Gracia Renkewitz is this year’s recipient of the Associated Teachers of Huntington scholarship. The Huntington High School Class of 2021 member plans to begin her studies at Nassau Community College with a special focus on either psychology or chemistry.
Huntington science teacher and ATH Vice President Joseph Cohen made the scholarship announcement during an award ceremony in the high school auditorium. The scholarship is in the amount of $1,000.
“The ATH annually awards a scholarship to a student we feel exemplifies the qualifies of Huntington’s teachers,” Mr. Cohen said. “This year’s recipient has demonstrated grace, perseverance and unwavering positivity. These are the types of skills teachers needed this year to get our own in person and virtual students engaged and motivated.”
The ATH is the professional organization representing teachers in the district. For decades the group has presented an annual scholarship to a graduating senior who plans to become a teacher.
Those seeking the ATH award are asked to complete an application that includes an essay detailing their plans to become a teacher. The scholarship is supported by the membership dues paid by Huntington’s teachers.
Named a Distinguished Senior after compiling an academic grade average of 90 or better during every semester of high school, Ms. Renkewitz is exceptionally well liked by her classmates and teachers.
A member of Huntington’s National Honor Society, Latin Honor Society and Science Honor Society chapters, said she attributes her success to determination and her work ethic. She feels it’s not enough to just complete assignments; she strives to go above and beyond.
Ms. Renkewitz participated in the high school’s Natural Helpers program and she “absolutely loved” it. She was chosen by her classmates and trained to help fellow students as they go about working through challenging and difficult personal and family situations. She said the club has “the most welcoming group of people” where she has made many meaningful connections.
The new Huntington alum said she especially enjoyed the connections she has formed and the community that was developed with teachers and classmates. Ms. Renkewitz took delight in developing a National History Day contest project with her sister, Katie and winning an award.
ATH Founded in 1933 is Still Going Strong
The Associated Teachers of Huntington has long been a staple around the Huntington School District community. The professional organization of teachers today has more than 400 faculty members in its ranks.
Widely known by the acronym ATH, the Associated Teachers of Huntington was founded in 1933 as a social group. For many decades it included all state certificated teachers and administrators, including the superintendent of schools, principals and elementary, junior high school and high school faculty members.
“Shortly after its founding, the ATH expanded its original social purpose to become an all-around professional organization and today is concerned with ethical, financial, welfare, educational and social affairs,” according to a short profile published in 1953 on the occasion of the Town of Huntington’s 300th anniversary.
“To many townspeople the Associated Teachers of Huntington is known for its scholarship activities on behalf of Simpson High School graduates who plan to enter teaching,” states that 1953 profile of the organization. “Two highly successful stage productions in the past two years enable the teachers to present scholarships of $400 annually. This year, a Future Teachers of America group also has been launched by high school seniors under the Association’s sponsorship.”
Huntington High School social studies teacher James Graber is the ATH’s current president. The organization is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, New York State United Teachers and the AFL-CIO.
The ATH had 179 teacher members at the time of the 1953 profile. Today is has well over twice as many faculty members in its ranks.
“The Associated Teachers of Huntington is a member of the Chamber of Commerce; is sponsoring its third evening study course within two years; works with the Board of Education on policies affecting professional personnel and in promoting American Education Week; assists the Service League; and in alternate years maintains a speaker’s bureau to work with town organizations in presenting information about our schools. The Association meets monthly at one of the seven district schools for a social or professional meeting,” according to the 1953 profile.
The ATH is still going strong 88 years after it was founded. The organization negotiates the collective bargaining agreement that the district’s teachers work under. It reaches out into the community through several annual initiatives.