Presentation to GUFS board highlights academics and school culture
By Michael Mell
An annual ritual at the Garrison Union Free School (GUFS) is the presentations by Haldane and O’Neill High Schools. Garrison eighth graders must select between these two (or private schools) as the school district does not have a high school. These presentations, along with visits to the respective schools, allow both students and parents to sample the academic programs and cultural life of each school. At the Jan. 25 GUFS Board of Education meeting, it was Haldane’s turn.
Haldane Superintendent Dr. Mark Villanti and Principal Brian Alm described a dynamic academic program and a culture of support for students. A short PowerPoint presentation highlighting academics included:
- The ATLAS curriculum mapping program.
- College and career guidance and counseling.
- A pilot program using iPads.
- Continuation of classes in French, along with the possible addition of Italian
- A fine arts mentoring program (in conjunction with the Garrison Art Center).
- An enhanced performing arts program (that will include a summer camp in conjunction with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival).
- Athletic facilities.
Principal Alm described a recent high school initiative called Peer Leadership. The program, open to all students, seeks to “reach out to everyone” and provide “someone to talk to.” Alm acknowledged that students will often give greater credence to peers and that a student may not feel comfortable speaking with a teacher or parent. The Peer Leadership group addresses issues such as: transition from middle to high school, transition from GUFS to Haldane, bullying and cyber-bullying, Facebook use and internet safety, and social issues attendant upon high school students in general. Alm said the school hopes to implement a Peer Mentorship program in the future.