Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway High School enthusiastically opened its doors to the new school year on Sept. 5. Returning from summer vacation, students met the first day ready to embrace new challenges and experiences. High school students did return the day before school’s official opening, as freshmen acclimated themselves to the building and as upperclassmen attended their respective orientation programs.
HAFTR also welcomed the new school year with its annual PTA Back to School carnival on Sept. 15. Families enjoyed a day of activities, games and inflatables to kick off the new year. HAFTR also dedicated a Sefer Torah to celebrate the completion of its new Torah. HAFTR students, teachers families and faculty danced on Frost Lane and through the middle school with the new Torah. It was a truly special and memorable way to begin the new school year.
The annual freshman retreat was a huge success as the students traveled to the Poconos, for a fun-filled day of white-water rafting and other exciting activities. This was a perfect opportunity for students to bond and form new friendships.
With the High Holidays beginning at the end of September, students will have roughly a full month of school to settle into new schedules and adjust to new classes. Although we welcome the holidays whenever they fall, this year does make for easier transitions compared to years when we had just a few days of school and then nearly a month off.
It is the Hebrew month of Elul, which is the period of preparation for our upcoming High Holy Days. During this time, we add certain prayers and hear the sounds of the shofar in to begin repentance for the holidays that follow in the month of Tishrei.
Elul is also a time of self-reflection and growth. As our preparation for the new Jewish year coincides with the beginning of the new school year, HAFTR students might also want to think about how to approach the new school year and how we could use the year to reach our full potential. Perhaps we’d like to set new goals, get involved in new activities or work on better study habits. The new year gives students a clean slate to shape the year ahead on academic, personal, social and spiritual levels.
As we embark on this new school year together, I am sure the year will prove to be both challenging and exciting. To the freshmen: I have no doubt you will quickly navigate and adjust to the demands of high school; to the sophomores: I am sure you are happy to no longer be the new kids in town; to the juniors: APs, ACTs, SATs, how about a “NAP!” To the seniors: as this is your last high school back to school, savor the moment and enjoy! Wishing you a wonderful year as you complete your college applications and await hearing from colleges, yeshivas and seminaries.
I hope you all get into the college of your choice and wish you the best of luck. To all my fellow HAFTR High School students, despite our rigorous schedules, I know we will surely succeed in our endeavors. I am excited to share the 2019-2020 school year and all its opportunities with you all!
Mastour is a junior at HAFTR High School.