The Hudson City School District is having a momentous start to 2016. The District is experiencing a trifecta of success that has led to an immense surge in Bluehawk pride for a variety of reasons, both athletic and academic.

First, our boys and girls varsity basketball teams both won Patroon Conference titles and finished the season with perfect 20-0 records. That alone is reason to celebrate, although it does not stop there. The boys’ team played in the Section II Class B championship game, and for the first time in 42 years Hudson boys’ basketball earned the title of Section II champs. After another win last week, they advanced to the Regional round of the state tournament. It’s a great day to be a Bluehawk, and we are overwhelmed with the amazing support from the community! We can’t thank you enough for your generosity of spirit and the many ways you have rallied around our teams.

Second, voters strongly approved the financing for HCSD’s Capital Project in early February, allowing the district to restructure and make improvements that can benefit students and the entire community. We greatly appreciate everyone who took the time to learn about the project and cast their votes on February 9th. The District will continue to provide ongoing updates on the project’s status through HCSD’s website and newsletters. We look forward to continuing our collaborative work with the City of Hudson and its community members to ensure the end result is a project we can all be proud of.

Lastly, we are extremely proud to announce that as of January 2016, the NYS Education Department has removed HCSD from the “Focus District” list. This means that HCSD, and each of its schools, has been given a designation of “Good Standing” from NYSED. For the first time in over a decade—13 years, to be exact—not one single building in the district was identified as needing improvement or corrective action.

This is an extremely meaningful achievement. The hard work of our faculty, staff, students, parents and community partners cannot be overstated. We could not have accomplished this alone, and we are grateful for the help from our faculty and community partners. Big strides have been made toward academic improvement at HCSD, and the district coming “Out of Focus” is evidence that what we have been doing is beginning to work. Of course, school and district improvement is a process and this process is far from complete.

Building upon the goals set forth for 2013-15 we recently released updated Vision 2020 goals, which can be found on HCSD’s website by clicking on the Destination Graduation link. These goals outline the new benchmarks we will strive to achieve. After exceeding our previous goal to raise the graduation rate to 73% by 2015 (the actual rate for the Class of 2015 was 77%), we raised the bar higher and set a challenging new goal to reach a district graduation rate of 85% by 2020.

One way to accomplish this elevated objective is to ensure that our students are prepared for secondary-level work before they enter 9th grade. We set specific goals for student achievement on state exams, particularly in Math and English/Language Arts. Our target is to have at least 30% of all students meet or exceed scores of Level 3 or higher in these content areas on the Grades 3-8 benchmark exams. Similarly, we are aiming for at least 30% of all students to achieve scores of 75% or higher on ELA and 80% or higher on Math Regents Exams.

These objectives are attainable if students have solid foundations that continue to build throughout grade levels. Another goal is to have an average of 70% or higher of students in Grade 2 meeting or exceeding Fountas & Pinnell reading level expectations. This means that, by 2020, most students should be prepared to succeed in Grade 3 and beyond.

However, academic achievement is only part of a comprehensive education. School is an environment in which students also learn vital life skills related to behavior, coping, working in groups, self-discipline and persistence. The updated Vision 2020 goals also include targets related to the social and emotional development of our students.

Some social-emotional targets are to have 80% or higher of students adhering to the Code of Conduct in each school, as well as 80% or higher of students participating in extracurricular activities, athletics and/or community service activities. These goals are directly related to the skills necessary for our graduates to be successful in their futures, whether they choose the path of college or career. These attributes can help promote appropriate behavior, philanthropy, teamwork and responsibility.

It is worth noting that we do not expect to achieve these goals immediately; however with the continued dedication and support from families, students, community organizations and District staff, these targets are within our reach. We will make every effort to maintain this upward momentum as we move our focus to the future.

Seeing the positive impact your support has had on our basketball teams, we hope to see that Bluehawk enthusiasm carry over into other school activities. Spring sports, concerts and school plays are right around the corner and we hope to see you all there!