The message was loud and clear last month in Long Island classrooms: Bullying is bad.
Local schools hosted everything from anti-bullying workshops to walk-a-thons in an effort to educate students, in conjunction with National Bullying Prevention Month.
NASSAU SCHOOLS: In Glen Cove, students at Robert M. Finley Middle School learned about the importance of making smart choices during a visit from former WWE wrestler Marc Mero, who explained that choosing the right friends had a profound impact on his life. Meanwhile, the district's Gribbin Elementary School welcomed comedian Mike Speirs for a presentation on being an "upstander," not a bystander.
"If everyone in this room chose to be nice, there would be no more bullying," Speirs told students.
In Jericho, the middle school mixed fitness into its efforts with a bullying prevention walkathon in which students circled the school track while enjoying performances by high school dancers and a deejay. The school also hosted an assembly led by Long Island native Aija Mayrock, author of an e-book titled "A Survival Guide to Bullying."
In Wantagh, students at Mandalay Elementary School wore orange to support bullying prevention. They also wrote anti-bullying statements on strips of orange paper that were linked to make chains and displayed in the cafeteria and gym.
In East Rockaway, children at Centre Avenue Elementary School learned to handle conflict from a puppet operated by social worker Dawn Ragone.
"Workshops like these are important for youth because research shows that teaching empathy at an early age can help prevent bullying," Ragone said.
SUFFOLK SCHOOLS: In Greenlawn, Oldfield Middle School hosted an Internet safety and cyberbullying assembly led by Deputy Rory R. Forrestal of the Suffolk County Police's Computer Crimes Section. Forrestal spoke about the potential legal consequences and also told of situations in which cyberbullying led young adults to commit suicide.
"This is someone from law enforcement telling students how it is, and it captivates them to think bigger," principal Joanne Giordano said.
In Riverhead, Riley Avenue Elementary School's Student Council visited each classroom for a discussion and a skit about bullying. Students also signed a poster with the following pledge: "The End of Bullying Begins With Us." Members of the Harlem Wizards basketball team visited the district's seven schools to talk about teamwork and respect.
In Copiague, the music group Hip Pickles visited students at Susan E. Wiley Elementary School, who learned about how bullying can occur through use of hurtful words. To personalize the lesson, kids were asked to reflect on their feelings when they are mistreated as compared with when they are treated well.
In East Setauket, students at Ward Melville High School and Minnesauke Elementary School wore blue on Oct. 6 -- World Day for Bullying Prevention -- to increase awareness.
GLEN HEAD: Writing center tutors
North Shore High School has launched a new writing center in which 18 senior-year writing fellows act as tutors to help peers with various stages of the writing process.
The students were named fellows after completing a rigorous application process and attending a daylong training session led by three of the school's English teachers, school officials said.
"All are poised and excited to help North Shore students build the skills they need to grow as writers," said Julie Ritter, a teacher leader in the school's English Department.
PORT WASHINGTON: New principals
The Port Washington school district has two new principals: Christopher Shields at Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School and Pia Linda Sanchez at South Salem Elementary School.
Shields previously was principal of South Salem for 11 years, and before that was an assistant principal at Weber and at William Floyd Elementary School in Shirley. He replaced Marilyn Rodahan, who retired.
Sanchez had been assistant principal at Weber since 2011 and; before that was a counselor there.
"I attended Weber as a student, my daughter has thrived there, and my youngest child is looking forward to attending the school," Shields said. "I feel like I have come full circle."
EAST ISLIP: Etiquette lessons
The East Islip school district recently hosted an etiquette luncheon, with more than 65 students from all four of the high school's Career Academies treated to a lesson in fine dining. The teens, divided into groups of 10, learned about topics ranging from the proper use of utensils and napkins to the proper dress code and behavior during job interviews.
The event's guest speaker was Adam Elbayer, a talent acquisition specialist with North Shore-LIJ Health System.
"They were polite, respectful of one another, and enjoyed spending time with teachers who volunteered their own time to provide them with the skills they will need for the rest of their lives," Career Academy director Israel Malinowitzer said of students.
HAMPTON BAYS: Shinnecock Bay lessons
Science classes at Hampton Bays High School have been using the local environment as an outdoor classroom through lessons at Shinnecock Bay.
One recent lesson saw the school's science-in-research students participate in a clam reseeding initiative under the guidance of Stony Brook University professor Chris Gobler. In another, marine science students caught and analyzed fish in a vessel supplied by SUNY Southampton College and took water samples to study dissolved oxygen and turbidity.
"I am so excited our students got this opportunity to assist in this type of program, especially since it takes place right in our backyards," Hampton Bays teacher Stephanie Forsberg said.
ISLANDWIDE: 'Partners for the Future'
Fourteen Long Island teens are conducting medical research after being selected to participate in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's "Partners for the Future" program.
Students from Nassau County are: Joseph Boroda, Massapequa High School; Dana Galgano and Vanessa Yu, Oyster Bay High School; Hanna Hong and Sarah Lee, Syosset High School; Scott Kriesberg, Friends Academy, Locust Valley; Suraj Muralidharan, Farmingdale High School; and Kristin Schmidt, Division Avenue High School, Levittown.
High school seniors are nominated by their school science chair, with semifinalists interviewed by lab scientists.
Winners spend at least 10 hours weekly from September through March doing research with a scientist mentor and give presentations at the program's conclusion.