A new pond will soon have kids diving into science at Woodmere Middle School.

The eco-friendly pond -- 10 feet by 15 feet and including a small waterfall -- was built in the school courtyard this month by a group of sixth-grade volunteers who handled everything from laying down a plastic liner to moving stones with a wheelbarrow.

The program was coordinated by Illinois-based nonprofit Ponds for Kids, which helps to design and build aquatic ecosystems at schools for educational purposes. AquaFX by Island Land Care, a landscaping company in Mount Sinai, assisted the students with the pond's actual construction.

"It [the pond] is better than I could have expected," said assistant principal Colin Thompson, who credited the school's custodial staff for digging a hole for the pond. "Any time we give kids a hands-on experience, it's a great way for them to learn."

Ed Tronolone, Woodmere's science chairman, said he plans to meet with representatives of the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium in the coming months to determine which fish and aquatic plants would best suit the pond for a self-sustaining ecosystem.

The pond will then be incorporated into the sixth-grade science curriculum; in the spring, the school's 235 sixth-graders will use it as an outdoor learning center.

"Nothing much is going to happen between now and the winter," Tronolone said, citing cold weather and the need for leaves to decay at the pond's bottom and act as a food source. "But we're looking forward to kids eventually seeing how the ecosystem evolves."

The cost of the pond -- about $4,000 -- was funded by the Robert Faller Foundation in memory of the former student who died in a helicopter crash in 1994.

BELLMORE

New principal

Patrice Matthews is the new principal of Shore Road School. She replaces Christine Augusto, who retired from the post.

Matthews previously served 15 years in the Floral Park-Bellerose school district as assistant principal, special education teacher and teacher of the speech- and hearing-impaired. She also is part of the ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) and the Nassau County Principals Association.

"It is apparent the Bellmore community values the importance of a rigorous education," she said. "Throughout my leadership, I look forward to continuing that standard of excellence and ensuring that our students are prepared for their futures in a global society."

FREEPORT

Grandparents Day

Bayview Avenue Elementary School recently honored some of the district's grandparents with a Grandparents Day that included a range of events such as live student performances and a slide show featuring multigenerational family photos. Performances included a "Grandparents Day Rap" in both English and Spanish by dual-language students and a comedy skit titled "What Grandma Thought She Heard."

In other news, New York Police Department Det. Steven McDonald visited John W. Dodd Middle School earlier this month to speak about the importance of forgiveness and good decisions. McDonald is a quadriplegic as a result of being shot three times by a teen he was questioning about bike thefts in Central Park in 1986.

COUNTYWIDE

College fairs

Several Nassau County schools hosted college fairs this month to introduce teens to life after high school and the various educational opportunities available to them.

In Valley Stream, ninth-graders throughout the central school district participated in a College Day in which Central High School seniors described the college application process and explained how every extracurricular activity affects their abilities to gain admission.

In Glen Head, North Shore High School hosted a college fair in which representatives from some 30 colleges filled the school's cafe during lunch periods to speak with students.

In Levittown, Division Avenue High School hosted a similar fair that included representatives from about 25 colleges.

ISLANDWIDE

Science essay winners

Five Long Island students recently earned honorable mentions in the 2011 Science Essay Challenge coordinated by the Delaware-based chemical company DuPont. Nearly 10,000 pupils from the United States and Canada entered essays on various science topics. Local winners were: Jericho: Michael Zhou of Jericho High School; Lynbrook: Zoe Daniels and Stephanie Mertz of Lynbrook High School; Plainview: Ravid Granov of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School; Setauket: Carly Weber-Levine of Paul J. Gelinas Junior High School.

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