Long Island schools showed no shortage of creativity in promoting a love of literacy in recent weeks.
From mock game shows to singing snowmen and story hours, schools sought to inspire local students to participate in Parents as Reading Partners (PARP), a New York State PTA program that asks parents to read at home with children for a minimum of 15 minutes a day.
In Elmont, Gotham Avenue Elementary School held an assembly in which a snowman named "M.C. Read-A-Lot" led kids in a series of reading-themed songs, while Alden Terrace Elementary School students colored in countries on a map if they read a book relating to that area.
Alden Terrace kicked off its program with a mock game show that tested student knowledge of topics including sports and zoology.
"It's a great kickoff, because it really energizes the students and gets them very interested in exploring new texts," Principal Amy Buchanan said, adding, "Our focus this year is to really spend more time on informational text."
In Ronkonkoma, Edith L. Slocum Elementary School launched its program by holding a "bedtime story hour," with pajama-clad kids enjoying cookies and milk as volunteer parents and teachers read aloud.
Veronica Ann Morrish, a junior at Hicksville High School, was among 304 students nationwide -- and the sole student from Nassau County -- to recently attend the 2014 Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The academy uses interactive technology, science-oriented workshops and team exercises to help children of Honeywell International employees build leadership skills and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Christopher Yao, a senior at Jericho High School, has been issued the HALO Effect Award from Nickelodeon for his work as an "advocate for youth volunteerism and civic engagement," the network said.
For winning, he received a $5,000 grant for Kids Change the World, a nonprofit he created to spread the word about the activities of youth-led nonprofits.
In addition, Yao will be in an on-air spot on TeenNick that is being highlighted on its website throughout March.
'Incredible Bionic Man'
Members of Island Trees Middle School's robotics team won the grand prize last month in an "Incredible Bionic Man Challenge" that asked teams to create a bionic body part.
The contest was sponsored by Cablevision's Power to Learn initiative in conjunction with the Smithsonian Channel and School-Business Partnerships of Long Island.
To win, the students submitted a video that featured the robotic arm they developed. They were awarded $5,000 from the Smithsonian Channel, $1,000 from Power to Learn, and a trip to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
"It is programs like this that pique student interest in the real-world application of science and technology," said Jennifer Ostrager, vice president of public affairs for Cablevision, which owns Newsday.
Dozens of local schools taught the importance of tolerance through activities held in celebration of Black History Month in February.
In Bellmore, John F. Kennedy High School students created a montage featuring photos of famous African-Americans and quotes from the late Nelson Mandela. Grand Avenue Middle School students prepared and read biographical selections about black leaders during the morning announcements.
In Freeport, students from the district's eight schools presented artistic