Dozens of Nassau County teens went from the classroom to the "courtroom" last month in an annual competition focusing on who has a better understanding of the judicial system.
Glen Cove High School and Roslyn High School tied for top honors in the 2011 Wheatley Tournament, which included teams from nine schools displaying their legal chops at The Wheatley School in Old Westbury. Students assumed the roles of attorneys and witnesses and handled everything from researching fictional case topics to conducting cross examinations.
Teams from Roslyn and Glen Cove have met in the tournament's final round in each of the past four years. For Roslyn, this year's finish represented the 19th time the school has placed in the top spot since 1985, school officials said.
"Both teams were just extraordinary, and the caliber of arguments was remarkable," said Jeremy Berman, faculty adviser of Roslyn's Mock Trial Club. "I think the biggest factor in our team success is our work ethic. It's a thrill to see kids so passionate about something."
Glen Cove ultimately took home the first-place trophy, said Chris Contorno, Glen Cove's mock trial adviser.
"It was definitely a very exciting win for the team and the school," Contorno said.
This year's case, titled "Pat Parker vs. the Village of Empireville," involved a dispute over student parking on streets surrounding a high school after the village's mayor passed an ordinance revoking the parking privileges. Some teams argued that the parking was revoked unfairly because the school district wouldn't help to fund the village's improvement plan.
Evaluators scored attorneys and witnesses on a 1-10 scale based on each stage of the trial, Berman said, and Roslyn's and Glen Cove's point totals were equal in the final round.
Skate event aids children
The MacArthur High School freshman class recently raised about $2,900 for the John Theissen Children's Foundation in a skate-a-thon held at United Skates of America in Seaford. The fundraiser for the Wantagh-based nonprofit agency attracted about 150 students and teachers who roller-skated to rock, hip-hop and house music.
In another MacArthur benefit effort, six teachers recently grew a mustache for one month to raise money for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. The fundraiser, which brought in $325, was organized by the school's Environmental Club.
Six students from Portledge School, a private school for students in pre-nursery through grade 12, were among 1,500 students nationwide to attend the 18th Annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference last month in Philadelphia. The event, designed to encourage pupils of independent schools to eliminate stereotypes, was hosted by the National Association of Independent Schools.
Students were split into "families," groups of students of mixed cultural backgrounds, and discussed issues relating to gender, race and sexual orientation. Speakers included Zohra Sarwari, a Muslim author who spoke of the harms of stereotypes, and Patti Solis Doyle, the first Hispanic to serve as a presidential campaign manager.
Grant for Chinese study
The Massapequa school district recently received a $10,000 grant from the Asia Society to further develop Chinese instruction for its students. The grant was given in conjunction with the district's acceptance into the Confucius Classrooms Network, which recognizes 100 "exemplary" Chinese language programs targeted as model sites in American schools.
As a network member, Massapequa will be matched with a partner school in China to enhance language learning and exchange programs. For the 2012-13 school year, the district also will expand its language program into the seventh-grade curriculum at Alfred G. Berner Middle School.
Under the program, which was launched in September, states nominate schools in their jurisdiction that save energy, reduce costs and feature environmentally sustainable learning spaces, among other things.
The state is accepting nominations through Feb. 24. It will review the applications and submit up to four state nominees to the U.S. Department of Education in March.
Submission details will be available on the state Education Department website at www.p12.nysed.gov/facplan/ GreenRibbonSchools.html. National winners are scheduled to be announced April 22.