Some of Long Island's top students recently joined forces to mull the region's top issues.

The 2011 Long Island Youth Summit included more than 180 high schoolers and their teachers who gathered to discuss socioeconomic, medical and environmental topics -- from transportation to affordable housing to open spaces. The second annual summit was held last month at Dowling College's Oakdale campus.

"One reason why I started this was to engage young people in local issues on a meaningful level," said event co-chair Nathalia Rogers, an associate professor of sociology at Dowling. "Young people are capable of research and complex thinking, and it is our obligation to open opportunities for them."

This year, some 500 students from 30 schools submitted essays, videos or artwork to summit officials that proposed solutions to a suburban issue of their choice. One-third of them were named finalists and attended the summit, which consisted of workshops led by organizations ranging from the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead to National Grid.

The overall winner was Paul Ngu of Syosset High School, whose essay discussed how race and class affect education on Long Island.

Other Nassau County winners in various categories were Rob Golebiewski of Farmingdale High School, David Wang and Keith Ward of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School, and Tom Holzmacher, Daniel Sconzo and Randy Hernandez of Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick.

"It started off as a project for fun and turned into something much more," said Golebiewski, whose project was a drawing of Long Island with references to how environmental ignorance affects the Island's water and wildlife.


Musical learning

Archer Street Elementary School is using music to enhance third- and fourth-graders' thinking skills through a program in which they brainstorm ideas for original songs.

The monthly program requires classes to select a hero -- for example, a family member or a historical figure -- and use key points to write lyrics with the help

of Bierko Productions in Yorktown Heights. Once the writing is done, classes record their songs over a beat.

VALLEY STREAMMaking a difference

AnneMarie Castrogiovanni, a second-grade teacher at Ogden Elementary School, is one of 10 winners of National Make a Difference Day, an initiative of USA Weekend magazine that fosters volunteerism.

To win, Castrogiovanni inspired 93 second-graders to solicit donations and do good deeds such as reading to siblings or helping senior citizens cross the street. They raised $1,328 for the Morgan Center, a Hicksville-based preschool program created and designed specifically for children with cancer. Castrogiovanni will have $10,000 donated to the charity of her choice by Newman's Own, the Connecticut-based food company.

WESTBURYScience partnership

Westbury School District recently announced a partnership with the Long Island Children's Museum in Garden City that would allow teachers to use the museum's galleries "as an expanded classroom to teach science in fresh and fun ways," museum officials said. The program, funded by National Grid, gives second-grade classes in the district sole access to the museum on Mondays through 2013.


DECA winners

Twenty-one Nassau County students were first-place winners in various categories last month at New York DECA's State Career Conference in Rochester. The conference consists of competitive events in topics ranging from business law to tourism.

Winners were Arjan Singh of W.T. Clarke High School in East Meadow; Jane Berrill, Alex Chakrin, Alexa Davis, Jon Davis, Vita Jaspan, Brian Miranda, Mariel Reiss, Brian Rosenfeld and Josh Rosenfeld of Great Neck South High School; Gabby Zilkha of Herricks High School; Alex Gold of Lawrence High School; and Anna Rose Austria, Melissa Benenson, Erica Bernstein, Rebecca Breier, Kevin Chon, Alice Cohen, Allie Giosa, Andrew Ren and Jordyn Willens of Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School.

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