Welcome back, HAFTR High School! Hoping everyone had a relaxing and safe winter vacation. With snow days and quarantines behind us, we are already back in the swing of things.
HAFTR recently celebrated Health Week, focusing on educating and engaging students in physical and mental health programs. Starting on Feb. 9, students took part in activities promoting exercise and physical well-being. Girls took exciting Zumba classes on that Tuesday, while boys experienced “boot camp” style activities instructed by Warren Levi on Feb. 11.
On Feb. 10, there was Sharsheret Pink Day, an annual, worldwide initiative dedicated to breast cancer awareness. Students and faculty donned pink for the day to show support for Sharsheret, an organization that has provided support and educational outreach to members of our community.
Rachel Hillman, a breast cancer survivor, spoke about her experience and the resources, information and community that Sharsheret offers.
Students also viewed a video of breast cancer survivors describing Sharsheret’s support that also targets survivors’ families. Throughout the day, HAFTR sold pink masks, Sharsheret apparel and raffle tickets to win various prizes. HAFTR High is proud to have raised more than $2,000 for Sharsheret.
On Feb. 12, HAFTR marked Mental Health Awareness Day, focused on breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness and giving students the tools to maintain their mental health as a crucial component of their overall wellness.
Students wore green to display their support for the initiative and the well-being of their peers. We are currently in the Hebrew month of Adar, in which we learn one can attain a higher level of simcha (happiness). Rabbi Yisachar Blinder spoke to the student body about self-care and self-awareness being critical keys in unlocking happiness.
In a special video presentation, students and faculty shared their associations with mental health and the self-care techniques that they practice regularly. Though HAFTR observes Health Week annually, this year’s programs were even more poignant as the pandemic has highlighted the importance of maintaining one’s physical and mental well-being.
HAFTR hosted another successful virtual Model Congress tournament on Feb. 10, attended by over 50 students from schools including SAR, DRS, Ramaz, Rambam, Lynbrook, Katz Yeshiva High School, Yeshiva of Flatbush, The Idea School, and Ezra Academy. T
his unique event allows students to assume our elected officials' responsibilities and attempt to address our nation’s most pressing issues while honing their argumentative and public-speaking abilities.
Students debated mock-legislation on controversial issues including required compensation for Division I college athletes, elimination of the Senate filibuster and the race question on college applications, enhanced education programs for homeless individuals, elimination of the “Death Tax,” termination of American military aid to governments committing genocide and construction of a high-speed rail system connecting all major cities.
Before the tournament, HAFTR competitors, under the guidance of coach Alexander Libkind, researched and analyzed the proposed legislation’s benefits and weaknesses in preparation for the speeches, questions and deliberations.
Each student’s performance was ranked by two judges per round. Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito and playwright Jeremy Kareken, of Broadway’s “Lifespan of a Fact,” graciously helped judge sessions.
In first place, Abby Rabinowitz (HAFTR), Lulu Morse (HAFTR) and Daniel Singer (HAFTR) tied with a score of four. Second place was awarded to Josh Shain (SAR) with a score of seven. In third place, AJ Solinsky (HAFTR), Kaitlin Pollack (HAFTR), Ari Zelefsky (DRS), Sarah Silverman (Ramaz) and me tied with a score of eight.
HAFTR’s competitors efforts clearly paid off, as evident by their impressive performances. Congratulations to the winners and all of the competitors who prepared extensively, competed enthusiastically and stepped out of their comfort zones while engaging in this unique experience.