Five times each year, the members of Ashley Linda’s journalism class at Haldane High School publish a school newspaper, The Blue Print. With support from the Haldane School Foundation, reporters and editors from The Current are working with the students to craft their stories and share their reporting with the community. Selections from the October and December issues are reprinted here.

Advisor: Ashley Linda
Reporters: Mollie Altucher, Grace Campanile, Sophia Catalina, Laura Cosma, Julie Geller, Bridget Goldberg, Chrishel Mauricette, Anna Rowe, Natalie Sandick

Haldane Trades Schools

By Grace Campanile

On Oct. 12, the Haldane High School sociology class visited Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical High School in the Bronx for a better understanding of how city public schools differ from suburban public schools.

The class left in the morning on a bus straight to the Bronx. It was a cold day and Alfred E. Smith students huddled in a line to a single small door to enter the school. The nine Haldane students stood in line as well, waiting to enter. The heavily monitored single entry was a shock to the Haldane students. Once the students ahead entered the doors, they placed their cell phones in a plastic bag with their name on it, and placed the bag into a bucket. The Haldane sociology class didn’t have to give up their phones.

Alfred E. Smith High School (Photo by Jim Henderson/Wikipedia)

Then the biggest difference appeared. Students waiting in another line, this time to walk through a metal detector and to put their belongings and backpacks through an X-ray machine like you would at an airport. Uniformed security guards monitored each student passing through the detector, some students being searched with a metal detector wand.

It was already a shock to the Haldane students, the small-town suburban norms no longer existed in the big city with hundreds of students coming from all over to one school. But this safety protocol was the norm for all of the students at Alfred E. Smith.

A group of students (the school population is predominately male) brought the class around to different rooms.

The first class they saw was the auto body shop. Alfred E. Smith has a huge auto mechanics program that allows students to become licensed by NATEF (National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation) and go straight into the workforce. Alfred E. Smith is the only high school in the Bronx that gives students this opportunity. They also provide paid internships with major companies like BMW and Toyota. Faculty and community members can drop their cars off to the school and can be fixed by students. This gives them a real life working experience, working on real cars for real people. Huge equipment was everywhere, and some of the most advanced students worked on cars with ease and showed their classmates how it’s done. The students showed the Haldane class some of the work they were completing that day, and gave a presentation of a car being lifted into the air on a machine, as they worked under it fixing flaws.

Students at Alfred E. Smith choose between auto mechanics or graphic design when they are freshmen. Then, their schedules revolve around the topic that they selected for the remainder of high school. The first students who showed them the mechanics workshop had obviously all selected auto mechanics.

Haldane High School (File photo by L.S. Armstrong)

The next thing the Haldane students were introduced to was the excelling graphic design classes. Professional equipment was everywhere, including 3D printers, Mac labs, and the latest ,most advanced graphic design software. Each year the graphic design students create a yearbook and they proudly showed the Haldane class some examples from previous years.

Then they brought the sociology class to numerous design labs, full of computers and student projects and designs. The school allows graphics students to take classes at art schools and offers scholarship opportunities to attend great design schools. The equipment in all these classrooms was breathtaking.

After visiting the mechanics and graphic design classes, a pizza lunch was enjoyed by a group of students from Alfred E. Smith and the Haldane class. Everyone was mingling, chatting and laughing. Conversations about differences in schools came up, as well as location differences and the classes that they were taking. Students shared funny stories with one another, plans for college, and the best spots to eat in their neighborhoods.

Diversity was another topic that was discussed at length. Alfred E. Smith is comprised of mainly black and Hispanic students, while Haldane is a mostly white co-ed school. Students celebrated their differences instead of hiding them, and everyone had an amazing time.

Plans were made for Alfred E. Smith to visit Haldane’s campus. Many memories were made and the group of Haldane students got to step outside the “bubble” of Cold Spring and enjoy a school very different from their own.

Bonjour Montreal

By Bridget Goldberg

Montreal is a modern, culturally dynamic city with the second largest population of any city in Canada. This year, it also was the home of the Haldane International Club and French and Spanish students from Oct. 4 to Oct. 7. We visited many different parts of the city and experienced a variety of activities to get a taste of authentic Montreal. We started off in the oldest part of Montreal to learn about its history.

Day 1

In Old Montreal, we first took a tour of the area around city hall which still makes use of the original buildings in Montreal. We learned about the discovery of Montreal by Jacques Cartier and the two main founders of Montreal, as well as a brief history of how Montreal has developed since then. We then toured the Notre-Dame Basilica, a brilliant architectural feat, and ended the day with a scavenger hunt that featured Montreal’s key monuments and buildings. We ate at Chez Brisket, where we had a smoked meat dinner.

Day 2

On day two, we started off exploring the Biodome, a re-creation of five unique ecosystems located in the former Olympic stadium. We saw a wide range of animals from penguins to monkeys. We then traveled to Cafe Graffiti where we designed hats. After a lunch of empanadas, we visited the Au Sommet Place Ville Marie where we viewed Montreal from 42 stories in the air. We finished the day at the underground city, an enormous underground mall.

