Dear Members of the SHS Community:
As the 2020-21 school year draws to a close, I would like to thank all members of the community for making the most of a very challenging year. While we were each facing individual challenges related to the pandemic, we all stayed committed to our core mission of education. Our teachers and staff members demonstrated extraordinary flexibility and creativity in responding to the demands of teaching in ever-changing modalities and configurations. Our students responded to unfamiliar ways of teaching and learning with impressive commitment and performance, despite lacking the social component of school. Our parents helped fill the gaps we could not fill by supporting their children at home and connecting with us at school when inevitable challenges arose. Together, we got through this year and were able to enjoy an almost normal fourth quarter, and we look forward to opening a robust school year in September.
This spring we celebrated the careers of our staff members who are retiring: Nelson DaSIlva, Peggy Siegrist, and Rich Clark. In working to find successors for each of these staff members, we conducted selection processes that involved multiple rounds of interviews and broad representation to ensure the best possible outcomes, requiring an investment of time from many volunteers. I extend my thanks to all the faculty members, students, and parents who served on the various selection committees. I will introduce staff members who are new to the school in my opening communications in September.
I wish each of you a summer of recreation, relaxation, reconnection, and rejuvenation. Below you will find my remarks from graduation. Thank you again for your support and generosity this year, and congratulations to the Class of 2021!
Good evening President Fuhrer, Superintendent Hagerman, fellow members of the faculty, parents and friends, and most especially the members of the Class of 2021.
Today is a special day that marks the culmination of your childhood education and the beginning of college and adulthood for you. Your families and your teachers are filled with a deep hope that we have given you all that you need to succeed in these next stages, and we are filled with anticipation at what the future holds for you.
But first let me say how truly wonderful it is to be together on such a beautiful evening. It is so good to see all of you smiling and enjoying one another’s company, especially after the year we’ve had. Let us pause here for a moment to let the beauty of this moment sink in.
As you might imagine, I always enjoyed school as a student and then as a teacher because of the academic component, the joy of learning, and the endless possibilities that education provides each of us. As principal, the best part of my job now, though, is seeing your smiling faces, of being among you in classrooms and hallways and seeing the energy of your bright minds learning together, forming ideas, forming friendships, forming memories, and growing each day as learners and as people. How very special it is to see your faces this evening all together for this commencement.
We each have strands of extroversion and introversion within ourselves. I’m sure you now have a better awareness of the richness of being in the company of others, as well as how some of our gatherings, some of the busy-ness of life, may actually detract from what is most important and valuable to each of us and our goals as individuals. You now have the benefit of having a uniquely informed perspective as you make future choices about how and with whom you spend your time. I urge you to aim for a healthy balance of time spent with others and time spent with yourself and those closest to you. Keep vibrant the perspective you have at this moment in time without getting caught up in busy-ness that may not be as substantive as it appears.
We also take a moment to reflect on the values that Scarsdale represents as a community, values of active citizenship, civic engagement, and debate that is informed and respectful. The resources that the community invests in education have, we hope, provided you with an enriching and engaging experience that has developed in you a depth of critical and creative thinking, an appreciation for global interdependence, and a genuine love of learning. These goals have guided our work as a faculty in designing the courses and learning activities that you’ve enjoyed during the past four years. The vantage point of graduation allows you to appreciate the aggregate effect of your work as having both developed your academic skills and fostered your growth as individuals.
As you confront the challenges of our world and of our society, armed with the knowledge and skills you have acquired here at Scarsdale, I hope you will endeavor to make the world a better place. In order to make real change and bring about progress, you will need to add personal courage to the skills and knowledge you gain in school. When you take stock of the news of our day, of domestic problems, international relations, income inequality, social justice, educational policy, and environmental challenges, it should be clear that regardless of what side of any one question you take, in order to advance the cause you will need courage. As the energy of your youth matures into the wisdom of age, you will continue to find your voices and ways in which you can make your marks. Given the magnitude of these social and global problems, we will need your fresh voices and new ideas and the courage to stand up even when it means you will stand out. Your success will be measured not by how much you take for yourself but by how much you give of yourself.
Finally, I also urge you to build a legacy of love. The key to your success in taking advantage of the many opportunities and meeting the many challenges that lie ahead will be to infuse love into your work, your relationships, and your self-regard. If you look around this field, you will see your family and friends who demonstrated love in supporting you. You will see your teachers who loved teaching and guiding you. And most importantly, you should look at yourselves and love what you see—an intelligent, curious, responsible person, poised to continue learning in order to take on the challenges of life and of our society.
I wish you all a wonderful graduation day and health and happiness in the future. Congratulations to you all!s and friends, and most especially the members of the Class of 2021.
