John F. Kennedy Intermediate School in Deer Park raised over...

John F. Kennedy Intermediate School in Deer Park raised over $17,000 by blending two American Heart Association fundraisers: Heart for Hoops and Jump Rope for Heart. Credit: Deer Park School District

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.



Butterfly children

Kelly McCauley, a sophomore at Rocky Point High School, recently spearheaded the sale of silicone bracelets to raise awareness for epidermolysis bullosa, a rare genetic connective-tissue disorder that leaves individuals with fragile skin that can blister or tear from minor friction or trauma. The disorder affects two of her relatives, school officials said.

Each donor's name was displayed in the school hallway on a paper butterfly, as those affected are called "butterfly children" since their skin is fragile like butterfly wings. Her efforts raised $250 for the Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association of America.



New superintendent

Katy Graves has been appointed superintendent of Sag Harbor School District, effective July 1. She will replace Carl A. Bonuso, who has held the position on an interim basis.

Graves currently serves as superintendent of the Stamford Central School District near Albany, a position she has held since 2012. Before that, she served four years as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at the upstate Windham-Ashland-Jewett Central School District.

"I would like to thank the board of education for their vote of confidence," Graves said. "I look forward to working with the administrators, staff, students and their families and community residents."



Dental health contests

Four Suffolk County students were recently named winners in two contests designed to promote dental health among youngsters through the Suffolk County Dental Society.

Jack Lamberg and Kelly Templeton, a third- and fourth-grader respectively at Burr Intermediate School in Commack, won the Design a Place Mat with a Dental Health Message Contest. Meanwhile, Steven Hernandez, a third-grader at John F. Kennedy Intermediate School in Deer Park, and Mateusz Gwalina Jr., a first-grader at West Middle Island Elementary School, won the Create a Healthy Smile Collage Contest.

For winning, they received a $25 gift card to Target and were recognized during a ceremony held at the UPSKY Long Island Hotel in Hauppauge.


Grant application

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 by May 15. The deadline is May 25.

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