Historically the month of November is a time for expressing thanks for all we have been given. With the help and support of our families, friends and community partners, the Hudson City School District has many things to be thankful for this year. We have been taking great strides toward our Destination Graduation goals for the past three years. The evidence is shown in our increased graduation rate (over 15% in 3 years*), reading levels, community involvement, event success, and in our students’ Bluehawk pride. We have much more work ahead to raise student achievement to a level we can all be proud of, but we are thankful for the momentum we are gaining and the support we receive from the community.

*2015 graduation rate is embargoed by NYS –  the rate will be made public in 2016.

The education pipeline does not begin and end within the confines of our schools. Our students strive to succeed in high school so that they can continue to learn in the colleges and careers that they choose. With the ever-rising cost of tuition and the economic downturn, it is more important now than ever to join together to make college education an affordable reality for our students. In a small city school district such as ours, with a 68% free and reduced meal rate and a large number of students considered homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act, it is all the more essential for community support.

This is the reason that the Hudson Dollars for Scholars (HDFS) program was formed in 2009. Coincidentally, November is National Scholarship Month, making it even more befitting that we express our gratitude for HDFS. This program raises money for scholarships, hosts programs to help students obtain post-graduate education, and helps families make their way through the financial aid maze. Led by executive committee members, Michelle Bowes, Kathy Clark, Bob Conte, Emily Gaylord, Martha Keeler, Jim Mackerer, Pat Maloy, Elena Mosley, Karen Risch and the Superintendent of Schools, this program has been a major support to Hudson students and families for the past several years. Since its inception, HDFS has awarded $115,050 in scholarships to students.

HDFS held its annual golf tournament on October 4th. Over 100 golfers came out to have some competitive fun and raise funds for scholarships. The outing raised a net profit of just over $8,000. Please join me in in thanking the HDFS program, and the overwhelming support that our community has shown for our students.

The time and effort that our residents, businesses, and committee members put into every fundraiser is not in vain. Our schools are continually building a foundation to guide students in the right direction for them, whether that direction is toward traditional college, trade school, technical training, or an enriching career. The Hudson High School recently held a college fair, attended by many high school seniors. The fair had representation from 25 colleges, and students were eager to speak to representatives to find out what each school had to offer them.

During the college application process, the High School Guidance Office hosts after-school workshops known as “College Tuesdays.” At these weekly sessions, our diligent guidance counselors help seniors apply to colleges online. Navigating the application system and researching various college options can be stressful and confusing, and not all families have access to the web at home. The resources and knowledge that are available to students at these sessions are indispensable. They prepare students well for the journey ahead. Additionally, Gail Wheeler, a certified English teacher, works with students outside of their regular classwork specifically to improve their college essays.

At the Hudson City School District, we know that our impact does not end at high school. Our influence extends throughout our students’ lives, and it permeates through our city, our state, and our world as alumni move away or stay close by to pursue their dreams. One reminder of this came to me while reading a recent article published by Questar III BOCES about one of our former students, Morgan Libruk. Morgan was the valedictorian of her graduating class of 2009 and participated in Questar III’s New Visions: Scientific Research & World Health program. After attending Clarkson University, Morgan has returned to the Capital Region to help others as a licensed surgical Physician’s Assistant (PA). To read the full story, please visit http://news.questar.org/?p=4185.

These inspirations begin from day one, and they are on-going. From the Pre-kindergarten program that we host in our primary school building to the financial aid workshops that the HDFS program holds for families, our students are constantly preparing to step into the real world with confidence, drive, and the desire to keep learning.

Thank you for the endless support that you, as a community, have shown to our students as they strive to succeed. To find out more about the HDFS program, please check out the program’s website at www.hudson.dollarsforscholars.org.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.