Although the year is quickly coming to a close, our academic program is still going strong. Juniors in American Studies took turns teaching the class about events of the 1960s, and now are discussing the Henry Louis Gates documentary “Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise.” In Global History, students are developing research papers on dictators who employed a “cult of personality” to maintain power.
Seniors, meanwhile, have finished classes and are engaged in a range of internships or projects. For example, Anabel Calderon is doing research to support applications for refugee status as an intern for an immigration lawyer; Daniel Orad is developing a new method for lost hikers to send an SOS signal; and Victoria Wilson is caring for animals at the Greenburgh Nature Center, where she has gained an appreciation for snakes.
A-Schoolers were also excited to hold some of the community bonding activities we had missed earlier this year. Our traditional Core War “field day” included friendly competition in everything from basketball to a spelling bee. We also held a Saturday picnic, where we talked and played games to foster new friendships among our students. Finally, we organized a special day for our senior class, led by Anthony Ruggeri. Students painted rocks to add to our Senior Rock Garden (see photo), elected a student speaker for A-School Graduation, and performed talent show skits to entertain our sophomores and juniors. We have found that the energy spent building a community fosters the student wellness necessary for true learning.
Seven senior AT 2D Art students under the direction of teacher Janna Johnsen, have each painted a large planter that now adorns the Dine the Dale tent in Scarsdale Village. Please take the time to stop by and enjoy their creative work.
A special thank you -This project is sponsored by the Scarsdale Business Alliance, with support of the Scarsdale Village Arts Advisory Council. Flowers for the planters are donated by the Village Flower Shop on Harwood Court.
This is the second community based project the HS has participated in. The “Wing the Dale” mural was the first. We look forward to continuing this collaboration bringing more art into the town of Scarsdale.
We could not have our senior art exhibition in our gallery this year. However, please enjoy it virtually and help us celebrate their creative accomplishments. Art / AT Virtual Positive Space Gallery June 2021 (scarsdaleschools.k12.ny.us)
Enjoy their imaginative works of our Civ Ed classes in this virtual exhibition. Art / Virtual Positive Space Gallery May 2021 (scarsdaleschools.k12.ny.us)
As SHS returned to full in-person learning, the Counseling Department was prepared to support students across all grade levels in this transition. The Deans sponsored a webinar to reintroduce members of our community to the schedule, and we worked with our Psychologists and Youth Outreach Workers to reach out to students and faculty members in acknowledging the many challenges of the year.
The Deans are an integral component of the many grade level culminating activities. We are working with our ninth grade colleagues in the English and Social studies departments to develop a community experience for ninth graders, and hosting the Essay Workshop and participating in the consent workshop for juniors. We are planning Senior Transition Day, bringing back SHS alumni/ae to speak to seniors about their transition, and hosting one final get together with our graduating students. We look forward to graduation, and announcing our graduates as they walk across the stage.
As one class departs, another will be entering in a few short months. To support the Class of 2025 in their transition, the Deans met with both students and parents to provide an overview of life at SHS. Despite what has been an incredibly challenging year, we are confident that they will gain an insight to our incredible school, and demonstrate the same resilience as our current students and graduates. The Deans wish our entire school community a wonderful and relaxing summer, and we look forward to a return to an exciting new school year.
In the final stretch of an academic year full of uncertainties, fourth quarter brought an increased sense of normalcy as full-time in-person instruction commenced. In English classes, with fewer students on Zoom, teachers and students were able to have face-to-face discussions and Socratic seminars with greater ease. The work schedule remained as robust as always, with students busy with assignments designed to bring the year to a fulfilling end. Many junior and senior classes completed research papers, for example, while ninth-graders explored a diverse set of projects. Pamela Kroll’s ninth-graders made short films based on Homer’s Odyssey, and Ben Sawyer and Nicole Jakymiw’s students performed scenes from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Students in Ms. McGreal’s English 9 finished the year by writing personal essays thematically connected to the works they studied, inspired by The Moth Radio Hour.
In May, journalist Rachel Wolfe, SHS class of 2014, visited Stephen Mounkhall’s sophomore classes. Students read five articles Ms. Wolfe had written for Vox and for The Wall Street Journal as a way to ground a conversation about authentic, real-world writing. Students asked thoughtful, probing questions about the art of journalism: How does she get assignments? How does she land interviews? How does she know which interview quotes are worth including? How does she structure an article? Ms. Wolfe was generous with her time, and her answers helped students appreciate how choosing words while writing, even for a professional, takes a lot of thought and reconsideration.
