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Hudson teacher buoyant after students’ maritime victory


HUDSON–Cardboard boats set sail over very real water in a project involving Hudson and Ichabod Crane high schools. Kamrul Hassan, student representative to the Hudson City School District Board of Education, reported this event at the board’s November 7 meeting.

Jack Beyer, the technology teacher whose students built the boats and paddled them across the Hudson High School swimming pool, gave more details after the meeting.

The boat project resulted from collaboration between Mr. Beyer, who teaches Transportation Systems at Hudson High School (HHS), and Cole Moon, who teaches the equivalent at Ichabod Crane High School. Transportation Systems includes land, water and air transportation. For the water unit, Mr. Beyer reported, Mr. Moon approached him with the proposal that their classes construct boats and race them across the HHS pool. Ichabod Crane has no pool of its own.

Mr. Beyer and Mr. Moon decided that the students would design and construct boats—big and strong enough to hold two students with paddles but made of only cardboard, duct tape, Elmer’s glue, and recyclable bottles. Each of Mr. Beyer’s two Transportation Systems classes built two boats. Mr. Moon’s students built five boats. The students had to engineer the boats to respond correctly to steering by paddle in pool water, while to staying afloat and carrying their paddlers.

Unlike commercial vessels, the boats could not be tested before the day of the Hudson-Ichabod Crane meet. The water would make the cardboard unusable.

When ready, Hudson’s four boats met Ichabod Crane’s five boats at the HHS pool. The match consisted of five heats, each consisting of a Hudson boat and an Ichabod Crane boat sailing across the pool, each paddled by two students from its respective school, each trip timed. The fifth heat was between the boats that had the fastest times in the first four heats. Hudson won three of the first four races, as well as the final one, Mr. Beyer reported.

After one afternoon of racing, the boats became too waterlogged to sail again. But they had served their purpose. The spring semester will have more Transportation Systems classes. Mr. Beyer and Mr. Moon hope to repeat the project, this time with a third school joining.

The November 7 board meeting began with presentations about the curriculum at Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School (MCS). Principal Mark Brenneman reported renewed attention to science and social studies, which he said had been neglected with recent emphasis on ELA (English language arts) and math. Meanwhile, from the 2013-14 to the 2015-16 school year, the proportion of students needing official discipline dropped by 29%.

This year MCS has grades 3-5 and is called an “Intermediate School.” But plans call for it to expand within a few years to include grades from kindergarten through 5th. “I can’t wait,” Mr. Brenneman said, indicating that with more grades the school would be more “holistic” and connected to the community.

To accommodate the extra grades, MCS will need an addition. John Sharkey of Rhinebeck Architecture showed elevations and three-dimensional models of how the school will look after the addition. Originally planned as all one story, the addition will now include a second story as well as a new one-story component. This will leave more room for playgrounds, access roads, and parking. Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2017.

“The newest plan has answered all our concerns,” said Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier. “We have our academic space. I’m really excited.”

The MCS addition is part of a district-wide construction project that will include new High School athletic facilities. A new brick walkway will lead to the athletic facilities, and a class will “sell” bricks for it , Dr. Suttmeier announced. Each person who pays for a brick can have a name printed on it.

Also at this week’s meeting:

• Board member Linda Hopkins spoke of the need for girl athletes to get as much community recognition as boy athletes

• Kamrul Hassan and Dr. Suttmeier reported the school had held the first lunch at which a local person told students about his or her career path. There will be two more of these lunches this semester and three next semester

• Dr. Suttmeier said that Jeff Hunt, president of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, expressed an interest in partnering with the school district.

The next Hudson City School Board meeting will be Monday, November 21 at the Hudson Junior High School Library. It will begin with a curriculum workshop at 6 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 7 p.m.

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