Dear Members of the SHS Community:
It is my pleasure to share with you the first Quarterly Update for the 2021-22 school year. The joy that was shared by all of us at the beginning of the year being back to a fully in-person experience has slowly evolved into continued appreciation combined with an acknowledgment that we will continually be creating and making sense of several phases of “new normal” as students, as parents, and as teachers and staff members, especially as we continue to find ways to expand our offerings for students. To that end, effective this week, we will be permitting day trips, and overnight trips will be permitted for students who are vaccinated or have a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departure. We are looking forward to our upcoming dramatic and musical evening performances, for which the capacity will be 50% of the auditorium with spacing between household groups. In addition, our students can participate in multi-school academic and extracurricular activities, and we are able to host such events on site after school. We are excited to take these next steps and restore these activities for our students.
The first quarter of the school year saw the return of our annual Global Citizenship Day, with many opportunities for students to learn about different cultures and life stories from dozens of guest speakers. The school-wide speaker was Sam Mihara, a survivor of the Japanese internment camps that the federal government ran during World War II. He shared his first-hand experiences of his childhood, his friends, and his family living in the camps and the lifelong scars this exclusion has had on him. Mr. Mihara’s talk and generosity with his time in answering questions from students served as a powerful reminder of the mistakes we can make as a country and the long-term effects that feeling excluded can have on someone.
In almost a complete antipode, the first quarter also saw some troubling vandalism in our school bathrooms that ultimately included a swastika. The week of that last incident, we had a meeting of the school’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to think about ways we can engage students in being more aware of the power of hate speech and symbols. In the time since I notified the community about that incident, we have thankfully not had any further incidents of any graffiti in the bathrooms. We continue to monitor the situation daily.
The work of our DEI committee this year is focused on three goals: reviewing policies (codes of conduct, curriculum choices, community engagement, etc.); identifying and addressing implicit bias in the school and community environments; and creating opportunities to allow different groups and ideas to become part of the fabric of the school community by organizing proactive community-building circles and activities that promote positive relationships among individuals from diverse backgrounds.
As part of our work on DEI, the faculty and staff have been involved with school-based and district-based professional development seminars and activities. The high school hosted Dr. Bryant Marks of the National Training Institute on Race and Equity and Morehouse College for seminars in October and November on implicit bias and how it develops in otherwise well-intentioned people. This month also saw a district-wide presentation from Dr. Derrick Gay on the meaning of diversity and how the visible and invisible identities we each possess require us to reconsider our assumptions about the definition of diversity. Finally, this week Anthony Ray Hinton, who gave a virtual school-wide assembly last spring as part of our work with the Equal Justice Initiative, will be coming to the school in person to meet with some of the teachers and students who were most closely involved with his presentation and so that we may convey our thanks for the impact his life and his words have had on our community.
While we are working at a broad school level on DEI, it bears mentioning that, as posted on our school website, New York’s Dignity for All Students Act seeks to provide the State’s students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function. A succinct and clear summary of the law can be found in this brochure from NYS. Students, faculty, and staff who wish to report an incident should see an assistant principal. They can also speak with any trusted adult who will refer them to an administrator as necessary.
This work is challenging and important. When students have a strong sense of belonging, their academic and social engagement are optimized, and they can thrive in the ways we hope for them. In addition, we want to ensure that the privilege of living and going to school in Scarsdale does not insulate students from the experiences of others but rather cultivates a sense of confidence tempered by humility and of personal industriousness and responsibility enhanced by sensitivity to others as they move on to fulfilling experiences in college and beyond.
My best wishes to you and your families for a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season to come.
This quarter in SAS Math 442, students embody different parent functions!
One of the core aspects of the A-School is student leadership, and we began the year by having the students plan and run events both big and small. During our August Orientation, run by Samuel Drescher and Audrey Gendel, new members and current members of the program had the opportunity to get to know one another and learn more about the A-School. Although we could not do our traditional overnight Outing we did not let that get in the way of us bonding and forming relationships. This year Ryan Gerson, Claire Kaufman and Jonathan Wallach ran Outing at the beautiful Croton Point Park where we successfully grilled lunch for ALL 87 of our members. So many hot dogs! Students led small group activities and conversations throughout this two day experience. A special thanks to the SAS PTA for providing us a lovely brunch the following morning. I think we still have some bagels if anyone is interested!