A group shot of the Haldane students during their visit to Montreal

Day 3

We started day three with a virtual tour of the birthplace of Montreal back in Old Montreal. We were then free to wander the ancient streets and eat lunch on our own. After lunch we visited the science center of Montreal where we participated in projects and experiments involving the human body, the future, and engineering. We then visited a less urban area to experience “sugaring off” with a lumberjack dinner with folk songs and dancing.

Day 4

We concluded our trip with a drive up Mount Royal to a viewing area where we could see the entire city stretched out below us. After that, we made our lunch of poutine and meat pies in a cooking class. Before long, it was time to go back home.

As a whole, I think it was a positive experience for us American students to experience the culture of Montreal. There are so many different kinds of people in Montreal who form a complex culture very different from our own. The trip was a great opportunity for us to practice speaking French and even some Spanish with our tour guide and citizens of Montreal. Overall, I would highly recommend the trip to anyone interested in other cultures, history, or having a good time!

Filling the Gap

By Mollie Altucher

A difficult question for many high school students is, what comes next? Most students automatically drift toward the now common path of diving straight into college or university life, without having a clear idea of what they want to do in life or what they want to study. In reality, there is in an increasing opportunity for students to take a gap year in between high school and college, and jumpstart their lives.

Taking a gap year after high school is now supported by numerous studies. By taking a glance at the American Gap Association website, one can view many different benefits or statistics about gap years for graduating high schoolers.

Relevant data collected shows that 90 percent of students who take gap years return to schooling within a year, and 88 percent feel their gap year boosts their employability, according to surveys and information collected from the Wall Street Journal and additional sources.

A number of schools are on board as well. For example, the well-respected Vassar College allows students to defer their acceptances for up to an entire year. Other schools favorable to deferrals include Barnard College, New York University and Skidmore.

Students can take part in a variety of different volunteering or internship programs that can guide their year of transition. The decision of how to make use of the gap year can be hard to make, but all the information students need is right at their fingertips. By searching through a variety of websites such as or, one can look through different internships, volunteer programs, or other programs available.

Programs covered on the American Gap Association page, such as Carpe Diem Education and Thinking Beyond Borders, offer students opportunities to further their education and immerse themselves in cultures abroad. Additionally, mentions both job openings and organizations within your own area. Hudson Valley specific programs or job openings at local businesses are shown all across the home page.

Students should be aware of all the possibilities available to them before making decisions that impact the rest of their lives. If anyone has hesitations about immediately diving into their degree, they should feel free to look into programs that might be a better fit for their own individual needs.

Passionate Principal

By Chrishel Mauricette

When it was time to choose someone to interview the new high school principal, I thought I would offer a unique perspective, being new myself. But Julia Sniffen is not new to Haldane; in fact, Mrs. Sniffen has been working at Haldane for 21 years.

Julia Sniffen

Making the decision to become the new high school principal was fitting because Mrs. Sniffen loves to challenge herself, try new things, and help others, especially students. Before she goes to bed at night she asks herself: Did I do everything I could to help today? The answer must always be yes.

A typical day for Mrs. Sniffen starts early, so she can greet students as they walk into the school. She then spends a lot of time in meetings, which comes with the new job. As principal, Mrs. Sniffen is currently meeting with the teachers asking them questions about what’s working, what needs improvement, and what they love about their jobs. She is working hard to be a leader that both teachers and students can look up to and she is setting everyone up for a very successful year.

With Haldane being such a small school, she believes that there are amazing opportunities for everyone to “come together and care for one another.”

When she is not in her office or roaming the halls of the high school, Mrs. Sniffen is watching students participate in one of the many arts programs, play sports, or playing sports herself. She played two sports in college and still plays soccer on Wednesday nights. She makes sure to spend time with her family — “I love watching my kids play sports,” she said — and goes camping and hiking with her family.

In my opinion, Mrs. Sniffen is a really athletic person and I’m happy to have a positive role model in her; she doesn’t let how old she is, or what job she has, determine what she can do and what makes her happy. She would make a good motivational personal trainer (something she has thought about doing in the future).

When I asked Mrs. Sniffen what profession she would work in if she wasn’t a principal, it’s no surprise that she said she would want to work in the mental health profession, “lobbying for those in need.” It is clear that she is a caring principal and I enjoyed meeting with her and the conversation we had.

Jammin in the Kitchen with Julie

By Julie Geller

Today we will be making chocolate-pretzel treats! They are perfect for a quick and easy dessert for the holidays when watching movies, hanging out with friends or just a yummy treat!

Preparing the treat (Photo by Gabriela Rodiles/

Chocolate-Pretzel Treat

5-minute prep time
2- to 4-minute cook time


A bag of mini-square pretzels
A bag of M&Ms
A bag of Rolos

Get a baking pan and line it with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lie the pretzels flat on the baking sheet so that the pan is full with pretzels.
Put a Rolo on each pretzel but do not put an M&M.
Put the Rolo and pretzels in the oven for two minutes and check to see if they are soft, but still hold their shape.
Put an M&M in the hole of the Rolo and press down just hard enough so that the M&Ms go into the Rolo.
Let them cool and enjoy!

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

This piece is by a contributor to The Current who is not on staff. Typically this is because it is a letter to the editor or a guest column.

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