Sleepy Hollow’s Own "West Wing", It’s a $66,000,000 Hit

With lots of pomp and fanfare, officials inaugurated the recently completed west-front addition to Sleepy Hollow High School during a ceremony on March 2.

Officials presiding over the ceremony included Superintendent Dr. Howard Smith, Board of Education President Joseph Lillis, Sleepy Hollow Mayor Phillip Zegarelli, Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell, U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Dist. 18) and State Sen.

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Alex Gonzalez, high school student government president, and Kyle McGovern, middle school student government president, along with superintendent Howard Smith.

Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Dist. 35).

"School buildings make a prominent statement in every community about the value its citizens place upon education," Smith said to a crowd of about 100 people while he stood on the front steps of the building on a windy, but sunny, blue-skied day.

"What we see here today is the result of citizens in our community acknowledging that our 50-year-old building could no longer offer students everything they need from a middle school and a high school. Because of their willingness to step up and do something about it, our building is being transformed into a first-class 21st-century school facility and leaves no mistake in anyone’s mind about the importance of education in this community."

Zegarelli acknowledged that people can be critical at times about the cost of education. "Think of the cost of not educating," Zegarelli said. "It’s time that the facility was brought into the level that it currently is at, and we have to understand that you do have to fund; you do have to spend money for good education." When the entire project at the site has been completed, the Board of Education will have spent $66 million.

Meanwhile, Fixell said the addition was a testament to the community’s commitment to a "first-rate school system."

The occasion also included Alex Gonzalez, president of the high school student government, and Kyle McGovern, president of the middle school student government. "I’m happy to see my parents’ tax dollars actually go to something so promising," Gonzalez said to laughter in the audience.

McGovern reminded the audience that students attended classes in the midst of all the construction. "We are extremely eager to see the final outcome when the picture of this beautiful school will become a reality."

After the speeches, members of the high school band played "America the Beautiful" and then played "The Star Spangled Banner" as a member of the VFW hoisted the American flag for the first time. Then, Smith, Gonzalez and McGovern cut a red ribbon on the top step in front of the doors leading into the school.

Inside, residents were treated to sandwiches, cookies and refreshments while student tour guides showed the new classrooms to parents in the community. "I think it’s beautiful," Robert Ruppel, a Sleepy Hollow resident, said in an admittedly unscientific survey of the community. "It was money well spent," he said. Ruppel has a child who is a junior at the high school.

Meanwhile, Spanish teacher Edual Collado was similarly impressed. Will he be teaching inside a brand new classroom? "Unfortunately not," Collado said. The new rooms are for science, math, social studies and English classes.

Allaire Primiano, a senior at the school, also liked the renovations. "It’s better now," she said.

"It’s disappointing we won’t get the new gym; the new locker rooms," Primiano added, referring to the Class of 2008, which graduates in the spring.

The new gymnasium will be occupied by middle school students for the remainder of the year while renovations continue on the rest of the building. The new auditorium is expected to be completed this May. And the cafeteria renovation will be conducted over the summer.

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About the Author: Brett Freeman