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Valentine’s Day spurs student projects

West Babylon Junior High School's Community Service Club

West Babylon Junior High School's Community Service Club created more than 100 Valentine's Day cards for those at the East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Credit: West Babylon School District

Long Island classrooms were filled with lessons of love this month, as Valentine’s Day spurred projects and activities focused on the value and importance of compassion.

In West Babylon, students in the junior high school’s Community Service Club created more than 100 Valentine’s Day cards for senior citizens at the nearby East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where a relative of one of the club’s members lives. The construction-paper cards included personalized messages and poems to make the recipients feel appreciated, school officials said.

“These kids cannot get enough of helping others,” said Lorraine Zemba, the club’s adviser. “I can’t tell you how excited they all get. They’re aware that helping others is very important in this world.”

In East Meadow, third-grade students at Bowling Green Elementary School created more than 100 animal-shaped cards with poems for kids at Stony Brook University Hospital. The project was inspired by the story of Stony Brook doctors who reconstructed the face of Dunia Sibomana, a boy from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who was attacked and disfigured by chimpanzees two years ago.

“I was excited to make these, because the children at Stony Brook are sad and these Valentines will cheer them up,” third-grader Heer Mehta said.

In Carle Place, the high school’s SPARC/Interact Club put together gift packages for military veterans in the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center that included crossword puzzles and magnifying glasses. The effort was inspired by Marine Cpl. John Fretz, a Mineola teacher who met with the club to share his stories of service.


New principal

Brenda Triplett has been named principal of Northwest Elementary School, effective Feb. 22. She will replace Vincent Todisco, who left to take a teaching position in Manhattan.

Triplett most recently was assistant principal of Smith Street Elementary School in Uniondale, a post she held since 2008. She also was summer school principal for Uniondale’s sixth-grade enrichment program and project director of its Safe Schools/Healthy Students initiative.

“It takes vested villagers, not a village, to create scholars,” Triplett said. “I intend to work tirelessly to cultivate true partnerships with teachers, parents and the school community.”


French horn record

The Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association helped set a world record last month by gathering 278 local students who play the French horn — the biggest group in history — during the 2016 “Day of Horn” held at Northport High School.

The record-setting event, held in conjunction with the association’s 60th anniversary, was recorded by officials from Guinness World Records. Songs included Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and the folk song “Auld Lang Syne.”

Other ensembles performing at the 11th annual event included the Northport and Suffolk horn clubs and the Hofstra University Horn Ensemble.


Robotics kickoff

More than 40 local robotics teams came together at Stony Brook University for the kickoff of this year’s FIRST Robotics Competition.

This year’s theme, “Stronghold,” is based on medieval battle-strategy games and challenges teams to raid opponents’ defenses and overtake a tower. FIRST, an acronym, stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.”

During last month’s event, more than 3,000 teams worldwide received competition details and a look at the game field, as well as a sample kit of parts to build their robots, via NASA satellite transmission from FIRST headquarters in New Hampshire.

The Long Island regional competition is scheduled March 31-April 2 at Hofstra University, with some teams advancing to the world-level contest in St. Louis, slated for April 27-30.

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