Highland Foundation hosts Spring Gala

By Mark Reynolds
Posted 5/4/22

On April 23 the Highland Educational Foundation sponsored a Spring Gala at Novella’s in New Paltz. Their Facebook page states that the Foundation, “assists with fundraising efforts that …

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Highland Foundation hosts Spring Gala

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On April 23 the Highland Educational Foundation sponsored a Spring Gala at Novella’s in New Paltz. Their Facebook page states that the Foundation, “assists with fundraising efforts that support projects that will educate the whole child: physically, socially, emotionally, and academically.”

About $7,500 was raised that will be used by teachers to update a chemical inventory system, create a sensory/mindfulness space, to study the biodiversity of a nearby steam, build up an existing typing program, make a mobile cabinet to be used in the STEAM program, buying supplies for an after school Art Club and for purchasing snowshoeing equipment, also for an after school program.

The Spring Gala also inducted three community members into the Husky Hall of Fame; two alumni Lenny Auchmoody and Peter Miller and retired teacher Pattie Steffens who received this year’s Huskie Pride award.

The school’s website notes that the Hall of Fame, “was created four years ago to recognize the achievements of accomplished alumni and dedicated faculty and staff of the Highland Central School District and to inspire today’s students to do great things with their education. As in the past, this year’s honorees display an impressive level of commitment to the Highland community.”

The website touted the achievements of the honorees.

“Peter Miller, Class of 1971, is the District’s Director of Operations and Maintenance and also serves as the Fire Chief of the Highland Fire District. Miller embodies everything that makes for a good community member—he likes to get things done, he likes to keep things looking good, and he cares a lot about people. He is also involved with the Lloyd Police Department, the Lloyd Town Planning Board, the Highland Town Water and Sewer Committee, and with school sports teams and Girl Scout troops.”

“Lenny Auchmoody serves as a Councilman and is Deputy Supervisor for the Town of Lloyd. He has been a member of the American Legion for 48 years and also has served as a member of the Highland Landing Committee, where he played a large part in the development of Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park. As the owner of Leonard Auchmoody & Sons, he donated the use of a host of heavy equipment to help transform what had been a vast yard for oil storage tanks into the pristine, family-oriented park we see today. Lenny has also worked as a member of the Water & Sewer Committee in Highland, and was a part of the Highland Rail Trail Association, which was responsible for the redevelopment of the former railway into the highly popular walkway so many local residents enjoy.”

“Pattie Steffens has been a fixture in Highland Schools since she was hired as a Spanish teacher in 1987. Over her many years of service, she taught Spanish and French at the Middle and High Schools, and is known for her lively foreign language classes (which at one point, after a trip to Argentina, even included tango lessons). She has led adventurous trips all over Canada, Spain, France, and Italy. After her retirement in 2010, she continued to serve the Highland community as a translator who helps with parent communications. Working with students in Highland High School’s Interact Club, along with District cafeteria staff and the Highland Senior Center, Pattie facilitated 10 years of the ‘Senior Citizen Prom’, and she looks forward to continuing the popular event. She also started the “Love Out Loud” award in memory of her daughter Alicia, who tragically died in a car accident, and has since given out more than $21,000 in scholarship money to graduating Highland students.”

In a subsequent interview with the honorees, Auchmoody recalled being notified by phone about the honor at 10:30 a.m. on February 14. He was driving behind a trailer loaded with a race car owned by his son Willy as part of the Money Team, on their way to Daytona, “and I’m crying like a baby.” He said February 14 would have been his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife Linda, who passed in 2021.

Auchmoody said he was humbled by the honor.

“I’ve done a lot, I will admit that, but I didn’t think it was enough to be honored like this,” he said.

Steffens said she was about to enter First Care when she got the call.

“I was shocked to get the phone call but I’m really almost without words. Highland has been so wonderful and has honored me at other times for different things, so I was surprised [and] I am very touched,” she said.

Miller joked about the honor, saying, “they probably ran out of candidates after Lenny [but] I do what I do not for the recognition but I do it because it needs to get done. I have a work ethic that I got from my father on the farm and community service is about somebody doing something right. I’ve never done anything in the Fire Department or at the school that’s about me; it’s basically that we’re trying to improve the environment and the community, that’s my goal.”

Superintendent Joel Freer said each year the Foundation decides how the money they raise will be spent; in prior years it was for playground equipment and automatic bottle fillers.

“It’s a nice showing tonight and it is a really great community event,” he said.

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