Huntington School District’s eight individual buildings opened their doors on Wednesday morning and welcomed back more than 4,500 students for the 2018/19 school year. Classrooms were buzzing all day as teachers reviewed their policies and procedures and taught their first lessons.
A district-wide convocation of faculty and support staff was held on Tuesday in the Huntington High School auditorium. Huntington School Board President Jennifer Hebert and Superintendent James W. Polansky spoke about their high hopes for the new school year.
Once the first bell rang, students quickly fell into their normal school day routine. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood despite the blistering heat. There were few complaints heard as students of all ages were happy to see friends they said goodbye to last June.
“It was a pleasure to see so many smiling faces throughout the day,” said Mr. Polansky, who visited schools. “Students at all levels seemed so genuinely excited to return, as did staff. This was only the first of many great days to come in 2018/19. We are on our way!”
“A very exciting day”
During the summer months, new textbooks, workbooks, library books, computers, SMART Boards and computer software were delivered to district buildings and readied for use by teachers and students. Numerous renovation and repair projects were also completed. New teachers have been hired to replace those who retired or left to pursue other ventures.
“Today was a very exciting day at Huntington High School, which started with a high energy kickoff assembly,” Principal Brenden Cusack said. “I have to say that I am always so proud of our student body when we all come together as a collective. It truly is inspiring to see our students all together and excited for the start of a new year. Throughout the day, we all enjoyed helping kids navigate the first day and finding their classes. Upperclassmen also were seen throughout the day helping students who are new to the building. Even though it was extremely hot, it seems like we got off to a great start!”
Many parents turned out at the four primary school buildings to snap photos and welcome their children off buses as they pulled up for the first day. Surprisingly few tears were shed by the youngsters, although some parents could be seen wiping their own eyes dry.
Considering the massive number of students being transported to and from their homes, it is not surprising there were some scattered morning and afternoon bus problems. District officials sought to quickly address the issues as soon as they became aware of them, working with Huntington Coach Corp. to find immediate solutions.
“The students were ready”
J. Taylor Finley Middle School welcomed more than 700 seventh and eighth graders on Wednesday. “I greeted the students at the front door this morning as they arrived by car and bus,” Principal John Amato said. “We exchanged ‘good mornings.’ The students were ready to get back to school and see their friends. Everyone was in a great spirit. All of us are looking forward to a great year.”
The district’s new faculty members participated in orientation activities during August that were designed to help the teachers get off to a fast start. All teachers were required to report to their buildings this past 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.
“We had a great first day at Southdown,” Principal Scott Oshrin said. “The empty halls and classrooms are now filled with smiling faces ready for a new school year. It was a pleasure to welcome our new and returning students. This is sure to be an outstanding 2018/19 school year.”
Huntington High School athletic teams have been practicing for several weeks and have already played regular season games. Teams at J. Taylor Finley Middle School kick-off this week. Nurses spent this past Tuesday organizing their offices and immediately started fielding phone calls from parents. Principals have been keeping track of last minute changes to the list of students enrolled in their respective building.
Buildings were sparkling
The buildings and grounds department spent the final days of August in a frantic race to put the finishing touches on each building. Work included polishing hallway floors, delivering boxes of supplies to classrooms, prepping the grounds, painting and setting up cafeteria tables so they were ready to accommodate an influx of thousands of students.
Getting eight cafeterias up and running was no easy task, but every building served breakfast and lunch to students on Wednesday. Technology staff members were diligent in prepping rooms and equipment across the district for teacher and student use on the first day. Faculty members were pleased and made immediate use of the gear.
“At Flower Hill, we are very excited to welcome our newest students; the class of 2031,” Principal Lucia Laguarda said. “We also have a new pre-K class that we hope will join the class of 2032. All of our Flower Hill students are coming into a beautiful building complete with street signs like the ones at the other elementary schools. There have been a few ‘traffic jams’ at Friendship Road with our old friends passing through the hallways. But everyone is happy in this kind of traffic jam. All of our students have also been excited to come into classrooms with brand new rugs that they can spend time close to their teacher, the lesson, the smart board, and each other. This helps classroom discussion and sharing ideas among students as well. We are looking forward to a great block party on Friday at 6:00 p.m. This will be a fun event where all of our Flower Hill families can come together.”