Teacher Dunking and Pony Riding All Part of the Fun

Haldane PTA Back-to-School Potluck and Picnic laid out welcome mat

By Alison Rooney

Another one of those whipped-up-to-perfection late summer days provided the welcoming ambiance for the fourth annual Haldane Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) Back-to-School Potluck and Picnic. The afternoon affair, held soon after classes began for the year, saw children enjoy the school’s blacktop playground as parents, teachers and administrators socialized.

Haldane's beautiful setting was seen to full advantage on picnic day.

Haldane’s beautiful setting was seen to full advantage on picnic day.

PTA President Lourdes Laifer, now embarking on her second term, calls the picnic “a terrific way for families to socialize, meet other families and get to know administrators, faculty and staff in an informal setting. It brings people together in a casual, stress-free setting allowing for parents to enjoy conversations while their kids play and have fun.”

Popular plunge

Soon after the 3:30 p.m. start Laifer took the microphone and welcomed everyone, thanking in particular those teachers, many sopping wet but smiling nonetheless, who had participated in the very popular dunk tent, in front of which a long line of students was in continuous formation, with eager ball throwers aiming carefully, attempting (and generally succeeding) to plunge one of their teachers (and school principal Brent Harrington as well) into a vat of cold water.

Laifer then introduced Haldane’s new superintendent, Dr. Diana Bowers, who, in brief remarks, thanked everyone for the warm welcome she has received thus far at Haldane. Bowers kept it short and sweet, and then the entertainment began, as the band Laminated Menu, consisting of Cold Spring’s Neil Santelmann on guitar, Margaret Hundley Parker on bass, and Beacon’s Sophia Jackson on vocals and guitar, revved things up. According to Santelmann, though they’ve played such local musical hotspots as Dogwood, Quinn’s, Bank Square and the recent Hoot-on-the-Hudson, this gig was pretty hard to top.

Haldane Middle School science teacher Leah Horn prepares for the inevitable at the dunking tank.

Haldane Middle School science teacher Leah Horn prepares for the inevitable at the dunking tank.

Dotted around the blacktop were tables at which parents could join the PTA, sign their children up for after-school enrichment programs, and learn about the Haldane School Foundation (plugging their fall fundraiser, which takes place this year on Oct. 4, at The Garrison). The Haldane School Garden offered tours of that busy campus hub.

Children’s activities included a craft table, much bubble blowing, general running around and the never-fail attraction of the swings and ‘climbing things.’ Tables filled with pizza donated by Angelina’s, as well as potluck items brought in by families, were quickly depleted.

The traffic circle area was devoted to pony rides, with Haldane parent Laurie Yodice, of Hot-to-Trot Stables bringing along quite a few of her horses for the children to enjoy.

Collaborative efforts to move forward

The event was put together by volunteers and members of the organizing committee, including, according to PTA thanks: Mary Costigan, Danielle Hyatt, Yvonne Mee, Catherine Platt, Jane Ponton, Julisa Rincon-Tomizawa, Jackie Wlodarczak, Anne McBride, Maureen O’Brien, and high school seniors Samantha-Leigh Ford, Fiona Mueller, and John Swartzwelder.

Pony rides were provided by Cold Spring's Hot-To-Trot Stables.

Pony rides were provided by Cold Spring’s Hot-To-Trot Stables.

Asked what struck him as most exciting about this new school year, Harrington said he was “…excited to welcome Dr. Bowers and her leadership and vision for Haldane as we move forward.” He also expressed enthusiasm for the opening of Haldane Elementary’s new “Makerspace,” funded by an out-of-cycle grant from the Haldane School Foundation.

While noting that he would explain more about this at a later time, he described it as a single location space available to all elementary school students, grades kindergarten through five, within the school, which “will allow us to rethink classroom design to foster great collaboration and creativity — both of these necessary 21st-century skills.”

Haldane School Board President Joe Curto, returning to this position after an absence of a few years, said that at the next board meeting the board will present their goals, most significantly, embarking on a new strategic plan, which he called very important. He praised the new superintendent, saying, “Dr. Bowers has a very clear vision in developing teaching and learning and taking Haldane to a different level of conversation, academically.”

Curto said another initiative for the year is the “re-branding of the school, in the form of a project extracting all the great things about the school and ‘telling the story’ as it hasn’t been yet.” Curto noted that fellow board member Jennifer Daly would be taking the lead on it.

Photos by A. Rooney

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