Long Island schools are finding creative ways to increase comfort for students of English as a second language -- and, in some cases, for their parents, too.
In Long Beach, the school district hosted a family fun night last month for ESL pupils in grades K-12 in which parents sampled games and methods that teachers use to help students build their language proficiency, story-building skills and sentence-sequencing abilities.
District officials also encouraged parents to join a new ESL program at the district's adult learning center that offers English and computer instruction.
"It is our intent to work with our non-English-speaking families to help them to succeed in our community," said Vivian Fiallo, the district's director of world languages and English language learning.
In Rockville Centre, William S. Covert Elementary School launched an initiative to help parents improve their speaking skills through an online program at Rockville Centre Public Library. Principal Darren Raymar also distributed dictionaries and computers to 14 families at the school's ESL Back to School Night in September.
Ronkonkoma Middle School recently held an ESL family dinner that included a "parade of nations" in which students dressed up in traditional clothing and marched around holding the flag of their heritage.
"This also gives parents an opportunity to meet teachers that work with their children every day," said Kim Licato, chair of ESL and languages other than English.
In Amityville, 30 ESL students at Edmund W. Miles Middle School recently collaborated on an ebook that included tips on how new students can adjust to school and social life.
Best Buddies training
Massapequa High School recently hosted a day of leadership training with student officers from up to 13 Long Island chapters of Best Buddies International, a nonprofit dedicated to creating one-on-one friendships between students with disabilities and classmates.
Physical education grant
Rockville Centre Union Free School District has received one of 76 grants issued nationwide through the U.S. Department of Education's Carol M. White Physical Education Program to implement or expand physical activity and nutrition programs. Rockville Centre was the sole Nassau County recipient and will receive about $1.3 million over three years.
A number of Nassau County schools recently educated students on the dangers and consequences of bullying through activities held in conjunction with National Anti-Bullying Month.
At Seaford Middle School, the Students Against Destructive Decisions Chapter distributed bracelets and bookmarks with the slogan "Take a stand, lend a hand; Stop Bullying." The school was also visited by John Halligan, a Vermont father whose son committed suicide because of bullying in 2003.
In Garden City, the district's schools participated in a unity day last month by having students and faculty wear orange as a symbol of unity and engage in discussions on how to counteract bullying situations.
In Long Beach, the district's middle and high schoolers were also visited by Halligan.
Twenty-one Long Island students were among 520 nationwide to win 2011 Achievement Awards in Writing from the National Council of Teachers of English based on teacher nominations, a sample of their writing and an impromptu essay written in a 75-minute period.
Bay Shore: Matthew Cohen of Bay Shore High School; East Meadow: Arjan Singh of W. Tresper Clarke High School; East Setauket: Leanna O'Brien of Ward Melville High School; Garden City: Franklin Dickinson of Garden City High School; Great Neck: Eve Matthaey and Jacob Roth of Great Neck South High School; Herricks: Madiha Sewani of Herricks High School; Huntington: Holly Blakley of Huntington High School; Levittown: Alyssa Kate Pascual of Island Trees High School; Jericho: Elvina Yau of Jericho High School; Long Beach: Jane Smyth of Long Beach High School; Manhasset: Katherine Nevitt of Manhasset High School; North Bellmore: Brendan Donohue and Louis Marzella of Mepham High School; Old Westbury: Kristen Lee of The Wheatley School; Smithtown: Emily Roach of Smithtown High School West; Christine Davis of Smithtown High School East; Syosset: Sophie Ann Chen, Alex Lombardi, Cindy Niu and Amanda Rosati of Syosset High School.