Long Island teens recently went head-to-head to prove who best knows the ocean.
A five-student team from Mount Sinai High School -- Julia Eberhard, Ethan Donowitz, Camille Jwo, Patrick McKeown and Nicholas O'Mara -- beat 15 tri-state area teams to take first place last month in this year's Bay Scallop Bowl.
The "Jeopardy"-style tournament has fast-paced buzzer rounds and team challenges that test knowledge of oceanography and related sciences.
"This year's team is extremely well balanced, and all five members are very well prepared," said Mount Sinai coach David Chase, a science teacher at the school. "It's not about the money for our team. It's about their passion for learning more and more about the ocean."
To better prepare students for the bowl, Chase said he started a club at the school five years ago to study the ocean and build team depth. The club now has about two dozen students who compete to determine who is on school's "A team," he said.
For winning, Mount Sinai's team members received $1,000 each, and they will vie against 24 other high school teams next month at the 2013 National Ocean Sciences Bowl in Milwaukee.
Farmingdale team members -- Andrew Cano, Trevor Corrao, Duncan McCloskey, Charlie Tomassetti and Mike Waldman -- received $750 each.
"We were very, very well-prepared and our team was incredibly good this year," Farmingdale coach Peter Macchia said.
Nassakeag Elementary School recently educated pupils on the importance of accepting different cultures through a Diversity Day that included ethnic songs, dances and literary pieces from around the world.
To kick off the program, kindergartners and first-graders sang songs titled "We Are All Crayons" and "Teaching Peace," respectively, followed by sixth-graders staging an Indian folk tale and fashion show. Other activities included children visiting work stations modeled after the Great Hall at Ellis Island and making squares for a diversity-themed paper quilt.
"It is our hope that this event . . . helps to foster a better understanding of the diverse culture that exists in our school and the importance of being accepting of others," sixth-grade teacher Judith Larsen said.
Blankets and books
Oldfield Middle School recently stressed the importance of literacy through a read-a-thon in which students solicited donations and pledged to read a certain number of pages between 8:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Pajama-wearing pupils spent the day in the school's auditorium equipped with blankets, sleeping bags and a novel or e-reader device, such as Barnes & Noble's Nook or Amazon's Kindle. Couches also were brought in from the school library for lounging, and children discussed the books with committee members and library faculty during breaks.
"This was a fun way to get us excited about reading," sixth-grader Sophia Hoss said. "It's nice to see what your friends are reading and get some ideas for new books."
Music for the elderly
Longwood Central School District's music and fine arts department recently donated 35 Apple iPods and MP3 players -- and $150 in iTunes gift cards -- to several local care facilities to aid elderly residents dealing with memory loss.
The effort was done in conjunction with Music & Memory, a Mineola-based nonprofit that uses music to improve the quality of life for people suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
In Bayport, Academy Street Elementary School kicked off the Year of the Snake with first-grader Jillian Kaler speaking to classmates about how she came to the United States when she was 18 months old and a lesson on the meanings of the different animals used in the Chinese calendar. Children also created colorful paper lanterns and sampled various traditional Chinese dishes.
In East Setauket, Arrowhead Elementary School kindergartners joined forces to create a dragon-themed banner and then crafted paper dragon puppets, lanterns and snakes. They also learned to say "Gung hay fat choy," which means "Best wishes and congratulations."
In Elwood, Harley Avenue Primary School hosted Patricia Shih, a Chinese-American musician from Huntington, who led students through a multi-century tour of Chinese history and art.