Suffolk: LI schools promote literacy program

In Ronkonkoma, Edith K. Slocum Elementary School kindergartners

In Ronkonkoma, Edith K. Slocum Elementary School kindergartners recently participated in a "bedtime story hour" to kick off the school's Parents as Reading Partners program. Photo Credit: Joseph Maniaci

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Long Island schools showed no shortage of creativity in promoting a love of literacy in recent weeks.

From story hours to singing snowmen and mock game shows, schools sought to inspire local students to participate in Parents as Reading Partners (PARP), a New York State PTA program that asks parents to read at home with children for a minimum of 15 minutes a day.

In Ronkonkoma, Edith L. Slocum Elementary School held "bedtime story hour," with pajama-clad kids enjoying cookies and milk as volunteer parents and teachers read aloud.

In Elmont, Gotham Avenue Elementary School held an assembly in which a snowman named "M.C. Read-A-Lot" led kids in a series of reading-themed songs, while Alden Terrace Elementary School students colored in countries on a map if they read a book relating to that area.

Alden Terrace kicked off its program with a mock game show that tested student knowledge of topics including sports and zoology.

"It's a great kickoff, because it really energizes the students and gets them very interested in exploring new texts," Principal Amy Buchanan said, adding, "Our focus this year is to really spend more time on informational text."

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In Oyster Bay, Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School Principal Tami McElwee agreed to perform 10 different exercises if students read at least 70,000 collective minutes over one month through the reading partners program. That effort was kicked off in conjunction with the school's celebration of the birthday of the beloved children's-book author Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, on March 2.

In Farmingdale, Saltzman East Memorial Elementary School hosted a "book bingo" night in which children played games, including bingo, that incorporated their favorite texts.



National Geographic

The Ross School, a private school for pre-nursery through 12th grade, has announced that students in its Innovation Lab

@Ross academy were asked to evaluate content for an Engineering Exploration Challenge being unveiled next month by National Geographic Kids magazine.

About 20 teenagers participated in a weeklong trial, conducting lab tests to help improve the challenge's guidelines and resources before its official launch. Their efforts included constructing a camera that can withstand an animal attack and be lowered into a forest canopy.

"We asked Ross School to participate . . . because we recognize a great deal of synergy between our philosophies," said Kathleen Schwille, vice president of education design and development of National Geographic Education Programs.


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Creative Communication

Grace Zhao, 16, a sophomore at Ward Melville High School, was one of 10 winners nationwide in the grade 10-12 category of a fall essay contest coordinated by Creative Communication, a Utah company that promotes writing.

Her 250-word essay, titled "When Dreams Were Made of Ham and Cheddar," will be featured in a contest anthology.

Zhao was the sole New York winner in any of the contest's grade-level divisions.

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Leadership training

Baylee Alexander of Longwood High School in Middle Island, Kelsey Hacket of John H. Glenn High School in Elwood, Natalie Piccolo of Brentwood High School, and Olivia Winkeler of Smithtown High School East were among 304 students nationwide to recently attend the 2014 Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The academy uses interactive technology, science-oriented workshops and team exercises to help children of Honeywell International employees build leadership skills and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.



Black history

Dozens of local schools taught the importance of tolerance through activities held in celebration of Black History Month in February.

In Bellport, the high school hosted a panel discussion focusing on issues relating to the panelists' experiences as African-Americans. Participants included Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville), presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, and Robert Powell, a member of the South Country school district's Board of Education.

In Amityville, the high school held a civil rights celebration for honorees including Reynold Hawkins, a district social worker who established a social group for boys, and the school's Interact Club, which promotes social responsibility through outreach projects.

In Riverhead, Riley Avenue Elementary School students prepared and read essays about historical black figures during the high school's unity celebration.

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