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."
Hauppauge High School senior Alexeus Ruland has been crowned International United Miss New York Teen for 2020-21 and will represent the state at an international pageant this summer in New Jersey.
Ruland, who aspires to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, has accumulated more than 150 volunteer hours through activities ranging from food and toiletry collections to delivering food to area veterans. She is also a Girl Scout ambassador and rides competitively with the interscholastic equestrian team for Farmstead Equestrian Center in Melville.
"I am hoping with this title I am able to serve my community more and help other children," Ruland said. "I am reaching out to all members of my community to see if I can be of assistance in upcoming fundraisers or charitable functions."
Curtis Juengerkes has been named principal of Maud S. Sherwood Elementary School in the Islip School District. He replaced Chad Walerstein, who is now the district's director of technology, innovation and information systems.
Juengerkes was previously the assistant principal at Islip High School, and before that was a business teacher and coach.
"Islip is a special community with great schools, amazing students and gifted staff," Juengerkes said. "It is a place to develop a sense of compassion for others and an understanding of life."
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.