The PTAs at East Lake Elementary School in Massapequa Park and Manetuck Elementary School in West Islip were recently recognized for making reading both fun and informative.
The groups won the Nassau and Suffolk county titles, respectively, in this year's Pick a Reading Partner program, the literacy initiative known as PARP that is sponsored by the New York State PTA. The program asks adults to read with children for at least 20 minutes daily.
East Lake's PARP program featured everything from a red-carpet kickoff to autograph books that children used as reading logs. It also included coupons from area businesses that children could redeem based on their reading efforts and raffles in which they could earn additional tickets for taking out books from the school's library.
"We were so happy; we put so much into this," East Lake's PARP co-chair Jennifer Azzariti said of winning. "It reaffirms all the hard work."
Manetuck's PARP program included an indoor campfire space where students used flashlights to read around a faux fire made out tissue paper beneath glow-in-the-dark stars. It also featured dress-up days and a picnic night in which families came with a basket of food and "a good book," school officials said.
"When the kids came in for the first time, you could hear the 'oohs' and 'ahhs,'" Manetuck Principal Vanessa Williams said of the school's decorations.
Manetuck's PTA president, Camille Newsom, said of PARP's importance, "You need to read to be successful in anything."
The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District has a created a new PREP Academy to help prepare special-education students for adult life. It is housed in the district's Brookside School.
The academy's goals include teaching social understanding, self-advocacy, and vocational and recreational skills. Students also learn such functional tasks as managing a bank account or comprehending paychecks, and will ultimately be paired up at local job sites.
"Through work with parents, students, teachers and community organizations, we have identified areas that are essential for our students to be successful adults," said Eric Arlin, the district's director of special education and pupil personnel services.
Four Jericho High School students were winners in the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes' Discovery Award competition, which invited youth to develop projects showcasing the power one person has to make positive change.
Elaine Jiao, Dayoung Lee and Zara Qizilbash won a $2,000 second-place award for their documentary on Ann Hopkins, a woman who was denied partnership at the accounting firm Price Waterhouse for not dressing or acting feminine enough in 1982.
Meanwhile, Kaitlyn Choi received the $2,000 Outstanding Middle School Project Award for developing a website on James Reese Europe, whose achievements include being the first African American officer to lead troops in World War I.
Many Long Island schools recently held cultural-themed activities in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which spanned from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
In Deer Park, Heather Nola's Spanish class was treated to a reading of Rhina P. Espaillat's poem "Bilingual/Bilingüe" by student Dixi Granados, who is bilingual after emigrating with her family from El Salvador in 2017.
In East Rockaway, Waverly Park Elementary School in the Lynbrook School District celebrated 16 students and their cultures by posting photos of them and facts about their heritages on a bulletin board.
In Copiague, second-graders at Susan E. Wiley Elementary School listened to a story about Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, wrote about her life and created figures of her using construction paper.