Homecoming weekend will celebrate new facilities
By Michael Turton
Haldane District Superintendent Mark Villanti praised the Haldane community for its handling of last week’s search for murder suspect Sang Ho Kim. Villanti made the comments at the Oct. 1 (Tuesday) meeting of the Haldane School Board. Kim’s body was found in the Hudson River near Iona Island in Rockland County on Sept. 30 (Monday).
“It was a scary situation, helicopters flying at night, early morning calls (to families) from the superintendent about a manhunt … no one knew what the outcome would be,” Villanti said.” I think the community and students handled the situation maturely.”
Villanti said that he never likes closing the school but that he received only one complaint after taking that action on Thursday. Some parents also expressed concern that Kim might have entered the school but he said that a thorough search of all buildings by law enforcement using police dogs put those fears to rest. Others worried that attendance would suffer on Friday when classes resumed, but such fears were not warranted either as it turned out.
“The elementary and middle schools had about 92 percent attendance,” Villanti said, adding that at the high school, attendance was actually slightly above normal at 96 percent. “High school students wanted to know what was going on.”
Overall, Villanti said that “things went smoothly.” He apologized to any parents who might not have received a robo-call from the school. “It was the first time we used the new system.” The school was a center of activity on Thursday with as many as 100 police officers using the cafeteria and other school facilities – including the athletic field – which served as a helicopter landing site.
“There were more TV cameras around than we would have liked,” he said. “It was an inconvenience … but there was a bigger tragedy (involved).” He thanked both local newspapers for reporting the incident accurately and not sensationalizing the situation.
Trustees are seeking public input as the school district looks to hire a replacement for Villanti who will retire at the end of the year. A public forum to identify key characteristics that the community would like to see in the new superintendent of schools will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 8, in the Board Room of the Mabel Merritt Building, and from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Music Room of the elementary and middle school building. The session will be facilitated by a representative of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, the consulting firm hired to conduct the search. Residents can also complete a related survey on the district website at haldaneschool.org.
Homecoming to celebrate new facilities
Homecoming Weekend will be even more festive than usual, with a major focus on Haldane’s new facilities that include the athletic field, upgraded auditorium and new lockers. Highlights include a parade at 6:30 p.m. on Friday beginning in front of The Depot Restaurant and ending at the athletic field – followed by a longstanding Haldane tradition – the Homecoming bonfire. At 7:45 p.m. there will be a tour of the new lockers and a demonstration of the auditorium’s new projection system featuring Pixar animated short films.
At 9 a.m. Saturday, the entire community is invited to a “Wellness Walk” at the athletic field, sponsored by Hudson Valley Hospital Center to kick off public use of the new track. Water bottles and free blood pressure readings will be available.
Haldane girls’ soccer team will take on Putnam Valley at 11 a.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. the Haldane Blue Devils football team hosts Yonkers Montessori Academy. Local trio Motherlode will sing the national anthem and a Grand Celebration is planned for half time.
Honoring a classic coach – and appreciating classic cars
Raymond Champlin has received what may be the ultimate honor for the 27 years he dedicated to coaching tennis at Haldane. At a ceremony held on Tuesday Oct. 1, at the refurbished tennis courts, it was announced that the facility will now bear his name. Champlin, also a longtime teacher at Haldane, is the father of Haldane School Board Trustee Jon Champlin.
After being rained out in May, the Haldane Blue Devils Sports Booster Club hosted a highly successful car show on Sept. 29 (Sunday). Club President Dan Hughes and Haldane Business Manager Anne Dinio reported that the event raised $4,600, and attracted 113 show cars.
The event benefitted from the efforts of 18 adult volunteers including several from The Embalmers and Lomotion Car Clubs as well as 12 students – most of whom were working towards their community service hours as part of The National Honor Society.
Photos by M. Turton