Furthermore, things have been just as exciting in our classrooms. Our students are happy to be together and are ready to learn. In American Studies, with Jeanne and Jen, the students are working on their research papers, diving into their books and coming out as scholars. In Fallon’s World History 10 course they examined the concepts of the Enlightenment through the current Black Lives Matter movement and America’s social contract. In Haley’s Math 442 class the students embodied different parent functions and competed in the Function Family Dance Off. In Mike’s Environmental Science class the students have started to do a comprehensive study of the health of the brook running past the HS. Finally, Ava, our Dean, is walking our seniors through the college admissions process.
We are all pleased to be back in the classroom and working in person. Every class is engaged in exciting hands-on creative endeavors.
The art department is reimagining our virtual student art presentation. Please click the link to view images for both the gallery and the quarterly update. This makes it easier to access all the imaginative work our student artists create.
The Studio Art and Civ Ed foundations classes focus on the elements and principles of art. They have a written museum assignment that stretches their concepts of art, through the examination of these elements. This year the assignment will be done virtually. Because we will not be going to NY museums we are encouraging students to view museum collections from around the world, with the hope that they will visit one day.
Many of our classes are taking advantage of our beautiful campus outdoors. Dina Hofstetter’s Digital Photo 1 class is learning about composition, color, and color correction through a photographic exploration of the organic garden, the brook, and a variety of courtyards. By getting out of Zoom and zooming in on nature, we are reconnecting with the natural beauty that surrounds us on this beautiful campus. Please enjoy some of the beautiful images that have been captured.
Janna Jonhsen’s 2D AT class analyzed and discussed the still-life paintings by Giorgio Morandi. They then selected and arranged ordinary everyday objects in a composition on pavement outdoors. Students created temporary chalk paintings interacting with several elements: the objects, sun and shadows, and wet and dry pavement. Students creatively approached and composed objects on alternative surfaces and experienced drawing as an ever-changing event before planning their long-term projects based on meaningful objects.
The return to full in-person learning is an exciting time, and the Deans certainly share that enthusiasm. Nevertheless, we recognize the transition brings its own set of questions, especially following a lengthy period of virtual or hybrid learning. The Deans met prior to the beginning of the year to develop a plan, communicated with teachers to make them aware of especially sensitive situations, and coordinated with our mental health colleagues to reach out to students who may need additional support early in the year. We appreciate our faculty's ongoing commitment to the social emotional needs of all students, and continue to encourage all members of our school community to reach out if they or someone they know would benefit from additional support.
As always, we began the year by working with ninth graders in their transition, first through an orientation program, and then with weekly Civic Education or Freshman Seminar meetings. Our seniors benefited from several programs, including an introductory meeting to the college process, a virtual presentation to their parents, essay writing support, Senior Workshops that serve as a touch point between Deans and their students, and individual Senior College Conferences, where Deans have met with their students and families to develop a plan for the coming year. We have also spent time visiting various homerooms, seeing students across all grade levels, and are eager to support them, their families, and our colleagues as we look forward to the exciting months ahead.
After the challenges of last year, the 2021-2022 year got off to a refreshingly normal start with meaningful discussions of literature happening face-to-face in English classrooms throughout the school. It is a true delight for teachers to present classic texts to a fresh audience each year. Freshmen met characters such as Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu, or their counterparts George and Lennie from Of Mice and Men; sophomores were introduced to such memorable figures as Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird and Piggy from Lord of Flies; juniors met American icons like Willy Loman and Frederick Douglass; seniors interrogated the complex motivations of characters in texts including Hamlet, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Jane Eyre.
Other highlights from first quarter: as part of a year-long pilot of literature that explores the Asian-American experience, students in several classes read Ken Liu’s 2011 short story “The Paper Menagerie” in advance of Mr. Liu’s colloquium with the Scarsdale Adult School, while students in Mr. Mounkhall’s AT course read Charles Yu’s 2020 novel Interior: Chinatown. Meanwhile, as part of a study of storytelling in world religions, students in Ms. Jakymiw’s ninth-grade classes learned about how symbolic patterns are used to commemorate Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. Together with Social Studies teacher Ms. Claussen, Ms. Jakymiw and her students used chalk to create geometric rangoli designs outside the Brewster Road entrance. Another joyful chalking tradition took place in October when Dr. Kroll’s AT students colorfully inscribed famous sonnets along the Brewster Road walkway.
