Long Island students are learning not to let a good snack go to waste - a lesson even more valuable in today's economic climate.
To help feed the needy, dozens of local schools are donating leftovers to soup kitchens and pantries through Rock and Wrap It Up, a nonprofit that recovers unused food from rock concerts, sporting events and other venues. The number of local schools involved in food recovery efforts has roughly tripled in the last decade to more than 30, the organization said. "When I grew up, I was told to eat all my food because there were starving kids in Africa," said Rose Foley, national school program director for Rock and Wrap It Up. "But today kids can donate it and help replenish empty pantries."
The first local school to launch a food recovery program through Rock and Wrap It Up was George W. Hewlett High School in the mid-1990s, Foley said. The program requires cafeteria workers to refrigerate leftover food - such as chicken, milk and fruit - and then have students transport it each week to Five Towns Community Center in Hempstead.
In 2004, Rock and Wrap It Up expanded its efforts to include nonperishable items with a Snack Wrap program that is now used at seven schools in Nassau County. Connetquot School District in Bohemia will become the first Suffolk County participant this spring.
Schools typically donate up to 200 snacks - ranging from chips to juice - each week.
"We want to help reduce the poverty footprint by reducing our carbon footprint," said Darren Raymar, principal of William S. Covert Elementary School in South Hempstead, which donates its snacks to the Bethany House in Roosevelt.
The New York Mets partnered with Rock and Wrap It Up earlier this month to place Mets logos on Snack Wrap donation boxes to further spark interest among kids.
Helping the brain-injured
Jericho High School is supporting local families affected by brain injuries through a student club launched in conjunction with the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, a nonprofit that supports brain injury research. Jericho is the first school nationwide to start a Sarah Jane Brain Club, the foundation said.
Club efforts include assisting local patients, ages 16-25, with various tasks after their release from a hospital. The club was founded by junior Frankki Romano, whose older brother sustained a brain injury in 2000.
Long Beach School District recently hosted two educators from an elementary school in Uruguay as part of a cultural exchange program through the International Institute of Education. The program was intended to let educators share teaching techniques.
During their two-week visit the Uruguayan teachers sat in on various classes at the elementary, middle and high school levels and toured the district's technology and science labs. The district plans to broaden the program this spring with videoconferences between Long Beach and Uruguay students.
9/11 teacher awards
Susan Lindner, a teacher at Waverly Park School, is one of five teachers statewide to receive a September 11th Teacher Award from the Tribute WTC Visitor Center based on school projects held in tribute to 9/11.
Lindner's efforts included helping students to make a 9/11 memorial garden at the school that consists of 500 bulbs and a mural of the Manhattan skyline with the Twin Towers.
South Salem Elementary School students recently learned the importance of environmental awareness during a Green Week that consisted of recycling-themed activities.
Committees of parents visited each class and sifted through bags of garbage to show what items could be recycled. Kids also created art out of recycled items - including plastic bottles and cardboard boxes - and shut off each classroom's lights for 15 minutes to promote energy conservation.
Wantagh Middle School students recently learned about the perils of cyberbullying and "sext-ing" - the act of sending sexually explicit messages or images using cell phones - in a lecture from Nassau County police officials. As part of the program, Officer John Dockswell explained how sending inappropriate material can result in school expulsion and damaged reputations, and he urged kids to report peers who engage in such acts.
Four Long Island schools are among 10 in the tri-state area to receive 2010 Chase Multimedia in the Classroom Awards based on their creative use of technology. For winning, each school received a $1,000 prize. Winners were:
Dix Hills: Signal Hill Elementary School for a multimedia project titled "There's An Animal in Trouble"; East Setauket: Ward Melville High School for a Web project titled "The Phi Experiment"; Oceanside: Oceanside High School for a video project titled "Technology Etiquette for Today's Teens"; Port Washington: Schreiber High School for a photo project titled "Glory & Demise of Our Environment."