South Orangetown Central School District

Amplifying student voice has been a shared priority among South Orangetown schools for some time. Throughout this school year, District communications are highlighting the various avenues through which our students are taking on leadership roles to enhance programming, operations and school culture.

Tappan Zee High School’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council met yesterday to work on a mission statement about what it means to be a Flying Dutchman.

“We’re working through four central tenets–commitment, love, grit and service–to come up with illustrative examples,” explained TZHS Citizen Leadership teacher and veteran coach Andy DiDomenico, who led the exercise. “We need to be clear about the culture we want to build and be able to explain it to coaches and teammates. It’s not enough to say ‘commitment,’ we need to demonstrate what that looks like. We need to be intentional in creating a roadmap to success.”

Director of Physical Education, Health and Athletics Bill Pilla agreed, adding, “We tell our coaches to ask themselves their ‘why’ each day–why are they here? Our athletes should ask that question of themselves as well: What is your why?”

Pilla founded the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee when he joined the District two years ago to provide leadership training that members can turnkey to their teams. The group is comprised of one senior and one underclassman from each varsity team and meets monthly; membership rotates each season.

SAAC members reflect on 'grit' as central tenet of athlete mission