Students reveled in indoor parades and celebratory feasts and delved into cultural studies to ring in the Chinese New Year.
In Deer Park, first-graders at May Moore Primary School welcomed the Year of the Horse -- Chinese year 4712, which began Jan. 31 -- with a hallway parade that included colorful masks, red lanterns and paper dragons. They prepared for the celebration by reading books about the holiday, such as Karen Chinn's "Sam and the Lucky Money."
"Our parade is a great way to celebrate a different culture and learn the customs and traditions of many of our students," principal Alicia Konecny said.
In Sea Cliff, the elementary school's third-graders presented facts about China to each grade level during a parade that was the culmination of a monthlong interdisciplinary unit on the country. They also compared the culture's lion and dragon dances and discussed similarities and differences between celebrations of Chinese New Year and the Carnival in Brazil.
In Elwood, Harley Avenue Primary School enjoyed a visit from Patricia Shih, a Chinese-American presenter who led kindergartners through a multicentury art and music tour of the world's oldest civilization.
In Carle Place, Cherry Lane Elementary School kindergartners tasted traditional foods such as fried rice and dumplings and paraded with a paper dragon to help "scare off bad luck," school officials said.
Riverhead High School's National Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps beat out 12 tri-state schools to take first-place overall this month in a drill meet at North Rockland High School.
Riverhead earned a spot for the seventh straight year at the Area Four Championship Meet in New Jersey.
iPad Pilot Program
Sayville High School's AP environmental science classes are piloting the use of iPads in the classroom this year. The program was initiated by teacher Sonja Anderson, who proposed purchasing tablets after realizing the high cost of new textbooks, school officials said.
"Using iPads and online textbooks, along with workflow and productivity apps, allows us to use our time in class for problem-solving, collaborating and interacting," Anderson said.
Local schools recently used the NFL's championship game as a tool to aid local homeless people by hosting "Souper Bowl" events in conjunction with Super Bowl XLVIII.
In Commack, North Ridge Primary School students collected 9,400 cans and bags of soup, which physical education teacher Lorraine Esposito "sculpted" into a giant train with tracks. The food items were donated to Island Harvest in Mineola.
In Southold, elementary school students put donations into boxes with logos of the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks, and cans were tallied to see which team had more support.
Sixth-graders at W.S. Mount Elementary School in Stony Brook collected about 500 cans of food to benefit the Smithtown Emergency Food Pantry.
Lego League qualifiers
More than 100 teams from Long Island elementary and middle schools competed earlier this month in the FIRST Lego League Qualifying Tournament, held at Central Islip High School.
This year's challenge, titled Nature's Fury, asked students to build and program Lego robots that could solve natural disaster missions. FIRST is an acronym -- For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.
Suffolk County's winning teams and their awards were: Team No. 14684 Tornadoes of Greenlawn, Alliance Team No. 1 and Champion's Award second place; Team No. 9600 Robotics Avengers of Smithtown, Alliance Team No. 1 and Inspiration awards; Team No. 6897 Saxton Rockin' Robotics of Patchogue, Mechanical Design Award; Team No. 5288 Gear Heads of Rocky Point, Programming Award; Team No. 4803 4-H Robot Crafters of Yaphank, Strategy and Innovation and Research awards; Team No. 5570 Chickenators of East Moriches, Robot Performance second-place award; Team No. 1393 Clayton Huey Red Devils of Center Moriches, Robot Performance second place and Inspiration awards; Team No. 8434 Rocky Point Radical Robotix, Robot Performance second place and Innovative Solution awards; Team No. 18146 Eagles of Copiague, Research Award; Team No. 1318 Junior Canes of Westhampton Beach, Inspiration Award; Team No. 6424 Blue Point RoboPhantoms, Gracious Professionalism Award; Team No. 10655 Finley Falco Techs of Huntington, Judges Award; Team No. 11576 William Floyd/Girl Scouts of Suffolk County and Team No. 2878 Tesla Empire of Bayport, Champion's Award.
Most of the award winners are eligible to compete next month in the FIRST Championship Tournament, to be held at Longwood High School in Middle Island.