A winning hockey team, cheering fans and teachers prepping for their next class are what Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway officials envision with the grand opening of the school’s second sports complex in less than five years last Sunday.
The 8,000-square-foot HAFTR High School Glaubach Family Student Center not only has bleachers for 400 and a court with basketball hoops and a penalty box for floor hockey, but also a 243-inch screen with internet capability for videoconferencing. There are also locker rooms and restrooms.
Upstairs is a teachers’ lounge and a prep room, along with conference space. Space will also be carved out for students to broadcast the hockey that will most likely be live-streamed. The project cost about $1.1 million.
“Basketball will be played here during gym, floor hockey can be played here, and we will host College Night and science fairs, all school events,” said an excited Yaron Kornblum, a HAFTR parent who is co-chair of the school’s board of trustees, as he took a Herald reporter on a tour. “Our high school is growing by leaps and bounds. This is an awesome opportunity for us.”
Kornblum also helped shepherd HAFTR’s first sports complex into existence in the summer of 2012. That 7,500-square-foot building, on the Lawrence campus, is connected to the building that houses its lower and middle schools. The basketball teams play there, and, using money from the fundraising for that project, a new floor was installed in the middle school’s old gymnasium, and lighting was upgraded.
The new sports complex, on the high school campus in Cedarhurst, will be home to the floor hockey team. Like the Lawrence complex, it is attached to the existing high school building. The brick walls of the older structure give an old-fashioned look to a state-of-the-art facility.
“Our enrollment is trending upward, and we started to feel that with that growth we needed more space,” said Executive Director Reuben Maron. “We can offer a lot more educational opportunity, from Advanced Placement to special remedial courses.”
Maron said that enrollment is expected to be 400 next fall, and described the incoming ninth-grade class as “very large.” The old high school gym, a cramped space in a downstairs room, is slated to become a science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, laboratory.
Athletic Director Joey Hoenig said that if high school sports fans had never watched a floor hockey game, as played by the HAFTR Hawks — and their rivals in the Metropolitan Yeshiva High School Hockey League, including Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High Schools for Boys in Woodmere — they should. The games are exciting and the fans passionate, he said.
“This is great for the [sports] program,” Hoenig said of the new sports complex, “and gives HAFTR so much more flexibility, and gives the hockey program an amazing home.”
Keeping classes small and offering the courses that students need to succeed are HAFTR’s goals, Maron said. “Now we’re able to spread out, and that helps to build toward success in a school like ours,” he said. “They key is offering the best possible education.”