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John Glenn WLHS Students Provide Shoeboxes of Joy for Needy Children

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Continuing an annual tradition, World Language Honor Society students at the high school organized an Operation Christmas Child service project. Guided by advisers Nicole Correia and Nicole Gendjoian, the WLHS members – along with students in ASL and Spanish classes – donated 100 shoeboxes full of items to children in need around the world.

The mission of Operation Christmas Child, a project of international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, is to provide local partners around the world with shoeboxes filled with small toys, hygiene items, and school supplies in time for the holidays. They ship these simple gifts outside the United States to children affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine and disease; and to children living on Native American reservations in the U.S.

“I felt proud of myself and cheerful to be able to give children that may not be able to get these resources the chance to use them and enjoy them for the holiday,” senior Diana Muniz said. “It felt nice to think of their smiles when they get the shoebox.”

“The holidays are always such a magical time of the year and I am glad that I was able to help give joy to underprivileged children during this time,” senior Aidan McNamara said.

Girls Volleyball Team Wins State Championship!

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John Glenn High School’s girls volleyball team won their first state championship since 2012, defeating Hendrick Hudson at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls on Nov. 21 by a 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21 score.

Highlight performances included Shannon McGrath with 39 digs, 20 kills and six aces; Diana Muniz with 60 digs; Carmela Ciriello with 40 digs, five kills and five aces; Shayna Purow with 26 assists and 13 digs; Lauren Conover with six assists and five kills; Isabella Ross with six kills; and Sarah Koerner with 15 digs. Cheering family and supporters were on hand to celebrate when the team’s bus returned to Elwood that night.

Glenn had won the county title last spring, but were unable to go further when the Long Island and state championships were canceled. This season, the undefeated 13-0 Lady Knights won their second consecutive Suffolk County Class B championship on Nov. 5, shutting out Bayport-Blue Point, then earned the Long Island championship on Nov. 13 at LIU Post with a 25-14, 20-25, 25-16, 25-16 victory over Seaford.

“It has been exciting as a coach to watch these girls play,” coach Nick Tremaroli said. “They all play with such heart and leave everything they have on the court. Even in those sets that they are down, they are able to pull together as a team and give such an increasable fight. These girls really meant it when they said they had unfinished business, and they proved that by winning the state championship. I am very proud of them and what they were able to achieve.”

The team will be recognized by the Board of Education at the Dec. 9 public meeting.

Five Exceptional Elwood Seniors Sign to Play College Sports

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Five exceptional Elwood-John H. Glenn High School seniors signed national letters of intent on Nov. 16 to continue their athletic careers in in college. Skye Callaway will attend Delaware State University, Sofia Condron will attend Rutgers University, Cole Lindquist will attend St. Thomas Aquinas College, Mackenzie Stickelman will attend Boston University and Michael Zeis will attend St. Thomas Aquinas College.

Administrators and proud family members cheered as each student was introduced and lauded at the event, held in John Glenn’s gymnasium. The ceremony was hosted by Athletic Director David Shanahan, who congratulated the students on their momentous accomplishments and asked them to make sure to come back and spend time volunteering in the community.

“I want you to remember from this point forward that each of you are now Elwood ambassadors to the youth in our community,” Shanahan said. “They look up to you and all you have accomplished. They have watched you through your careers, and set their own personal goals for themselves, to be like you.”

Elwood Middle School Creates Food Pantry for the Community

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Elwood Middle School recently created a food pantry designed to support monthly food donations – collected, organized and packed by students and staff – for 10 local families. The ongoing initiative will include fun grade-level competitions, all in the spirit of taking care of those in the Elwood community.

The idea for the pantry came from math teacher Christina Kerensky-DeSimone, and technology teacher Alex Wightman built the donation bins, which were decorated by students. Members of the school’s student council, Community Service Club, National Junior Honor Society and Anti-Defamation League Club are helping to sort the food, stock the shelves and make lists of future needs. The school plans to eventually make this an activity in its Knights of the Round Table advisory program so all students and staff can engage in the behind-the-scenes work.

“This is a full schoolwide initiative of Elwood helping Elwood,” Principal Christina Moran said. “We want all students to feel a sense of service to others. As we seek to educate the next generation, we want students to recognize the benefits of giving. Research indicates that giving makes you feel happier, is good for your health, promotes cooperation and social connections, evokes gratitude, and is contagious. Our pantry is designed to be yearlong with the commitment of donating a box of food monthly to our families in need.”

Elwood School Lunch Manager Mara Pugh Recognized by Board of Ed

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At the district’s Board of Education meeting on Nov. 10, school lunch manager Mara Pugh was recognized for her outstanding work and commitment to the district. Pugh joined Elwood in September 2019, but was quickly thrust into an extraordinarily challenging situation when the pandemic hit.

“Just seven months into her role, the world was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and schools were closed.,” Assistant Superintendent for Business Lorraine Dunkel said. “Many of our students still needed to be served food, and Mara and her staff worked tirelessly to make sure their needs were met by preparing and packaging both breakfast and lunch for all those in need. More recently, Mara has been facing new challenges. Like many industries, the food service industry is not immune to the effects of the pandemic. Some of her recent struggles include shortages on food, paper goods and staff. We currently have 10 staff members serving four kitchens. This is not ideal, to say the least, but Mara and her staff are making it work. No matter her daily challenges, our students will always be fed. As a leader, Mara never hesitates to lend a hand by stepping in to assist her staff. She can often be seen in any one of our kitchens, cooking or serving food or working the register. Having school-age children of her own, Mara knows the importance and significance of a school lunch program, and how it can always bring a smile to a child’s face.”