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National Bullying Prevention month focuses on kindness

Walt Whitman High School students in Huntington Station

Walt Whitman High School students in Huntington Station who have been newly minted as "upstander ambassadors" pose with facilitators who visited the school. Credit: South Huntington School District

The importance of kindness is a critical topic in classrooms across Long Island throughout October.

In recognition of National Bullying Prevention Month, dozens of schools have been hosting programs and activities designed to help children look out for one another and reject bullying.

In Huntington Station, 20 student leaders at Walt Whitman High School paired up with Siena College students for role-playing exercises, peer-to-peer discussions and workshops that trained them to be “upstander ambassadors” as part of the AT&T and Siena Upstander Program. Subsequently, a schoolwide assembly was held to highlight the dangers of cyberbullying and promote an “upstander culture,” program officials said.

“I think it’s one of the most important things we can teach students,” Walt Whitman Principal John Murphy said of cyberbullying awareness. “Students don’t always understand the ramifications of putting things online.”

In Copiague, the high school hosted two assemblies presented by Rachel’s Challenge, a nonprofit created in honor of Rachel Joy Scott, the first student killed in the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999. In addition, more than 100 students and 20 staff members participated in training to help start a “chain reaction of kindness” at the school.

In North Babylon, Marion G. Vedder Elementary School hosted a performance by Soren Bennick Productions in which actors wore different colored masks to indicate which person was the bully and which person was being bullied. The program also taught actions to prevent bullying.

In Lindenhurst, the middle school hosted Ryan’s Story, an anti-bullying program that features John Halligan, whose 13-year-old son committed suicide in 2003 when the family was living in Vermont. The father advocates for how schools can better address bullying and suicide prevention.


New principal

Clinton Grant has been appointed principal of Lindenhurst High School. He replaced Christopher Gitz, who now is principal of Great Neck South High School.

Clinton most recently was principal of Amityville Memorial High School. He also has been assistant principal of Uniondale High School, assistant principal and principal of that school’s summer school programs and supervisor of Uniondale’s Alternative High School.

“I look forward to working with all of the members of the community, as I know that together, we will take our students to the next level,” Grant said.


New principal

Jaime Bottcher has been appointed principal of Southampton Elementary School. She replaced Michael Grimaldi, who now is assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Eastport-South Manor school district.

Bottcher had been Southampton Elementary’s interim assistant principal since November. Before that, she was an English as a new language teacher for 14 years and chair of the school improvement team in the Brentwood school district.

“I have been allowed to build relationships based on trust and commitment with various stakeholders both inside the school and throughout the district, and I look forward to continuing to build those relationships as principal,” Bottcher said.


Broadcom MASTERS

Long Island students Ian Bailey and Austin Crouchley of Garden City Middle School and Michael Jang, David Yang and Chapin Zerner of Commack Middle School were among the top 300 competitors nationally last month in the seventh annual Broadcom MASTERS, a competition for middle schoolers in science, technology, engineering and math.

The contest, which is a program of the Broadcom Foundation and the Society for Science & The Public, received 2,500 applicants from 37 states, Puerto Rico and U.S. Department of Defense overseas sites. To be eligible, students placed in the top 10 percent at affiliated regional and state science fairs.

Crouchley was among 30 students selected as finalists to compete for more than $100,000 in prizes in Washington, D.C. Winners are scheduled to be announced Tuesday.

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