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In Seaford: senior buddies for freshmen

A monthly mentoring program in Seaford is opening lines of communication between lower- and upperclassmen in an effort to ease the freshman transition into high school.

In the Freshman Buddies program, 84 juniors and seniors at Seaford High School are offering guidance to 200 freshmen in group discussions on topics like bullying, peer pressure, and the importance of academics.

The program's dual purpose is to help teens transition from middle to high school while also providing an opportunity for upperclassmen to cultivate their leadership skills.

"When you ask freshmen what they are nervous about, they usually say seniors and upperclassmen," said assistant principal Carisa Burzynski, who spearheaded the program with English teachers Tania Cintorino and Shari Raduazzo. "We wanted to help ease that angst."

Burzynski said mentors were selected last year based on their leadership skills, faculty nominations, and interviews by a committee of teachers, guidance counselors and administrators.

During the monthly meetings, upperclassmen split into 22 groups with four mentors for every 10 freshmen, Burzynski said. Last month's topic focused on gender and dating.

"Guys act according to how society expects them to," senior Dylan Perlman said. "We're trying to show how to express feelings and not hide behind what society tells them to do."

Freshman DJ Hodges, who moved to Seaford from Manhattan in the fall, said the program "lessens drama." "Everyone here is comfortable," he said. "It makes us a better school."

BELLMORE

Chess games for logic

Charles A. Reinhard Early Childhood Center is using chess to build logic and problem-solving skills for students in grades K-2 through a weekly club that meets during recess.

Each session kicks off with a 10-minute lesson on the rules and strategies of the game hosted by visiting members of the Long Island Chess Nuts Association in Mineola. The roughly 200 students use the remaining time to compete against each other as the club advisers walk around the classroom to offer instructional tips and advice.

LOCUST VALLEY

Seniors CPR certified

Portledge School's Safe Hearts Club coordinated the certification of the school's entire senior class in CPR earlier this month for the second consecutive year through an all-day training session held in conjunction with American Heart Month and Valentine's Day. Training was led by representatives from Nationwide Instruction for Cardiovascular Education in Dix Hills.

"We have heard many stories about young athletes collapsing while playing sports," said sophomore and club co-founder Samantha Kravietz, citing the importance of teaching peers how to save a life.

OYSTER BAY

Tour of colleges

A group of 28 sophomores from Oyster Bay High School recently prepared for academic life after high school with a five-day tour of colleges from the University of Pennsylvania to George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

The idea was to take teens who had never seen a college and expose them to college life before they are confronted with the application process, school officials said. Free bus transportation was provided by Career Council / National Hispanic College Fairs, a Belle Harbor-based organization that assists high-schoolers with the college selection process.

"I actually went into the trip not knowing a lot about college and finished feeling like a pro," sophomore Alexa Ritacco said.

ISLANDWIDE

All-Eastern ensembles

Seventy-four Long Island students will perform in various music ensembles next month at the 2011 Eastern Division Conference in Baltimore coordinated by MENC: The National Association for Music Education. Nassau County attendees are:

Baldwin: Chris Felicio of Baldwin High School; East Meadow: Jordan Fried and Marc Kabigting of East Meadow High School; Freeport: Daniel Segredo of Freeport High School; Great Neck: Sabrina Reitman, Sha Sha and Caroline Suh of William A. Shine Great Neck South High School; Herricks: Si Chen and Ashley Thakur of Herricks High School; Hewlett: Stephen Chacon and Zach Gates of George W. Hewlett High School; Jericho: Lindsey Lam of Jericho High School; Levittown: Melissa Schachter of Gen. Douglas MacArthur High School; Locust Valley: David Vakili of Friends Academy; Alex Sheerin of Portledge School; Manhasset: Kathryn Barr of Manhasset High School; Massapequa: Carah Naseem and Pat Regan of Massapequa High School; Old Westbury: Kenneth Krihely and Will Schiela of The Wheatley School; Plainedge: Tania Ayvazian of Plainedge High School; Plainview: Ethan Arnowitz and Cory Hecht of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School; Rockville Centre: Chris Del Bello, Justin Wong and Pauline Jung of South Side High School; Syosset: David Cohen, Dan Kim, Alex Lombardi and Christine Rosenblatt of Syosset High School; Valley Stream: Margaret Milano and Brettany Tu of Valley Stream Central High School; Danielle Parini of Valley Stream North High School.

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