Hauppauge theater students are spreading a message that arts can have a "social voice" -- and one student's voice recently was heard on the international level.
Jocelyn Aptowitz, a senior at Hauppauge High School, had the honor of speaking before the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan as part of its annual International Day of Peace on Sept. 18.
The opportunity arose as a result of the school's theater department writing and directing "The Anti-Bully Project," a series of vignettes on the dangers and consequences of bullying.
It was performed last school year for the Council for Prejudice Reduction, and the positive reaction ultimately led the council to give Aptowitz the opportunity to speak about its work before the UN's General Assembly.
"It was definitely a bit nerve-racking, but it was a great opportunity," said Aptowitz, 17, the school drama club president. During her two-minute speech, she said: "How can we make peace attainable? The key is to use passion and courage to empower people to make positive change in their communities."
In an effort to ride the success of their vignettes, Hauppauge High's theater students now are coordinating a youth-focused conference this fall for theater departments statewide at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at LIU Post in Brookville.
The event, titled "Stage the Change: Theater as a Social Voice," is slated for Nov. 20.
"It's the power of passion," said Ruthie Pincus, the high school's theater director. "When someone sees a group is truly passionate about something, they jump on board."
Farrah McKenna has been appointed principal of William Rall Elementary School. She replaced Patricia Castine, who is the new principal of the Charles A. Reinhard Early Childhood Center in Bellmore.
McKenna most recently served as principal of PS Middle School 200 in Flushing, Queens. Before that she was assistant principal at PS 184 in Whitestone, Queens.
Patricia Nugent is the new principal of Miller Avenue Elementary School, and Louis Parrinello is the new principal of Briarcliff Road Elementary School. Nugent previously was the principal of Briarcliff Road, and Parrinello was the principal of Miller Avenue.
Officials in the Shoreham-Wading River Central School District did not respond to inquiries earlier this month regarding the reason for the changes.
Lisa Ihne has been named principal of Cherry Avenue Elementary School. She replaced John Stimmel, who now is assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Sayville Union Free School District.
Ihne most recently served three years as principal of Edward J. Bosti Elementary School in Bohemia. Before that she was the elementary/middle school assistant principal in the Westhampton Beach Union Free School District.
Vying for scholarships
Seventeen African-American high school seniors from across Long Island are among more than 1,600 students nationwide named last month as semifinalists for 2014 National Achievement Scholarships, to be awarded in the spring by the National Merit Scholarship Corp.
The semifinalists were selected for being among the high scorers on the PSAT/ NMSQT test given during their junior year. From this group about 1,300 nationwide will be selected as finalists after they provide information about their academic record, community service and other activities, write an essay and take the SAT, among other requirements. Finalists will be named in January, and scholarship winners will be announced in April.
The semifinalists are: Deven Hurt and Asia Stewart of Bay Shore High School, Avery Samuel of Bellport High School, Alicia Hamilton of Central Islip High School, Lindsay Griffiths of Copiague High School, Taylor Hamilton of Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills, Marai Brooks of Hewlett High School, Bryant Grey-Stewart of Hicksville High School, Bedel Saget of Walt Whitman High School in Huntington Station, Budie Kadir of Islip High School, Maeve Daniels of Grace Christian Academy in Merrick, Rob Louis of Roslyn High School, Alexandra Cunningham and Simon Wynter of Stony Brook School, Leigha Carryl of Syosset High School, Archer Casimir of Valley Stream Central High School and Samara Ford of Valley Stream North High School.