HFEE selects a new playground project at Village School as their large project donation

The Holmdel Foundation for Educational Excellence (HFEE) has chosen to fund the construction of a brand new playground at Village School as their large project donation to the Holmdel School District.  The playground project was approved by the HFEE Board of Trustees in November.

Holmdel administrators identified the need for an additional playground at Village School given the capacity issues presented by the current playground facilities.  Expanding the recreational space at the school would eliminate the need to break up classes using the playgrounds.

Michelle Sottile and Bryan Rukin, co-chairpersons of the HFEE, were extremely pleased with the selection of this project.  "Play is extremely significant to the physical, social and emotional development of our youngest learners”, Sottile said.  “The authentic experiences that come through play are vital in these formative years.  We know that this new playground will be enjoyed by Village students for years to come.”  Rukin added, “We are proud to work with the district to support this great initiative.” 


Pictured above is one of the playground configuration options presented to the HFEE Trustees

The school formed a playground committee to develop a proposal to present to the HFEE Trustees.  Their work included speaking with current students to understand their interests as they relate to the types of equipment installed and interviewing providers specializing in playground construction. 

Dr. Dineen Seeley, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Holmdel Schools, who led the committee noted, “The Playground Committee researched and selected pieces that afford play opportunities for individuals as well as small and large groups of children with varied interests and abilities”.

General Recreation Inc. (GRI), a provider with over 40 years of experience located in Newtown Square, PA, was selected to provide the equipment and perform the installation of the playground as a part of the proposal prepared.

The committee and GRI determined that the ideal location for the playground would be behind the school in close proximity to the building providing an extremely safe venue given the distance to roads in all directions.  This location would also make the playground accessible to children while the baseball and softball fields are in use.

Multiple configurations were presented to the HFEE trustees which included different types of equipment and multiple surface options.  Equipment that was accessible to those with disabilities was also a consideration that was included in the proposal.

Members of the HFEE found value in selecting a project that would give students a safe place to be active outside.  Similar to the Cardiovascular Fitness & Wellness Center donated earlier in the year, this project is one that promotes an active and healthy lifestyle for elementary students.

“The completion of the project will complement the opening of our district's new full-day kindergarten program in the fall”, Dr. Seeley added.  “We deeply appreciate the generosity of the Holmdel community and the HFEE for their support of a new playground for our youngest students.”       

The HFEE and the school administrators expect to finalize the equipment and surface selections over the next couple of months.  Thanks to the generous donations from the community, the HFEE is able to commit to over $100,000 for this project.  Ground will be broken in the spring of 2019 with the completion of the project occurring later in the summer.

Given the benefits this playground will provide to the entire community and the size of the investment, residents of Holmdel are encouraged to make donations to the HFEE in order to support this project.  Please visit hfee.org/give to give today!

New 4th and 5th Grade Science Labs open at Indian Hill, courtesy of the HFEE

The Holmdel Foundation for Educational Excellence (HFEE) unveiled two of their most recent gifts, the 4th and 5th Grade Science Innovation Labs at Indian Hill School, last Tuesday evening.  HFEE trustees and Holmdel families who generously sponsored the labs at last year’s Gala were treated to a tour provided by faculty members as they showed off these new facilities with pride and excitement.

The rooms were completely renovated with new flooring, freshly painted walls and built in cabinetry.  New furniture was provided which included group tables and “wobbly” chairs.  Paintings with vibrant colors now decorate the walls.  Finally, Google Jamboards were also provided giving the students access to some of the latest technology available to further add to their experience.


Diane Newton, a 5th grade teacher at Indian Hill, captured the sentiments of everyone with her enthusiasm.  Diane explained, “The new science lab is beautiful. It provides a spacious and safe space with all the amenities needed to conduct experiments. The group tables are large enough to seat five comfortably, the “oodle” seats are a favorite of the students, and the safety glasses are easily sanitized, which is important. The students love going to the lab. Science is hands-on and the new science lab makes it possible in a safe and fun environment. We can’t wait to use the Jamboard!”
The labs have easily become the favorite classroom of many of the students.  The popularity of the rooms is driven by the unique setting that they provide.  There is nothing else like them at Indian Hill which instills as sense of excitement in the students as they learn and study science.    Building volcanoes, raising crayfish and constructing a roller coaster are just some of the educational projects that will take place in these new facilities.