On October 7th, SHS held our eighth Global Citizenship Day! Despite Covid restrictions, students heard an array of amazing speakers addressing a myriad of current issues facing our country and world. Author Sam Mihara, our keynote speaker, shared his experiences growing up in a Japanese Internment Camp. Students heard speakers on rehabilitation after incarceration, environmental issues, and human rights. The day ended with students making brown bag lunches for the homeless in Westchester. Although we aren’t traveling the globe this year, SHS students will be offered several exciting opportunities to engage virtually with peers around the nation and world on pressing issues facing our societies. If interested in joining some of these, please reach out to Ms. Heather Waters in room 282A or email email@example.com.
Health and Physical Education
As part of the Mental and Emotional Health unit, students learned about different health disparities that exist in our society. Each student was then tasked with choosing a population, narrowing that down to a specific group, and then researching a mental health disparity affecting that group of people. Their research included looking at data, historical context, and current issues. Students were then organized together by the populations they chose. They were asked to synthesize their information and create a poster. As part of this they also researched and discussed strategies and programs to help change and improve these preventable differences in today’s society.
The Physical Education Department began the 2021-2022 school year with the Start-Up Fitness unit across all grade levels. Lessons included warm-up principles, movement prep and rehab (Prehab), speed & agility training, circuit training, group initiative challenges, and student-designed warm-ups. The culminating activity in the 11th & 12th grade classes was the annual RaiderRun, which is a timed fitness course consisting of a series of five fitness challenges, each separated by a run. Students completed the RaiderRun challenge with a partner, working towards earning individual and class recognitions.
Beyond all of this fitness work in all grade levels, the 9th & 10th grade classes spent time on the field with lacrosse and flag football in a team sports unit. Our students in the 11th & 12th grade classes took part in a Disc Golf unit this quarter. Disc Golf is played much like traditional golf, however the game is played with a flying disc instead of a ball and clubs. Disc golf provides upper and lower body conditioning, aerobic exercise, and promotes a combination of physical and mental abilities as students work to master shots and negotiate obstacles.
Overall, we had an exciting first quarter as our students were engaged with their minds and bodies in active and healthy learning!
We are so pleased to be back in action. Teachers are bringing classes in to conduct research on topics ranging from ancient Rome to current health issues, as well as for book talks to help in independent reading selections. Students are coming to study on their own and in groups, and we are enjoying the energy and engagement. On a special note, we had the honor of presenting “History on Our Own Backyard: The History of Slavery in Scarsdale” during this year’s Global Citidenship Day. In addition to being a valuable and fascinating topic, this presentation allowed us to demonstrate the vital importance of using primary sources in research.
In recognition of the American Library Association’s Banned Book week, we created a display of the ten most challenged titles to date. Further, we have also updated our citation guides and lessons to reflect the most salient changes made in the latest MLA iteration, MLA9.
It has been an exciting start to the school year and we are looking forward to continued learning and reading in the library.
Students in Math 423 had a lot of fun with the Robot Repair Logic Game, from the Hour of Code. One student shared, “My favorite part of the game was using my knowledge of logic, and applying it to fix these robots. I also really enjoyed how it was a puzzle and you had to think, it didn’t automatically give you an answer. Another offered, “The best part about the game was it combined logic with something interactive.”
Students in AT Statistics were introduced to key concepts, such as the Normal distribution and p-values by investigating the question, "Do dogs truly resemble their owners?". Students ran a simulation which modeled the task of pairing a celebrity with their pet dog relying solely on physical appearance. Then the probability of making a correct match at least 65% of the time was computed. Students plotted their results on a dotplot and found that a Normal distribution was formed.
As a culminating unit project, students in Math 453 recently used their knowledge of polynomial functions to design a roller coaster. They used their knowledge of the zeros of a polynomial function, multiplicity and end behavior to model a section of a roller coaster. They used desmos to graph their functions and restrict the domains. Students created a presentation using Google slides or Prezi, which included all the calculations (finding the “a” value, intervals of increasing and decreasing, relative minima and maxima) and characteristics of the roller coaster, as well as a commercial using I-movie to make a pitch for their ride.
Seniors Maxwell Trager and David Zoota shared with math teachers what they have learned so far in the new digital logic course, taught by Dr. Kumaresan. They shared how they enjoyed making connections between physics and linear algebra. Maxwell discussed matrices and electrical engineering principles. David spoke about learning binary numbers and simple breadboarding, and how he was looking forward to growing his knowledge of digital logic.
In Mr. Greenberg’s 433 course, students have had the opportunity to practice their algebra skills in three collaborative activities. In the “Row Game,” students worked on factoring and simplifying rational expressions problems with a partner. In a second activity, students worked in groups of 4 to practice Mixture, Motion, and Work word problems. In a third activity, students practiced simplifying radical expressions as a scavenger hunt.
