Believed to be the oldest, free public high school in the state, Huntington High School is a very special place. Just ask Principal Brenden Cusack.
With a lineage that dates to 1794 when a group of “some 50 leading citizens of the town gave monies to build a school for teaching the new liberal education,” Huntington has been providing teenagers in the community with academic instruction and character training. That first high school was erected on the same plot of land as the current Huntington Town Hall on Main Street.
Known throughout the young country for its outstanding academic program, Huntington Academy was demolished in 1857 to make way for the Union School. The first graduating class consisting of six seniors was given diplomas in 1862.
The Union School was taken down in 1909 and a modern brick building was erected in its place. Former President Theodore Roosevelt heard about it and along with several companions traveled by horseback from his Sagamore Hill estate in Oyster Bay to inspect the structure early one Sunday morning. An addition to the building was constructed in the late 1920s. It included an auditorium and a lower level gymnasium.
The current Huntington High School opened in late November 1958. It provides students with academic and co-curricular offerings that are second to none. Mr. Cusack has been principal since July 1, 2015. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in education at SUNY New Paltz in 1995 and a Master of Science in adolescent education/English 7-12 at CUNY Queens College in 2002. He obtained a professional diploma in school administration and supervision at CUNY-Queens College in 2005.
2016/17 one of the best years ever
Huntington High School Principal
The 2016/17 school year has been one of Huntington’s best ever. Students have notched notable achievements in every academic discipline as well as in the arts and athletics. The mock trial team was one of Suffolk’s finest and the robotics team is headed to the world championships. There have been groundbreaking drama club productions and a long list of students have qualified for the History Day state finals in Cooperstown.
“As was the case last year, I am again surprised with the speed at which this year has progressed,” Mr. Cusack said. “I simply can’t believe the fourth quarter is here. This has been a very busy and fruitful year at Huntington High School and I am, as always, exceedingly proud of our students and faculty. Our school has come together in times of celebration as well as in times of loss. There is so much heart here and it will never cease to inspire me.”
Prior to being named principal, Mr. Cusack served as the high school’s assistant principal for three years. He earlier worked as assistant principal at Hicksville High School for three years. Prior to that post, he was an administrative dean at Walt Whitman High School for four years.
Graduation rate has climbed
“Together, as a school community, we have continued to remain in good standing with the New York State Education Department,” Mr. Cusack said. “Our graduation rate has climbed to 91 percent. We are ranked in the top tier of New York high schools by Niche.com. Our athletes continue to compete at the highest levels. Our music program was one of a very small number chosen as a Program of Excellence by the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. Our artists have captured every conceivable honor. The mock trial and robotics teams continue to shine. Our students are a force in the National History Day competition. Science students sparkle at research competitions on a near-daily basis. The community work in which our students participate through student government, Interact, Key Club, AWOD, Grandfriends, Habitat for Humanity and so many other groups is nearly impossible to summarize.”
Mr. Cusack was an English teacher at Freeport High School for eight years, where he taught Advanced Placement literature and theatre arts, served as a class advisor for four years, chaired the Middle States Committee on Educational Programs and produced school plays.
“Looking ahead to the last few months of school, there are many events on the horizon; the Distinguished Seniors dinner, senior athletic banquet, senior academic awards ceremony, prom, Relay For Life and graduation are all events to which we can look forward to,” Mr. Cusack said.
A very familiar face in classrooms, hallways and at after school, evening and weekend events, Mr. Cusack has his finger on the pulse of the building, 24/7/365.
Every aspect of building life is flourishing
“In reflection, it seems to me that just about every aspect of life at Huntington High School is flourishing,” Mr. Cusack said. “It is my goal for our school to continue this upward trajectory and to reach new heights for many years to come. Our work will continue in the areas of restorative practices, instructional differentiation, community building and development of social and emotional well-being. New student-centered and hands-on course offerings with real-world applications will move our students into new levels of college and career readiness.”
While public second secondary education is nearly 225 years old in Huntington, new ground is being broken all the time. The community has long embraced its high school and provided the resources students need to develop intellectually, artistically and athletically and to pursue their interests with enthusiasm.
“There are so many reasons for us to exhibit Blue Devil pride,” Mr. Cusack said. “I see it each day as students and faculty arrive in the morning. Others see it whenever they interact with our students. Simply put, there is something very special about Huntington High School. We have come a very long way over the years and together there is no limit to where we will go.”