In many local districts the school year began before the doors opened on the first day.
Long Island students attended everything from welcome-back barbecues to building tours to mentoring sessions earlier this month -- efforts aimed at easing into the school year with new classmates, different facilities and extracurricular activities.
In Locust Valley, sixth-graders were divided into small groups -- with schedules in hand -- during an orientation session that included a tour of the middle school and activities such as practicing to open their new lockers. Meanwhile, ninth-graders participated in a scavenger hunt at the high school that helped them learn where to obtain important information, such as dates for taking the SAT.
"We answered their questions, calmed their fears and told them we will be here for them all year to help in whatever ways they may need," Locust Valley Middle School Principal H. Thomas Hogan said.
In Glen Head, North Shore High School's incoming freshmen were reunited with old friends -- and made some new ones -- during a class barbecue. They also had the opportunity to ask questions about their new school during a workshop hosted by the Peer Educators Club.
In Malverne, the high school held a freshman orientation that included a workshop for parents that outlined student expectations and introduced the district's learning initiative, titled "Dare to Dream."
In Freeport, Bayview Avenue Elementary School hosted a parade and pep rally on the school playground to give kids a chance to get reacquainted.
"It is critical for students to feel comfortable and welcomed in a place that will be their home away from home for either two or four years," said John DeTommaso, superintendent of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District.
Lisa Ruiz has been appointed superintendent of the East Rockaway Union Free School District. She replaces Roseanne Melucci, who held the position since 2002 and retired.
Ruiz most recently served as assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and student services for the Merrick Union Free School District. She earlier was a principal and pupil services director in the Levittown Union Free School District.
Marie Testa has been appointed superintendent of the North Bellmore Union Free School District. She replaces Arnold Goldstein, who retired.
Testa most recently served as principal of the district's Martin Avenue Elementary School, where she also was a physical education teacher. In addition, she has been a physical education teacher and principal at the district's Saw Mill Road and Jacob Gunther elementary schools, respectively.
Fran Bennett, who was principal of Saw Mill Road, is the new principal at Martin Avenue Elementary.
Jeff Rosof is the new principal at Saw Mill Road. He previously served as an assistant principal at a school district in Westchester County.
Phyllis Harrington is the new superintendent of the Oceanside Union Free School District. She replaces Herb Brown, who retired after holding the position for 16 years.
Harrington most recently served nine years as superintendent of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District, where she also had been an assistant superintendent. Her other past positions include serving as a principal in Lawrence, an assistant principal in East Meadow, and special-education director in Oceanside.
In other district news, Gerri DeCarlo is principal of Oceanside High School, replacing Mark Secaur, who now is deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Hewlett-Woodmere Union Free School District. DeCarlo previously was an associate principal at the school.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. and By Kids For Kids, a Connecticut-based company that encourages youths to try their hand at inventions, are inviting kids ages 9-16 to envision a helicopter capable of addressing global issues to be faced by midcentury.
The 2013 Sikorsky Helicopter 2050 Challenge will issue a $1,000 grand-prize scholarship and give the winner a tour of Sikorsky's Black Hawk and Seahawk helicopters.
"We're challenging kids across the U.S. to think globally about their future and how they can make a difference," said Judy Bankowski, vice president and chief information officer at Sikorsky. "This year's objective is to design a helicopter that can have far-reaching positive impact for our planet."
Entries will be judged on uniqueness of concept, description of idea and ability to overcome a global challenge. They can be submitted online at helicopter2050.com until Sept. 30.