Quarterly Update

May 2022


Principal's Message

Dear Members of the SHS Community:

This Spring has seen a nearly full return to normal activities at Scarsdale High School. At the end of the third quarter, we were treated to a Jabberfest teeming with student talent on display for a most enthusiastic audience. After break, the student government put on a fantastic Carnival for the entire Scarsdale community. We enjoyed concerts from our performing arts department, as well as the Science Research Symposium, AT Entrepreneurship Pitch Night, and Awards Assembly. For the first time in two years, the calendar of events had a familiar rhythm to it. Conversations with fellow attendees at these events revealed that the joy I was feeling from being with students and sharing in many of our traditions was shared by many.

Yet, as many of you know, New York State is currently experiencing higher COVID-19 infection rates, and Scarsdale has seen increasing numbers of cases. These cases are sporadic around the District, and we are taking steps to curtail spread through notifying affected groups when there are multiple cases and, when appropriate, sending testing kits home and encouraging testing to larger groups of students.

I bring this to your attention in light of our planned activities which will bring together relatively large groups of people, including extended families and individuals who are not usually in our school community. Of course, these types of events do hold a higher risk of spreading COVID-19, and we encourage anyone at higher risk or would like a higher level of protection to wear a mask and for all participants to respect each other’s choices. We do ask that anyone who has been recently exposed wear a mask, and we require anyone recovering from COVID in the day 6-10 window post-positive to wear a mask at all times.

We look forward to our year-end celebrations, including the Senior Prom this week, the senior show in June, and of course graduation, and ask for your support in keeping these activities healthy and welcoming for all who attend.


Kenneth Bonamo

Alternative School

As part of the SAS Environmental Science course's objective to decrease nature deficit disorder, as well as our discussion on freshwater resources the class decided to venture outside to the nearby brook to remove trash. Students spent time getting their hands dirty and making a positive impact on our local community. This initiative was started by the class of 2022 and I hope to continue it in the upcoming years.

In WH10 the students are wrapping up their research papers, where they have the opportunity to explore a topic of their choice. Some of the topics included the viability of cryptocurrency as a global currency, anti-semtism in the Dreyfus Affair and the role anime played in Japan's post World War II image.

American Studies is studying Steinbeck's 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath. The novel began as a photojournalism projects when photographer Horace Bristol approached Steinbeck with a proposal to collaborate on a study of migrant workers in California. AmStu students, in conjunction with studying the book, conduct their own photojournalism projects.

Students in SAS math classes have been making use of gamification to hone their skills. In 453, students competed in Chain Rule Bingo, calculating multi-step derivatives of rational and radical functions. In 442, students played memory games to identify whether to apply the Law of Sines or the Law of Cosines to a given diagram. In 443 we played Log Race to review logarithmic properties and equations, and in 432 we played Log Wars to practice converting equations from logarithmic to exponential form. Much fun was had by all!


Every year the Katonah Museum of Art hosts “The Young Artists” exhibition, an impressive student show, celebrating senior art students from several Westchester High Schools. The students are selected by their school for this high quality exhibition. The art works use a variety of mediums, two and three-dimensional. This show exposes students to the creative artworks of their contemporaries at other schools in the area. They meet fellow student artists at the opening and learn about their creative approaches to materials and concepts. Our students put their best pieces forward full of expression and originality, whether they responded to a design prompt or contemporary art theme or concept. It's inspiring for students, teachers and the community to see the depth and richness of the ideas and creative manipulation of so many art mediums from drawing, painting, ceramics, and sculpture to fashion, photography, architecture, and digital media. The Young Artists show is at the pulse of our region's top upcoming artists full of such great potential, skill, creativity, and commitment to creating authentic art.

The students who exhibited this year are:

Olivia Halligan

Wubet Jean-Baptiste

Jack Lattman

Anja Li

Eve Rich

Amy Saxon

Raffaella Vogt

Kivrin Wachtel

Jonathan Wallach


The Deans spent a significant part of the third quarter meeting with students across all grade levels, including conferences with each ninth grader and a parent/guardian, and an individual meeting with tenth and eleventh graders. These allow us to connect with students personally, focusing on their unique needs and goals. Now that they are complete, our administrative team can begin to develop course sections based on student interest, culminating with a master schedule that is student centered in providing as many students as possible with their desired course options.

Though the 150 scheduling conferences kept us busy, the Deans have also been meeting with Juniors and their parents to review their college process. This period-long conference includes a review of a student’s academic record, testing timeline, potential letters of recommendations, and a list of post-secondary institutions they may consider as they embark on their college search. The Deans are also in the planning stages of a webinar for parents of juniors, with the goal of reflecting on this past year in the admissions process, and a look ahead of how we will continue to support students moving forward. And of course, with graduation a couple of months away, our work with seniors is focused on their transition to college, and supporting many of them in making their decision. Needless to say, it has been a busy time in our office, but one filled with meaningful conversations and interactions, which make our work so special.


