Many Long Island students are growing more than just their young minds.
A number of local schools are using outdoor gardens this fall to educate children on the importance of wellness at an early age by teaching them to plant, grow and harvest crops -- and later incorporating the food into their school menus.
In Glen Cove, Katherine A. Deasy Elementary School recently hired upstate-based Teich Garden Systems to create a 16-by-32 foot garden with special soil that is "weed- and irrigation-free," school officials said. The school's 468 students are monitoring the crops -- ranging from lettuce to peas to spinach -- with plans to experience the fruits of their labor during an upcoming "Salad Pizza Day."
"We'll order some pizza and each class will pick toppings from the garden," principal Nomi Rosen said. "Kids usually leave vegetables on their plate, but when they grow it themselves it changes everything."
In Cold Spring Harbor, West Side School started an organic garden last year that was tended over the summer by volunteer families in the district. The school's Garden Club used the tomatoes, herbs and spices last month to make sauce for a school lunch and also canned some tomatoes for future use.
"The community has been very vital," said fourth-grade teacher Cheryl Murphy. "Parents have donated the topsoil. People donated and helped lay bricks. Others dug the flowerbeds."
In Centereach, North Coleman Road School recently donated to local families roughly 100 heads of lettuce and spinach that kids grew at nearby Bethel Hobbs Community Farm.
Dictionaries handed out
The Oyster Bay Rotary Club gave dictionaries last month to every third-grader at three Oyster Bay schools -- East Woods School, Vernon Elementary School and St. Dominic School -- as well as the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf.
The effort was coordinated in conjunction with the nonprofit Dictionary Project and is intended to inspire students to improve communication skills.
Winning a grant 'race'
Manorhaven Elementary School is one of 50 schools nationwide to receive a grant to create a running program via the 2011 Run for Something Better School Award Program coordinated by the financial services company ING in partnership with the National Association for Sport & Physical Education.
The school will receive up to $2,500 for an eight-week program that will culminate with a celebratory running event.
Math scholars named
Seventy-two Long Island students were named Young Scholars of Mathematics last month by the Institute of Creative Problem Solving for Gifted and Talented Students at SUNY Old Westbury. About 700 students competed by submitting an essay and taking a "rigorous entrance exam," college officials said.
Nassau County scholars are: East Rockaway: Peter Wilson of Centre Avenue School; Kim McGeary of East Rockaway Junior High School; East Williston: Anne Yan of Willets Road School; Farmingdale: Suraj Muralidharan and Bailey Benzinger of Howitt Middle School; Freeport:Kira Brizill of Atkinson Intermediate School; Garden City: Kaylah Bozkurtian, Lucas Franco, Brandon Gong and Yang Liu of Garden City Middle School; Sheppard Somers of The Waldorf School; Glen Head: Molly Reilly and Mike Rovner of North Shore High School; Great Neck: Jessy Lin and Cuilee Sha of Great Neck North High School; Chul Soon Hwang and Dan Kim of Great Neck South Middle School; Herricks: Anu Sharma of Herricks Middle School; Jericho: Sejal Verma of Jericho High School; Gina Kim, Spencer Lee, Adam Pahlavan and Dan Wu of Jericho Middle School; Locust Valley: Jack Ferrante and Quin Ferrante of Locust Valley Middle School; Long Beach: Jack Cruse-Mulhall and Jonathan Kapilian of Long Beach Middle School; Lynbrook: Tom Postiglione of Lynbrook South Middle School; New Hyde Park: Walter Koch and Ryan Moon of New Hyde Park Road School; Oceanside: Jewel Joseph of School No. 2; Gillian Bartholomew of School No. 4; Plainview: Nigel Kravatz of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School; Port Washington: Julia Ruskin of Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School; Syosset: Liz Bekerman, Jee Hae Han and Yash Samantaray of Thompson Middle School; Lauriann Kormylo and Renee Rios of Our Lady of Mercy Academy; Radhika Patel of South Woods Middle School; Austin Chen and Sharon Lam of Syosset High School; Valley Stream: Brandon Weiss of Ogden Elementary School; Westbury: Mandy Wagnac of Westbury Middle School.