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Suffolk: 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 North Babylon and Great Neck school districts have been awarded $495,424 and $483,390, 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.

North Babylon officials did not return calls for comment.

Athletic director David Zaatson 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.

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.



Interim principal

Maryann Llewellyn is interim principal of Harley Avenue Primary School. She replaced Karen Koliadko, who now is an administrator in the Eastport-South Manor school district.

Llewellyn previously was interim assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Elwood Union Free School District. She will be Harley Avenue's principal for a full school year as the district searches for a permanent replacement.

"With extensive experience in education and administration, as well as her dedicated service to Elwood, Mrs. Llewellyn was an obvious choice for the interim role," Elwood superintendent Peter Scordo said.


New principal

George Gagliardi is the new principal of Bretton Woods Elementary School, replacing Jane Ruthkowski, who left the post.

Gagliardi has served the past five years as assistant principal at Hauppauge High School. Before that he was a teacher at various levels for 13 years in the West Islip school district.

"This wide range of experience has given me the ability to lead a school, motivate students, improve instruction and create a culture of learning and a sense of belonging," he said.



New superintendent

Dean T. Lucera is the new superintendent and chief executive of Eastern Suffolk BOCES. Chief operating officer Gary D. Bixhorn had filled the role since the previous superintendent, Ed Zero, retired two years ago.

Previously, Lucera was director of career, technical and adult education for Eastern Suffolk BOCES, which he joined in 2004. He also has taught in the West Babylon school district and is vice president of the Long Island Association for Career and Technical Education.

"I am looking forward to working with the members of our board as well as parents, teachers and students to successfully move Eastern Suffolk BOCES to the next level of educational excellence," he said.



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 now 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 Suffolk County, Half Hollow Hills School District in Dix Hills and the Three Village School District in East Setauket led the way with 16 and 13 semifinalists, respectively. Other districts with semifinalists were Bay Shore, Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Comsewogue, Harborfields, Huntington, Kings Park, Miller Place, Northport, Port Jefferson, Smithtown, Sayville and Westhampton Beach.

St. Anthony's High School in South Huntington had two semifinalists. Two home-schooled students, in Mount Sinai and Shoreham, also were named semifinalists.

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