Long Island schools packed their calendars this month in honor of Black History Month.
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 for their academic achievements.
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 Malverne, high-schoolers tested their knowledge by competing in daily quizzes on black history, with winners getting their names placed in a schoolwide raffle for Dunkin' Donuts gift cards.
"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.
COLD SPRING HARBORRecycling effortsStudents in Cold Spring Harbor are learning the importance of "going green" this year through a recycling program that has expanded to all district schools. The program requires kids to empty dozens of recycling bins once a week.
At the junior-senior high school, students each week fill 14 90-gallon bins with paper, plastic and aluminum collected from smaller bins in each classroom.
"Younger kids today view recycling as just something that they do," said high school science teacher Erin Oshan.
HAUPPAUGEBook-in-a-DayThirty teens in Hauppauge High School's literature and creative writing classes recently held a book signing to celebrate the publication of "I Am Atlas," a book of poetry they produced through the nonprofit literacy program Book-in-a-Day.
Program founder Kwame Alexander spent a day coaching students through the publishing process, from writing to marketing. "It is my hope the workshop ignited a passion for poetry," said Kim Karwick, the district head of English language arts.
LAKE GROVE, ST. JAMESWinning essayStephen Florio of the Sachem school district's Cayuga Elementary School in Lake Grove and Donna Sanders of Harbor Country Day School in St. James were winners of the "Take a Duck to Class" essay contest sponsored by the Long Island Ducks and TD Bank.
They won a school assembly with Ducks infielder Ray Navarette and mascot QuackerJack. The contest theme was "Why community is important to me."
Astronomy winnersA 35-member team of Northport and East Northport middle-schoolers finished first in the fifth/sixth-grade level of the New York K-6 International Year of Astronomy Contest sponsored by Cornell University. They were the sole Long Island winners from among some 300 entries.
The contest required kids to research a destination in the universe and create a travel brochure. The Northport students - whose destinations included Mars and the Carina Nebula - won a DVD of the History Channel's "The Universe," a NASA bulletin board and other items.
COUNTYWIDEInternational DayStudents from Eastern Suffolk BOCES' Brookhaven Learning Center learned about various cultures earlier this month during an International Day held to coincide with the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. To participate, each student picked a different country and researched five facts to share with classmates.
Teachers also held a mock torch-lighting ceremony using candles to kick off the event.
ISLANDWIDEHelp for HaitiDozens 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.