The Scarsdale Math Team is off to a rockin' start this year, currently competing in four different contests: The Westchester Interscholastic Mathematics League (WIML), the New York Mathematics League, Math Madness, and the American Scholastic Mathematics Association (ASMA). At Math Madness, where SHS is ranked 31 in the country, students of all different math levels worked collaboratively in pairs on challenging problems against another school online. In the New York League, students work individually on problems, and we are currently ranked 12th in the state. For WIML, we compete against various schools across the county, where top scoring students are invited to the annual State Championships in April, where historically, Scarsdale has been well represented.
Several members of the SHS chamber ensemble advanced to the Final Round of Lincoln Center’s Young Musicians Innovation Challenge to be broadcast live on Nov. 30th.
Michael Farina and Ethan Hersch were selected for the NYSSMA All-State Jazz Band and All-State Wind Symphony. Mark Wong was selected as first-alternate for All-State Symphonic Band. The Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble look forward to their first in-person concert in two years on December 7th: “A Scarsdale Renaissance: Awakenings.”
The choir is proud to announce that Steven Su was accepted into the NYSSMA All-State Choir. Annie Cavelluzzi, Jackson Fielding, Samantha Loeser, Henry Nova, & Sophia Wu were accepted into the ACDA Honor Choir Program to be hosted in Boston.
Samantha Loeser represented the SHS music department and performed at the Scarsdale 9/11 memorial ceremony.
The SHSDC is rehearsing their fall musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for a live audience on November 19, 20, and 21. They held a theatre workshop and preview for 8th graders on 11/4, and will sponsor a community outreach day, which will include a real spelling bee, on 11/13.
Theater Tech has completed its first set build! The new set design for the fall musical is ready for the actors! Our second Saturday Build Day (when we dress and paint the stage to make it look pretty!) is coming soon!
Here is a time-lapse video by Andrew Lewis (Lighting Technician and Board Operator).
Click Here for the Video via Google Drive.
The start of a new school year brings excitement in many different forms, but the start of this school year particularly brought enthusiasm among students and teachers regarding the use of hands-on activities and applications in science courses once again! While remote and hybrid learning allowed teachers and students the opportunity to investigate and use new teaching and learning tools mainly focused online, the ability to witness, first hand, specific phenomena as well as the capability to manipulate real objects cannot be overlooked in the process of studying the sciences.
In our junior chemistry course, the beginning of the year is devoted to witnessing the spectacular transformation of a copper penny into silver, and then gold! (as shown below)
But, is it real gold? Is it possible that the element copper has transformed before our eyes into a different element? These are among several of the driving questions students are investigating as we talk about properties of matter, elements, compounds, and the periodic table.
In another activity, students were tasked with organizing several elements into a table which helped to emphasize that the Periodic Table is, in fact, not a random arrangement of elements, but based on specific properties and trends that vary...periodically! Currently, students are investigating isotopes and have just discovered that we can change an element by altering the number of protons in the nucleus. Students will have to take this into consideration during a discussion of whether we can use this to our advantage to make new gold!
Ninth graders have been learning about world religions and cultures. David Sherrin's class welcomed guest speakers including Professor Jessica Birkenholtz of Penn State on Hinduism, Yale University doctoral candidate Tony Yeboah on West African/Ghanaian traditional religion, and Rabbi Dahlia Kronish on Judaism. Ron Widelec’s students designed schools based on the Chinese philosophies of Confucianism, Legalism or Daoism. Each group crafted a mission statement and five policies based on their philosophy, then gave presentations to persuade classmates to send their imaginary children to their school.
In the tenth grade, Patrick Healy’s students wrapped up the theme of Industry and Technology by researching a future technology and, in concession/assertion format, addressing how they feel about the issue (see photos). Some topics include driverless cars, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and drone warfare.
Juniors in Kendra Claussen and Stephen Mounkhall’s American Studies class studied the Japanese American internment during World War II through Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine and primary source document analysis. Students were asked to think about how a nation should balance liberty and security in times of crisis, looking at many case studies to illuminate this complex issue.
Our senior courses focus on government and economics. Heather Waters’ students examined the policies and practices which have caused water crises around the world, while reading Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water. In a memorable activity, they filled jugs with water from the brook and walked the track, with each lap representing one hour of the walk made by the character Nya in the novel.
