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Suffolk: Reward for Riverhead readers

In Riverhead, students at Roanoke Avenue Elementary School

In Riverhead, students at Roanoke Avenue Elementary School pelted principal Thomas Payton with whipped cream and aerosol string in celebration of reading for more than 65,000 minutes. Credit: Handout

Riverhead students received silly, sweet and messy rewards this month for reading for more than 65,000 minutes — collectively — in four days.

Roanoke Avenue Elementary School Principal Thomas Payton was pelted with everything from whipped cream to aerosol string as he walked blindfolded through a maze of 370 children in celebration of their reading a total of 65,794 minutes, exceeding the aforementioned benchmark. Each student recorded their totals in reading logs that were signed by parents.

The competition was a motivational tool as part of an annual reading week, school officials said.

"I've never had a challenge where I got every student involved in doing something to me — and it was probably the most disgusting one I've done," said Payton, who said he got the idea to devise unique reading rewards from administrators at his old school in Nevada.

Of the challenge's benefit, he said: "For weeks afterward, I heard that many students still weren't turning on their TVs and were reading every day."

Payton, who was principal at Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverhead until 2010, previously has rewarded students by dancing in a chicken costume, dressing as a clown and riding a tricycle, and being made into a human sundae.

The school's other reading week activities included a Dr. Seuss Read Aloud and a "Poem in Your Pocket" day in which kids carried around a favorite poem to share with classmates.



African pen pals

Ninth-graders at Edmund W. Miles Middle School recently kicked off a series of videoconferences to learn of hardships faced by children in the Desmond Mpilo Tutu Senior Secondary School in Mbekweni, South Africa.

The two schools have received Apple iPads via a partnership with Long Island University to stay connected as electronic pen pals via email, video and other multimedia.

In other news, 50 students at Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School recently learned the importance of establishing healthy habits at an early age through Kids in the Kitchen, an educational and fitness-themed event coordinated by the Junior League of Long Island.

"Educating children is the key to reducing our nation's obesity trend and its associated health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease," league president Kelly Morgano said.



Community Read

Westhampton Beach Middle School recently hosted a Community Read in which more than 400 students, parents and teachers gathered to discuss R.J. Palacio's children's book, "Wonder," the tale of a boy with a facial deformity who chooses to attend public school in his fifth-grade year.

Motivational speaker Rohan Murphy, an East Islip native who lost his legs at birth and went on to vie in powerlifting competitions, also was present to share his inspirational story.



100th day of school

Dozens of local schools used the number "100" as a learning tool last month in celebration of the school year's 100th day.

In Smithtown, Tackan Elementary School kindergartners dressed as if they were 100 years old and tackled challenges such as finishing a 100-piece puzzle and graphing 100 items. Meanwhile, Branch Brook Elementary School invited author Kate McMullan to read her children's book, "Fluffy's 100th Day of School," through Skype.

In Blue Point, students at Blue Point Elementary School strung necklaces out of 100 pieces of cereal, counted to 100 using different multiples, and wrote essays about what they would be like at the age of 100.

In Commack, North Ridge Primary School students were counted upon entering school. Dan Shoemaker, Sam Byrd and Juliet Reiff were numbers 100, 200 and 300, respectively.



LI Youth Summit

More than 300 high school students across Long Island discussed solutions to local environmental, socio-medical and community issues earlier this month during the fourth-annual Long Island Youth Summit at Dowling College in Oakdale.

This year's summit featured nine workshops on topics that ranged from open space and water preservation to abuse of prescription drugs by teenagers.

"The purpose of the summit is to work with the brightest high school students to further their analytical and leadership abilities for the benefit of Long Island's future," said Nathalia Rogers, co-chair of the summit's steering committee.

Participating school districts were Amityville, Bay Shore, Brentwood, Comsewogue, Copiague, East Islip, Eastport-South Manor, Farmingdale, Half Hollow Hills, Kings Park, Levittown, Longwood, Middle Country, Patchogue-Medford, Port Washington, Sachem, Smithtown, Syosset, Three Village, West Islip and Westhampton Beach.

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