Hudson City School District administrators, teachers and staff prepared for the new school year by reflecting on where we were and where we are but, more importantly, we envisioned where we want to be.

Our district is finally designated by the New York State Education Department as a District in “Good Standing” and last year was one for the history books. It was the most eventful and unforgettable year the HCSD has had in recent memory, both academically and athletically.

A revived school spirit reached far into the community and across state lines. The support from our community was stronger than we had seen in many years. The generous donations of funds, time and talent reached far beyond our wildest imagination and we are deeply grateful. Everywhere we went, we heard the supportive cheer, “Go Bluehawks!” And, go we did.

We have made significant progress toward our Destination Graduation goals with the highest graduation rate in well over a decade, as well as positive gains in reading levels and most test scores. It is fair to say that the HCSD is on the move upward and though there are challenges ahead, we have every intention of continuing the momentum.

There is always a great sense of excitement and opportunity as we embark on a new school year. Thankfully, teaching is one of the rare professions where we get a clean slate every year, and that brings hope and possibility. That is especially true this year. This is the first time in many years that we are opening our doors not designated by the state for anything. This year we are truly beginning with a clean slate and for the first time in a long time we face the future unencumbered by negative labels.

Just as our championship athletic teams achieved their success through teamwork, this accomplishment was also a cooperative effort. It took a great deal of planning, determination and most of all, teamwork in every building at every level, as well as coordination with our community partners.

We don’t want to talk only about the past or just about this school year. We want to focus on the next four years and beyond. We want to focus on our future as a district on the rise.

The HCSD continues to partner with the Berkshire Union Free School District to provide eligible students with an alternative high school setting at The Bridge. This year, we are very excited to also partner with Bard College to offer eligible high school students an additional opportunity to gain college credits alongside their high school credits. Both of these innovative programs are housed at the newly renovated Warren Street Academy.

In addition to academic opportunities, we are expanding opportunities in the area of sports. For the first time, HCSD will be partnering with the Taconic Hills Central School District to offer wrestling to interested high school students.

Thanks to the efforts of the entire Hudson community over the past few years, the HCSD is well-positioned to succeed even though we still have mountains ahead of us to prepare each of our students for the world they will inherit. The future that we are educating them for is already far, far different from the world in which we were educated.

So, how will we prepare balanced global citizens with a heart for servant leadership in an increasingly secular, internationalized, technology driven, fast changing world? The short answer is that a lot of the work that needs to be done to prepare our students for college and careers in the future is already happening in our schools. One example is our investment in tablets and Chromebooks for all of our students, in grades K–12, to use as learning tools (as part of our 2016-17 approved budget).

Our focus on the future includes high academic expectations coupled with equally high expectations for the social-emotional growth and well-being of our students. Our Destination Graduation: Vision 2020 goals are clear, our expectations are high and our resolve has never been stronger. I look forward to continuing our teamwork, working to tend to the growing minds and hearts entrusted to our care this coming year.

Every member of our Bluehawk team has our gratitude and full support as we strive to guide each and every one of our students on a pathway to academic and career success—to teach them to be human and to prepare them for what lies ahead. Let’s go Bluehawks!