Tickets on Sale Now!

Event Details:

  • Early Bird Pricing $110 
  • Regular Pricing
    (after 4/24) $135
  • Real Casino Tables – Blackjack, Poker, Craps and Roulette
  • Beer and Wine Included
  • Theme/Attire – 1920s Speakeasy
  • Cigar Roller
  • Live Band
  • Live and Silent Auction
  • Donations Benefit All Three Hastings Schools

Grants Announcement for 2023 – 2024

HEF announces seven grants for a total of $82,721 for the 2023-24 school year! Learn more about exciting grants coming to our kids’ classrooms this year below. 


Front Playground Fun ($10,000), Kaitlyn O’Sullivan & Tammie Cecere, Creative Play, K-4.
The Building Leadership Team comprised of teachers, parents, students and administrators requested this grant to revamp Hillside’s new front playground blacktop. The goal is to improve learning by providing interactive activities in the form of stencils and striping. Some examples of activities are sensory paths, hopscotch, four square, a basketball court, a hundred chart, maps, etc. This grant will transform the front playground into an exciting display of stencils and striping and make the students’ experience on the front playground more enjoyable both for instruction and at recess time. It will have a large impact benefiting all K-4 students.

Hillside Weather Station ($4,700), Robin Farrell, Science, K & 3. Hillside Elementary School will now become an official Earth Networks weather station, which will allow Hillside to become a community contributor of weather data. This exciting grant from Robin Farrell will expose Kindergarten and 3rd grade students to the excitement and power of weather forecasting and reporting. Students will learn to measure, track, and graph trends in precipitation, temperature, and even cloud cover, deepening their understanding of weather and climate as well as cultivating students’ passion to follow, understand, report, and even actively use the information.



Sweethearts & Heroes ($7,600), Jeanette Kocur & Jennifer Spirelli, Anti-Bullying/ Socio-Emotional Learning, 6-8. The focus of the Sweethearts to Heroes program is to educate society on the impact of bullying, to build empathy and compassion in our youth and teach youngsters to promote bystander empowerment through leadership roles. Following its highly successful implementation at Hillside and the High School last year, the Middle School has enthusiastically requested the expansion of this program, citing exceptional feedback from participating teachers and students. It will provide 6th,7th and 8th graders the opportunity to learn about the power of compassion within human connections and relationships. Bystander empowerment will again be promoted through a mentoring program, in which middle school students will be trained to work with younger students, teaching them the importance of leadership, empathy, and other character skills.



Anodizing Niobium: An Intersectional Exploration of Art and Chemistry ($8,000), Faye Barenfeld & Lorienne Solaski, Science/Art, 9-12. This is a unique cross-disciplinary learning experience between students in Chemistry and Drawing & Painting or Portfolio Development classes. Students in both classes will work collaboratively and creatively, utilizing and teaching each other concepts from both chemistry and art classes, in order to create artwork with a purpose and to help students learn more about the intersection between science, art, and culture.

Improvement and Upgrade to HHS Auditorium Lighting: 2 LED spotlights & training for all new equipment ($11,421), Phyllis Udice, Theater, 5-12. This grant will support much needed improvement to the theater lighting. There has not been an upgrade to the lighting in the theater since 2008. It will not only supply two needed additional spotlights that will advance the performing arts programming for all Hastings theater and music students from grades 5 through 12, but also provide students with the technical training to operate them. The grant allows for two specialists to work with students to train them on the new system. Through their mentorship, students will learn the skills needed to light various productions, both theatrical and musical. The LED lighting system will also provide for a better audience experience, make the theater more energy efficient, and will last for many years to come.



Facing History and Ourselves: Teaching for Equity and Justice Program ($25,000 spread over two years ($11,000 this 23-24 SY), Jenice Mateo-Toledo, History/Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, K-12.
Facing History and Ourselves (FH & O) is an organization that provides professional learning, resources and support to educators, using history in a way that unites equity, social emotional learning, and civics. Following the highly successful launch of this program funded by a grant from HEF last year, the District has made a request for an additional $25,000 over the next two years. This allocation would ensure that every teacher within the district has the opportunity to benefit from this highly regarded program and that the program is scaled throughout the entire district over the course of three years.


Restorative Practices ($30,000), Peter Scotch, Jenice Mateo-Toledo, & Kamillah Dawkins, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion/Socio-Emotional Learning, K-12.  Restorative Practices programming will provide all administrators, faculty, and staff with restorative approaches to managing negative behavior, with a focus on relationships, respect, and the well-being of others. This grant seeks to improve the school climate, strengthen the social-emotional skills of our students, and help to develop empathy and perspective.

Grants Announcement for 2022 – 2023

HEF is excited to announce we have approved 9 grants totaling $63,257 for the 2022-23 school year!

