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Hempstead Students Get a History Lesson

Joe Michalich and Speedy Claxton

Twenty-five students from Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School participated in Diverse Suburbs, an outreach program spearheaded by Hofstra University’s Library Special Collections in conjunction with the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra.

“This program encourages students to ask questions and spark important conversations with family, friends and neighbors to find out about where they live, where they came from,” explained Geri Solomon, Assistant Dean of Special Collections & University Archivist. “It’s also our way of giving back to our surrounding community.”

Speedy Claxton and Hempstead Kids
Speedy Claxton and students from Alverta B. Gray Middle School

During the day-long session, students receive a visual history presentation about the Town of Hempstead and the development of communities over time in which they live.  What they learn about the town’s past provides the inspiration for a larger social studies project in which students use the power of dialogue to develop an oral history of their own community roots and heritage, according to their teacher, Dawn McShane, who is also a Hofstra alum.

“This important history lesson provides students with a sense of connection to the communities in which they live,” McShane said.

The students were treated to visits from Hofstra basketball head coach Joe Mihalich and assistant coach Craig “Speedy” Claxton, a Hempstead native, Hofstra alum and basketball star who went on to a successful NBA career.


“Work hard in school, listen to your parents and teachers, and focus on the task at hand,” Claxton said. “I made it and so can you, but I never forgot where I came from—that’s why I’m back in this community, back at Hofstra.”

Afterwards, eighth-grader Chukwuemeka Okoronkwo said he has his eye on being part of the Pride Class of 2021.  “I liked Hofstra’s campus a lot,” he said. “I think I’d like to go to school here someday.”

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