Scarsdale shone at the Global Learning Alliance Student Summit. Students discussed pieces of literature representative of the cultures of the countries involved, the US, Singapore and Finland. Then in international student teams, they explored the issues of identity and belonging in their individual nations and then identified groups around the world who are struggling with these issues. Several students and teachers attended an interesting Saturday virtual discussion with author (and former child soldier), Ishamel Beah. After one of our group asked a question, Scarsdale got a nice shout out as he recalled playing soccer here when he attended the United Nations International School. We invited him back to kick a ball anytime! The recording of this discussion will be part of next October’s Global Citizenship Day. This summer we have some exciting international programs running. Three juniors were selected as ambassadors for SHS in the annual Asia Pacific Youth Leadership Summit which will take place again online this July. We hope next summer to be able to travel back, as we usually do, to the hosting Singaporean institution. Also in July, thirty students will also be participating in the Global Education Benchmark Group’s Leadership Dialogues examining current issues facing the world and developing their skills as global citizens with peers around the countries and the world.
Students interested in future global programs, should stop by room 366 or email Ms. Heather Waters firstname.lastname@example.org .
Health and Physical Education
As the start of the fourth quarter arrived, so did the spring weather! Our physical education classes enjoyed the outdoor classroom setting, feeling the rejuvenating effects of exercise in the fresh air and sunshine. Our ninth and tenth grade students spent time learning and developing the skills necessary for successful participation in our Archery unit. Students had plenty of hands-on experience improving form and technique, and opportunities to practice scoring and proper competition etiquette. Other essential themes included the refinement of listening skills, observation skills, motor skills, and eye-hand coordination, as well as the ongoing opportunity for self-evaluation.
Our eleventh grade students took part in our annual fourth quarter golf unit. The Golf unit included lessons on the full swing (drivers and irons), the short game (pitching and chipping), and putting. The physical education teachers offered challenges that engaged the full spectrum of abilities in our classes: the beginners, the part-time players, and the golf fanatics. These challenges were designed to improve students’ current skill levels, and, ultimately, for the students to receive enjoyment from the game.
Golf and archery both require the refined mental skills of commitment, concentration, and confidence, all of which can be applied to challenges faced in life outside the classroom. As we venture into the summer months, we encourage all of our students to remain active in ways that are both enjoyable and meaningful. Have a healthy and active summer!
As part of their final project for Health class, students worked in groups on collaborative research projects on a wide range of important health topics. Next, groups created either a narrated slideshow presentation or a video PSA. These final presentations were then uploaded to a Google Classroom for all Health 10 students to see. During the Health Fair, students presented their videos in their respective class and fielded questions from their peers. Groups connected their topics to the themes of life expectancy, quality of life, and healthcare. Lastly, for their final exam, students wrote an expository essay on three different video presentations they viewed. Some goals of the total experience are the refinement of research skills, the practice of critically analyzing current health trends, and the connection of students’ skills with content knowledge. This format is a universally designed learning component of the Health Department’s evaluation process.
This spring we were able to welcome back, in a limited capacity, juniors and seniors for in-person visits to the library. It was amazing to have students here and we are excited for the fall. We were also excited to visit classrooms to teach research skills related to topics ranging from searching for literary criticism to finding primary sources to citing just about anything from a book to song lyrics to film excerpts. Next year, we will be thrilled to have classes back in the library.
We were also happy to support research through a number of new and revised projects on our Research Project Guides page which contain curated resources. We helped support the SHS Reads Hinton! Community Read by providing ebook access to Anthony Ray Hinton’s book, The Sun Does Shine.
Though a challenging year, the library is finishing strong and anticipating an amazing 2021-22 school year.
Modeling with Mathematics
Students in Mr. Li’s precalculus class just wrapped up sinusoidal modeling. We modeled real-world problems involving oscillation, rotation, and revolution (e.g. ferris wheel, high/low tides, daylight hours, pendulum, etc.). Students found these problems interesting, so they then extended the discussion to sound waves and signals. Students noticed that the school bell is a Note A and can be represented by the function y=sin(880πx), and a few students confirmed that the sound is indeed 440 Hz. We talked about how sinusoidal functions can be added or subtracted and how noise cancellation works. We can "hear" these sounds on the website: https://tinyurl.com/pnyw48w. In addition, we discussed how an emerging technology in the new Wifi-6 standard called OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), which allows a router or access point to send low-data-rate transmissions to several devices simultaneously, can be modeled by a sinusoidal function. In order for these signals to not interfere with one another, the maximum output of one function must correspond to a zero output from all the other functions. We modeled this on Desmos here: https://www.desmos.com/calculator/ocukwhuxos and more information on OFDM can be found in this YouTube explanation: https://youtu.be/KCHO7zlU25Q.
