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Nassau: Improving fitness and nutrition programs

Students at E.M. Baker School in Great Neck

Students at E.M. Baker School in Great Neck practice jumping skills. Their district won a three-year grant from the federal education department for physical fitness and nutrition programs. Credit: Handout

Two Long Island school districts are among 56 nationwide that recently received funding to implement or improve physical fitness and nutrition programs.

The Great Neck and North Babylon school districts have been awarded $483,390 and $495,424, respectively, this school year through the U.S. Department of Education's Carl M. White Physical Education Program, which issues three-year grants. Lesser amounts will be issued to both districts in the subsequent years, pushing their grant totals to more than $1 million.

Funds may be used for student athletic equipment, teacher training and education.

Athletic director David Zawatson said Great Neck will use the funds for nutrition education, increasing opportunities that elementary students have for intramural physical activity, and employing a greater use of instructional technology to help engage students more effectively and help teachers to track their performance and progress.

The grant also will be used to fund raised-bed garden programs that support the use of produce from school gardens in meal plans, he said.

"These grants will help students strengthen their bodies and, in so doing, inspire their minds to confront the challenges that face them both inside the classroom and out," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.

North Babylon officials did not return calls for comment.



New principals

Carlo Conte is the new principal of Grand Avenue Middle School and Meador Pratt is the new principal of Merrick Avenue Middle School. Conte replaces Jack Lenson, who held the post on an interim basis, and Pratt replaces Caryn Blum, now the district's assistant superintendent for instruction.

Previously, Conte was assistant principal at Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick and Merrick Avenue Middle School. Pratt has been assistant principal of John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore.


New principal

Patricia O'Regan is principal of Saltzman East Memorial Elementary School. She replaced Eve Dieringer, who retired.

O'Regan had served as assistant principal of Woodward Parkway Elementary School in Farmingdale since 2006. Before that, she held positions ranging from elementary teacher to summer school principal in the Massapequa school district.



Interim superintendent

Kathleen A. Mooney is the interim superintendent of Port Washington Union Free School District, replacing Geoffrey Gordon, who retired. Mooney previously was the district's assistant superintendent for human resources and administration.

The district's board of education is undertaking a search for a permanent superintendent. Mooney is among the candidates.



Scholarship semifinalists

Nearly 200 high school seniors from Long Island were among about 16,000 nationwide named semifinalists earlier this month for scholarships to be issued in the spring by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. They are among those eligible for some 8,300 scholarships worth more than $32 million and will be judged based on their skills, accomplishments and "potential for success in rigorous college studies," the corporation said.

In Nassau County, the Jericho and Syosset school districts led the way with 18 semifinalists each, while Great Neck and Herricks followed with 12 and 10, respectively. Other districts with semifinalists were Baldwin, Bellmore-Merrick, East Meadow, East Williston, Farmingdale, Garden City, Hewlett, Island Trees, Lawrence, Levittown, Long Beach, Locust Valley, Manhasset, Massapequa, Mineola, Oceanside, Plainview-Old Bethpage, Port Washington, Rockville Centre, Roslyn, Sewanhaka and Valley Stream.

Other county schools with semifinalists were the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway, North Shore Hebrew Academy, Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead, Stella K. Abraham High School in Hewlett Bay Park, Rambam Mesivta High School in Lawrence, Friends Academy in Locust Valley, Chaminade High School in Mineola, Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, Shalhevet High School for Girls in Valley Stream, Davis Renov Stahler Halb School in Woodmere and Lawrence Woodmere Academy. A home-schooled pupil in Bellmore also was named a semifinalist.

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