Students In Half Hollow Hills Help Raise Over $126,000 In Students Rebuild Challenge

Filed under: Half Hollow Hills Central School District,Heart of the Community,News |

DIX HILLS, NY, April 16, 2018 – Students across all 13 grade levels and nine buildings in the Half Hollow Central School District have helped raise $126,410 in this year’s Students Rebuild Challenge by creating 21,408 self-portraits. The challenge was launched by the Bezos Family Foundation, a foundation run by the parents of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. This is the fourth year in a row the district has participated, helping to raise a total of over $229,000 to support a variety of initiatives to help youth across the globe.

Students Rebuild seeks to inspire young people to connect, learn, and take collective action on critical global issues. This happens through annual challenges which offer young people a chance to learn about an issue, connect with global peers and to create a simple yet symbolic art piece. The Bezos Family Foundation matches each piece of art that is submitted with funding for the recipients of that year’s challenge.

This year the challenge focused on ‘Facing Difference’ and students were challenged to create a meaningful self-portrait that reflects their sense of identity. The challenge was described by the foundation as “a way to help educators worldwide empower young people to reflect and take action toward building understanding, empathy, and peace.” Each portrait submitted generated $3, or $6 during a special promotional period, from the Bezos Family Foundation, up to $600,000, to support programs run by CARE and Search for Common Ground which help youth on different sides of conflict build peace. This year students from Half Hollow Hills created 21,408 self-portraits for the challenge.

“As in past years, we asked every student in the Half Hollow Hills Central School District to participate in this challenge,” said Jessica Nolan, a social studies teacher at High School East who helps organize the district’s participation in the challenge. “This was a tremendous opportunity to show all students that a little effort can create a lot of good!”

To generate district-wide participation in the challenge, students from High School East visited the elementary school buildings to conduct brief lessons on this year’s topic and then gave the younger students a chance to create their own self-portraits. At the middle school level teachers shared a presentation with their students during an advisory period to get them excited about participating. At High School East the day prior to February break was dedicated to providing opportunities for students to get involved in the challenge, and at High School West students viewed a presentation in the library before making self-portraits.

“Several years ago, High School East Social Studies teacher Cynthia Cullen and her students participated in the One Million Bones challenge, a collaborative art installation designed to recognize the millions of victims and survivors who were killed or displaced by ongoing 21st century genocides and atrocities. A believer in both service and learning, she has since worked to ensure that all students in Half Hollow Hills not only participate in the annual challenge, but that their participation is accompanied by educating them about the issues,” said Lorraine Lupinskie, director of social studies at Half Hollow Hills. “Working with Mrs. Nolan and High School East Art teacher, Allyson Uttendorfer, they have created engaging, age-appropriate lessons and presentations that have reinforced for our school community how small actions can make great differences.”

Past challenges from the foundation have included creating hands to support Save the Children’s programs empowering youth in Nicaragua and Indonesia to rise into a life they dream for themselves; creating pinwheels to support the International Rescue Committee and Global Nomads Group to help Syrian youth from conflict areas recover from crisis and grow into happy and healthy adults; and creating bookmarks to support Save the Children’s Literacy Boost programs in Latin America (Peru), Africa (Mali) and Asia (Nepal).

The Bezos Family Foundation is a private, independent foundation established by Jackie and Mike Bezos, who along with their children and spouses, serve as directors. Their vision is that all young people are prepared to achieve their full potential and make a meaningful contribution to society. They support rigorous, inspired learning environments for young people, from birth through high school, to put their education into action. Through investments in research, public awareness and programs, the foundation works to elevate the field of education and improve life outcomes for all children.


An education-oriented community with high academic expectations, the Half Hollow Hills Central School District is located in a residential area of 50,000 people in the central part of Long Island, approximately 40 miles from New York City. Providing for the education of more than 8,000 students, the school district has five elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. Half Hollow Hills High Schools are fully accredited by the New York State Department of Education and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The District is committed to providing students opportunities to excel in academics, athletics and the arts.

Facebook Comments must be signed into Facebook

You must be logged in to post a comment Login