has served as principal of the Community Charter School of Cambridge.

“I am excited to return to Suffolk County and join the Hauppauge community in order to collaborate with students, educators, community members and parents to provide an education that ensures our students are prepared to be leaders into 2050 and beyond,” Cook said.


New principals

Eastport-South Manor School District has two new principals: Thomas Dick at South Street Elementary School and JeanMarie Zambelli at Tuttle Avenue Elementary School.

Dick previously served as the junior high school principal for Eastport-South Manor Junior-Senior High School, and before that was chairman of the math and science departments.

“My leadership philosophy is to foster positive interactions with school faculty, parents and guardians, and other key educational stakeholders,” Dick said.

Zambelli was previously a literacy coach at the district’s Dayton Avenue Elementary School.

“My goal here is to make sure children are happy, safe and continue to grow in their learning,” she said.

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