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Schools Notebook: uniting against bullying

There was no mistaking the message at local schools in recent weeks: Bullying is bad.

Dozens of schools across Long Island underscored that last month with activities that included signing anti-bullying pledges and acting in kindness-themed skits. The efforts were in honor of National Bullying Prevention Month, a campaign of PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center in Minnesota.

In Copiague, students at Susan E. Wiley Elementary School signed a "Be a Buddy, Not a Bully" pledge and were treated to a "Box Out Bullying" presentation that used live theater to show prevention techniques and help pupils understand the difference between a "teller" and "tattletale." Students Zaiba Ismael and Lindsay Oxendine won first place in the school's anti-bullying poster contest.

"Elementary school is the foundation for learning positive traits," Wiley counselor Chelsea Termini said. "The students need to learn how to stand up for themselves, to tell an adult if they see something, and to develop assertiveness skills to stand up for others."

In Mastic Beach, the William Floyd school district hosted a Unity Week in collaboration with the Shanti Fund in Medford, with the district's eight buildings hosting age-appropriate activities to promote tolerance and understanding. Events included peace-themed poetry readings and a "Wear White to Stop Bullying" day.

In Port Jefferson, middle schoolers hung pledge cards on their lockers to show a commitment to treat others with respect. They also read R.J. Palacio's novel "Wonder," about a boy with a facial deformity and his journey to find acceptance.

"We purposely chose to introduce this book early in the semester so students can reflect on its message throughout the year," English teacher Deirdre Filippi said.


School counselors

Elementary schools in the Central Islip Union Free School District will receive two school counselors as part of a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to Eastern Suffolk BOCES' Student Assistance Service Program. ESBOCES was one of 35 grant recipients nationwide.

The grant will be used in programs for sixth-graders in the district's Exploratory Academies that focus on how to deal with bullying, peer influence and decision-making.


Hotel art exhibit

The artwork of more than 100 students in the Three Village Central School District was featured in an exhibit at the Holiday Inn Express hotel in Stony Brook. The six-week exhibit ends Friday.

The hotel hosted an opening reception for the artists and their families that included musical performances by student vocalists from the district's P.J. Gelinas and R.C. Murphy junior high schools.

"It is always wonderful to give our young artists an opportunity to exhibit work outside the confines of their schools," said Linda Messina, the district's elementary art coordinator.


Car donation

Eastern Suffolk BOCES' Edward J. Milliken Technical Center recently obtained the use of a 2013 Volkswagen Passat from Donaldsons Volkswagen in Sayville that will allow automotive technology students to learn vehicle repair using the newest technology. The car is on temporary loan to ESBOCES.

"The technology in the automobile industry is constantly changing like everything else that's electronic, so it's important for students to see and experience the new technology and collaborate about it as it hits the market," ESBOCES teacher Stephen Celeste said.


Financial literacy

Six Long Island schools have educated students about financial literacy during the past year through a youth education program titled Earn Your Future, coordinated by PricewaterhouseCoopers as part of the company's commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative.

The curriculum's lesson plans are composed of interactive handouts and multimedia components in topics ranging from saving and investing to identity theft.

Local participating schools are James H. Boyd Intermediate School in Huntington, Oceanside Elementary School No. 3, Rhame Avenue Elementary School in East Rockaway, Covert Avenue Elementary School in Elmont, John F. Kennedy Elementary School in West Babylon and McVey Elementary School in East Meadow.

About 1,000 local students have received more than 1,000 hours of financial literacy training in the program.

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