A Port Washington school's efforts to help students lead active lifestyles brought it an award straight from the White House.
Manorhaven Elementary School received a 2015 National Award from Let's Move! Active Schools, a sub-initiative of first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign that strives to combat childhood obesity and encourage healthy lifestyles among youths. Nationwide, 525 schools achieved the honor, with Manorhaven the sole recipient on Long Island.
The award was issued in recognition of Manorhaven's commitment to integrating at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity for its 460 students into time before, during and after school.
"Their moods are lifted after they've been moving; their confidence soars," Manorhaven physical education teacher Megaera Regan said.
The school's foray into encouraging more physical activity began several years ago with a "Mighty Milers" program, in which students earned rewards for running during physical education classes, recess and before school. Today, the school's programs include everything from an indoor rock wall to "classroom movement breaks," Regan said.
In its application, the school had to show it meets benchmarks in five areas: physical education, physical activity before and after school, physical activity during school, staff involvement, and family and community engagement.
Manorhaven received a banner, certificate and congratulatory letter from Obama.
"It's very meaningful to us," Principal Bonni Cohen said. "Being the only Long Island school makes it even more special."
SUFFOLK: Students do research on LI waterways
More than 2,000 students dived into a full day of research at the Carmans River, Nissequogue River, Connetquot River and Peconic Estuary as part of a program that has made a big splash in Suffolk County schools.
Titled "A Day in the Life," the program is designed to help youth develop an appreciation of river and estuary ecosystems by becoming stewards of water quality and natural resources.
It began four years ago when six schools studied the Carmans, a 10-mile river in the Town of Brookhaven. Since then, the number of schools participating has jumped to 37, from 29 Suffolk districts. This is the program's first year studying the Connetquot River and second year studying the Nissequogue River and Peconic Estuary.
"The more outreach we did, the more we were approached," said Melissa Griffiths Parrott, education and outreach coordinator for the Central Pine Barrens Commission, which coordinates the program with Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Suffolk County Water Authority and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. "This program helps students gain an appreciation for the local environment, and once they have that they're more inclined to protect it."
Students used kits to study nitrate, phosphate, dissolved oxygen and salinity levels in the water, among other things. They entered the data into an online portal that allowed them to compare their findings with research from previous years.
Students from Longwood High School were among those studying the Carmans River: 42 of them went to three locations along the waterway on Sept. 25.
"One of the major aspects is having them observe the biodiversity in and around the river," Longwood environmental science teacher Ivan Suarez said. "It's a pretty cool field experience for these kids."
LEVITTOWN: Two new principals
The Levittown school district has named two new principals: Joseph Sheehan at MacArthur High School and John Jared Vanderbeck at Gardiners Avenue Elementary School. Sheehan replaced Kathleen Valentino and Vanderbeck replaced Susan Hendler. Both Valentino and Hendler retired.
Sheehan had been an assistant principal at MacArthur since 2007 and before that was a physical education teacher. He held various administrative roles with the New York City Department of Education for 15 years.
"I look forward to embracing the responsibility of furthering the student body's academic and social excellence that is already embedded in the fabric of this successful school," Sheehan said.
Vanderbeck joined Levittown from the Lawrence school district, where he served as assistant principal, administrative dean and administrator of Lawrence Middle School's After-School Learning Academy.
"I'm eager to work with such a dedicated staff, an enthusiastic student body, and an incredibly supportive community," Vanderbeck said.
OCEANSIDE: New principal
Josh McPherson has been appointed principal of Walter S. Boardman Elementary School No. 9E, replacing Karen Siris, who retired.
McPherson most recently was assistant principal at Shaw Avenue Elementary School in Valley Stream. He also has been an assistant principal in Queens and a fifth-grade teacher and technology teacher in Brooklyn.
"My goal as principal of Boardman Elementary is to enrich the lives of students by helping teachers provide an engaging, rigorous educational experience," McPherson said.
HAUPPAUGE: Patriots Month Walk
The Hauppauge school district raised $2,000 last month through its first Patriots Month Walk to benefit the FealGood Foundation, a Nesconset-based nonprofit that informs people about the health effects of Sept. 11, 2001, on first responders at Ground Zero. The event saw about 50 community members strive to walk a collective 911 miles on the high school's track.
Hauppauge High School seniors Craig Bottner and Teressa Mercurio organized the walk as part of the school's International Baccalaureate program.
"I hope these first steps cause a chain reaction that will lead to something far beyond the original idea," Bottner said.
SOUTHAMPTON: Interim superintendent
Allan Gerstenlauer is interim superintendent of the Tuckahoe Common School District. He replaced Chris Dyer, who now is superintendent of a school district in Iowa.
Gerstenlauer served as superintendent of the Longwood school district from 2005 to 2012. He began his career as a Longwood social studies teacher in 1974 and later served as a department chair, assistant principal, director of secondary education and assistant superintendent for instruction and learning.
ISLANDWIDE: Hispanic essay contest
Cablevision's Optimum Community and independent media company Olympusat are inviting middle- and high-school students to participate in a "Hispanic Heritage Month" essay contest by writing about the topic: "Name a Latino, past or present, with whom you would choose to spend a day and explain why."
Entries, which cannot exceed 500 words, will be accepted through Nov. 2. Four winners in both the middle- and high-school categories will be announced in December. Prizes include a $2,500 scholarship, a tablet, a laptop and a Kindle Fire. Essays must be submitted in English via optimum.net/community, firstname.lastname@example.org, or postal mail to Cablevision: Attention Optimum Community, 1111 Stewart Ave., Bethpage, NY 11714.