Long Island students showed lots of heart this school year by collectively raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the American Heart Association.
The nonprofit's Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart initiatives prompted dozens of local schools to encourage kids to solicit pledges from family and friends based on their participation in jumping and basketball-related activities during physical education classes. The programs are designed to raise awareness about heart health and the importance of exercise at an early age, while also raising funds for the organization.
The region's top fundraising school was Unqua Elementary School in Massapequa, which raised $34,600 through Jump Rope for Heart. Other top schools were Cherokee Street Elementary School in Ronkonkoma with more than $24,300 and Mandracchia Sawmill Intermediate School in Commack with more than $22,800.
"They [the students] are proud when they realize what they are doing can help save lives in their community," said Eileen Keener, a physical education teacher at Wantagh Middle School, which raised $6,688.
The top local schools in Hoops for Heart were Floral-Park Bellerose Elementary School with more than $14,500, Herricks Middle School with more than $10,000 and Glenwood Landing Elementary School with more than $8,300, association officials said.
Meanwhile, some schools held dual events that blended the two initiatives into one. The top local schools in that category were John F. Kennedy Intermediate School in Deer Park with more than $17,000, James A. Dever Elementary School in Valley Stream with more than $9,600, and Edna Louise Spear Elementary School in Port Jefferson with more than $8,500.
A team of 10 third-graders from the Long Beach School District and Long Beach Regional Catholic School tied for the sixth place of out 333 teams in their grade nationwide in the second of three annual meets of the WordMasters Challenge, a competition that asks students in grades 3-8 to complete 20 analogies in a half-hour using vocabulary above their grade level.
The students, who are part of the district's Learning Activities for Raising Creativity program, competed in the blue division for those with average to above-average reading skills.
The Oceanside School District had six finalist teams -- the most of any Long Island school district -- in the 2014 Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, an environmental sustainability competition that challenges K-12 students to identify environmental issues in their communities and create replicable solutions using digital curriculum. There were 100 finalists named nationwide.
Other local schools with finalist teams were John F. Kennedy High School in Plainview with five and Woodland Middle School in East Meadow with one. No local teams were among the 12 national winners.
The annual challenge is coordinated by the Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education.
Schools to Watch
Garden City Middle School and Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School in Port Washington have been redesignated as Schools to Watch by the New York State Department of Education. The program, titled Essential Elements: Schools to Watch, recognizes schools statewide that excel in academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity, and organizational structure.
Schools must reapply and be re-evaluated every three years to retain the designation, state officials said. Garden City and Weber are both being redesignated after receiving their initial designations in 2011. No new schools were selected.
A total of 27 schools are designated statewide including Jericho Middle School, Longwood Junior High School in Middle Island, Sayville Middle School and Oceanside Middle School.
The New York State Retired Teachers Association has announced the development of a $1,000 grant to assist full-time teachers or administrators with an innovative program or project. The grant is open to educators who are employed by a public school system in Nassau or Suffolk counties, as well as Clinton or Essex counties.
The grant funds may be used to assist in designing a project that would enhance student achievement, improve behavior or self-esteem, or combat issues such as bullying. The funds may also be used to help the educator obtain a higher degree or national certification.
Applications can be obtained from district superintendents or by emailing Eileen Holmes, the public relations chair for the association's Long Island Zone, at firstname.lastname@example.org by May 15. The deadline is May 25.