The message was loud and clear at local schools in recent weeks: Words can hurt.
Dozens of schools throughout Long Island held activities last month that ranged from signing anti-bullying pledges to participating in themed skits in recognition of National Bullying Prevention Month, a campaign initiated by PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center in Minnesota.
In Glen Head, North Shore Middle School students were encouraged to wear orange as a symbol of togetherness during the school's Unity Day 2012, which was spearheaded by the Students Against Destructive Decisions Club. They also created dozens of orange hands decorated with positive messages that were displayed throughout the school's hallways.
"It was a sea of orange," said Toni Papetti, the middle school's social worker. "The students supported each other and were eager to look at all the hands to see what their peers and teachers had to say. It was nice to see students working together for such an important issue."
In Lynbrook, North Middle School held its own Unity Day in which pupils pledged to unite against bullying by signing a large banner that was hung in the school's hallway. South Middle School students learned about types of bullying -- such as verbal, physical and cyber bullying -- as well as the difference between "telling and tattling," school officials said.
In Glen Cove, Katherine A. Deasy Elementary School held an interactive workshop titled "Beth and Scott and Friends," in which husband-and-wife duo Beth and Scott Bierko of Yorktown Heights used music, humor and stories to address topics of sharing and respect.
In Syosset, Village Elementary School held an assembly titled "The Power of One," in which students acted out bullying scenarios and demonstrated ways to properly react.
Long Beach High School's surf club coordinated a sixth annual beach cleanup last month in which 70 community members collected dozens of bags worth of trash near National Boulevard. Some of the trash was "repurposed" by the school's art students to create collages, school officials said.
New reading space
Drexel Avenue Elementary School recently increased its focus on literacy and financial education with a library makeover that included the installation of a reading gazebo and a nature-themed book nook. The library's resources were boosted by donation of more than 2,300 books from Capital One Bank in conjunction with the Heart of America Foundation.
Capital One Bank volunteers helped to remodel and spent a week at the school assisting in various budgeting tasks and school repairs as part of Capital One's One Week, a national week of community service.
The new library also has a collection of adult-level resources for parents on topics such as personal money management and career development.
Dozens of Nassau County schools educated children on the importance of fire safety last month through various programs held in celebration of National Fire Prevention Month.
In Lynbrook, West End Elementary School pupils toured a fire truck and ambulance provided by Lynbrook Fire Department and North Shore University Hospital, respectively. Children also learned fire prevention and escape tips, such as not to play with matches and to "stay low and go" when escaping a fire, school officials said.
In Levittown, the district's elementary schoolers learned about the importance of smoke detectors and having a family escape plan. They practiced their escape plans in a "smoke house," a trailer with a bedroom-style interior that is pumped with artificial smoke.
The New York Farm Bureau is accepting entries for its 2013 Agricultural Youth Scholarship, which is open to high school seniors who have been involved with agriculture and plan on continuing studies in the field. This year's essay topic is: "If you had the power to change something in your community or on your farm, what would it be and why?"
Long Island's regional winner will advance to the state level and be eligible for the following awards: $1,500 for first place, $1,200 for second place and $1,000 for third place.
The submission deadline is Nov. 18. The application is available at www.lifb.com.