Spectacular days lie ahead at Huntington High School, where students will have an opportunity to take an exceptional variety of courses taught by highly credentialed faculty members during the 2018/19 school year. A broad array of clubs, sports and assorted programs and activities will also be available to the more than 1,500 teenagers set to fill the building’s classrooms.
The incoming Class of 2022 numbering 375 students participated in an orientation program last week. School counselors helped iron out last minute scheduling issues for those on every grade level and facilities staff members put the final coat of polish on hallway floors as the clock ticked down to the first bell.
“I’m thrilled to enter into my fourth year as principal of Huntington High School,” Mr. Cusack said. “Our focus continues to place great emphasis on both academics and the overall well-being of every student we educate. On the academic front, our Regents scores and graduation rates continue to improve each year and our teachers are engaged in many areas of professional development to fine tune and improve their craft.”
The summer months saw several building upgrades completed and many new faculty and staff members hired to fill posts vacated by those who have retired or moved on to other endeavors. Even in a high school that is so heavy with tradition, there is always something new afoot.
“I am very excited to introduce a new and highly sought after business course this year, Virtual Enterprise, which will provide students with real-world corporate experience in a competitive and rigorous environment,” Mr. Cusack said. “This type of hands on innovative learning is the direction of education as a whole. By creating relevant contexts for students’ learning we will continue to see gains in every area of our students’ lives.”
Huntington High School’s principal since July 1, 2015, Mr. Cusack 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.
“This year, I also have the privilege of introducing a brand new assistant principal to our students and faculty, Dr. Lisette Lors who is sure to have a tremendously positive impact in our school community,” Mr. Cusack said. “She is already hard at work helping to ensure a smooth beginning to the school year.”
Mr. Cusack and his administrative team has been back on the job for several weeks attending to dozens of important details that are crucial to the building operating smoothly.
“We have a number of exciting things planned for this year, which will make for a memorable experience,” Mr. Cusack said. “One such event will take place on October 1 when we will have renowned speaker Manny Scott, an original Freedom Writer here to speak to our students and faculty. His message of hope and encouragement for all members of our school is sure to make a wonderful and lasting impression on all of us. I am grateful for the support of the district as well as that of our Class of 2018 and PTSA, who have helped to fund this phenomenal event.”
Prior to being named principal, Mr. Cusack served as Huntington High School’s assistant principal for three years. He earlier worked as an 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. He 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.
“Our restorative practices initiative, which we began last year has been a very positive addition to our disciplinary program,” Mr. Cusack said. “We have implemented a number of methods of utilizing discipline as an instructional and reflective tool, which have benefited our students. This implementation has been so positive that we have been invited to present our experiences with restorative practices to other districts so that they may learn from our work.”
Assistant Principal Gamal Smith is also an integral part of Mr. Cusack’s building level administrative team. Department directors and chairs will continue to play a large role in the programs offered to students. Huntington strives to be a student-centered and student-friendly high school, catering to the needs of the teenagers who call it home.
“As summer comes to a close, we are all so excited to welcome our students back on September 5,” Mr. Cusack said. “We will kick off the day with a brief full-school assembly prior to the beginning of first period.”
Since 48 leading citizens came together in 1793 and pledged the funds needed to erect a school building devoted to providing the young people of the community with a classical high school education, Huntington has been on the cutting edge of classroom instruction and has been sending its graduates to the top colleges in the country and into every career field imaginable.
The Huntington Academy was a two-story structure with a belfry. It was built on a hill across the street from the Old First Church. The site is now occupied by Town Hall.
A private institution, the Huntington Academy charged nominal tuition on a quarterly basis. It was outside the common-school system and was not under Regents supervision. “It was intended to, and generally did, furnish the means for a more liberal education than was provided by the surrounding common schools,” wrote town historian Charles R. Street more than a century ago. “Many of the best educators of the period taught generation after generation of Huntington youths within its walls. It prepared for college the sons of those who were ambitious to give their sons a liberal education.”
The New York State Legislature passed a law on April 13, 1857 authorizing creation of the Union School District of Huntington. The community gathered at a “special meeting” on September 7, 1857 and approved formation of the Union School District. It is said to have been the first district organized in the state for providing public education beyond eighth grade.
Huntington Academy was demolished in April 1858 and the Union School was erected over that same summer. It offered the young people of the community an educational program through twelfth grade. The building opened in November 1858 with Algernon S. Higgins as its first principal. He also taught most subjects. Enrollment totaled 220. The first class numbering six seniors was graduated in 1862.