Seven Long Island school districts are on College Board's fifth annual AP District Honor Roll for their success in maintaining high student scores and boosting participation in college-level courses.
The districts -- Copiague, Deer Park, East Rockaway, Farmingdale, Greenport, Shoreham-Wading River and Uniondale -- are among 28 statewide and 547 in the United States and Canada to earn the designation this year, the College Board said in a news release.
Districts named to the Honor Roll demonstrated increased access to Advanced Placement courses by pinpointing teens who were ready for AP classes. Simultaneously, they maintained or increased the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher -- out of a possible 5 -- on AP exams.
Selection was based on the past three years of College Board's AP data.
"We're thrilled and really proud of our students and staff," East Rockaway High School Principal Joseph Spero said. "We've had a conscious effort from teachers and counselors to identify students who would be successful in AP classes."
In East Rockaway, AP enrollment increased from 37 students in 2012 to 74 in 2014, and the school added five AP classes in recent years to reach a total of 14. Meanwhile, the school's percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on AP exams is at 77 percent, which is 10 percent higher than the state's average, Spero said.
Shoreham-Wading River High School, which offers 14 AP classes, had enrollment jump in AP courses to 251 this year from 195 in 2010. In addition, 73 percent of students scored a 3 or better on AP exams in the last school year.
In Greenport, AP enrollment increased to 59 students in the 2013-14 school year from 35 in 2012. This year's AP course enrollment is 53.
The Manhattan-based College Board sponsors AP courses and exams, and the SAT college admissions test, among other assessments.
EAST HAMPTON: Boccie tournament
Springs School celebrated a new, PTA-funded boccie ball court with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included a tournament between boys and girls in the school's functional academics class and Inclusion Club.
The boys team won 16-13.
The functional academics class consists of special education students seeking skills to live independently. The Inclusion Club, created last year, has general education students who want to spend time with students from the functional academics class.
"Since many of our self-contained students may have highly structured school days, these types of outdoor sport-centered learning activities -- similar to what they come across during their involvement in the Special Olympics -- allow our kids to have meaningful experiences outdoors," said Springs School Principal Eric Casale.
LEVITTOWN: 'Elf on the Shelf'
East Broadway Elementary School kindergartners recently met Chanda Bell, co-author of the 2005 children's book "Elf on the Shelf," after teacher Susan Polaski won a contest for a visit from the writer.
During the visit, Bell talked about the importance of tradition and related facts about her writing process. She told the students that she revised the holiday story more than 400 times before it finally was published.
East Broadway was one of 11 winning schools nationwide out of 15,000 entries.
SMITHTOWN: Sandy Hook memorial
St. James Elementary School recently hosted a dedication ceremony to unveil a new playground bench created in memory of Grace McDonnell, 7, one of 20 students killed two years ago in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Grace's maternal grandmother, Sheila Dunn Zapf of Stony Brook, was an academic intervention services tutor at the school until 2000.
The bench features a colorful mosaic tile seat with images of sailboats, a beach and a lighthouse -- some things that Grace most enjoyed, school officials said.
VALLEY STREAM: Healthy living
Twenty teenagers from Valley Stream North High School spearheaded lessons on healthy living for local children during visits to each of the four elementary schools within Valley Stream School District 13.
The lessons consisted of several interactive workstations, including one in which kids observed the amount of sugar commonly found in soda. They also played "true-or-false games" that tested knowledge of various health-related concepts, school officials said.
The lessons were part of Valley Stream North's Physical Education Leadership Program.
NASSAU COUNTY: Apprentice Challenge
Nine Nassau County teens were members of a 12-person team that won first place in Adelphi University's "Adelphi Apprentice Challenge," a marketing competition inspired by NBC's "The Apprentice."
This year's contest challenged teams to develop effective marketing strategies in one hour for Sol Republic, a wireless speaker and headphone company based in Oregon.
Local winning team members and their high schools were: Juwan Anderson of Wellington C. Mepham in Bellmore, Andrew Schneider of Great Neck South, Matthew Serebryansky of Lawrence, Jenny Seuling of Floral Park Memorial, Shinui Shang of Jericho, Anthony Sinacori of Wantagh, Anisha Singla of Herricks, Patrick Slovensky of Garden City and Adrienne Smith of Elmont Memorial. The team's other three members attend James Madison High School in Brooklyn.
The event, held last month, attracted 226 students from 20 Long Island schools.
SUFFOLK COUNTY: Polar plunge
Students and staff from several Suffolk County school districts braved the cold for a good cause last month in the "Freezin' for a Reason" Polar Plunge at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai.
The fifth annual event drew a record number of 1,000 people, raising about $168,000 for the Special Olympics of New York.
Riverhead Central School District raised more than $5,000, the William Floyd School District in Mastic Beach raised more than $2,500, and Bellport High School's Athletes Helping Athletes Club raised $500.
Those taking the plunge in Long Island Sound solicited monetary pledges from family and friends.
ISLANDWIDE: GRAMMY semifinalists
Eleven Long Island high schools are among 120 schools nationwide named 2015 GRAMMY Signature School semifinalists by the GRAMMY Foundation in recognition of "outstanding commitment to music education," the organization said.
They are: Division Avenue and General Douglas MacArthur, both in Levittown; Garden City, Herricks, Huntington, Great Neck North, Great Neck South, Long Beach, Paul D. Schreiber in Port Washington, Smithtown East and Smithtown West.
The program is "a much-needed resource for the schools that -- in the face of serious economic challenges -- are still able to provide a rigorous musical curriculum for their students," Neil Portnow, president and chief executive of The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Foundation said in a statement.
Finalists, to be named in the spring, will receive grants of $1,000 to $10,000 to benefit their music programs.