The summer vacation is officially history. Students, faculty and staff are returning to classrooms with renewed enthusiasm as the Huntington School District swings back into action with high hopes for its best year ever.
The district’s annual convocation was held on Tuesday in the Huntington High School auditorium. Huntington School Board President Jennifer Hebert and Superintendent James W. Polansky spoke about their enthusiasm for what each believes will be an exceptional year.
“Yet another summer comes to a close and the excitement for a new school year fills the air,” Mr. Polansky said. “As an educator, there is nothing more special than the moment when those school doors open so that we may welcome thousands of eager and smiling students.”
New textbooks, workbooks, library books, computers, SMART Boards and computer software have been shipped to buildings and readied for use by teachers and students. Numerous renovation and repair projects have been completed. New teachers have been hired to replace those who either retired or left to pursue other ventures.
Summer was particularly busy
“The summer of 2018 was a particularly busy one in Huntington,” Mr. Polansky said. “There was an abundance of capital work completed across the district. Fourth grade classrooms were moved out of our primary schools and added at both the Jack Abrams STEM and Woodhull schools. Washington Primary has a new roof and Jefferson has a new security vestibule, with all primary schools to acquire both in the year to come. School entryways and bathrooms, in addition to being modernized, were renovated to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Makerspaces will be added to each elementary school library and the Innovation Lab at Jack Abrams STEM continues to expand; all places where inquiry is the norm. A multitude of smaller projects in each of the district’s eight buildings were completed as well. You will not be disappointed with the outcomes.”
The district’s new faculty members participated in orientation activities designed to help the teachers get off to a smooth start. All teachers were required to report to their buildings on Tuesday for a series of meetings, but most started arriving days in advance to review class lists, arrange classrooms, organize books and lesson plans and meet informally with colleagues. Many students and parents stopped into schools to become acquainted with floor plans and get comfortable with the layout.
Transition to new standards
“The district will continue its transition to new standards and curricula in all core disciplines, K-12,” Mr. Polansky said. “New curricula were finalized and resources adopted for elementary science, middle-level math, mental health, social-emotional learning and first-time high school electives (i.e., Virtual Enterprise, Literary Fantasy and Science Fiction). New and upgraded hardware and software have been installed, maintaining the cutting-edge nature of Huntington’s instructional and learning approaches.”
The buildings and grounds department spent the final weeks of the vacation putting the finishing touches on each building. The work included polishing hallway floors, delivering boxes of supplies to classrooms, prepping the grounds, painting and setting up cafeteria tables so they are ready to accommodate an influx of 4,500 students.
“With all that has been accomplished in a short two-month summer period, however, it is important for us to recognize that what characterizes this district, what makes it special, is people,” Mr. Polansky said. “Last June, we bid farewell to several retirees who contributed so much to the district over the years. While no individual personality can be replaced, much time and energy was spent this summer recruiting and hiring many new and talented faculty and staff members who will develop strong relationships with students, parents, colleagues and community members; make their unique contributions to the Huntington family and add to the district’s longstanding tradition of educational excellence. In the coming year, we will continue to take much pride in student accomplishments, in the ever-growing home-school partnership, and in the support provided by community members.”
“A great year lies ahead”
Bus drivers have been making dry runs through their routes in an effort to identify any potential problems. District officials say there are typically a few snafus with bus pick-ups and drop-offs, but parents can expect them to be straightened out in short order. Parents can call 631-673-2032 to report any difficulties.
“While the lines between politics and education continue to blur at the state and federal levels, our Huntington mission will remain uncompromised,” Mr. Polansky said. “We will work together to do all within our collective power to help our students grow academically and develop into well-rounded, community-minded citizens. Our class of 2018 graduates (as well as those from prior graduating classes) serve as direct evidence of our success in both regards.”
Huntington High School athletic teams have been practicing for several weeks. Teams at J. Taylor Finley Middle School will kick-off this week. Nurses have organized their offices and several have even begun fielding calls from parents about the needs of their respective son or daughter. Principals have made last minute schedule changes and kept close tabs on any new students enrolling.
“Huntington remains an extraordinary place,” Mr. Polansky said. “It continues to be a genuine privilege to serve as superintendent. A great 2018/19 school year lies ahead for all!”