Roughly 100 people gathered around Malverne High School’s new performing arts center for its ribbon-cutting last Saturday. The ceremony, which was part of the high school’s Homecoming festivities, included faculty and staff members from the past and present.
“This day is a dream come true and the moment we’ve all been waiting for,” Principal Dr. Vincent Romano said. “This upgrade provides our students with state-of-the-art facilities that will nurture our future musicians, artists and scientists to reach their full potential. Today marks a new opportunity to enrich the lives and minds of many generations today and into the future.”
Last summer, the district Board of Education broke ground on the new wing. The project, which was approved by community voters as a special bond referendum in 2016 for $19.7 million, also includes a STEM lab and multipurpose instructional spaces. Michael Messina, the district’s chairman of music and fine arts, said it all started with a conversation in the hallway outside the old high school band room with Superintendent Dr. James Hunderfund several years ago.
“He believed that visual and performing arts are a vital and non-negotiable part of Malverne High School education,” Messina said. “As you enter and tour the building today, you will see that we have worked to build a facility that is worthy of the students who will be educated in it.”
Messina added that Malverne’s alumni have their fingerprints on every brick of the new building. Messina told people about their efforts during the choir’s late-night musical rehearsals, the hanging of 1,500 pieces of artwork for the annual district art show and when they traveled to compete in numerous choir festivals.
Hunderfund, who worked at nine different school districts during his career, said that no district is more deserving of new facilities than Malverne. “In the words of our former principal Mr. James Brown, ‘You know what, why not for our kids? If it’s good enough for kids on the North Shore, why not us?’” Hunderfund said. “You don’t have a better set of teachers and administrators any place else on the planet.”
Hunderfund added that none of this could be done without district parents and the Board of Education, who believed in the idea. Board Trustee Jeanne D’Esposito said that when a performing arts center was discussed, it was a no-brainer for parents.
“We’ve seen how hard our kids work, how hard they try, how wonderful they are and the amazing things that they do,” D’Esposito said. “It’s very exciting that we can make something like this happen. This is something we should all be very proud of and our students will continue to make us proud every day.”