Half Hollow Hills is unique.
From horse stables on Pine Acre Boulevard and the famous High T's in Dix Hills, to a 'Friday Night Under the Lights' football game and a hawk catching its breakfast in its claws, the area's beauty and charm is special to Half Hollow Hills.
These moments were captured by resident and master photographer Asia Lee in Patch's Photo of the Day column and displayed during a photo exhibit, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," at the Half Hollow Hills Community Library, in collaboration with Patch and the Melville Chamber of Commerce.
Students were then asked to draw inspiration from the photos to write an essay describing their appreciation of local beauty, culture and communication for the chance to win a college scholarship.
Tyler Justin Fisher, a student at High School East and Nicholas Regueiro, of High School West each earned a $500 scholarship for their words. Below are their essays.
“The Beautiful Day,” by Tyler Fisher
A butterfly flaps its wings, and a hawk soars through the sky. A tree’s leaves flutter in the gentle spring breeze as a lonely white cloud rolls by overhead. Nature is painting with an unrestricted color palette, effortlessly mixing deep blues and luscious reds in an enchanting and endless series of ways.
A boy slides across the soft dirt, diving for third base just inches ahead of the baseball. An encouraging crowd, divided in cheers yet not separated in spirit, watches as children from all over town gather together on the vividly green field in a friendly yet competitive game. Nature cooperates, letting not a drop of rain spoil the scene.
Nature supplies the backdrop on which the people of a community can socialize, play, and simply enjoy themselves. Under the warm rays of the star one hundred million miles away, friends are able to do whatever they want, held back by nothing but their own imaginations. The atmosphere created by the people of a neighborhood both affects and is affected by the surrounding environment that Mother Nature has so kindly and precisely created.
The day is made beautiful by the interaction of all the events taking place from when the sun rises in the morning until everyone goes to sleep in the evening. That day can be vastly different for everyone who lives it, but it is united by the feeling of well-being and joy that permeates the atmosphere. On one block, a family spends its day at the Little League field. The next-door neighbors are at a barbecue with their extended family, building upon relationships that have never faltered over the years. One house further down there are convivial friends home from college, reuniting with a loud and wet pool party. Across the street at the park, a girl of sixteen sits on a blanket with her boyfriend, eating from a wicker basket, the two of them excitedly discussing their future and the endless array of possibilities it holds. And, a few miles away, the couple from the house at the end of the street brings a new baby boy into the world, watching him commence on his journey into the wonderful world surrounding him.
The beautiful day is the disease of the community today, infecting every one of its inhabitants with a good attitude and a positive feeling. Nobody is in a bad mood on this day. It is, after all, hard to be in a bad mood when the air is eighty degrees and there remain nine sunny hours to enjoy. Smiles abound, and the good mood spreads. Only two people saw the sun come up this morning. Each of them knew immediately it would be a good day today, and they both turned away from the window with smiles on their faces. Is seems as though nature and neighborhood have purposefully teamed up, together working to make sure this day is as perfect as it possibly could be. Nothing is holding anyone back from enjoying this day to the fullest.
This day, truly defined by beauty, is neither the sunniest nor the warmest day of the year. Rather, the people breathing in this day, experiencing it, together sharing its exquisiteness are what definitively make it so excellent. The day surpasses pleasant and swell, crosses over fabulous and amazing, and clears phenomenal and magnificent to become truly beautiful when the father in a traffic jam keeps from honking his horn, the coach detecting a bad call keeps from yelling at the umpire, and the young siblings in a tree house keep from fighting. The day is beautiful today because nature has provided a nearly cloud-free sky on the same day that the people of the community decided to capitalize on their good fortune by maintaining an uplifting atmosphere.
