Schools: ‘Patchwork Friends,’ Forensic Science Study

Shortly after schools began closing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the student and staff members of “The Hut” school store club at West Hollow Middle School decided to donate $500 to local restaurants owned by a West Hollow alumnus so that he could provide meals to health professionals at Huntington Hospital.

“So many people are generously giving around us, their care, support and time at their own expense and risk,” said Elise Brosnan, an art teacher at West Hollow who serves as club adviser along with Ed Marinich. “When we were asked by our administration to continue remote clubs during the school closure, we knew our school store members would collaboratively assist in coming up with a way to donate in our community.”

The $500 donation came from funds that would’ve been used to buy products for the school store, that was no longer open due to the school closure. The students from West Hollow often support fundraisers and charities as part of various service learning initiatives in the building, so the students didn’t think twice about giving to the frontline heroes at Huntington Hospital.

“We appreciate the delicious donations of food that local businesses and the community collaboratively have provided to the staff during these difficult and uncertain times,” said Kelly Skinner, an emergency room nurse at Huntington Hospital. “Their support and generosity are appreciated more than we can ever say.”

Restaurant owner Dan Valentino of New Wave Burrito and Vauxhall in Huntington, an alumnus of West Hollow Middle School, worked with his staff to prepare the meals that were delivered to essential works and medical professionals at the hospital on April 25, 2020, and April 29, 2020.

“Having the opportunity to be part of something positive and use the donation to feed the frontline healthcare workers is incredible,” said Valentino. “New Wave and Vauxhall want to thank West Hollow staff and students for the donation. It’s helping to keep my business afloat during these hard times.

Basketball Honors

Northport High School girls varsity basketball coach Richard Castellano and fifth-year varsity player Danielle Pavinelli recently won Suffolk County Coach and Player of the Year titles.

Castellano has been coaching the Lady Tigers for 40 years. Throughout his time, he has been named New York Daily News Coach of the Year two times, BCANY Section Coach of the Year and was inducted into the New York State Coaches Hall of Fame in 2017. This is his fourth Suffolk County Coach of the year title.

“Coach Rich Castellano is a class act, role model and truly exemplifies what an educator and coach should possess,” Mark Dantuono, director of health, physical education and athletics, said.

Castellano has led the varsity team to win 25 League Championships, 11 County Championships and five Long Island championships over the years. Additionally, the team has made it to state finals and semifinals five times, including this year, which has been cut short due to mandatory school closures.

This year, the Lady Tigers finished the regular season, 22-2, all while following Castellano’s “play as a team” philosophy. “I always think it’s team first. It’s easier to stop one player; it’s very difficult to stop a team,” he said. “That’s the epitome of what we did this year. We’re a family and we’re all in this together.”


Investigate students continue to study forensic science

Earlier last month, fifth grade students participating in the district’s Investigate Gifted and Talented program met with Debbi Mayer, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, who talked with students about her career.

On March 9, she covered education and training within the FBI, evidence gathering, criminal investigations and special agent training. Mayer also discussed some of the high profile fraud cases she dealt with in New York and on Long Island.

Students from across the Northport-East Northport Union Free School District were able to look at and experiment with some of her personal security equipment that she brought along, as they have been studying and conducting experiments in forensic science for most of the year.

‘Patchwork Friends’ at Pulaski Road Elementary School

Before schools were shut down, students at Pulaski Road Elementary School were looking to spread friendship and kindness through a new “Patchwork Friends” quilt made of popsicle sticks.

Words like “peace, love grateful” and “believe” catch the eyes of students, teachers and staff as they walked past the bulletin board outside of school psychologist Veronique Hayek’s office.

The “quilt” is more than half complete with more than 300 popsicle sticks. Each stick is meant to represent the unique individuality of each student, teacher and staff member, as well as the community that is formed when all those individuals come together.

“I use it to reinforce individuality, equality and acceptance and to show students what can happen when we collaborate,” Hayek said.

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