Sullivan West welcomes new student board member

Posted 9/21/22

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — On September 15, the Sullivan West Central School District convened its monthly school board meeting.

Hot topics at the meeting were the introduction of Elizabeth …

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Sullivan West welcomes new student board member


LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — On September 15, the Sullivan West Central School District convened its monthly school board meeting.

Hot topics at the meeting were the introduction of Elizabeth Reeves as the board’s new student member; an update on the Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter, recently formed by Padraic McCarthy, the chapter’s advisor; a few student spotlights; and a reminder about a public hearing on the special vote for the capital project, set for Thursday, October 6 at 5 p.m. in the Sullivan West Elementary School.

As a sideline, the middle/high school library was packed with more than 25 students from Patrick Donovan’s high school social studies class, all furiously taking notes on the meeting for an assignment.

Subsequent to a solemn moment of silence in honor of Mary Catherine Hessinger, a former elementary school volunteer and foster grandparent, student board member Reeves took her oath of office to serve as the voice of the student body.

“I have a few things in mind,” Reeves told the River Reporter after the meeting adjourned. She was asked what she thought her role would be on the board. “I want to advertise for the students.”

According to Reeves, one of the primary items on her “early-days” agenda is advocating for “the arts; that was a pressing issue last year.”

When asked who she looked up to as the inspirations for seeking the student board-member position, Reeves cited Dylan Sager, last year’s student representative. She recalled of the class of 2022 grad, “he was always someone special, a leader in the way of academics, always nice to you.” Of the Dawg Pound crew and recent grads Gavin Hauschild and Tariq Gambari, she said, “they were always leaders, whether you were in the seventh grade or a senior… they were always so positive about sports, leading chants.” And “I really like how the senior class was last year.”

In addition to being a three-sport scholar-athlete (soccer, softball and basketball), she serves as sentinel for the school’s FFA chapter.

“It’s our first year; we just want to get out there,” Reeves said, noting that as she moves forward at Sullivan West High, she hopes to get involved in other club activities.

Asked what her future holds, she said that “recently, it’s like I’m being asked ‘What are you going to do?’ but I don’t even know what we had for dinner last night, or what we’re having tonight.”

Looking ahead to her duties as the board’s student member, the junior said, tongue-in-cheek, “I’m really going to be cracking down this year!”

Student spotlights

Angela Cordischi was selected to perform with the All-State Choir, and Henry Simo was selected as an alternate.

Bella Wagner received national recognition from the College Board from its small towns and rural academics program.

Growing farmers

Padraic “Paddy” McCarthy, the high school agriculture and science teacher and the advisor to the school’s newly created Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter, made a presentation to the board on the club’s proposed trip to the FFA national convention, which will be held October 23 to 30 in Indianapolis, IN.

He reported that the chapter participated in National FFA Week (February 12 to 26), and as part of that chapter members visited the elementary school in official dress to give short presentations about the FFA.

“Consequently, we have quite a few seventh graders who want to join the FFA,” said McCarthy.

In December 2021, the Sullivan West Agricultural program was awarded $10,000 from Cornell’s Agriculture Education Outreach Program, and with those funds, the FFA chapter paid its dues, purchased FFA jackets, established a leadership library and acquired maple-sap equipment.

McCarthy presented a few relevant stats.

Nationwide, he said, the FFA has 850,000 members; New York State has a membership of 9,340, and this year, over 20 ag/FFA programs are being offered in schools for the first time.

The Sullivan West FFA chapter had, as of last year, almost 50 members, more than 788 hours of involvement, 15 different activities, 24 meetings, more than 100 hours of community service, and 25 members who attended the state FFA Convention. There, Elizabeth Reeves and Nicole Reeves took first-place honors with the chapter’s FFA scrapbook.

After the chapter’s advisor made his pitch, four members stepped up to the podium to address the board: president Brianna Haass, vice president Elaine Herbert, co-secretary Mya Heinle and member Keely Schock.

Afterward, the board unanimously approved the attendance of four FFA members at the national convention.

For the scrapbook—Sullivan West’s FFA chapter officers: Brianna Haass, president; Elaine Herbert, vice-president; Karlee Diehl, secretary; Mya Heinle, co-secretary; Kayla Wilson, treasurer; Elizabeth Reeves, sentinel; and Nicole Reeves, reporter.

“If anyone would like to help support these four students attending the national FFA convention, donations are accepted at Sullivan West FFA, Sullivan West High School, 6604 State Rte. 52, PO Box 309, Lake Huntington, NY 12753,” said McCarthy. He added that checks should be made out to Sullivan West FFA.

Notes from the superintendent’s report

“We had a great first week of school,” said Sullivan West superintendent Dr. Kathleen Bressler. “There were smiling faces in the halls from students and teachers. I heard positive feedback from parents who I saw in passing in the halls, and classroom teachers and students are off to a great start.”

Bressler extended a shout-out of thanks to middle school principal Scott Haberli for pinch-hitting as head of the athletics department until Matt Buddenhagen formally took over the helm on September 16.

“He has been making time to recruit coaches, create schedules, and respond to our student athletes’ needs, and we are thankful that he is here to ensure a smooth opening to our fall sports season,” said Bressler.

Commenting on the district’s strategic plan objectives, she said “We want to check back in with some stakeholders and ensure the integrity of the plan… We have begun to work on the three pillars of the student experience, human capital and communication.”

According to Bressler, the strategic plan will not be formally adopted until next month.

The meeting was also livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel,

The next regular scheduled public meeting of the Sullivan West school board is on Thursday, October 20 at 7 p.m. in the middle school/high school library. For more information, call district clerk Christina Kautz at 845/482-4610.

Sullivan West, student government, Future Farmers of America, superintendent


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