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John Cissel

Harbor Country Day School alumni. Photo by Diana Rice, Park Ave Studios

On March 23, Harbor Country Day School celebrated its 60th anniversary with a Diamond Jubilee event at Flowerfield in St. James. 

Nearly 250 guests gathered at the catering venue to celebrate the independent school’s 60 years of “embracing the extraordinary in every child.” Guests included current and former faculty and staff, members of the board of trustees, parents of current and former students and alumni from nearly every decade the St. James school has been in operation. 

Head of School John Cissel honors Helen and Jennifer Smith. Photo by Diana Rice, Park Ave Studios

In addition to honoring the school’s milestone year, guests feted the Malcolm Smith Jr. family, one of Harbor Country Day School’s inaugural families and descendants of Richard Smith, who settled the town of Smithtown in 1665. Attendees also celebrated Natalie Scheyer, who served as Harbor Country Day’s first grade teacher for 29 years — the longest tenure of any teacher since the school was founded in 1958.

“Eighteen families joined forces in 1958 to create an educational opportunity for their children that was different from anything available in their community at the time,” said Head of School John Cissel. “When Harbor Country Day School opened its doors for the first time on Sept. 12 of that year, I wonder if those families knew they were building something so special, so extraordinary, that we would be here celebrating its existence 60 years later.”

Cissel continued, “I suspect they must have known, because although much has changed since 1958, the mission — to cherish childhood, cultivate wonder and inspire confident learners and leaders — has remained the same so many years later, with children at the center of everything Harbor does.” 

For more information, visit www.hcdsny.org. 

Above, John Cissell, Eric Westervelt and George Lombardi talk education. Photo courtesy of Harbor Country Day School
Eric Westervelt is interviewed by Terry Sheridan of WSHU during the event. Photo courtesy of Harbor Country Day School

Award-winning journalist Eric Westervelt visited Harbor Country Day School on Feb. 15 to share his thoughts about the state of education today, gleaned from his experience as NPR’s national education correspondent.

The gymnasium of the nonprofit independent school in St. James was filled with parents, current and former educators and school administrators, students and others eager to hear Westervelt’s perspective on topics ranging from technology in schools to environmental education. The event was made possible by WSHU Public Radio.

Terry Sheridan, bureau chief of the Long Island News Bureau of WSHU, moderated the discussion, which included a lively audience Q-and-A session. The event was part of WSHU’s acclaimed “Join the Conversation” lecture series, which brings together thought leaders and public radio listeners for engaging discussions.

“We are so pleased to have been able to bring NPR’s Eric Westervelt to Harbor County Day School,” said George Lombardi, WSHU Public Radio general manager. “An important part of WSHU’s mission is to engage with our community on important topics, and the discussion we had last night is a wonderful example of that.” John Cissel, head of school at Harbor Country Day, added, “We were honored to have had this opportunity to host such distinguished guests as Eric and his colleagues from NPR.”

The event was the second public outreach event to take place at Harbor Country Day this school year. In November the school hosted a public screening of the documentary film “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age.”