HHH: A Heck of a (Great!) School District
Residents in Dix Hills and other communities served by the Half Hollow Hills School District have a pretty good idea how fortunate they are when they look at two pages on the District’s web site: The ‘Our District’ page http://www.halfhollowhills.k12.ny.us/page.cfm?p=975292 , and, under the ‘Students’ tab, http://www.halfhollowhills.k12.ny.us/page.cfm?p=976447 the section entitled “20 Strategies to Manage the Stress of Returning to School”. Presented by ‘The Institute for Traumatic Stress’, this list is packed with practical advice in terms students can relate to – or, at the least, understand. The first tip tells you where this list is going: ‘Stop texting and start talking. Share your thoughts and feelings with your family and friends, face to face’. Down-to-earth. Hard-hitting. With the ‘Let’s Get TO It’ attitude that could be the District’s motto.
And that the students and staff do ‘get TO it’ is exhibited clearly on the ‘Our District’ page, which spells out how thoroughly HHHSD fulfills its mission statement: “An education-oriented community with high expectations for its schools”. A list of ten outstanding achievements, most of them just reflecting the most recent school year, describes how the kids have excelled and how the District has: Way above average achievements in art and mathematics dominate the list, but another emphasis on the District’s real-world ambitions is the announcement that Mandarin Chinese is offered not only at the high school level, but it’s being initiated at the middle school level – giving students the opportunity to improve their efficiency, over at least five years, in an increasingly important language.
The District, which serves 10,000 youths, comprises seven elementary, two middle and two high schools. Both of the latter placed in the Gold Division of the 21,000 ranked high schools across the country by US News & World Report. The ‘Best High Schools of 2013’ report is, like every year’s, highly regarded both by high schools themselves and by higher-learning institutions.
What about educational offerings? What’s the course mix at the high school level? ‘Got a few minutes? The ‘Course Offerings” section http://www.halfhollowhills.k12.ny.us/uploaded/User_Folders/hseguidance/2013-14/HS_Course_Book_(final_2)13-14_(4).pdf#page=9 of the web site is 75 full pages long! It includes 26 Advanced Placement opportunities as well as “several personal enrichment electives in the five core subject areas”.
Among the many very impressive features of the Course Book is the description of the Half Hollow Hills Business Academy. Its ‘academic, leadership and project-based components’ are designed to prepare students “to begin an advanced degree in a competitive college environment”. The Academy focuses on ‘interactive communication, collaboration, global awareness, financial literacy, digital literacy, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills’. This is not your granddad’s high school!
You could spend hours strolling through the vast landscape of the HHH School District’s web site – working up a good appetite as you do so. No problem! Get all kinds of good-eating advice on the nine (count ‘em!) ‘Lunch Program’ pages (under the HHH tab). Not just menus, but advice on nutrition – in downloadable files, in specific types of foods, including snacks, healthy snacks and yogurt and frozen soft serve items – and an equally information-packed allergen page. And in addition to the menus for the elementary, middle and high schools, there’s also a ‘Build Your Own Lunch’ section!
Whether you’re a newcomer to the area or a well-established resident, you should be proud that your kids (or grand kids) have access to such a thoroughly modern, highly imaginative school district, where their success is everyone’s mission.
Yes, they do! Kids of all ages delight in a day at this multi-faceted Melville facility! It’s a real working farm and a whole lot more.
It has a petting zoo. It offers pony rides. It hosts kids’ parties, and educational outings. White Post Farms has seasonal festivals that feature the likes of hayrides, or pumpkin picking, and food. Families flock here for a fun-filled day. Classroom groups get amazing opportunities to see rare and endangered animals, get up close to exotic birds in the Farms’ free-flight aviary. Kids can learn how a seed grows to becomes a flower (they get to plant and take home seeds of their own too!), they can also lean about like other things, sluice ‘mine rough’ (soil from the Farms’ mine) for gem stones, arrow heads and fossils .
Located at 250 Old Country Road in Melville (and online at www.whitepostfarms.net), this highly-popular place also has a lip-smacking Market filled with fresh pies, gourmet breads, sandwiches, salads, sushi, smoothies and more. Many of the best-of-the -fresh ingredients come right from the Farms itself.
Though the name White Post Farms dates only to 1971, the farm itself has been a Long Island staple since the 1880’s. And it truly was a staple, not just for the founding Brigati family but the area. During the Depression, when Long Island was heavily depended on the crops grown here because food from elsewhere was scarce and expensive. A wide range of produce was grown at the farm, from potatoes – the largest crop – to tomatoes, cabbage celery and onions. By the 1950’s, many of those were being distributed to grocery stores. Since 1964, they’ve been offered on the family’s farm stand, which has evolved through the years to become today’s Market.
The 1960s also saw the erection of greenhouses for growing flowers and vegetables. By then, the farm was becoming a destination for ‘foodies’. With two decades, it was also becoming a destination for people seeking a close-to-home ‘farm experience’ By the 1990s, the family was really growing the number of reasons families and school groups wanted to come.
Along the way, the Brigatis grew their support for local organizations by sponsoring fund-raisers. That’s now an important part of the family’s mission – as is providing an exciting, entertaining destination for the young and the young at heart.
Halloween is the time for trick or treating, costume parties, and scary stories shared by the bonfire. But before you go all out on those activities which you often end up doing outdoors or some other place, why not try setting the mood for Halloween right at home? Kids will love it and your guests as well as neighbors and passersby will be impressed with these fun DIY Halloween house decor ideas!
· Monster shadows – The effect of this Halloween house decor would be seen outside your home. Cut out silhouettes of monster figures on dark-colored paper. Make sure to give your monsters big or numerous eyes, and out of proportion body features! Stick them against your windows from the inside and see the effects when it’s dark out and you turn on the lights. Instant monster house borders!
· Cobwebs or hanging hair strands – Cobwebs may be one of the most common Halloween decor. To make things a bit creepier, take about half an inch-thick sections of fake black hair, preferably straight, and hang it as is or a bit ruffled up in places like over the door, some on the chandelier, or hang a whole wig somewhere where it would make a creepy impact.
· Tree branch lighting – Cut out thin, tree-branch like patterns on a sheet of dark paper, and place it around a light source to create instant dark forest-like tree branches in your rooms!
· Creepy eyes – Purchase some LED lights and install them in visible areas like bushes or by the windows of dimly lit rooms. At night, they will look like creatures of the dark ready to prey on passers by!
· Pumpkin carvings – A classic Halloween house decor, pumpkin carvings are a fun way to exercise your creativity. Popular designs include a witch’s head with matching crooked nose, ogres, or just about any monster. Don’t forget the classic jack-O-lantern carving!
· Glow in the dark lawn ghosts – Ideal for when you’re having a party or when you have some space in your lawn, you can use old chicken wire to create ghost-like figures on your lawn. Shape the chicken wire into dresses and distribute a piece or two on your lawn. Break open some glow sticks—careful not to get any in your eyes! Sprinkle the liquid onto the chicken wire and see ethereal ghostly figures on your lawn. You can even hang your creations on tree branches so they’d sway in the wind!
· Hanging bats – You can always accompany your cobwebs with plastic bat toys! Hanging a whole lot of them in the hallway or in the foyer will make them look as if they’re on their way to get you!
· Scary masks – Instead of placing just your coats on your coat hanger, bring out your scary masks and place some of them in random places of your house like doorknobs, or prop them up over the television. You can even place them inside the refrigerator to give the next person to open it a creepy shock for the Halloween spirit!