HILLSIDE ES ($13,700) 

  1. A Nod To The Past, A Look Towards the Future ($7,500), Debbie Troop, Gr4, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Project-Based Learning 
  2. Better Understand Fellow Citizens Around the World ($1,700), Dianna Clarke, G2, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 
  3. Hillside Mural Project ($4,500), Ross Abrams, Jenice Mateo-Toledo, Amy Cazes, Michael La Rocco, K-5, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

FMS ($9,200) 

  1. Project Lead The Way ($1,200), Melissa Szymanski, Gr.8, Science/Project Based Learning
  2. Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration: Broadway’s Place in Mainstream Music Today ($3,500) Music/Diversity, Equity, Inclusion 
  3. Programming Club Grant Request ($4,500), Marc Rosner, FMS and HHS (est. 30 students), After School Club 

HS ($3,457.16)

  1. The MiniOne Gel Electrophoresis System ($3,457.16), Christina Gagliardi, Gr 10-12, 80+ students, Science 

ES/HS ($11,900) 

  1. Sweethearts and Heroes ($11.900), Juliann Snyder & Jeanette Kocur, Gr.K-4 & 9-12 Anti-Bullyiing, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion 

DISTRICT ($25,000) 

1. Facing History & Ourselves ($25,000), Melissa Szymanski, K-12 (PD for staff impacting all grades), Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

HILLSIDE ES ($13,700) 

1. A Nod To The Past, A Look Towards the Future ($7,500), Debbie Troop, Gr4 (120 students), Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Project-Based Learning. A Fourth Grade teacher requests funds to bring in Arch For Kids to implement a 9 day new program. Students will have the opportunity to be architects and engineers in training. As designers, they will investigate, compare and contrast the changes in the growth of New York over 5 centuries. They will build and create 3D replicas of buildings and homes from the times of Native Americans directly into the future. They will use their knowledge and imagination to envision what the next century of buildings and structures might look like using green and sustainable design concepts. 

2. Better Understand Fellow Citizens Around the World ($1,700), Dianna Clarke, G2 (120 students), Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 

In the current 2nd grade current curriculum, students learn about rural, suburban and urban communities. The Red Trunk project is different from what is already in place, because in second grade we learn mainly about local communities. We focus on learning about Hastings and other surrounding communities and this would provide a look at cultures beyond our neighbors. This is an initiative through CR-SE and through second grade standards to share similarities and differences with others in their own community and with other communities. 

The Red Trunk Project delivers a trunk full of cultural artifacts from Oaxaca. The trunk includes arts and crafts, clothing, currency and musical instruments. They provide short videos and booklets with photos detailing the lives of children in the culture. These videos and booklets include information about the children’s families, homes, pets, siblings, Children will be able to compare and contrast similarities and differences of their community and culture with children from Oaxaca, Mexico. They will explore and examine different perspectives on childhood in a distant community. The goal is for students to recognize similarities and differences with children far away and better understand their fellow citizens around the world. 

3. Hillside Mural Project ($4,500), Ross Abrams, Jenice Mateo-Toledo, Amy Cazes, Michael La Rocco, K-5, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 

The goal of this grant is to continue a project that has sparked amazing conversations and student participation in the high school and middle school. By inviting students to discuss, design, and paint a new mural for Hillside, we can engage students in important conversations about creating inclusion through public spaces. Working with a professional muralist, student volunteers will have the opportunity to brainstorm the design and core message of the mural and then create a plan for the actual creation of the mural, getting their hands messy and seeing their collective work transform a part of the building right before their eyes! 

FMS ($9,200) 

4. Project Lead The Way ($1,200), Melissa Szymanski, Gr.8, Science/Project Based Learning 

HEF funded 20K last year to bring Project Lead The Way to Hastings so that the District could continue to build on its goal of developing a rigorous, innovative science program and cultivating the success skills that students will need as they move through and beyond the Hastings system. The current facilitator of this course will be leaving the district and we would like to be able to continue this course offering. This will require training a new teacher to facilitate it. 

5. Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration: Broadway’s Place in Mainstrem Music Today ($3,500), all students 5-8 grade, Music/Diversity, Equity, Inclusion 

Last year, teachers in the World Language department shared materials and designed experiences for our school community (district-wide) to celebrate and learn about the diversity of Latinx culture. Shared school-wide experiences provide our students and staff with opportunities to learn about new perspectives which enhance discussions, readings, etc. in mainstream classrooms. Considering new perspectives is an important skill for students to begin developing as they mature into adults who will be living in a more diverse world than the one their parents grew up in. 

This experience is different in that it will expand on our district Hispanic Heritage Month celebration (9/15-10/15). Andres is a world renown Tony, Grammy, and Emmy winner and is one of the best “Crossover” Drummer/Percussionists in the industry. Many hail him as a music prodigy. By the age of 12 Andres was playing over 13 instruments. Inviting him to Hastings will provide our students with a unique opportunity to learn about the world through music and Broadway with the hope of inspiring them to challenge dominant narratives and share their messages with others in unique ways.

6. Programming Club Grant Request ($4,500), Marc Rosner, FMS and HS (est. 30 students), After School Club 

The programming club was started by five students last year with Mr. Rosner as their staff supervisor/advocate. Her explains that “Last Fall, several students approached me to ask if I would advise a newly-forming Programming Club. I explained that club advisors are Schedule B positions; it is a lot of work to properly plan, fund, and supervise a club; and if they had serious interest in a multi-year commitment with numerous members, I would supervise them this year and propose funding for the 2022-2023 school year. They made a thorough proposal, we scrambled to prepare a table at Homecoming, and we have been meeting every Friday in the Science wing. The club is open to Middle School and High School, 30 students have joined.” 

