At HAFTR, 2nd gym rising


For the second time in four years, the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway is adding a new sports complex to one of its campuses. 

Construction began on the HAFTR High School Glaubach Family Student Center and Scott Satran Arena in July, and is expected to be completed by year’s end, said Yaron Kornblum, co-chairman of the school’s board of trustees, who also shepherded a 2012 project when a similar building was constructed at the lower school’s campus in Lawrence. 

“You learn from your first project and you can do things better,” Kornblum said as he and a Herald reporter toured the construction.

The project will feature an 8,000-square-foot gym that will seat about 400 for basketball, floor hockey, volleyball and indoor soccer — a much larger recreational area than the current basement gym. The center, which is attached to the existing school building in Cedarhurst, will have conference rooms, offices for extracurricular activities, and a media center with TV screens for videoconferencing, and space to live-stream and broadcast the school’s games. 

The rooms and offices will view the gym floor. Boys’ and girls’ locker rooms as well as bathrooms are also being constructed. The court floor, similar to one at Nassau Community College, will include the angry-bird logo of the Flames hockey team. The center will also host such events as science fairs, college nights and beginning-of-the-month religious celebrations.

“This will give us a proper gym to play in during school,” said Joey Hoening, HAFTR’s athletic director. “Currently we are in a basement gym that is extraordinarily, extraordinarily small. This is really an amazing development. Adding the student lounge and conference center, and this will be a real student center and gathering place.”

As part of the project, the basement gym will be converted into a state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, center with a 3D printer as well as laser cutting, textile, woodworking and production equipment. Benjamin Gross, HAFTR’s director of education technology, said he envisions a research-based laboratory to help students collect and display data in real time.

“Our vision is to provide a technology hub that will include cutting-edge technology, to support student research and STEM learning,” Gross said. “[This is] in order to take our students to the next level, and prepare them with the experiences and skills they will need in college classes and labs.”

Before the Lawrence campus gym was built, HAFTR’s varsity sports team had to play off-campus, leasing space from public schools. The high school teams, which have been playing at the lower school, will now have a place to call their own. 

Private fundraising supported the construction of the lower-school sports complex four years ago and, once again, HAFTR parents are donating the money for this project. In 2012, the goal was to raise $2 million. A portion of that money went to renovating the lower-school gym, which included new lighting, windows and a court floor. This project is expected to cost just over $1 million. “Our goal is to help enrich the everyday life of our students and create a richer atmosphere of school spirit within the HAFTR High School community,” Kornblum said. 

Jeff Bessen is editor of the Nassau Herald, where this story appeared. Pictured: A rendering of the new HAFTR High School Glaubach Family Student Center.