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New Slate of Honorees Named to the Husky Hall of Fame

Three years ago, the Highland Central School District created a Hall of Fame to recognize the achievements of accomplished alumni and dedicated faculty and staff, and to inspire today’s students to do great things with their educations. Retired Highland Elementary School (HES) teacher Darlene Spizzo Plavchak is the recipient of this year’s Husky Pride award. The Alumni Hall of Fame inductees are NBC news correspondent Scott MacFarlane and the late Hobart “Hobie” Simpson, who was a successful business and community leader.  

Darlene Spizzo Plavchak began her career in 1975 as a Kindergarten teacher at HES, and right from the start, she was a true pioneer. At a time when preschool was not mandated, Plavchak developed a program called “Young Kindergarten” to give students whose birthdays were too late for acceptance into Kindergarten a place to begin learning. 

Plavchak was also the first teacher in the District to offer an inclusive Kindergarten class, where students with special needs could learn right alongside their peers, rather than be separated into Special Education classes. Countless students reaped the benefits of her inclusive classes. After 21 years as a beloved Kindergarten teacher, Plavchak began teaching first, second, and third grade, continuing until her retirement in 2009.  
Serving as a mentor, Plavchak brought whatever training she received back to her school and shared it with her colleagues. She also took on many other roles over the years, including grade level coordinator, Highland Teachers Association building representative, school funding advocate, and even HHS cheerleading coach.

Scott MacFarlane, a 1994 graduate of HHS, is a TV correspondent for NBC Washington. During his inspirational career, MacFarlane has interviewed presidents, senators, governors, a Supreme Court justice, and numerous White House press secretaries.

The acclaimed journalist has won 20 Emmy and Edward R. Murrow awards for his reporting, including three Emmys for Outstanding Investigative Reporter. MacFarlane is also the recipient of several awards for his work on behalf of children’s safety, including the Anna Quindlen Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Child Welfare League of America. In addition, his series of investigations on public school security has yielded several honors from the Associated Press. 

MacFarlane’s investigative journalism has led to the creation of state laws, triggered federal prosecutions, and has been referenced in more than a dozen formal Congressional hearings and floor speeches. His reporting on thoroughbred horse racing deaths in West Virginia led to a series of new state safety regulations for the sport and earned him an award from the Humane Society. His investigations of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs inspired a Congressional review by the U.S. House Oversight Committee in 2019. The following year, the National Press Club honored his series of investigations into the U.S. State Department.

Hobart “Hobie” Simpson, who left a huge imprint on the community through his inspiring career and coaching legacy, graduated from Highland High School in 1993. After studying at Dutchess Community College and graduating magna cum laude from the State University of New York at New Paltz, he went on to earn his Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School Union University in 2000.

After graduating, Simpson joined Catania, Mahon, Milligram & Rider, PLLC as an associate, beginning an extraordinary career as a general and commercial litigator. In 2009, Simpson made junior partner at the young age of 35. Several years later, in 2013, he made senior/equity partner. He was named a Rising Star, an honor bestowed upon outstanding Hudson Valley lawyers under the age of 40, in both 2013 and 2014. Outside of work, Simpson served as a board member of the Highland chapter of Pop Warner Little Scholars, a non-profit organization that promotes youth football and cheer and dance programs for participants in several states and countries around the world. He also sat on the board of Always There Homecare, a local home health care service for the elderly. Additionally, he was a member of the Highland Rotary Club and served as co-leader of the Grace Smith House Community service project, a program that aids victims of domestic violence.

Many also remember Simpson as a dedicated basketball coach with both Marlboro and Highland.
Hall of Fame inductees are traditionally honored as part of the annual Highland Educational Foundation’s Snowball fundraiser, which has been postponed this year and is anticipated to be held later in the year. 

Plaques bearing photos of the honorees will also be added to the Hall of Fame wall located at Highland High School. The honorees will join the past inductees, including community legend Benjamin E. Bragg; heart surgeon and best-selling author Dr. Kathy Magliato (Class of ’81); retired educators Lionel Heath, Elyse Scott, and Charles “Charlie” Busick; and the late Michael Oremus, a Highland graduate and US Army corporal.

Anyone wishing to nominate a future Hall of Fame for the induction committee’s consideration should contact cjacobsen@highland-k12.org or call 845.691.1014.