April is National Volunteer Month, and April 18-22 is Public School Volunteer Week. This is a time to recognize volunteers—those who donate their time to benefit others. Our school district needs funding to operate, of course, but it also benefits from all the community volunteers that help make things possible by donating their time to support the district and its programs.

The 2015-16 school year has certainly been a memorable one so far, with numerous achievements within the Hudson City School District. These past few months have brought Bluehawk Pride to the surface in ways we never imagined.

An entire community, and even the surrounding areas, rallied behind our boys’ varsity basketball team and breathed new life into our athletics program. On behalf of HCSD, I want to thank everyone who posted, tweeted, traveled, donated, bought tickets, made signs, took photos, wrote stories, hosted dinners, broadcasted and cheered. Honestly, we cannot thank the community enough for all the things you have done for our team and our school spirit.

And now the Hudson High School Robotics Team has qualified to compete in the F.I.R.S.T. Robotics Championship in St. Louis, Missouri where they will face teams from all over the world. Until now, many did not know that HHS had a robotics team. After a post we made on social media, the Robotics Team’s story was shared almost 400 times and seen by more than 15,000 people. It is safe to say that people know about the STEM-focused team now!

As a result of the rallying support from our community and beyond, including a generous grant from the Galvan Foundation, the HHS Robotics Team was able to achieve their fundraising goal. I also extend deep gratitude to those who helped the team reach their goal, either by donating to the team or by simply sharing the story to increase exposure.

The donations and support from the community for an academic team is refreshing and enlightening. It demonstrates that one does not need to be an all-star athlete to be a champion. As one student put it, this is a sport of the mind. Afterall, all HCSD students are Bluehawks.

Which brings me to the main point of this month’s column: public school volunteers. It is worth noting that not all support is financial. In fact, part of the reason our Robotics Team has developed so well is because of Bilal Salaam, a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who volunteers his time to help the team write the coding that makes the robot work.

The Hudson Reads program relies on volunteers to serve as reading mentors for our students at M.C. Smith Intermediate School. Similarly, the Hudson Children’s Book Festival is such a success due in large part to the volunteers who help organize, set up, and run the event. The free breakfast at the Elks Lodge prior to the festival is also made possible by volunteers. Volunteers are needed for this year’s festival, which is taking place on Saturday, May 7th. If you are interested in volunteering for this special event, please send an email to hcbf@hudsoncityschooldistrict.com.

The members of the John L. Edwards PTA volunteer their time to organize events such as the recent Prince Ball and Princess Ball. This was the first year these events took place, and they were so successful they will surely become an annual occurrence. Parent volunteers will also play a role on Spring Picture Day at JLE (Friday, April 22nd). They will move children through the picture line, comb their hair and help them fill out the order forms so our Little Hawks can look their best for their school photos. HOPE is a similar organization that hosts events for students at MCSIS.

Without school and parent volunteers, Hudson Jr./Sr. High School’s spring musical production would not have had the elaborate costumes and set pieces that brought Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” to life in our auditorium.

Public school volunteers help sustain our district in the arts, athletics and academics. The Booster Club supports our sports and extracurricular activities. Many of our students benefit from tutoring provided by volunteers from community groups and the Afterschool program.

Members of Hudson CSD’s Board of Education are also public school volunteers. The men and women who sit on our school board do not serve for money, but instead because they have a desire to support and help guide the school district in accomplishing its goals.

The generosity of our parent and community volunteers is something we hope will be carried on by our students. As mentioned in my March column, our updated Vision 2020 goals include a target of 80% or higher of students participating in extracurricular activities, athletics and/or community service activities. We encourage our students to embrace the value of volunteering, and we thank all of our volunteers–past and present–for setting the example for our students.

These are just a few examples of the great events and programs made possible by our volunteers. I wish I could list each one individually but that would take up every page. From the Hudson City School District, thank you again to all who have donated, volunteered, or supported our students and our programs in any way.

In closing, I would like to remind the residents of HCSD of the budget vote on Tuesday, May 17th. Residents will vote on the proposed 2016-17 budget, as well as three open seats for the Board of Education. Anyone interested in being a member of our School Board should contact the District Clerk at 828-4360 ext. 2100 for information about nominating petitions.

To learn more about this year’s proposed budget as well as the BOE vacancies, visit www.hudsoncityschooldistrict.com and click on the “Budget Information” link.