This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y — Students at the David Paterson School in Hempstead are overwhelmed with gratitude. 

Hempstead school officials, community leaders, Optimum and the child advocacy non-for-profit Save the Children came together to donate backpacks and school supplies to 500 elementary students. 

Even though there have been some setbacks with last year’s hybrid model, there’s no denying the district’s accomplishments.

Over the past few years, the graduation rates have soared to new heights within the Hempstead school district, making it one of the most improved districts in New York State, according to education officials. 

They credit the hard work of students and building a strong foundation for them to succeed. It begins in early education. 

However, school supplies are just part of the school’s initiative to put students on the path to a brighter future. The district also introduced the international baccalaureate program four years ago that allows children to help create their own lesson plans.

“It’s students’ choice and students’ voice in terms of what they’re learning, and how they’re learning. So, whenever you have an opportunity to say what it is you want to learn, you take ownership of it or you always do better,” Superintendent Regina Armstrong told PIX11 News.

In addition to providing students with the tools needed for success, the program teaches an important lesson about paying it forward.