The Winter Olympic Games were half a world away in the Russian city of Sochi, but that didn't stop local schools from using them as an opportunity for teaching and some friendly competition.
In Carle Place, the middle school hosted a mock Olympics, with 120 students separated into 12 teams to compete in activities ranging from tug-of-war to trivia to three-legged egg races. The event raised about $500 for the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that offers programs and services for veterans wounded in military action.
"It's a great event that gets the students moving as a team," said Lauren Palma, a math teacher at the school who was the event's co-coordinator. "It gives them their own unique experience, as well as an opportunity to showcase their sportsmanship while supporting a great cause."
In Elmont, Covert Avenue Elementary School held a Greek Olympics in which sixth-grade classes took on the role of city-states such as Athens, Sparta and Troy. They competed in games including javelin, discus and chariot races, using a scooter to simulate a chariot. The event also was the culmination of the school's social studies unit on ancient Greece.
In Mineola, Jackson Avenue Elementary School's Student Council passed a mock torch among classes over the course of a week to signify their turn to be "champions of character," school officials said. Kids also wrote their best character traits on paper gold medals to display in school hallways.
Elementary school students in Sea Cliff learned facts about Russia and the Olympics, such as what the Olympic rings symbolize and which country hosted the first winter games.
Army Pvt. Nicole DiGregorio last month visited Alfred G. Berner Middle School to thank students in Jenny Gillam's computer applications class who sent letters to her while she was stationed in Georgia.
DiGregorio, a 2008 graduate of Massapequa High School, participated in the same letter-writing campaign a decade ago when she was in Gillam's class.
"I cried when I received the package," DiGregorio said. "This project shows the appreciation others have for those who are serving the country. People who don't even know me are showing they care."
DiGregorio is nine months into a four-year, active-duty contract and is being trained in communications systems.
'A Night on Broadway'
Wellington C. Mepham High School's Skull and Bones Drama Club staged "A Night on Broadway," a revue in which students selected and presented scenes from productions including "Wicked," "Rent" and "Pippin."
The event, hosted by seniors Eric Seltzer and Sabrina Mastrangelo, raised about $1,600 for the Lymphoma Research Foundation.
In other news, the school's ELITE after-school program recently hosted a spoken-word poetry workshop with Koromone Koroye, a poet and student at Hofstra University. Participating teens learned about the art form and were encouraged to write their own poetry.
"Frequently, spoken word will speak to students who do not think they like poetry, or would never consider themselves poets," Mepham English teacher Melanie Sirof said.
Brown bag seminars
Berry Hill Elementary School has been extending lessons beyond the classroom with a Brown Bag Seminar Series in which guest lecturers speak to students during recess time.
The seminars cover topics from aviation to the history of toys, and include organizations such as the International Spy Museum and Smithsonian American Art Museum.
In other news, South Grove Elementary School recently held an International Share Day, in which students demonstrated skills they learned at the school's Multicultural Explore-A-Rama. The multicultural event featured some 40 workshops about cultural games, dances and songs.
The College at Old Westbury is inviting Long Island educators to nominate students in grades 4-9 to be a Long Island Scholar of Math and earn one of 80 spots in its Institute for Creative Problem Solving for Gifted and Talented Students.
The institute will hold weekly workshops in math and science problem-solving on Saturday mornings during the 2014-15 school year.
Candidates must submit an application, teacher recommendation, transcript and two self-addressed, stamped envelopes by March 14 to be eligible for a placement exam on April 5. Last year, 950 students were nominated from local schools.
For the application form, educators can email program assistant Mimi Schnier at firstname.lastname@example.org. Parents may forward this information to their child's school.