The sun begins to set, and people go their separate ways. Some stay at the baseball field as the lights flash on, illuminating the area for a few hours more. Most return home, to talk and relax and prepare for bed. Going to sleep is not easy tonight, as nobody wants to let the day get away. Finally, though, everyone is asleep, dreaming colorful dreams of the events of the day and hoping another day like this one will come around again soon. The best part of all lies there, in this desire for another day like this one. Everyone knows this day is possible, and everyone knows it can come around again. Tomorrow, even though the sky will be grayer and the air will be colder, everyone still finds a way to have a beautiful day. Everyone works to maintain the good feelings of the day before. The beautiful day will live on, tomorrow as a model to aspire toward and five years from now as a memory about which to smile once more.
It is now many years in the future, and the direct effects of the beautiful day have long since faded away. Many no longer live in this town, but some still do. The white-haired man and woman walking on the sidewalk smile in the sun, remembering the day so long before when they sat in the park and wondered what the future would bring. They remember that day well, and they discuss it with nostalgia.
Was it perfect? No, maybe not quite. But it was, without a doubt, a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Essay by Nicholas Regueiro
The Half Hollow Hills community has shaped me into the well-rounded, multi-faceted individual that I am proud to be today. To be honest, growing up in such a beautiful place seemed completely normal to me, and I suppose that as a boy I took a great deal for granted. Quite simply, I thought that every kid was able to experience the many colorful nuances that the Half Hollow Hills environment provided me. It was not until I grew up that I came to realize how fortunate I am. The photographs of the horses especially bring back memories to me, because I was so fond of riding as a young boy with my aunt who worked at a nearby stable.
In my younger years I was always fascinated with nature, but who wouldn’t be when you’ve been brought up in the beautiful town of Huntington! As a young boy, I hid in trees, caught butterflies, and was always riding my bike or rollerblading until long after dark. My parents had to call all of my neighbors on a daily basis to ask them if they knew where I was -- usually to find me hiding in a tree in the park down the street. I still remember my family’s annual trip to F & W Schmitt’s Farm to pick pumpkins, and the terror I felt at the idea that I would be lost in the corn maze for hours – as I had been the year before. Although many of my friends in the Performing Arts know me as a trendy “pretty boy,” I believe that the beautiful nature and environment that the Half Hollow Hills family has provided me has really given me the nature-loving and outdoorsy edge that makes me who I am today.
While I was attending Forest Park Elementary School, my parents enrolled me in several youth sports within the community. I literally tried every sport in the book during my grade school experience. Let’s face it, I’m not that good at sports, but I am lucky to still call the kids I met in those “Little League” games my “BFF’s,” just as I did in elementary school! Another thing that my family and I value and pride ourselves on is the strong sense of community that is apparent everywhere in Half Hollow Hills. Whether I was scoring touchdowns and shooting baskets, or more realistically falling on my face in the mud and striking out in baseball, there were always crowds of different families and friends rooting for me and making me feel awesome about my muddy performance. Although I didn’t grow up to be a sports star, I was able to make so many friends in such a warm and supportive atmosphere.
The photograph of Candlewood Middle School is especially meaningful to me because I spent three incredible years there. Yes it’s true that middle school can be a social hell, but Candlewood is also where my love of singing and the performing arts truly blossomed. I was a lead performer in every production during my middle school years. From my first role as Aladdin back in sixth grade, my love of theatre has only grown, and I hope to attend a prestigious college as a Musical Theatre major. I must say that the photographs attached to this essay assignment are truly striking and remind me of the first film camera I ever had, a gift on my twelfth birthday. I went on to pursue this hobby throughout middle school and high school in media electives unique to the Half Hollow Hills district.
Now that I’m graduating high school, I reflect back with joy on all of the memories that I’ve had with all of the people that I’ve befriended through the extracurricular activities within the Half Hollow Hills community, and I realize how fortunate I am to live in such a uniquely diverse and opportunity-filled community. Throughout my time in Half Hollow Hills, I’ve learned the importance of nature, supporting others, keeping friendships, and being an active member of the community. I’m so happy that my parents chose to raise my family in the same town that they were brought up in because of all the experiences I was able to have and share in such a loving environment. I hope that I am fortunate enough to raise my own children in Half Hollow Hills where they too can grow in an environment that will nurture them, support them, and pick them up when it’s their turn to face-plant in the mud!