Many local schools helped to feed the needy last month with creative collections of everything from cans to candy.

In Locust Valley, Friends Academy's engineering students stacked about 4,000 cans of community-donated food -- ranging from Hunt's tomato sauce to Green Giant vegetables -- into a stand-alone sculpture of a rocket ship in conjunction with Thanksgiving Day.

The art installation, titled "Blast Hunger Off LI," was entered into the Society of Design Administration's Canstruction, an annual competition that challenges students to create structures made entirely out of full cans of food. The cans were subsequently donated to Long Island Cares in Hauppauge.

"While color, shape and design were paramount in choosing cans to use, we all wanted to be sure we were selecting healthy food," said the project's adviser Mary Ann Vascotto.

In Syosset, South Woods Middle School raised $4,300 for the Interfaith Nutrition Network in Hempstead with a walkathon that attracted 750 students. Meanwhile, Village Elementary School filled 16 large bags with Halloween candy as part of "Operation Sweet Tooth" to benefit organizations like MercyFirst in Syosset and Angela's House in Hauppauge.

In Farmingdale, Woodward Parkway Elementary School held an "I Can Run" food drive in which students brought in a nonperishable food item in order to participate in a series of athletic activities. The items, which exceeded 3,000, went to the food pantry at nearby St. Kilian Roman Catholic Church.

In Baldwin, the middle school's students, parents and staff joined forces to prepare a Thanksgiving feast for more than 350 community members.

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"This was a great success and another example of how students, staff, faculty and administration can come together for a great cause and build a great sense of community," said Principal Timothy Maher.



Forensics finalists

Two teams from John L. Miller-Great Neck North High School were among 14 finalists nationwide last month in the 2013 Cyber Security Awareness Week High School Forensics Competition at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. The event tested abilities to analyze electronic evidence related to a hypothetical crime.

In this case, teams used computer forensics techniques -- ranging from deleted-file recovery to file carving -- to explore contents of secure digital cards found at a mock crime scene.

Great Neck's teams consisted of Maxwell Ainatchi, August Chen, Daniel Hanover, Jessy Lin and Ashley Radparvar.



Family Night

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Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District last month implemented a communitywide Family Night to alleviate student stress related to homework, assignments and standardized testing. The district's teachers and administrators collaborated to make the evening free of homework, extracurricular and athletic activities for families to spend time together.

"It's no secret that students are overstressed due to unprecedented educational goals and standards," said Superintendent Lorna Lewis. "We recognize that these added pressures can alter schedules and take time away from their families."



Charity walk

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Kellenberg Memorial High School students Christina DiMasso and Brendan Callahan spearheaded a walkathon last month that raised $9,000 for Camp Anchor, a recreation program for special needs individuals in the Town of Hempstead.

The event attracted more than 300 people -- including participants from other schools such as Chaminade High School in Mineola and Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead.



Veterans Day

Dozens of schools throughout Long Island showed appreciation last month to those who serve, or have served, to protect our country with activities held in honor of Veterans Day.

In Massapequa, Alfred G. Berner Middle School hosted a "Take a Veteran to School Day" in which local vets met with kids to discuss topics ranging from basic training to the difficulties of being stationed far from loved ones. Meanwhile, McKenna and Lockhart elementary schools conducted military roll calls of honor for local deceased and living veterans.

In Wantagh, middle schoolers created a thank-you mural that incorporated printmaking, collage and scrapbooking techniques to share family photos, patriotic symbols, and poems of appreciation. The individual pieces also included red, white and blue aspects that together made them look like a U.S. flag.

In Bellmore, John F. Kennedy High School was visited by Bernie Radar of Freeport, a veteran who spent several weeks in a German prisoner-of-war camp after being wounded by mortar fire in World War II.