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Nassau: Immersion in politics

Long Beach High School students take in a

Long Beach High School students take in a tour of the Hofstra University site of the Oct. 16 presidential debate with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, standing in center of second row. (Oct. 16, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Most local secondary-school students aren't old enough to vote, but they're still developing a passion for politics.

Dozens of schools throughout Long Island hosted election-themed events in recent weeks to educate students on the campaign process and the importance of voting.

High schoolers in Long Beach were invited to tour the Hofstra University site of the Oct. 16 presidential debate between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. They also attended a lecture by political analyst Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" and visited C-Span's Campaign 2012 Tour Bus, which demonstrates how the channel produces and broadcasts its segments.

"My students agreed it was the best field trip they had ever been on," Long Beach social studies teacher Jen Quinn said. "We were so fortunate to be so close to history in the making."

In Locust Valley, Portledge School hosted a mock debate in which students vied for the roles of president, vice president, and secretaries of state, treasury, defense, commerce and energy for both the Democratic and Republican parties. The school's history classes researched campaign issues ranging from the national debt to unemployment.

In East Islip, 15 middle schoolers facing off in the school's 2012-13 student government elections created video speeches to relay their campaign platforms to classmates. The videos were made under the guidance of the high school's technology teacher, James Connell.

In Bayport, Kiddie Kampus West, a nursery school and day-care, had kids vote for Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck in specially designed booths to introduce them to the voting process.



Exploratory classes

Alfred G. Berner Middle School has launched exploratory classes in four subjects -- English, math, social studies and science -- to introduce students to career choices at an early age. The classes, titled Exploratories, will allow pupils to do everything from analyzing footprints in mock crimes to making fictional public service announcements with camcorders.

"The idea is to allow students to home in on interests and strengths in middle school, so when they enter high school they can focus on courses that bring them to the next level," said Lucille Iconis, Massapequa's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.



Deaf Awareness Week

Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf recently educated its students on visual and performing arts as they pertain to the deaf culture through programs and activities held in celebration of Deaf Awareness Week.

Brian Herman, who is hearing-impaired and one of the siblings in the Bronx-based dance troupe Double Up Dance Group, encouraged kids to "push themselves" daily and invited them onstage for an impromptu routine.

Crom Saunders, who is deaf and assistant professor of American Sign Language at Chicago's Columbia College, later in the week presented a one-man show of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."

"Deafness is not a hindrance to success," said Alnoe Paler, a freelance photographer who is deaf and who shared his struggles and photos with Mill Neck pupils.



Intergenerational reading

James A. Dever Elementary School hosted more than a dozen local senior citizens last month during a kickoff of its Intergenerational Reading Program, an annual initiative that aims to bridge the generation gap and promote literacy.

The seniors visit the school once a week and spend about a half hour reading together and developing relationships, school officials said.

"The beautiful part about it is, once children get past the initial greeting, they get to know you and like you," said program founder Mimi Friedman of Valley Stream, who got the idea when her grandchildren attended Dever in the 1990s.



ExploraVision, a K-12 science and technology competition, announced it is accepting entries for 2013, with a deadline of Jan. 31.

The competition requires student teams to incorporate scientific principles and current technologies in designing inventions that could exist 20 years from now. It is sponsored by Toshiba in partnership with the National Science Teachers Association.

This year's contest includes several different elements. Students must define a limitation of the technology upon which their idea is based. In addition, teams must create a Web page depicting a visual representation of the technology that could be used to create a prototype.

First-place teams will receive a $10,000 U.S. savings bond, and second-place teams will receive a $5,000 savings bond.

Applications are available online at

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