Huntington High School is a very special place, even in the age of COVID-19 and all the changes to traditional practices the pandemic has required. Principal Brenden Cusack and Assistant Principals Gamal Smith and Jully Williams are all doing their best to provide the leadership, guidance and support for faculty, staff and students to make 2021/22 a great year when all is said and done.
Every high school in America is faced with daily challenges and Huntington is no different. While Mr. Cusack knows all too well that the buck ultimately stops with him, he has a collegial approach to just about everything and he’s received buy-in from just about everyone.
Princpal Brenden Cusack flanked by assistants Jully Williams and Gamal Smith.
“So far, the school year has been a lot of fun, even with all of the stress of college applications, school work and COVID test rates,” said Theodora Carnesi, president of Huntington’s Class of 2022. “We have had two really creative spirit weeks that have showed the school’s morale and pride. Homecoming and the bonfire have personally been the top highlights of the year. Right now, the Class of 2022 is in the midst of prom planning and we couldn’t be more excited!”
Mr. Cusack and his team have been striving to give seniors and underclassmen as traditional a Huntington High School experience as possible.
“Despite the many challenges we’ve faced this year, the students, faculty and staff are all continuing to work hard and move forward,” Mr. Cusack said. “It has certainly been a blessing to continue in-person learning and activities and we are hopeful that things will be improving in the coming months. As always, I have a great deal of respect for our staff and students, who always find a way to make the best of whatever situation presents itself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Huntington is a special place. Sometimes, it’s the challenges that truly make this fact stand out.”
Now in his 26th year in education, Mr. Cusack has been Huntington High School’s principal since July 1, 2015. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in education at SUNY New Paltz in 1995 and a Master of Science degree in adolescent education/English 7-12 at CUNY Queens College in 2002. He obtained a professional diploma in school administration and supervision at CUNY-Queens College in 2005.
Prior to being named principal, Mr. Cusack served as Huntington High School’s assistant principal for three years. He earlier worked as assistant principal at Hicksville High School for three years. Prior to that position, he was an administrative dean at Walt Whitman High School for four years.
A Freeport High School English teacher for eight years, Mr. Cusack taught Advanced Placement literature and theatre arts, served as a class advisor for four years, chaired the Middle States Committee on Educational Programs and produced school plays. He has also been employed as an assistant principal of the Freeport School District’s summer school program and assistant principal and principal of the Western Suffolk BOCES regional summer school.
Since coming to Huntington in 2012, Mr. Cusack has mastered the high school’s academic, co-curricular and athletic programs. He can often be found during after school and evening hours attending games, plays, concerts and induction ceremonies and meeting with students and parents.
“Working with Mr. Cusack has been wonderful,” Ms. Carnesi said. “Mr. Cusack is the type of administrator that will do anything for his students and is there for them no matter what. He is always working to make the high school an upbeat and fun-loving environment. Whether I need his help with something for the clubs that I am in, athletic events or my college applications, Mr. Cusack is always there to help me immediately. My classmates and I are extremely fortunate to have him as our principal.”
Mr. Smith has been an assistant principal at Huntington High School since July 2015. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and pre-med studies at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, where he also played on the varsity basketball team for four years. He earned a Master of Science degree at Mercy College in the Bronx and studied for his state administrative certification at Touro College in Manhattan.
Prior to joining Huntington’s administrative ranks, Mr. Smith worked as a teacher and lab instructor at Richmond Hill High School and John Adams High School, where he also served as dean of students. He was assistant principal at John W. Dodd Middle School in Freeport, dean of students/discipline at Brooklyn Lab School, assistant principal and science department chairman at Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health & Science Charter School in the Bronx, assistant principal at PS 212 in the Bronx and dean of students and a science teacher at PS 254 in the Bronx. He was also principal of Nassau BOCES PATH (Positive Alternative Twilight High School) for a year.
Over the years Mr. Smith has helped spearhead many initiatives at schools where he has worked, including Saturday, after school, extended day and early college awareness programs and science fairs and expos.
Ms. Williams has been an assistant principal at Huntington High School since September 2021. She obtained an Associate of Arts degree at Suffolk Community College in Selden and earned bachelor and master degrees at Adelphi University in 2006 and 2009, respectively. She holds an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership from Stony Brook University.
At the time of her appointment, Ms. Williams had been working as an English as a new language teacher in North Babylon, where she had been on the faculty since August 2011. She has also worked at SCOPE and at Suffolk Community College as an adjunct professor.
Ms. Williams completed administrative internships at North Babylon and Central Islip while studying at Stony Brook for her state certification. She worked as a dean in the Western Suffolk BOCES summer program at North Babylon in 2021.
Since coming to Huntington, Ms. Williams has immersed herself in all things Blue Devils and quickly learned all the ins and outs of the school and community. She has fallen in love with the traditions and energetically carries out her daily responsibilities.
The three building administrators are doing everything they can to keep Huntington High School the very special place it has always been.