Skip To Main Content

View All News

  • District
  • FMS
  • HS

Before spring recess, renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theaters Student Performance Group lit up Hastings High School’s auditorium with a riveting performance for students and staff.

The event, funded by the Race Matters Committee, Farragut Middle School, and Hastings High School, with leadership from Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator Dr. Jenice Mateo-Toledo, was the result of the collaborative effort of Hastings faculty members and community partners. Several high school students even stepped into leadership roles, forming a Welcoming Committee for the dancers, creating banners, and assisting with the run-of-show, lighting, and sound. Click here to view the full list of collaborators.

Freshman Ruby Black gave a heartwarming introduction to the program and to Ailey's Student Performance Group (ASPG) Rehearsal Director Freddie Moore. Taking the microphone, Moore delved into the history of the Alvin Ailey organization, including how it grew from a now-fabled performance in 1958 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Mr. Ailey and his group of young African American modern dancers forever changed the perception of American dance, going on to perform for an estimated 25 million people at theaters in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents.

 Moore went on to explain that Mr. Ailey drew on his African American roots in 1930s Texas, using the blues, spirituals, gospel, and ragtime for inspiration. This resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically acclaimed work, Revelations (1960), as well as 79 other ballets over his lifetime.

“What you’ll see is beyond dance steps,” Moore said. “There are stories behind the movement.”

The dancers performed six excerpts from their repertoire. Vibrant colors and pulsating rhythms transcended the confines of the stage. The movements were fluid, graceful, and electrifying, all at once. With each leap, twist, and turn, a captivating story was told.

In between each dance, Moore engaged students with historical facts and asked them for their own interpretations. They were treated to the real "Ailey Experience" when he taught them two eight-count phrases of movement. 

 When the finale Revelations came to an end, the auditorium erupted into thunderous applause. The dancers, who joined Ailey from all over the world, took their bows. Students were left feeling inspired by the unifying power of dance and the enduring spirit of human expression.

 

“Dance came from the people, and it should always be delivered back to the people.”

-Alvin Ailey

  • District
  • FMS
  • HHS
  • District
  • FMS
  • Hillside

The energy, dedication and talent pulsing through and around the Hastings Theatre Program's fourth and fifth grade musicals has inspired school community audiences. 

Before performing for guests at the main events on Thursday, March 7, and Friday, March 8, fourth graders gave their fellow Hillsiders a preview of Frozen KIDS with a school-wide assembly and dress rehearsal. The students confidently took the stage, singing and dancing their hearts out to catchy tunes from the Disney movie. 

Congratulations to Director Lisa Levine, Production Coordinator Phyllis Udice, First Grade Teacher Emily Isidori who used her dance background to teach the choreography, and to all of Hastings' teachers and staff for guiding the students to a well-received production.

Fourth Grade's Frozen KIDS

For a behind-the-scenes look at the show, watch a couple of short videos below. 

 

Fifth Grade's Mary Poppins Jr.

On Friday, March 15, and Saturday, March 16, Farragut Middle School’s fifth graders performed their musical Mary Poppins Jr. On both evenings, there wasn’t an empty seat to be had, as audiences smiled in admiration at the talented youngsters. Featuring song, dance, and visual effects, including a flying and disappearing kite, the cast lived up to their show’s key closing lyric, “Anything can happen if you let it.” 

Congratulations to Director Jonathan Riss, Production Coordinator Phyllis Udice, and all of Hastings' staff who made the production a joyous success.

For a behind-the-scenes look at the show, watch the below photo montage.

  • District
  • FMS
  • Hillside
  • District
  • FMS

Guided by the sounds of Pablo Mayor’s Folklore Urbano NYC Orchestra, Farragut Middle School’s fifth graders took the stage to give a Latin dance performance to their families.

The culmination of a workshop led by external partner Folklore Urbano NYC, the scripted production of original music and choreography showcased what the students learned over the course of the six-week program. 

Connecting to the fifth grade Social Studies standards, the workshop highlighted the diversity of the Spanish, Indigenous, and African roots of Latin America with lessons on their culture, geography, and language. 

“Folklore Urbano NYC's Cumbia for Kids Residency is the company we used for the second year now,” said fifth grade teacher Kyle Case. “We are so glad to have this experience continue for our students each year.”

  • District
  • FMS
  • District
  • FMS

On March 18th and 19th, during Neurodiversity Week, the PTSA and SEPTA hosted two Game Nights in the cafeteria: one for grades 5-6 and another for grades 7-8. 

Specially designed for students to connect and relax, the event featured a wide range of activities. From bingo, chess, and board games to ping pong, foosball, and Twister, middle schoolers rotated through the stations. There was even participation from Hastings faculty, high school students, and parents, who brought their energy by facilitating the games and giving the kids pointers. 

