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LI students learn to spread holiday goodwill

It's easy to teach a child that giving is better than receiving.

Throughout Long Island, students spent the month of December bringing that concept to life - doing everything from collecting toys for underprivileged children to spreading holiday cheer at local nursing homes.

Garden City High School students filled nearly 1,100 stockings with cards, books and candy for troops, while Wisdom Lane Elementary School in Levittown mailed 600 holiday cards to troops.

In some cases the troops even wrote back to students.

"We hang their return letters on a board in the school lobby for everyone to see," said Wisdom Lane social worker Nina Glenn. "Everyone stops to read them. It's beautiful."

In Suffolk County, families at Lynwood Elementary School in Farmingville donated 500 pounds of toiletries, snack foods and homemade "worry dolls" - which are placed under pillows to help ease fears - for care packages sent overseas to U.S. troops.

The effort was initiated by kindergarten teacher Suzanne Macchio and special education teacher Carol Aviles, whose sons are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively.

"Kids need to know that someone is out there protecting us, and this gets the message across," said Macchio.

Students at Robert Frost Middle School in Deer Park picked ornaments off a "shoe tree" that listed shoe sizes for local needy families, and bought shoes to fill the requests, while Longwood High School's Interact Club did holiday crafts with senior citizens at John J. Foley Nursing Facility in Yaphank.

LEVITTOWNSkate-a-thonMacArthur High School's freshman class raised more than $2,250 last month for the Winthrop-University Hospital Cancer Center for Kids through a Skate-a-thon at the United Skates of America roller skating center in Massapequa. The event - which raised money through admission tickets - attracted 150 students and teachers for an evening of skating to pop, rock and hip-hop music.

PLAINVIEWFunds for pet shelterThree students from Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School - Sari Cohen, Sarah Greenberg and Alyssa Kaden - recently raised $2,300 for the Little Shelter Rescue and Adoption Center in Huntington through a Paws for a Cause fundraiser at Christopher Morley Park in Roslyn.

The event attracted more than 100 community members and their dogs for an afternoon of face-painting, professional photos and raffles. Leading up to the event, the trio solicited sponsorships from businesses including Prudential Real Estate and Long Island Veterinary Specialists in Plainview.

SYOSSETMultimedia labStudents at Nassau BOCES' Long Island High School for the Arts are learning to compose music and create digital portfolios this year through a new multimedia production lab that recently opened at the school. The facility includes 18 iMac computers loaded with a variety of software designed to engage "hard-to-reach" students, BOCES officials said.

"Music is a great way to connect with all kinds of students, especially those who don't usually have positive academic experiences," said the lab's manager, Chris Magnum.

COUNTYWIDEProtein challengeNassau County high schools swept the top spots earlier this month at the third annual Protein Modeling Challenge at Stony Brook University. The 27-team competition was sponsored by Melville-based OSI Pharmaceuticals and required students to build insulin models and answer trivia.

A team of four Garden City High School students - Amanda Bressingham, Gloria DiMino, Elizabeth Glover and Zachary Zeno - took first place, while teams from Great Neck South High School and Division Avenue High School in Levittown finished second and third, respectively.

A team from Malverne High School won the People's Choice Award.

ISLANDWIDEHeisman finalists

Six Long Island seniors were among 20 statewide to be state finalists this fall in the Wendy's High School Heisman competition, which recognizes students for excellence in academics, athletics and community leadership. Nearly 54,000 students applied for the honor.

Bay Shore: Alyssa Leonard of Bay Shore High School; Bethpage: Melissa Rohr of Bethpage High School; Lido Beach: Max Cutler of Long Beach Senior High School; Lynbrook: Jessica Rosen of Lynbrook Senior High School; Rockville Centre: Brett Cohen of South Side High School; West Islip: Joe Micheels of St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School. Micheels was later named one of two state-level winners.

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