Many local schools made special efforts to ease students into the new year with activities including barbecues and interactive games designed to familiarize students with each other and school grounds.
In Glen Cove, sixth-graders at Robert M. Finley Middle School were welcomed with a combination of food and fun at the district's annual sixth-grade orientation. The event included a scavenger hunt around the building, an opportunity for students to practice opening their lockers and a barbecue in the courtyard.
"We think it's important for students and faculty to spend time and share a meal together like a family would, because here at Finley Middle School we want to foster a nurturing 'family-style' environment," Principal Nelson Iocolano said.
Seventh-graders entering Freeport's J.W. Dodd Middle School took part in team-building activities designed to foster confidence and self-esteem. One activity challenged groups of students to write down characteristics about each other that they felt would lead to success at Dodd.
In Locust Valley, incoming ninth-graders participated in a scavenger hunt to help them learn more about the school. Tasks included figuring out which teacher is on the high school's Wall of Fame, which room contains a TV studio, and when the SAT will be given.
"The scavenger hunt allows them to have fun while working cooperatively and naturally, learning their way around the school," Assistant Principal Rebecca Gottesman said.
In Glen Head, 225 incoming freshmen at North Shore High School were led on building tours by older students in the Peer Educators Club.
BELLMORE-MERRICK: New principals
The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School district has two new principals: Nicole Hollings at Sanford H. Calhoun High School and Taryn M. Johnson at Merrick Avenue Middle School.
Hollings, who was assistant principal at Calhoun, replaced David Seinfeld, who now is the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
"Providing teachers with the support they need to reach and engage students is my focus, and I look forward to helping students become extraordinary people in addition to being ready to succeed in life beyond high school," Hollings said.
Johnson, who replaced S. Meador Pratt, was an assistant principal at Oyster Bay High School for seven years.
PORT WASHINGTON: New principal
Sheri L. Suzzan is the new principal of John J. Daly Elementary School, replacing Sheryl Haimovich, who held the position on an interim basis. Suzzan most recently was creative arts director for the Port Washington school district and previously taught kindergarten, second grade and fourth grade at Daly.
"In my short time here, I've already learned every student is a STARR," said Suzzan, referring to the school's new character education initiative that uses the acronym STARR to represent the words safe, truthful, accepting, respectful and responsible. "We are looking forward to a year of exciting opportunities in all areas of the curriculum."
HEWLETT-WOODMERE: Superintendent retiring
Joyce M. Bisso has announced plans to retire as superintendent of Hewlett-Woodmere Public Schools on June 30. The district's Board of Education plans to begin its search for a replacement this month.
Bisso began her tenure as superintendent in 2010 and before that served four years as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. She previously was principal and assistant principal of George W. Hewlett High School.
"I am so fortunate that my vocation and avocation have been one and the same, allowing me to touch the lives of thousands of our community's children along the way," Bisso said.
ISLANDWIDE: Essay contest
Four Long Island students recently were named winners in the Long Island Presidents' Council's 14th annual essay contest, which challenged youngsters to write about something that one of their teachers had made fun and intriguing.
Winners were Katelyn Gilhuley of Fork Lane Elementary School in Hicksville, Lily Labella of South Salem Elementary School in Port Washington, Matthew Kiley of the Munsey Park School in Manhasset and Chris Louie of Syosset High School.
The students each won $500 and recorded their essays at the West Babylon studios of WBAB/102.3 FM and WBLI/ 106.1 FM under the guidance of Ray Adell Media Enterprises. The essays have aired on 11 local radio stations this month.