Thousands of local students were decked out in red last month, and it was no coincidence.
As part of activities for Red Ribbon Week, an annual awareness campaign, many Long Island schools encouraged students to steer clear of alcohol, drugs and violence -- and collectively wear red.
In Elmont, Clara H. Carlson Elementary School's fifth- and sixth-graders learned about positive decision-making when members of Floral Park Memorial High School's Leaders Corps performed several skits emphasizing the negative impacts of destructive decisions. The students then broke into smaller groups and discussed ways to resist peer pressure.
"We wanted to bring these high schoolers in because they have a great leadership program," said Carlson social worker Randi Bender, who organized the program with physical education teacher Mary Dela-hanty. "It brings to life the message that negative choices lead to consequences, and positive choices lead to rewards."
In East Setauket, Minnesauke and Nassakeag elementary school students took part in a Red Ribbon Week Olympics, testing everything from their memory to their ability to navigate a toy car while wearing goggles that simulated being under the influence of alcohol. They also wrote essays to high schoolers asking them to avoid alcohol on prom night.
In Valley Stream, James A. Dever Elementary School students stood in the shape of a ribbon outdoors to illustrate their stance against substance abuse. They also wore headbands for a "Band Against Drugs Day" and wore their shirts backward for a "Turn Your Back on Drugs Day."
In Riverhead, high school students signed drug-free pledges that then were hung in the school lobby.
"We're serious about this pledge," Riverhead sophomore Rashae Smith said. "We know using drugs and alcohol can cause all kinds of bad things."
Bayview Avenue Elementary School pupils recently showed appreciation to their elders through a series of performances at the Meadowbrook Care Center in Freeport.
Acts included a parody of the classic sports song "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and an original comedy skit called "Eight Uses for Grandma." The finale consisted of an "energetic and loving" performance of Ricky Martin's "The Cup of Life," school officials said.
In other news, J.W. Dodd Middle School celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month in October with a homemade buffet of Latin American foods and performances by local singing and dancing ensembles. The main event was a Miss Latina 2012 Promenade, a program highlighting the historical contributions of 20 Latin nations.
Day of service
Long Beach High School's International Baccalaureate classes recently joined forces to give back to the community through activities held as part of a schoolwide day of service.
The main event was a walkathon in memory of Corey Lovrich, an alum who died in May after a battle with colon cancer. More than 200 students participated, with proceeds going to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.
The high school students also teamed up with Blackheath pre-K to collect nonperishable food for Long Beach Food & Friendship Inn.
Other activities included a book drive, a coat drive and an after-school pizza sale to benefit Long Beach Medical Center.
Speech program honors
Syosset High School's speech and debate program has been named to the National Forensic League's Société de 300, which is reserved for chapters that awarded 300 or more degrees in the previous year. These chapters represent 1 percent of all schools nationwide, school officials said.
The Council for Economic Education is offering free financial literacy lessons via online gaming to students in middle school and high school through a partnership with H&R Block's Dollars & Sense, a program that provides personal-finance curriculums and college scholarships.
The game, Gen I Revolution, features 15 interactive missions that introduce pupils to characters facing a financial crisis. A companion guide is available to help teachers integrate the game into classroom activities, and H&R Block is giving away 650 copies of the guide this month to start the partnership.
"Financial literacy skills will help these teens grow into successful and productive adults, capable of informed and responsible decisions," said Nan J. Morrison, the council's CEO.
Teachers can enter to win at hrblockdollarsandsense.com. The deadline is Nov. 30.