Homecoming Day at Huntington High School was made a little bit more special with an announcement that New York State Senator Carl Marcellino had secured $300,000 in State and Municipal Facilities Program funds to advance two important projects in Huntington UFSD.
Mr. Marcellino was on hand for the halftime announcement along with Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky, Huntington High School Principal Brenden Cusack, District Director of Athletics Georgia D. McCarthy and Huntington School Board Trustee Bari Fehrs.
The monies will be used to replace the press box atop the Blue Devil Stadium bleachers with a modern and more spacious structure that incorporates new safety features that were not available 20 years ago when the current press box was erected.
The funds will also go toward development of a modern innovation lab at Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School and the addition of makerspaces across the district’s elementary school buildings. (“A makerspace is a collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that use high tech to no high tech tools,” according to Makerspaces.com.)
“During a time when funds are limited and prioritizing in terms of spending is a necessity, we are beyond appreciative for the consideration and to receive the SAM funding,” Mr. Polansky said. “It will allow us to replace a commonly used structure, the stadium press box, with one that is safer and equipped with modern amenities. It will also allow us to expand the STEM innovation lab and makerspaces across the district, which will benefit our kids educationally in so many ways.”
The press box project is estimated to cost $250,000. The current structure was dedicated in October 1998 and is nearing the end of its functional life. It is outdated and lacks many of the safety features of a modern unit. The initial cost estimate to replace the current structure with a new one was $325,000, but Huntington UFSD worked with its architectural and engineering firm and by completing certain aspects of the project in house, reduced the price tag. The district hopes to further reduce the ultimate cost and will then dedicate the money saved to the second project.
“Blue Devil Stadium is utilized by our junior varsity and varsity football, boys’ and girls’ soccer, lacrosse and track and field and field hockey teams,” Mr. Polansky said. “It’s also used by our marching band, physical education classes and for special events, including our annual commencement activities that are attended by a crowd of more than 2,000 and the Relay For Life fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, among other uses.”
The addition of the STEM innovation lab and the makerspaces in elementary schools are being eagerly anticipated. “These facilities will provide equitable student access to cutting edge resources designed to provide inquiry-based complements to core disciplinary curricula,” Mr. Polansky said. “They will also allow teachers to implement an innovative digital citizenship curriculum, as well as offer students ready access to collaborative areas and tools to conduct research and engage in project-based learning.”
The district has completed alterations to the physical structure of the primary schools following a shift of fourth graders to the intermediate school buildings for the 2018/19 school year. “Spaces have been enlarged and some new furniture has been added,” Mr. Polansky said. “The SAM funding will help the district further outfit and enhance these facilities for the benefit of approximately 2,200 students.”
Huntington UFSD officials are happy the two projects are moving forward. “As a former school teacher, I understand how important it is to invest in our schools and our children,” Mr. Marcellino said. “I am proud that I’ve been able to secure $300,000 for Huntington UFSD, which will go a long way toward creating a new STEM innovation lab and makerspaces in elementary school buildings and for a new athletic field press box to replace an aging two decade old structure.”