The summer vacation is officially over. 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 a sensational year.
“As the lines between politics and education remain blurred at the state and federal levels, our mission in Huntington will not change,” Mr. Polansky said. “We will continue to provide our students with a strong academic foundation, but work equally as hard to develop well-rounded and responsible citizens who genuinely understand the innate value in helping others.”
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 and support staff members have been hired to replace those who either retired or left to pursue other ventures.
Summer was particularly busy
Students and staff will return to schools that may look a little different, as most have buildings have undergone significant upgrades,” Mr. Polansky said. “Flower Hill, Jefferson and Southdown Primary Schools each have new roofs. Woodhull Intermediate School has a brand new and expanded parking lot. Finley Middle School can boast of a new large group instruction (LGI) facility, a ‘blue zone’ that will be situated as a comfortable common area and a number of refurbished classrooms. Huntington High School is home to a brand new library. The majority of our schools have newly constructed security vestibules. The capacity of district servers has expanded and data protections broadened. The list goes on.”
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 craft 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
“In the year to come, the district will continue its transition to new standards in core and special area subjects,” Mr. Polansky said. “During the summer, curricula were redesigned and new resources adopted in numerous disciplines across the grade levels. Staff members have engaged in an array of professional development activities.”
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 4,600 students.
“Another summer has seemingly flown by and the dawn of a new school year has arrived,” Mr. Polansky said. “It is with great enthusiasm that we begin classes at all district schools and welcome students as they begin, continue, or near the end of their educational journeys with us.”
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.
“We are committed to partnering with all members of our school community to ensure the existence of safe, healthy and welcoming spaces throughout our district that affirm the identity of each and every student, leveraging the personal capital that each contributes,” Mr. Polansky said. “We will continue to strive toward culturing environments within which all children can learn, all staff members can help students to realize and reach their potential and all community members can enjoy what the district offers.”
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.
“The great philosopher, Plato, claimed, ‘The beginning is the most important part of the work,’” Mr. Polansky said. “In that spirit, I look forward to a great start to the school year and to carrying that momentum through June and beyond. I remain eternally grateful for the opportunity to serve as Huntington UFSD superintendent.”