Drum roll please: Uniondale unveils its new field of dreams


The bleachers were packed, the cheerleaders and the marching band strutted down a walkway, and the high school principal was decked out in face paint, fueled by school spirit, as Uniondale High celebrated its brand new artificial-turf football field and track on Monday.

In what school officials described as “an extensive year of construction” the field was built as part of a $158 million bond.

The $3.85 million project was one of the last to be funded by the bond, which was approved by in 2018 and included major allocations for building expansions, new facilities, renovations and other upgrades in schools throughout the district — including a renovated science wing at the high school, modernized gyms, new libraries, and new locker and weight rooms.

The bond was approved after a larger one, for $199 million, was voted down in 2017.

District Superintendent Monique Darrisaw-Akil credited the community for the support that allowed the district to move forward with the new field.

“We want to thank you for being you and coming now and supporting this event,” she said. “We thought that a day like this is historic, and we wanted something historic to recognize the opening of our new Uniondale High School track ad field.”

With blue skies and a hot sun overhead, the celebration reminded everyone that the school year is ending, but student athletes will return in the fall to gleaming new turf and a new track.

Darrisaw-Akil noted that projects of this scale do not get done without a great deal of help from the Board of Education and the members of the Bond Oversight Committee.

“We want to thank these amazing individuals for their service, their guidance over the finances — agreeing to invest the finances so you can have the type of athletic facilities that you deserve,” she said.

The state-of-the-art field, built by Triton Construction and H2M Architects, replaces a grass field that had been in use since 1949. During the construction, the high school football team hosted all of its home games at Cantiague Park, in Hicksville.

The school’s soccer teams will play on the turf field as well.
“This is really, really, really beautiful,” school board president Mary Bediako said. “I never thought Uniondale would have this, and now it’s real. My sincere thanks to you,” she told the attendees, who represented the district community. “You have done a yeoman’s job.”

Bediako also made a plea to those who use the new field to keep it pristine — and not to ride bicycles on the track.

After the 2018 bond was approved, district residents sought to have more involvement in various projects and Barbra Ford, who co-chaired the Bond Oversight Committee noted that the school board “opened up the opportunity in December of 2018 to allow nine community members to be a part of the process.”

The committee comprised co-chair Paul Gibson, Patty Harris, Yvette Janniere-Houlder, Olga Hernandez, May Ellen Kreye, Jeannine Maynard, Eddy Pierrecharles and Laura Wiggins.

“We had the opportunity to tour the buildings when they were just plans on paper,” Ford said, “and we’re so excited to see all of these things come to fruition.”

Though seniors Luis Lizama and Chika Akazi won’t get to compete on the new field and track, they both had positive things about the new facility.

“I’m thankful for all these amazing people for making this happen,” said Lizama, an All-County wrestler and All-State football player who is headed to SUNY Cortland to play football.

“I thank the Lord because I feel so blessed — we finally have a wonderful track for our track team to run on, and with the way our track team is running this season, this is something they really deserve,” said Akazi, an All-American hurdler who will join the track team at the University of Pennsylvania.

District athletic director Peter Cardone boiled it down to the pride a new field generates.

“These kids are going to come out here now — they got the best field by far in all Long Island, and will demonstrate pride,” he said. “They deserve the best, and there is an amazing positive attitude here and environment.”