Copiague High senior William Marmol, 17, speaks at the high...

Copiague High senior William Marmol, 17, speaks at the high school where Trevor Packer, senior vice president for Advanced Placement programs at the College Board, honored the district as an Advanced Placement District of the Year. (March 8, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

It's official: Copiague schools are honorificabilitudinitatibus.

The word, among the longest in the English language, translates as "able to achieve honors" and was invoked Thursday at a celebration of Copiague's national recognition as Advanced Placement District of the Year.

The honor goes to school districts that expand college-level achievement among high school students from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds and is given annually by the Manhattan-based College Board, which sponsors AP and SAT exams. Copiague is this year's winner in the small district category.

"Your scores have gone up faster than any other district in the country for a district of your size," Trevor Packer, senior vice president of the national Advanced Placement program, told students, teachers and school officials gathered in the auditorium of Walter G. O'Connell/Copiague High School.

Packer presented a plaque to school officials and praised the district, using the polysyllabic word that appears in Shakespeare's comedy "Love's Labour's Lost."

The speech drew whoops and applause from an audience that included more than 200 high school students wearing T-shirts reading "Copiague + AP = Success." The shirts were paid for by the College Board.

After the awards ceremony, a five-member team of photographers and interviewers stayed at the school for the day to film a video for an upcoming College Board convention in Florida.

O'Connell High School is one of Long Island's most diverse, with a 1,480-student enrollment that is about 40 percent Hispanic, 35 percent black and 20 percent white. The number of students there taking AP courses and tests jumped from 140 in the 2008-09 school year to 185 in 2010-11, and is due to rise again this spring to 212, local officials said.

The district's award was announced last month in an annual College Board report on nationwide AP achievement. Thursday's ceremony was a chance to celebrate and to thank AP teachers for the extra hours many have devoted in helping teens master college-level lessons.

Among those cited was Minnett Hall, a Jamaica-born teacher of AP biology, who prepares curried-chicken snacks for students attending her test-review sessions. Two three-hour sessions are scheduled for spring break, when most students and teachers are on vacation.

Another teacher singled out for appreciation was James Travis. Several years ago, Travis initially stunned students in an AP European History class when he insisted that each week they write five-page, single-spaced essays. Travis estimates that he spends 10-12 hours each week grading papers outside of school hours.

William Marmol, 17, a senior whose parents are from the Dominican Republic, saluted Travis and other teachers. Marmol intends to be the first in his family to attend college.

"As much as we moan and groan, we know that everything you're doing for us is necessary," he said.

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