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HAFTR Highlights

HAFTR students succeed in varied scholarly competitions


HAFTR High School has continued to sustain its wide array of clubs, teams and student activities, integral components of the HAFTR High experience. Students have been exceptionally creative and successful in maintaining the activities in a safe manner.

Students made an impressive showing in this year’s Al Kalfus Long Island Math Fair. The math fair offered students an opportunity to explore a specific topic outside the realm of the traditional required math courses. Students adapted to the virtual format by recording their presentations and submitting their research papers electronically.

Eight HAFTR students were awarded medals for their sophisticated work. Senior Gabriel Kurlander and junior Ethan Rabinowitz received gold medals; juniors Devorah Gottesman, Lulu Morse, and Emily Vaysman earned silver medals; senior Matthew Mizrahi and juniors Shirly Gottlieb and Luca Lemberger received bronze medals. The students were mentored by Matthew Alt, chair of the high school’ math department. Congratulations to all on their outstanding research!

The robotics team competed in the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education Vex Robotics League competition, including more than 20 schools across the tri-state area. After months of designing, building and programming the robots with original code, students tested their abilities at the exciting event on April 26.

The competition involved the robots lifting Vex balls and placing them in hoops. Senior Tanchum Yonk earned the high score for his team. Senior Jacob Weinstein and junior Shirly Gottlieb earned the high score for their team. Though the competition’s final results are not yet available, the students displayed extraordinary success in their initiative, creativity and collaboration.

HAFTR High hosted the first-ever Varsity Model Congress Invitational on April 21, for the highest achieving competitors of the South Shore Speech & Debate League.

Thirty-seven students who placed in the top six at any of the previous seven tournaments during the season were invited to compete in this selective event. The tournament was attended by students from 13 schools, including Central, DRS, Flatbush, HAFTR, Katz (FL), Lynbrook, Ma’ayanot, MTA, Rambam, Ramaz, SAR, SKA and TABC.

This 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 sentencing juveniles as adults, regulating rent-to-own transactions, minimum wage, animal testing in cosmetics, the Covid-19 Task Force, equal opportunity in schools and voting rights for felons.

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.

Two judges per round ranked each student’s performance.
Sophomore Kira Seidel and me placed second. Senior Daniel Singer and junior Devorah Gottesman finished fourth and junior Hannah Goldenberg and freshman Kaitlyn Pollack took fifth place. The efforts made by HAFTR competitors clearly paid off, as evident by their impressive performances.

Competing in the last tournament of my high school career, I realized how fundamental Debate and Model Congress have been in shaping me as a person.

In these past four years, I have honed my critical thinking skills and grown into a more persuasive, confident and effective communicator, instilled with an expanded worldview, a passion for politics and a voice to effect positive change in the world.

Congratulations to the winners and the competitors who qualified for this event for their hard work, enthusiasm, and dedication. The HAFTR team is looking forward to next year’s season, which is sure to be just as competitive and passion-filled.