Dr. Dineen Seeley, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Holmdel Schools, attended the event and was greatly appreciative for the HFEE’s contribution. She stated that the Science Innovation Labs are flexible spaces that provide an opportunity for our 4th and 5th grade scientists to collaboratively engage in discovering and exploring science phenomena.

The students aren’t the only beneficiaries that are excited as members of the faculty are also looking forward to instructing their classes in these new settings, including Jenna Atkinson, a 4th grade teacher at Indian Hill. 

“We are absolutely thrilled to use the gorgeous, new STEM labs generously funded by the HFEE here at Indian Hill School.  My students are loving the modern, design-inspired flexible seating and I can’t wait to use the Google Jam Board for interactive, collaborative learning experiences.  It is truly a remarkable space”, Atkinson, a 4th grade teacher, remarked.

(Members from the sponsoring families are pictured above from left to right:  the Rice family, the Rabkin family, the Rukin family, the Sottile family, the Burden family, and the Hanhan family.  Sponsoring families not pictured include the Benyon family, the Savarese family, and the Striano family.)

This is just one of the many initiatives the HFEE has funded to improve the experience of students at Holmdel Public Schools. These projects are fully-funded through donations from the community and without this financial support, these initiatives simply do not happen. Every donation counts and contributes to the next exciting project.

If you would like to support the next project sponsored by the HFEE, please donate today!


HFEE 4th Annual 5K and Fun Run Photos









HFEE 3rd Annual 5k and Fun Run Photos

Thanks to our runners and sponsors for the successful 5K on June 4.

Here are photos from Sarah Cortese Photography, thanks Sarah!






New Video! Culinary Arts Center Makeover

Please see this video which shows the impact of the HFEE large grant to the Holmdel High School to refurbish the Culinary Arts Center.

This video was filmed and produced by TV3 students at Holmdel High School, in conjunction with HFEE marketing!

New Video! Mini-grants - where are they now? Lindsey Conlan and David Liu

Check out short videos of some of two Holmdel High School alumni, Lindsey Conlan and David Liu, who tell us what they are up to while reflecting on their HFEE mini-grants!

These videos were filmed by Lindsey and David with video and production assistance from TV3 students at Holmdel High School, in conjunction with HFEE marketing!


Recipients of HFEE 2016-2017 Mini-Grants


Village School--

1. Carol Dempsey: Library STEM, $2452.33
2. Lauren Naperski, Allison Seman, Christina Damas, Melissa Seigel: Ready Sign Go, $1250.27.

Indian Hill School--

3. Lisa McTague: One read Celebration, $1000 (100 copies of library books).

Satz School--

4. Daniel Gulko: William R. Satz Chess Club, $175

5. Melissa Caliendo, Betsy Smith: Hooking the Reluctant Readers; Classroom Lending Libraries of Unconventional Text, $1580,(* Books only, No gift cards and e-reader)
6. Christen McCafferty: Glowforge- 3D Laser Printer $2500

Holmdel High School--

7. Jennifer He: A Determination of the Efficiency of a Novel Oleophilic Self-Sufficient Oil Skimmer $330
8. Shravya Justi: Evaluation the effectiveness of the anti-microbial properties of silver, copper,and zinc in water purification through the use of ceramic pots $225.83
9. Russell Kamback: Water Purification of Organic Waste Using Electrocoagulation  $500

10. Josephine Blaha: The Wireless Spectrophotometer in the Chemistry, Bioligy and Physics Classroom $ 2492
11. Caren MacConnell with Eric Wu (HHS student): The think Create Innovate  Makerspace $599.80
12. Beth Hobeb: PASCO Probes in the Chemistry Classroom $1654

Total: $14759.23