Mr. Rosner asked students what their mission is and got answers like: “I think our mission as a club is to teach coding and promote that idea.” “We can also create cool projects that benefit people, or are just fun.”“To teach programming to children, as well as helping them overcome tech related challenges.” The club seeks a grant to improve their computer hardware and software. “Students have been using their own Chromebooks to date, which is a very rudimentary environment for programming. I think it would be good to invest in a dedicated machine on each platform, such as a touch-screen PC laptop and a MacBook; and perhaps a low-cost 2- or 3D printer and/or interfaced lego/logo or robotics equipment.” 

HS ($3,457) 

7. The MiniOne Gel Electrophoresis System ($3,457.16), Christina Gagliardi, Gr 10-12, 80+ students, Science 

Gel electrophoresis is a biotechnology that is used in genetics labs. We conduct gel electrophoresis labs in AP Biology that allow students to compare DNA between specimens. This is a great experience for high school students who are interested in majoring in biology, or a similar field, in college. Right now, our gel electrophoresis system is clunky and errors occur a lot. There is a large set up that is required by the teachers prior to the lab so students can complete the lab during the 80 minute block. Even with the set up, it can be tricky to have the lab be completed in a block. The MiniOne is a gel electrophoresis system that allows students to complete the set up and run the lab during an 80 minute block. It will save a lot of class time while also providing students with a better understanding of how biotechnology works. Our objective is to maintain the learning experience students gain from completing gel electrophoresis and enhance it by providing them with better technology that allows them to understand the system and process better. Our goal is for students to understand the technology behind gel electrophoresis and the scientific data obtained from it. The genetics elective class also completes a gel electrophoresis lab each semester. Just like in AP Biology, the MiniOne gel electrophoresis system will allow students to complete labs with a better understanding of biotechnology in one class period.

ES/HS ($11,900) 

9. Sweethearts and Heroes ($11.900), Juliann Snyder & Jeanette Kocur, Gr.K-4 & 9-12 (est. 1300 estimate all High School and Hillside students) Anti-Bullying, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion 

The focus of the Sweethearts to Heroes program is to educate society on the impact of bullying, to build empathy and compassion in our youth and teach youngsters to promote bystander empowerment through leadership roles. 

The Sweethearts to Heroes team will begin this program by holding a 90 minute assembly style presentation to present a signature message about the program as a whole. They will then meet with a group of selected student leaders (20 being an optimal number ), and provide a three (3) hour training session for them. The training session will enable these students to push into elementary school classrooms for three (3) 30 minute sessions with the younger students. Part of the sessions will include culture building circles – which provide students with a foundational vehicle for communicating, connection and building community and a sustained culture of compassionate empathy. This program provides the opportunity for students to learn to reach out to others on a social emotional level and begins to instill core leadership values to its leaders. By using the art of play, modern brain science and various SEL practices, students will use the power of connection, acceptance and behavior modeling to begin to foster a growth mindset through collaborative student practice as well as working towards building a support network. 

The program also is a mentoring program for our High Schools students to work with our Elementary students. It empowers our high school students to teach and support our younger students’ leadership, empathy, bullying, and other character skills.

DISTRICT ($25,000) 

10. Facing History and Ourselves (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion), $25,000, Melissa Szymanski (K-12) 

As indicated in our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy, we are committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive learning environment where all students, especially those currently and historically marginalized, feel safe, included, supported, welcomed and accepted, and experience a sense of belonging and academic success. Research shows that all students benefit when schools implement strong diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”) policies and practices. These benefits include academic, cognitive, civic, social-emotional, and economic. This is true regardless of a school’s geographic location or the demographic composition of its students and staff. 

Facing History and Ourselves (FH & O) is an organization that provides professional learning, resources and support to educators, using history in a way that unites equity, social emotional learning, and civics. Key members of the Hastings faculty, including administrators, the district-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator, social studies department chairperson, English department chairperson, and teachers from both departments, are advocating to partner with this organization. We would be pursuing their Teaching For Equity and Justice professional learning offering. 

This offering would include training for Administrators, up to six workshops for a maximum of 75 members of the broader faculty focused on (a) establishing brave space for an adult-learning journey centering equity, (b) history, race, and educational equity, (c) critical consciousness for equity-based work, and (d) building teacher efficacy and student agency, and workshops for social studies and ELA faculty. Additionally, this learning offering would include follow-up meetings, access to the FH & O on-demand learning center, and department consultation.Curricular resources would include teaching strategies, case studies and unit guides, current events, and a “community matters” unit. 

The Superintendent has worked with this organization his organization is known throughout the region by those who are heavily involved in DEI efforts. They have a top quality staff and a great record. Bill has partnered with them in Chicago, Cleveland, and Boston with great success. This has come from the inside out, as some of our teachers have received training through Facing History. Their work has included a focus on the Holocaust as well as race and gender. This grant would be for a more systemic approach. use and teach history in a way that unites equity, social emotional learning, and civics.