There was no mistaking the message at local schools in recent weeks: Bullying is bad.
Dozens of schools across Long Island underscored that last month with activities including signing anti-bullying pledges and acting in kindness-themed skits. The efforts were in honor of National Bullying Prevention Month, a campaign of PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center in Minnesota.
In Merrick, students at Merrick Avenue Middle School signed a banner to unite against bullying and sold bracelets with the slogan "Don't Be Mean Behind the Screen" to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. On Oct. 23 teachers wore T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan and pupils wore orange to support bullying prevention.
"Kids growing up in this generation are exposed to so much more than that of their parents' generation," Principal Meador Pratt said. "It is very important that . . . we do everything we can to educate kids and make them aware of issues that surround them every day in regard to technology and its misuse."
In Lynbrook, the district's six schools and kindergarten center participated in a Unity Week that included anti-bullying activities at each building. West End Elementary School's fifth-graders performed a skit, titled "Bully No More," that illustrated how bullies can be changed into friends, while Lynbrook North Middle School students sat and ate with new sets of peers at a "Mix It Up" lunch.
In Wantagh, middle schoolers watched a video, titled "Kindness Boomerang," that showed how kindness can be passed from one individual to the next through random acts. They also wrote inspirational messages on paper hands that were hung on the school walls.
In Elmont, Dutch Broadway Elementary School students participated in a mock game show, with questions relating to character education.
"When we are in school, we are family," said Renee Crump-Dedmon, principal of Freeport's New Visions School, where kids pledged to keep the building a "bully-free zone."
Malverne High School has launched a biotechnology lab with donations from Stony Brook University's Center for Math and Science Education.
The school will train ninth and 10th grade teens to use the equipment so they can tackle projects as juniors and seniors. The equipment includes such devices as a UV transluminator and a polymerase chain-reaction machine.
Previously, the district paid to bus students to outside facilities that had the equipment.
Seaford Manor Elementary School officially unveiled a new playground last month, made possible by a $30,000 wellness grant through the Healthy Playground Makeover Sweepstakes.
The sweepstakes was coordinated by Together Counts, a health program coordinated by Discovery Education and the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation.
"After falling short in two other contests where we came in a frustrating second place, our effort finally paid off," Principal Debra Emmerich said.
Nassau BOCES has received a $150,000 grant from New York State to help improve record management in the Baldwin, Elmont, Hempstead, Long Beach, Syosset and Valley Stream school districts. The project will allow districts to scan and save records securely online for quick employee access.
In other news, Nassau BOCES employees recently received grants totaling more than $25,000 through the Nassau BOCES Educational Foundation. The awards help to purchase iPads for instructional use and implement an exercise program for special-education students, among other things.
Six Long Island schools have educated students about financial literacy during the past year through a youth education program titled Earn Your Future, coordinated by PricewaterhouseCoopers as part of the company's commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative.
The curriculum's lesson plans are composed of interactive handouts and multimedia components in topics ranging from saving and investing to identity theft.
Local participating schools are James H. Boyd Intermediate School in Huntington, Oceanside Elementary School No. 3, Rhame Avenue Elementary School in East Rockaway, Covert Avenue Elementary School in Elmont, John F. Kennedy Elementary School in West Babylon and McVey Elementary School in East Meadow.
About 1,000 local students have received more than 1,000 hours of financial literacy training in the program.