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Nassau: Syosset debaters tops

The Syosset High School Forensics Club has won

The Syosset High School Forensics Club has won most of the weekly debate tournaments held so far this year by the Long Island Forensics Association. Topics include national issues. Credit: Handout

There's no debating the terrific analytical skills of students at Syosset High School.

The school's forensics club has won 12 out of the first 13 weekly debate tournaments coordinated so far this school year by the Long Island Forensics Association, an organization that strives to promote leadership among high schoolers through public speaking.

Tournaments can include as many as 300 students on up to a dozen teams from public and private schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

"There are so many things that students learn from this: how important research is to making an informed opinion; the poise needed to speak in front of people," said Syosset English teacher Lydia Esslinger, who coaches the school's 100-member club.

Esslinger said she credits the club's success to its frequent practices and team members' preparation of much of their material at home.

During the tournaments, teams compete in two types of debate: Lincoln-Douglas and public forum. The first requires two students from different schools to debate a values-based issue, while the latter requires two-person teams to debate current events topics. Teams prepare both sides of an argument and are judged on refutation, analysis and support.

Recent tournament topics have ranged from the pros and cons of universal health care to whether tax increases should take priority over federal spending cuts, Esslinger said.

Ten tournaments remain before the New York State championships this spring at Chaminade High School in Mineola.



$14,000 for charity

North Shore Hebrew Academy High School recently raised more than $6,500 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Long Island Chapter through a "Pennies for Patients" campaign.

The fundraiser challenged students to collect spare change to help support the society's research and patient services programs.

The amount was matched by one of the pupil's grandfathers, Stanley Silverstein, who was "moved by the students' philanthropy," school officials said, making for a total of $14,000.

The funds were donated at a check presentation held last month at the high school.



Diversity conference

Portledge School pupils Deja Anderson and Diana Lee joined more than 3,800 people nationwide last month to learn the importance of equity and justice at the National Association of Independent Schools' 19th annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Houston.

This year's conference divided a multicultural gathering of students, teachers and administrators into "families" to discuss issues ranging from stereotyping to the cycle of oppression and how to destroy it, Portledge officials said.

Speakers included Helene Cooper, White House correspondent for The New York Times, and Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and Iraq veteran who revealed he was gay on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show."

Portledge faculty adviser Pat Glover accompanied the teens and attended the association's People of Color Conference, which was held the same day.



Alumni Day

Long Beach High School's juniors and seniors recently learned the ins and outs of college life during an Alumni Day that featured 15 district graduates discussing everything from academics to dorm life.

The alumni urged teens to take advantage of International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement and other college-level courses to prepare them for the academics of college.

"Consider costs very carefully," said Alexa Salazar, a 2011 Long Beach High graduate. "Don't dismiss public colleges. The money you save on public school tuition can be applied to your graduate studies."



Commissioner's Schools

The Carle Place and New Hyde Park-Garden City Park school districts are among a group of five districts statewide to recently be designated a "Commissioner's School" by the New York State Education Department.

The districts will receive grants that will enable them to act as models and disseminate their instructional practices to low-performing districts to help raise those schools' academic achievement and close gaps among subgroups of students.

Carle Place was selected for having one of the state's highest-performing middle/senior high schools, and for using multilevel data inquiry teams to monitor student progress, the state said.

New Hyde Park has three of the state's highest-performing elementary schools and creatively uses technology in classrooms.

"We are incredibly proud to be recognized for our efforts and also honored to share our best practices with other districts in need," said Carle Place Superintendent Dave Flatley.

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