A special thank you goes to everyone who helped make the event a success, including the Custodial and Facilities staff for their help with the behind-the-scenes set up and clean up, as well as the Guidance Department who helped the PTSA and SEPTA to maximize the experience for students.

 

  • District
  • FMS
  • District
  • FMS

The week featured a string of morning announcements kicked off by middle schoolers Amichai De Lowe and Julia Levan. Each day, students greeted the school in other languages such as Hebrew, Polish, German, Danish, and Chinese Mandarin, and afterwards, read a Language Fact of the Day.

In English, Julia L. presented the first Language Fact of the Day. "Mandarin is considered the most difficult language to learn because of its nuanced, tonal nature," she explained. "It is also the most commonly spoken language in the world!"

Fifth graders Ethel Gautschoux and Ember Lustbader wrapped up the announcements on Friday by greeting the school in French and Portuguese, respectively.

Based on their knowledge of multilingualism and the daily facts they heard, students were encouraged to take a survey. More than 275 middle schoolers participated, entering in a contest to win prizes. From the survey, it was learned that there are 35 languages represented at FMS! 

See below for the list of languages. 

Even the ninth graders in Andrea Bromberg's class aided in the cause, taking a poll of over 300 students in the cafeteria, who were asked to guess the number of languages represented at FMS. Eden Greenberg was the only student to guess correctly, which won her a multilingual themed t-shirt. 

Other prize winners, eighth graders Kota Shemonski and Gigi Levinson, were chosen based on their thoughtful responses to the survey’s short-answer question, which asked students to reflect on the meaning of the following quote by actress and writer Fiona Lewis:

"Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things but learning another way to think about things."

Below are several of the students’ reflections.

 “I am thrilled by the number of students who participated in the optional survey and the enthusiastic support from our staff and administration,” Sullivan said. “The data collected shows the rich linguistic culture of the school and helped us learn more about our students. The first-ever, week-long language celebration generated many authentic conversations around the benefits of multilingualism.” 

Due to its far-reaching impact, Sullivan plans to make World Language Week an annual tradition, with hopes of expanding to Hastings High School in future years. 

All students who participated in the survey were offered multilingual themed stickers. 

  • District
  • FMS
  • District
  • FMS

“Harper has become an unofficial member of the class,” Cerretani said.

To honor Harper and the organization’s volunteers, the students crafted specially made cards leading up to Valentine’s Day. They sold the cards to their fellow students during their lunch periods, as well as to Farragut’s faculty and staff. 

“The fundraiser spread love throughout the school, while also raising funds for a local organization that has become near and dear to the students’ hearts,” Cerretani added.

Following the Holiday Card Fundraiser in December, which raised over $150, the Valentine’s Day Card Fundraiser raised an additional $215 for Hudson Valley Paws for a Cause – another feather in the caps of Cerretani’s students! Through these efforts, the students also learned essential life skills such as product development, salesmanship, financial management, and philanthropy. Most importantly, they are continuing to model compassion for others. 

“I am so proud of what they’ve achieved and the impact they’ve made on the larger community,” said Cerretani. 

In honor of Neurodiversity Celebration Week (March 18-24), World Down Syndrome Day (March 21), and World Autism Awareness Day (April 2) Cerretani's students will host their Second Annual Neurodiversity Awareness Fundraiser at FMS. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks. 

  • District
  • FMS

Today, we're introducing the Portrait in Action, a new biweekly series aimed at showcasing the Portrait coming to life throughout the district.

Here is where we will feature the great work that students and their teachers are doing to weave the Portrait framework into daily classroom activities and model the Attributes outlined below:

Click here for the first edition. Stay tuned for more examples from each school as the series continues.

Remember, you can always visit the Portrait of a Hastings Learner (POHL) section of our new and improved website for more information.

  • District
  • FMS
  • HHS
  • Hillside
  • District
  • FMS
  • HS
  • Hillside

Thank you to our families who attended the Parent Gender Workshop at Hillside Elementary School. 

Please click here to review the presentation and access helpful resources.

  • District
  • FMS
  • HHS
  • Hillside

Students in Mary Greene's and Larry Cerretani's sixth-grade English Language Arts classes recently finished a Book Club Unit focused on neurodiversity.

Working together on the assignment, the middle schoolers created posters that visually represented the books they read. Each student contributed one of the following options to their group poster:

 Learning about the vast spectrum of neurotypes, such as Autism, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior, Synesthesia, Cerebral Palsy, and Dyslexia, fostered inclusivity and awareness among classmates. The students were eager to research, understand, and share perspectives about these topics, demonstrating their intellectual curiosity and empathy toward one another. Their final projects featured the diverse ways people perceive and interact with the world.