LRC teachers were thrilled to welcome back our students to full-time and in-person learning. It was a smooth transition and students and teachers were all smiles beneath their masks. Our ninth graders found their way around the building in no time and the LRC was back to its hustle and bustle! Through our virtual “9th Grade LRC Parents Welcome” we provided an informal forum for parents and the LRC teachers to meet and talk about the high school and specifically the role that the LRC plays in their child’s journey through SHS. An overview of services was also provided, followed by a Q &A segment.
Our seniors have been busy finalizing their college applications and making sure that they are meeting the submission deadlines. We have attended many college meetings with the deans and are helping our students navigate the process as they prepare to make their own transitions next year. We are not quite done with them yet though. We continue to work with them to build their toolbox of resources, skills, and strategies.
Looking ahead, LRC teachers are attending workshops on Executive Functioning, Literacy and other topics to stay informed of the latest trends in special education. We are also working with the deans and visiting colleges and universities to garner a better understanding of levels of support services available to students.
The STEAM classes are off to a great start, and happy to be back all together in the Design Lab. Introduction to Engineering students have been exploring different areas of engineering, starting with mechanical engineering. Through a “Fling Challenge”, students were challenged to construct a device with only popsicle sticks, hot glue and pipe cleaners, attempting to send a ping pong ball as far as possible. Now engineering students are learning how to code microcontrollers with Python and manipulating them to blink LEDs and count how many times buttons are pushed.
In Introduction to Design and Fabrication, students are learning Fusion360, which is a 3D modelling software, and have printed small items like phone stands. They are also using the laser cutter, creating files from Fusion360 to cut key fobs.
In second level classes, Robotics students are programming their robots to read a color sensor and pick up certain color blocks, essentially creating a tracking system. See this video. And Design for Modern Production students are diving further into Fusion360 and creating solutions for problems in the Design Lab, like organizers for computer chargers and racks to hold the spools of plastic for the 3D printer. Electrical Engineering students are solving challenges while learning how to code different sensors and inputs. As they progress, challenges get more difficult and build on previous knowledge so that they can solve a real problem as their final project. Throughout the classes, students are learning design and engineering concepts through hands-on learning.
The School Government kicked off the first quarter with the initiative to unify the student body and boost school spirit. Students were all invited to participate in Raider Pride Week, where on each day, students dressed up for a specific theme. At the end of Raider Pride Week, the Student Government held Scarsdale High School’s first ever outdoor Pep Rally! The School Government then ran the elections for Class Government. With the newly elected Class Government officers, the School Government hosted training to teach necessary leadership skills and to unify the student government community. As the Community Dinner the night before Election Day is always a big event for the community, School Government worked hard to figure out a way to bring everyone together in a safe manner. Ultimately, the decision was reached to hold a BBQ with the Bona Bona truck providing dessert. School Government officers offered a selection of food from the grill, while class governments and clubs hosted lawn games and trivia contests. Turnout was fantastic and it was a beautiful night for a community building event!
Everyone in World Languages are delighted to be back in school in person and are off to a busy start! Many Spanish students have been learning about the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead and been involved in art projects to decorate the ofrendas on display on the fourth floor. Teachers are using these magnificent ofrendas as a teaching tool to practice writing and speaking skills. Students chose to dedicate the ofrendas to the victims of Covid-19 and to immigrants around the world as well as departed family pets.
The AT Spanish students have been working on a long term Spanish speaking country project in which they create a Google site and archive articles from the electronic media sources and also provide their own written and spoken samples. Most recently, they have been looking at public education and in particular the effect that the pandemic has had on education in various Spanish speaking countries.
Advanced Topics students in French have been exploring gender identity and how that can be thoughtfully addressed in a gender specific romance language. Some other French students have been looking at differences between the French school system and our own, particularly in the way that secularism is interpreted in France compared to the US. Many of our World Language students continue to experiment with comprehensible input through free reading classroom libraries.
Mandarin 323 students have been practicing how to shop and bargain in Mandarin in order to apply their language skills into authentic supermarket settings. Other Mandarin classes have been engaged with online tools, such as Edpuzzle and Quizlet.
Upper-level Latin classes created multimedia projects in which they imagined the inner thoughts of individuals witnessing pivotal moments in Roman history, while other students researched topics in the Roman world to understand how the Romans lived.
In Introduction to Linguistics, students explored the topic of linguistic diversity and endangered languages and learned about the value that all languages bring to the world.
Our WL clubs are off to a wonderful start as well. The French club students held an opening picnic complete with croissants, nutella and macarons! Spanish club students have organized a contest to celebrate Day of the Dead.