Math 423 students were commissioned to design an access ramp, which complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Students designed the ramp and determined the costs, using local pricing, for two types of ramps, wooden and concrete. Students were also treated to guest speakers, who shared their stories and challenges they face regarding accessibility. Via zoom, Ms. Veronica Morgan (Ms. Haker’s mother), shared her personal struggles with accessibility, and students enjoyed hearing her story and asking questions to help guide their ramp project work. Paralympic Josh George zoomed into Math 423 classes, to discuss his experiences, challenges and triumphs. Mr. George was profiled on the front page of the NY Times in 2008 (by our own Mr. Alan Schwarz!), when he held two world records and was beginning his career. Here is his webpage: http://www.joshgeorgeracing.com/.
Math and Journalism
The Pultizer prize finalist, Alan Schwarz spoke to students in Mrs. Palekar's Math 454i Interdisciplinary class, as well as 9th grade math classes, about the intersection of mathematics and journalism. His talk focused on how he convinced the NFL that concussions were a serious issue and that more safety measures needed to be taken to protect the players. It took him about 4 years and over 100 articles in the New York Times to make his case. In addition, he spoke briefly about sabermetrics: the mathematical or statistical study of baseball.
DRAMA: The Acting students filmed the 2021 Acting Showcase. They wrote and performed plays about climate change, mental health in adolescence, body image, perfectionism, anti-Semitism, feminism, and the intersection of Covid and politics. The showcase can be viewed here.
THEATER TECH: Stagecraft course students built, painted, and operated the Senior Musical, the first live theatre production at SHS executed in front of an audience since the pandemic.
ORCHESTRA: Tri-M had it's annual induction ceremony and held graduation for the graduating senior class. The Chamber ensemble performed for the retirement and recognition ceremonies for teachers held at SHS. The orchestra concert links are on the cable TV site.
One difficulty of studying chemistry is the ability to justify what we experience and observe on the “macroscopic level” with a submicroscopic, or particle-level, explanation. Students work on this skill and the application of their newfound chemistry knowledge to novel situations throughout the year. Seeing such phenomena first hand allows students to easier relate these conceptual ideas to something tangible. Teachers in the chemistry department collaborated to give students as much live experience of such phenomena while observing current safety measures during this school year.
At the end of this year, some chemistry students were able to see a particularly fun and colorful application of science by tie-dying shirts during the last week of class. Students tend to view colors and dyes as nothing out of the ordinary, often overlooking any chemistry involved. Through this exciting lab experience, students saw how concepts learned earlier in the year such as covalent bonding, intermolecular forces, chemical reactions and solution are involved in the process of tie-dying.
From the dye powder and solvent water mixing to get the perfect concentration, to the double-replacement reaction happening between the dye molecules and the cellulose of the cotton, to the strong covalent bonding that holds the dye molecules onto the shirt – this end-of-year experience allowed students to see several chemistry concepts at play. To display their chemical creations, students wore these shirts on the last day of class where some enjoyed observing how the principles of thermodynamics allow near perfect ice cream to be made using liquid nitrogen.
In 9th grade World History classes, Patrick Healy, Brendan Lee, Elizabeth Harris, and Michele Britto’s students have collaborated to create a final project for their 9th grade World History classes where they have been asked to research, create, and present a museum proposal for a topic from the years 1450-1750. Examples of topics students are researching include, the transatlantic slave trade, and gender roles in the new and old world.
In several 10th grade World History classes, students researched a particular society and its modern political cult of personality in the late 20th century. This project resulted in an annotated primary source review, a multimedia timeline, and a final research paper.
Heather Waters' Criminal Justice classes conducted a mock forensic investigation of a murder scene. The simulation as based on the fact of a cold case murder case where student were placed into groups to sort through forensic crime scene evidence to find the killer.
In Chris Hughes’ 12th grade Food for Thought, students researched the public policy
issues and constraints related to school food and redesigned the fictional Fairchester High School's program. During the same unit, students spoke with the former head chef of the number one restaurant in the world, Noma, who has started a business to help schools provide healthy food, cooked from scratch.
Carine Thompson’s 10th grade World History classes had a visit via Zoom from Vidya Vipin Kumar who works for the United Nations. Ms. Vipin Kumar has been stationed in Kosovo, Cambodia and Jerusalem. Ms. Thompson’s students worked on a shared understanding of the concept of justice as they studied the genocide human rights ’s trials in Cambodia, where Ms. VipinKumar spent eight years developing databases to store evidence files. During her Zoom visit, she discussed the functions of the UN, her experiences over the past eighteen years, data governance, and some of the most recent innovations that the UN is spearheading.
