Students and teachers at the Hudson City School District are preparing to close out the first semester of the school year. Although we have many attendance days still ahead of us, the past several weeks have shown a good start to the year.

School staff have issued more than 20 positive referrals to high school students so far, and they are looking to exceed the number of positive referrals given in 2016-17. The idea behind positive referrals, which were also introduced at the Junior High School in December, is to acknowledge students who exhibit exceptional Bluehawk behavior such as being courteous, helping or mentoring others, and helping people in the community. The Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports program (PBIS) similarly rewards students in grades K-12 with tickets that can be used for special activities or items at the school stores. These initiatives are important to giving recognition to students who serve as positive examples for others.

We have also seen promising student attendance numbers during the first semester. The average daily attendance for all grades at Hudson Senior High School (9-12) was 94 percent. Tenth grade even saw 100% attendance one day in November. The average daily attendance at John L. Edwards Primary School (K-1) was 93%, with 22 children who have perfect attendance so far. The first semester student attendance rates for M.C. Smith Intermediate School (2-5) and Hudson Junior High School (6-8) were both about 96 percent. These numbers are admirable but we have work to do to improve and maintain them.

Since missing just two school days per month can have negative impacts on academic performance, starting as early as kindergarten, we hope to continue improving student attendance through the spring. In order to do that, we will continue working with families and the community to reduce absences and truancy across all grade levels.

New York State launched an initiative to help parents improve their children’s attendance. Visit to see tips for encouraging your student to attend school every day. You can help boost your child’s confidence, keep your child on track with school work, keep your child healthy, and learn ways to help your child deal with bullies. You can also contact the main office of your child’s school to discuss individual concerns and strategies for improving your child’s attendance.

With winter recess approaching quickly, I’d like to leave you with a few tips on how to help our students maintain their academic progress when they’re not in school. The following suggestions come from Scholastic’s “Winter Break Reading Challenge,” and can be used with students of all ages:

  • Read an age-appropriate book and watch the movie to compare/contrast (e.g., “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg, “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card, “Holes” by Louis Sachar, “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel)
  • Discover 3 cool facts about a favorite author
  • Read a book from a new author, a new genre or a new series
  • Read books to a younger cousin, sibling, friend or pet
  • Talk about reading 3 different times with 3 different people

On behalf of the HCSD, I wish you a safe, warm winter recess and a healthy, happy new year. If you make one New Year’s resolution, please consider making school attendance a priority in your family. We are looking forward to recharging and returning to school in January, ready to get back to work and finish the school year strong.