"The book helped me understand that other people see the world differently than I do, and those differences could affect the way their life happens and how they learn," said one student, Oliver. "I also learned that just because you have a learning difference, it doesn't mean you should be treated any differently."

Sasha, another student, said, "I read the book The Goldfish Boy and the character, Matthew, had OCD about getting germs. I felt like I was able to understand him and people who have OCD better and can help them."

"We are proud of the students' hard work and creativity," said Greene. "They showed their appreciation and understanding of others' brain differences through reading, writing, and collaborative discussions."

Below is the full list of the books that students chose from:

  • The Museum of Lost and Found by Leila Sales
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine
  • The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
  • A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

 

  • District
  • FMS

After a comprehensive assessment of student well-being, multiple strategic

discussions, and a year-long New York State approval process, the district has established a school-based Mental Health Clinic to support children with social and emotional challenges.

Assistant Director of Special Education MariAngela Sanchez set the idea in motion, leveraging her background as a Supervisor of School Psychologists in New York City. After keenly observing the needs of students, Sanchez, along with Hastings' teaching and clinical staff, called for a more holistic approach to student mental health services. Forging a partnership with Andrus Health and Wellness Center, a private nonprofit serving six other school districts in Westchester County (Yonkers, Charter School of Educational Excellence, White Plains, Lakeland, Ossining, and Peekskill), Sanchez and her colleagues made their vision a reality.

Andrus, who uses preventative and restorative practices to manage the impact of childhood adversity and provide coping strategies for success, is one of the Support Satellite Clinics receiving funding from New York State. This is part of Governor Hochul's $1 billion plan to expand the continuum of youth mental health care.

With the help of Adriana Miller, a licensed social worker from Andrus, Hastings is reaping the benefits of the Governor's plan. Miller, who started at Hastings in January, is working with the district's clinical and teaching staff to develop intervention plans for in-school counseling. She is on campus five days a week, splitting her time equally between the three schools.

According to Sanchez, the newly established Mental Health Clinic aims to significantly improve access to therapeutic support, especially for children facing barriers to care. Based on evolving needs, ongoing evaluations will be conducted on programs and services.

"I hope the school community recognizes the value of the school-based Mental Health Clinic," Sanchez said, "and the value in fostering ongoing partnerships to enhance the social-emotional well-being of all students".

 

  • District
  • FMS
  • HHS
  • Hillside

It's a new semester and over 25 seventh graders have signed up for Arianna Grassia’s Media Literacy course. The course, which was added as an elective last year, teaches middle schoolers critical thinking skills and empowers them to make informed decisions about what they see and hear in the media.

The day's lesson has begun and on the itinerary is media-mapping, a process of identifying and evaluating various media types.

"Media is so big these days," Grassia said to the class. "My hope for today is that you begin to consider what types of media you’re engaging with.”

Before planning what to include on their own media maps, students participated in a practice round. Grassia handed each table little strips of paper containing content names and titles. Groups worked together with a glue stick to paste each strip into the right media category.

After the practice exercise, every student received a Media Map Planning Sheet with sections for print media, web-based media (YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok), movies, television, music/podcasts, and video/mobile games.

“Use this sheet to reflect on your media consumption,” said Grassia. “Are you consuming one type of media more than another? What types of videos are you watching? What music do you listen to? Be specific.”

The middle schoolers will use the planning sheets to create personalized media maps. Once the maps are finalized, the classroom will be transformed into a museum-like format and time will be allotted for students to view their peers' media maps, connect and reflect.

Grassia hopes that by the end of the course, her students will have "creator" mindsets, but most importantly, they will have learned to stop being passive consumers of content. Asking questions is the first step!

 

  • District
  • FMS

The initiative aimed to develop valuable skills applicable to pre-vocational tasks, while simultaneously supporting local partner and pet therapy organization Hudson Valley Paws for a Cause.

In the week leading up to the fundraiser, students meticulously crafted the cards using a variety of materials. They managed dozens of orders, delivered the cards to staff mailboxes, and monitored fundraising finances. Through this multifaceted approach, students applied diverse skills in a meaningful way. 

"While the students anticipated the fundraiser to last at least two weeks, the cards were sold out within a few days!" Cerretani said.

The fundraising effort culminated in an impressive $155 raised, as revealed by 7th-grade student Olivia Allan, who conducted the final count. Students enjoyed creating and selling the handmade cards. They were especially excited to contribute to Hudson Valley Paws for a Cause, home of their therapy dog, Harper. 

Larry Cerretani commended the students for their hard work and dedication, emphasizing the broader impact of the fundraiser on both skill development and supporting a worthy cause. The success of this initiative highlights the positive outcomes that can emerge when students are empowered to apply their skills for a greater purpose.

For more information on Hudson Valley Paws for a Cause, click here.