We were thrilled to welcome our students back to the LRC in full capacity this quarter. At first, there was some trepidation, especially from our 9th graders who had yet to experience the regular schedule, however, they quickly acclimated to a somewhat typical high school experience and we were on our way! As the quarter progressed, we continued to support all of our students and helped them to navigate the remainder of this challenging year.
If we take a moment to reflect upon the work we do in the LRC, it is clear that the relationships we build with our students is key to guiding them to become the best versions of themselves. The once nervous, yet excited freshmen are now prepared to forge ahead to the next phase of their journey. We are so proud of our seniors and we look forward to hearing about their successes. We wish all the graduates the best of luck.
The LRC teachers and staff are looking forward to welcoming your students back to a more normal school year in the fall and until then we wish you all a restful and fun summer break.
“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” – AA Milne, Winnie the Pooh
This has been a busy fourth quarter in the Design Lab, as we welcomed most of our students back in person. Design for Modern Production students learned about ‘flat-packed’ furniture - think IKEA furniture that comes in a flat box and has to be assembled- and ways to join pieces without hardware. They prototyped tables, chairs and laptop stands in cardboard and then 3D modeled them in Fusion 360. Those files were used on the CNC-Computer Numerical Control-a machine that uses 3D files to cut in three dimensions to cut the pieces and then students assembled them.
Our Design/Build classes built picnic tables for students to have more places to eat outdoors. Students interviewed administrators and others to learn what was needed and what the constraints were. The finished products are now in use at the Brewster Rd. entrance! See photos below of the build in progress.
AT Entrepreneurship students gave their final pitches live in the auditorium, to a limited audience. The event was live streamed and recorded. Watch it here to learn about their solutions to problems in sustainability, equity and wellness, and disability.
The Girls Code club is partnering with a school in Astoria, introducing middle school girls to the world of computer science. Working together on coding projects over the past few weeks, they have created games, as well as a Scratch dance party! Their project based curriculum has proven effective and has already helped the girls bond with one another.
The School Government welcomed back students in person with the Welcome Back Extravaganza, where Government teamed up with the PTA and held raffles, handed out candy, and played music as students were entering the building. School Government held a Spirit Week in late April, and students and faculty were encouraged to dress according to the daily proposed theme ranging from pajama day to maroon and white day. Government took the opportunity to team up with Youth Outreach and make the Wednesday Denim Day to coincide with the international movement to raise awareness about sexual violence. In May, Government held a house meeting where students discussed how to make Scarsdale a more inclusive community and ways to incorporate techniques from virtual learning into the traditional school year. School government officers look forward to the return of many of our classic school events next year but we’ve had fun and learned so much from the challenging year behind us.
Things are humming along in World Languages as we head into the final stretch of the academic year. Many students are busy working with authentic resources in order to complete final year end assessments in our World Languages classes. Some students will be completing Integrated Performance Assessments which include a unified thematic context in which students demonstrate their language skills through an interpretive task, an interpersonal task and a presentational task. Some French students are busy working on narratives inspired by the style of Maupassant’s works, which strive to show the everyday lives of middle and working class people. In these original French narratives, students are detailing aspects of everyday lives of Scarsdale students in order to give readers insight into our high school culture.
Earlier in the Spring, Latin students learned about the misappropriation of Roman symbols by extremist groups and how to foster ant-racism in their study of the Latin language. For their final projects, students are updating stories of ancient and mythological characters with creative art components and their own words (in Latin of course!).
Mandarin students are working on a variety of group projects such as a party planning project, planning the ideal summer trip and a Chinese film project.
The AT French students completed their final projects which were individual podcasts sharing the results of their research into a topic of personal interest. Students researched such subjects as the mental health implications of the beauty standards promoted by social media, police violence in France, racism against players of African origin on France's National Football Team, the importance of sleep, and many others.
The AT Spanish students have completed their final portfolio projects on topics as varied as the protests in Colombia, LGBTQ rights in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, climate change in Argentina, as well as a psychological study of the characters of the Spanish classic, Don Quijote, existentialism and rationalism in the short story Death and the Compass by Borges and many others.
Our language clubs have remained active as well. The French club or Cercle français held its final activity of the year: la pétanque! Students gathered on the lawn near the Brewster Rd entrance to enjoy popsicles in the colors of the French flag and play pétanque. It was a beautiful day and hosting an in-person, outdoor activity was a wonderful way to celebrate the end of this unusual school year.
Please click here to view the latest edition of the Polyglot, the World Languages Literary magazine. It is truly magnifique, magnífico, magnificus, 杰出的.