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Suffolk: Charity Champions honors 2 LI schools for giving back

Northport High School is the Suffolk County grand-prize

Northport High School is the Suffolk County grand-prize winner in Charity Champion, a program sponsored by Optimum’s Power to Learn initiative. Students and staff are presented with a $5,000 prize for a local charity. Credit: Cablevision

Two Long Island high schools were recognized recently for their commitment to fundraising and volunteerism.

Northport High School and Long Island Lutheran High School in Brookville were named grand-prize winners for Suffolk and Nassau counties, respectively, in Charity Champions, an annual program that encourages local high schools to raise funds for a charity of their choice.

Northport was recognized for hosting a soup-kitchen-style event called "Empty Bowls 2014," in which students created 500 ceramic bowls that were given to people who made a donation to attend a special dinner featuring musical entertainment.

The event raised more than $4,750 for the Ecumenical Lay Council Pantry in Northport.

Long Island Lutheran's efforts consisted of 600 students, as well as faculty and staff, helping to pack more than 300,000 food packets -- ranging from rice to soy -- over a three-day span in April. A majority of the food went to local organizations such as Island Harvest in Mineola, with a portion being shipped to a school in Haiti.

"This year, our students raised over $6,000 for the event by hosting a Souper Bowl lunch and benefit concert, selling T-shirts, and having a movie night," said Maureen Bonavita, the school's development and communications associate.

She noted that local sponsors and organizations pushed the total amount to more than $80,000. "These funds were then used to purchase food and supplies to create meal packets," she said.

Each high school was presented with $5,000 for its charity.

The program is sponsored by Optimum's "Power to Learn" initiative. Optimum is owned by Cablevision, which owns Newsday.



Phantom Challenge

Bayport-Blue Point High School recently invited its student entrepreneurs to showcase inventions as part of the school's inaugural "Phantom Challenge," modeled after ABC's reality show "Shark Tank." Invention ideas ranged from a translating application to a camera that aims to catch hit-and-run drivers in the act.

Garrett Fillorama won a first-place $750 scholarship, Ryan Ball and Emily Larsson won a second-place $500 scholarship and Ahran Kilmeade won a third-place $250 scholarship. The Vinny Perri-Mike Marchan Memorial Scholarship Committee funded the awards.



New principal

William Bernhard is the new principal of P.J. Gelinas Junior High School, effective July 1. He will replace Tom Colletti, who was the interim principal.

Bernhard has spent his career in the Three Village Central School District, beginning as a math teacher in 1997. He most recently was the math chair at Ward Melville High School and P.J. Gelinas, both in East Setauket, and R.C. Murphy Junior High School in Stony Brook.



Piano competition

Eight Suffolk County students were first-place winners in the Suffolk Piano Teachers Foundation's ninth annual piano competition.

Taking top honors in various grade-level divisions were Grace Cimaszewski of St. Anthony's High School in South Huntington, Alicia Heintzelman of Nassakeag Middle School in Setauket, Cole Hempel of Westhampton Beach Middle School, Zoe Marks of Boyle Road Elementary School in Port Jefferson Station, Rebecca Nelsen of Eastport Elementary School, Kate Parnell of Mount Sinai Middle School, Dorothy Pierre of Smithtown Christian School, and Karen Xie of W.S. Mount Elementary School in Stony Brook.

The winners performed earlier this month in one of two honors recitals at the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University. Initially, more than 90 students competed this spring at Faust Harrison Pianos in Huntington Station.



Storm resilience ideas

Six teams from Long Island schools were winners in the second annual Long Island STEM Hub Celebration at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City.

The event challenged students to explain to a panel of industry and education reviewers how they would make Long Island structures and communities more resilient to future storms and climate change. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

Teams winning gold awards came from Baldwin High School, Howard B. Mattlin Middle School in Plainview, Silas Wood Sixth Grade Center in Huntington Station, and Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School in Huntington Station. Teams winning silver awards came from Huntington High School and Henry L. Stimson Middle School in Huntington Station.

The event, which attracted more than 250 people, was coordinated by the Long Island STEM Hub, one of 10 organizations statewide designed to develop a system that will produce STEM-ready students.

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