  • District
  • FMS
Screenshot of Video Matilda Jr

On Friday, December 8, and Saturday, December 9, sixth graders in the Hastings Theatre Program performed their musical production, Matilda Jr.

With sold out seats on both evenings, the show proved to be a massive hit for community members of all ages. Click here to view the program.

Watch the video above for a behind-the-scenes look into the cast and crew's dress rehearsal and performance.

Matilda Jr-students in aisle
  • FMS
14 students on stage singing

On Friday, December 8, and Saturday, December 9, sixth graders in the Hastings Theatre Program performed their musical production, Matilda Jr.

With sold out shows on both evenings, it proved to be a massive hit for audience members of all ages.

Stay tuned for more photos in next week's Hastings Happenings.

Click here to view the program.

Sixth Grades Matilda Jr two student on stage
  • FMS

The Village, along with the MLK Breakfast Committee, is proud to announce the 12th Anniversary MLK Breakfast honoring the life of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The event will take place on Monday, January 15, at the James Harmon Community Center.

MLK in Wash DC at reflecting pool by Washington Monument

Each year, students from the Rivertowns use creativity to express their impressions of today’s most challenging social issues. This year, students are being asked to submit an essay (300 words or less) or artwork addressing the following question:

What is your vision for peace in 2024?

All submissions are due by Friday, January 5. Click here to download the flier with more information about the celebration and competition.

  • FMS
  • HS
  • Hillside

In the spirit of giving, students in Larry Cerretani’s Daily Living Skills class partnered with ninth grade peer volunteers to organize a food donation for Midnight Run Inc., a volunteer organization whose goal is to forge a bond between the housed and the homeless and provide a foundation of sharing and caring from which solutions may evolve. 
 
The donation, which was made to Midnight Run’s Dobbs Ferry location, involved bagged lunches specially assembled by the middle schoolers. High School freshmen Zelda Weitzman, Eliana Wallach, and Ami and Isla Martial made the sandwiches.
 
“This is the third year in a row that our students assembled bagged lunches for the Midnight Run," said Cerretani. “It’s become an annual tradition in our class. We call it our Day of Giving.”
 
Together, Cerretani and his class donated two large boxes of bagged lunches, providing food to dozens of homeless people.
 
To learn more about Midnight Run Inc., click here.
 

  • FMS

The virtual visit, which comes as a result of a generous grant from the PTSA, included additional instructional support from the students’ teachers –Mary Greene, Larry Cerretani, Julie Sullivan, and Lior Fishman—and allowed students to hear from Harrington about her writing process.

Through figurative language and a captivating plot, Wildoak, Harrington’s first book, tells the story of a girl with a speech-related disability who finds her voice to speak up for animal rights and conservation. An unlikely friendship is formed between two characters, both outcasts trying to find their place in an often unfriendly world. 

Students listened intently as Harrington shared her inspiration for the story, quick to ask questions afterwards. One student, Julette Budrias, even asked, “What strategies do you use to get unstuck in the writing process?"

Harrington loves connecting with readers and students and offers both virtual and in-person visits. Her presentations touch on sources of inspiration, research, revision and what goes into writing realistic fiction. 

“It was such an amazing culminating experience for the students to bring the text to a close in this way,” Cerretani said. 

“Christina Harrington is a masterful writer who helps students understand the interconnectedness of humans and the natural world,” Greene added. 

For more information on C.C. Harrington, click here.

  • FMS

To give you a closer look at Clark Commemoration Project, we've created this dedicated page complete with photos, videos, and other resources.

Hillside students singing "Little Rock Nine" with Minnijean Brown-Trickey

September/October 2023 

An exhibit about the Clarks, their work, Brown v. The Board of Ed, and the Little Rock Nine are displayed in the high school lobby.

learning session for families and students in grades 5-12 is organized by Dr. Melissa Szymanski.

The 45-minute zoom session provided information about Brown v. Board of Education, a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, largely shaped by the research of former Hastings residents Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark, which led to the desegregation of public schools and the Civil Rights Movement. 

October 12-13 – Minnijean Brown-Trickey of the Little Rock Nine, who lived with the Clarks in the late 1950s, speaks to students.

Watch the live-stream recording of each of her visits below. 

October 14 – the Clarks’ street sign unveiling ceremony is held at the James Harmon Community Center.

 Click here for Superintendent McKersie's remarks from the ceremony.

The audience listened intently as he spoke to the Clarks' daughter, Kate, and their granddaughter, as well as Minnijean Brown-Trickey, expressing gratitude to them for imparting their wisdom to Hastings' students and for giving them "hope".

Click here to watch the full Unveiling Ceremony.  

 MORE RESOURCES (Videos, articles, podcasts, literature)

  • FMS
  • HS
  • Hillside