Many local students didn't need to visit town hall last month to get a dose of politics.
Dozens of high schools across Long Island hosted educational events tied to Election Day to teach teens about everything from major campaign issues to the voting process.
In Levittown, students in MacArthur High's Advanced Placement government and politics classes had a 90-minute video session with students in Scotland studying American culture and politics. LI students shared their perspectives on topics such as terrorism and the Affordable Care Act and learned about the economy and health care system in Scotland.
"It was a great experience for all of us," MacArthur teacher Laura McCue said.
In Glen Cove, Mayor Ralph Suozzi and Republican challenger Reginald Spinello engaged in a debate at the high school coordinated by the school's Community Action Using Student Empowerment (CAUSE) class. A student panel interviewed the candidates on local issues, ranging from tourism to illegal housing, and Spinello was elected mayor in a mock election held after the debate.
In Huntington, Assemb. Chad Luppinacci (R-Huntington Station) visited the high school's participation-in-government classes to discuss the basic philosophies of the Democratic and Republican parties, how a bill becomes a law, and major issues facing New York.
In Elmont, Hempstead Councilman Edward Ambrosino discussed the ins and outs of voting with youngsters at Alden Terrace Elementary School.
"We like our children to learn how important the right and responsibility to vote is," principal Amy Buchanan said.
Covert Avenue Elementary School students raised nearly $5,400 this fall through a walk to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
The event, held for the first time, included a series of exercise stations, such as a "steppingstone" station in which pupils made their way along a path of stones to symbolize that they were taking steps toward a healthy lifestyle.
"Educating our students to be compassionate and caring is all part of our unspoken Common Core learning standards," Principal Mary Natoli said.
Leo F. Giblyn Elementary School recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to reopen a playground damaged last year by floodwaters from superstorm Sandy. The playground underwent an "extensive rebuilding" that led to hardware and safety upgrades, school officials said.
During the ceremony, the grade-level winners of a recent schoolwide essay contest read aloud their compositions expressing appreciation of the newly improved playground.
"We believe in investing in the future of our students, in education and our facilities, and this playground is something we take pride in," Superintendent Kishore Kuncham said.
'Battle of the Belts'
Wisdom Lane Middle School recently put a fun twist on safety with "Battle of the Belts," a competition in which four-student teams vied to see who could buckle up in seat belts the quickest.
To start, teams sprinted from a starting line located 25 feet behind the vehicle and then got inside, buckled up and threw their hands in the air. A referee then signaled for team members to rotate clockwise around the car, and the students repeated the process until each was buckled in all four seats.
The winning team -- Jess Leto, Heather Bonsignore, Halley Clark and Marie Alexander -- had a time of 44 seconds.
Red Ribbon Week
Local schools hosted a variety of activities this fall to educate students on the importance of making healthy decisions as part of Red Ribbon Week, an annual drug and violence prevention campaign.
In Syosset, Harry B. Thompson Middle School students learned a different fact each morning about a "gateway drug" -- such as alcohol or marijuana -- and listed stress-relieving techniques for emotional situations. They also participated in skits that demonstrated how to make positive decisions in drug- and pressure-related scenarios.
In East Setauket, Nassakeag Elementary School students participated in a walkathon in which they collected pledges to sponsor healthy initiatives at the school. The school also hosted themed dress days such as "Scare Away Bad Habits: Wear Orange and Black Day."
Students at Farmingdale's Stanley D. Saltzman East Memorial Elementary School planted red tulip bulbs, walked the track for exercise and learned about healthy snack choices.