Long Island schools packed their calendars this month in honor of Black History Month.
In Malverne, high-schoolers tested their knowledge by competing in daily quizzes on black history, with the winners getting their names placed in a schoolwide raffle for Dunkin' Donuts gift cards.
At Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School in Miller Place, more than 700 elementary school pupils learned about the Underground Railroad through songs and stories presented by upstate performance artists Kim and Reggie Harris.
One prominent celebration took place at Uniondale High School, which had everything from a Wear All Black Day to a Heritage Flag Day to a Hip-Hop Celebration Day that featured a visit from rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy.
"We're trying to create a new paradigm," said the school's dean of academic services, Keith Saunders. "You need more than reading, writing and arithmetic. You need a social awareness as well."
Other events at Uniondale included a lecture about peace from author Linda Ragsdale, who was shot during the terrorist attacks that killed 170 people in Mumbai, India, in November 2008. The Nassau County Guardians Association also displayed a life-size model of a jail cell and discussed the importance of positive life choices.
In Farmingville, the Town of Brookhaven's Black History Commission held a ceremony to honor 60 African-American high school seniors from nine school districts, based on their academic achievements.
"African-American history is about looking, seeing and imagining a vision that is not there, and striving to move a people toward that vision," said the event's mistress of ceremonies, Imani Jordan Busby, a senior at Bellport High School.
Willets Road School students learned the values of individualism and respect last month during a kickoff event for the school's new SPARK (success, pride, actions, respect and kindness) program.
As part of the kickoff, 470 students enjoyed a dance performance by faculty and brainstormed promises to change their behavior that would be displayed on a bulletin board.
"One little sixth-grade girl promised to ease someone's life by carrying their heavy burden," said English and social studies teacher Linda Linick.
Ryan Mills of Gribbin Elementary School in Glen Cove and Kelly Domagala of Stokes Elementary School in the Island Trees school district in Levittown were winners of the "Take a Duck to Class" essay contest sponsored by the Long Island Ducks and TD Bank.
Each won an assembly for classmates that included Ducks infielder Ray Navarette and mascot QuackerJack. The contest theme was: "Why community is important to me."
Book signing raises funds
Locust Valley High School's Interact Club raised $1,400 last month for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Children's Tumor Foundation through a book signing in which local authors discussed events and people that inspired their work.
Authors were Jen Calonita, Gitty Daneshvari, Micol Ostow and Lou Berger, a former head writer for TV's "Sesame Street."
"Events like this help students . . . visualize themselves in the same career," said district English language arts coordinator Ed Cannone.
Eighth-graders in Wantagh Middle School's e-business classes recently learned the inner workings of Web site production from Jim Colotti, a trustee in the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce. During his visit, Colotti, who helped launch wantagh.li in 2001, explained the importance of customizing Web sites using graphics, surveys and other tools.
Sixty teachers from Nassau County schools recently received $13,028 in teaching grants through the Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union's 2009 Funding Your Ideas program. To become eligible, educators in grades pre-K to 12 submitted proposals for innovative classroom projects that could be achieved using the funds.
Dozens of Long Island schools have continued to collect supplies and monetary donations this month to help the victims of Haiti's earthquake.
In Long Beach the district's six public schools raised about $11,000 through coin drives and bracelet and bake sales to benefit organizations including the Red Cross and Convoy for Hope, a nonprofit that provides outreach to disaster victims.
Robert Seaman Elementary School in Jericho raised $4,500 through a "Principal for a Day" raffle that let one student from each grade handle various administrative tasks for a day, such as making morning P.A. announcements and answering office phones.
In Port Washington, Paul D. Schreiber High School students raised $2,000 for the Red Cross through T-shirt and bake sales held during a basketball game.
In Levittown, Jonas E. Salk Middle School raised $2,083 for UNICEF and the Red Cross by selling homemade "worry dolls," which are used to comfort children.