Milton L. Olive Middle School teacher Migdalia Melendez works with...

Milton L. Olive Middle School teacher Migdalia Melendez works with students on their new garden in Wyandanch. The school received a $2,000 Whole Kids Foundation grant for the garden. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Schools in Brentwood and Wyandanch are the latest in Suffolk County to add organic gardens to their campuses in an effort to cultivate a love of healthy eating among students.

The schools -- Brentwood West Middle School, Milton L. Olive Middle School in Wyandanch and Wyandanch Memorial High School -- each received $2,000 grants to start the gardens from the Whole Kids Foundation, a Whole Foods nonprofit devoted to child wellness. The nonprofit issued 500 grants this year out of 1,300 applicants.

"We want to help students learn not only about how to grow food, but about nutrition -- and chances are many don't have gardens at home," said Laurie Farber, executive director of Starflower Experiences, a local environmental education nonprofit organization.

Farber worked with Milton L. Olive sixth-grade teacher Migdalia Melendez and technology teacher David Milch to oversee efforts to set up that school's garden.

At Wyandanch, the gardens consist of eight dirt beds with early crops ranging from corn to tomatoes. Milton L. Olive expects to add eight more dirt beds by the fall, with the high school planning for four more.

Milton L. Olive also is looking to arrange a system for students to help care for the crops and for the school cafeteria to possibly use the yield, Farber said.

Other Suffolk districts with schools that started gardens in recent years through a Whole Foods grant are East Hampton, Southampton and Southold.



LI Youth Summit

East Islip High School and Ward Melville High School in East Setauket each won three categories -- the most of any Long Island school district -- at the 2014 Long Island Youth Summit, which asked students to explore solutions to local environmental, socio-medical and community issues.

The event attracted more than 300 teens to Dowling College in Oakdale.

East Islip's winners were Emilysia Almonacy, Erika Baier, James Burke, Samantha Calzone and Anthony Diesu, while Ward Melville's winners were Katerina Baduk, Natalia Eugene, Dinko Franceschi, Monica Rahman, Michelle Urrutia and Benjamin Winston.

Other Suffolk County winners were: Casey Nevins, James Nevins, Deanna Pereira and Anushka Roy of Comsewogue High School in Port Jefferson Station; Samantha Jablonski and Luke Lotardo of Eastport-South Manor High School; Connor Bailey and Eric Van Deusen of Kings Park High School; Ryan Cleary and Bianca Rivera of Longwood High School in Middle Island; and Maddy Ulrich of West Islip High School.



Hot-air balloon

A firsthand look at a hot-air balloon was the reward for students at Eastern Suffolk BOCES' Sayville Academic Center after they collectively read 125,000 minutes at home since the fall.

The balloon was partially inflated, and kids assembled in it for a lesson on ballooning history led by upstate-based Liberty Balloon Co.

The effort was part of the school's participation in Parents as Reading Partners, a New York State PTA program.


Coca-Cola Scholars

Four Suffolk County students were among 150 nationwide named 2014 Coca-Cola Scholars, receiving $20,000 scholarships from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.

The local winners are Kevin Chaves of Kings Park High School, Jesse Feldman-Stein of Huntington High School, Noshin Khan of Central Islip High School and Aneri Kinariwalla of Sayville High School.

The students first submitted an application and were among 2,000 semifinalists. They then completed a second application and participated in regional interviews.



Science Congress

Twenty Long Island students received recognitions of highest honors, high honors or honors at the 2014 New York State Science Congress, coordinated by the Science Teachers Association of New York State.

Seventy-eight students in grades 6-12 presented science projects to judges in a poster-style format at the competition, held last month at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Local students receiving honors were: Jared Habermehl of Commack Middle School; Nathan Siegelaub of East Meadow High School; Mohdshobair Hussaini of Freeport High School; Ien Li and Derek Xu of Jericho High School; Maxwell Hu and Michael Kusnierek of Manhasset High School; Bart Voto, Fred Chu, Emily Cruz and Stephen Lee of Manhasset Middle School; Raymond Agrelo of Mineola High School; Maya Pena Lobel, Noah Mond and Elizabeth Wang of P.J. Gelinas Junior High School in East Setauket; Rachel Mintz of Roslyn High School; Aashini Shah of W.T. Clarke Middle School in Westbury; and Rachel Biggen, Renata Quinto and Cosette Wrynn of Woodland Middle School in East Meadow.

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