School Notebook: Red Ribbon Week

Minnesauke Elementary students took a stand against substance

Minnesauke Elementary students took a stand against substance abuse last month for Red Ribbon Week’s awareness campaign. The East Setauket sixth-graders held competitions and wrote essays. (Credit: Handout)

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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 Delahanty. "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 backwards 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."

MIDDLE ISLANDBus safety contest

Jose Suriel, a freshman at Longwood High School, recently took first place in the 2011-12 Bus Safety Poster Contest titled "Stand Back from the Yellow and Black," sponsored by the New York Association for Pupil Transportation's Suffolk County Chapter. He won $100.

Fellow Longwood freshman Brandon Padilla placed third.

RONKONKOMAAviation education

Professional Pilot Training program pupils in Eastern Suffolk BOCES' Suffolk Aviation Academy recently received a behind-the-scenes look at the airline business during a work-site tour of Southwest Airlines at Long Island MacArthur Airport. The tour included a look at ground operations, including ramp and customer service.

After the tour, the students had a question-and-answer session with Southwest workers and learned about various employment opportunities.

"This was a valuable and useful excursion for the students," said Lou Ballester, the program's instructor. "Students stood on the tarmac and observed Southwest 737 arrival and departure procedures firsthand."

COUNTYWIDEBlack college tours

Several Suffolk County high schools educated teenagers on the college admissions process and scholarship and financial aid opportunities via annual college tours, including visits to historically black colleges.

A group of 32 juniors and seniors from the Amityville school district toured colleges in North Carolina, including Winston-Salem State University, and later shared their experiences in a meeting with the district's Board of Education.

In Riverhead, four high school students joined a group of about 75 students from throughout the East Coast for a weeklong bus tour of 15 historically black colleges and universities.

"We probably couldn't tour all these colleges on our own," said Riverhead junior Shakiyla Sykes, who aspires to be a registered nurse. "It may open up new opportunities for us."

ISLANDWIDEFinancial literacy

The Council for Economic Education is offering free financial literacy lessons via online gaming to students in middle 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.

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