In the English Department, the spring finds many of our 11th- and 12th-grade courses hard at work on research papers. These extended essays give students the opportunity to analyze a literary work, and to work closely with their teachers to formulate compelling arguments. In some research papers, students formulate interpretations of novels, poems, or plays; in others, they draw interesting connections between a literary work and historical events. In learning how to find, read, and incorporate secondary sources, students practice a vital skill that will help them succeed in college-level writing courses.

For example, in Stephen Mounkhall’s eleventh-grade American Studies class, co-taught with Social Studies teacher Kendra Claussen, students are busy working on papers that consider a piece of American artwork through the lens of American history. The diverse list of texts students are analyzing include works of literature (e.g., Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown), an Anthony Davis opera about the Amistad rebellion, poetry exploring the experiences of the Nisei, groundbreaking song lyrics (from Bob Dylan, Kendrick Lamar, and classic Blues musicians), and more. Students chose their topics and are passionately engaged in research even though the weather is getting nicer.

Earlier in third quarter, students in Ethan Paul’s Words and Images classes culminated their study of Hamlet with a creative assignment in which they adapted scenes from the play into contemporary contexts. Students wrote wonderfully creative scenes set in a high school, at a basketball game, at a teenage party, and in a Wall Street office.

Global Opportunities

Third quarter saw many students flexing their global citizenship muscles with peers from Hong Kong to Argentina. One group heard speakers in celebration of International Women’s Day and then worked on action plans with peers with an interest in bringing more equity to their communities. Several groups discussed two of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, Responsible Production & Consumption and Gender Equity with international students through our Global Education Benchmark Group of schools. They developed an understanding of the issues and discussed how they can move their communities towards these goals. The Entrepreneurship classes piloted a Global Entrepreneurship Challenge and met with students from Hong Kong, Italy, Miami and St. Louis striving to use design thinking to improve the lives of those in their communities. Stay tuned for additional virtual opportunities with an international focus this spring. Please check your school email for updates and invitations. All students are welcome to join our upcoming Virtual Sustainability Summit on April 30th with renowned international speakers Manjula Dissanayake and Amir Dossal as well as our own local sustainability captains, Ron Schulhof and Michelle Sterling. If interested in joining this summit, or if you have questions about global opportunities, please reach out to Heather Waters at hwaters@scarsdaleschools.org or in room 282A.

Health and Physical Education

In Mr. Tulley’s Health 10 classes, students learned about and discussed risk factors for drug use. They analyzed what might place an individual on the drug use continuum, beyond being a nonuser. This unit concludes with a multigenre project, with students working in collaborative groups to research specific classifications of drugs and present their findings in a choice of any number of creative ways. In their presentations, students were asked to highlight the inherent dangers of the drugs they researched and local support and treatment options. The presentations were excellent and ranged from the creation of a website, slideshows, music videos, and skits.

In Physical Education, our 9th and 10th grade students focused on learning through two units: volleyball and bowling. During our volleyball unit, students strengthened their minds and bodies through a variety of skill-specific activities, and then applied their improved skills in a game setting with opportunities for strategy discussion and cooperative team play. In our bowling unit, students practiced techniques to improve their personal level of performance by focusing on the proper approach and various game tactics. Students then put their math skills to work as they learned how the scoring system works in a bowling game and calculated their own scores in ten-frame games.

Our 11th & 12th grade Physical Education students spent time in a fitness unit and a cooperative games unit. In Principles of Modern Fitness, students applied the FITT principle to various resistance training programs (frequency, intensity, time, and type). They designed their own training routines by selecting appropriate fitness goals, learning primary exercises for major muscle groups, and choosing secondary exercises to support their routines. The cooperative games unit included lessons on the traverse climbing wall. These lessons promoted positive working relationships among the students in our classes.


The library has been as busy as ever with research projects that have spanned the four grades, the seven continents, and time immemorial (practically). The number of classes coming in, individual students seeking help, book circulation, and database usage statistics have all skyrocketed. Our use of the Gale In Context resources has been so amazing that we were invited by Gale for a business meeting to discuss our success with these products. Compared to pre-pandemic numbers, the minutes spent on these databases during the month of March 2019 compared to March 2022 went from 10,000 to 14,000. We could not be more thrilled to see our teachers and students so engaged in research and our resources so heavily used.

As much as we are a center for research, we are also a hub for student studying and gathering. On February 15, Adam Katcher, Class of 2022, published the article, “The SHS Library: A Hub for Students During an Up and Down Year,” in Scarsdale 10583 recounting all of the ways students use and enjoy the library. According to Katcher, “...it is easy to see how the multifocal space allows dozens of high school tales to coexist.” As thrilled as we are to support research, we are equally so in regard to providing a welcoming environment for all of our students.


During the unit on Sabermetrics in Mrs. Palekar’s Math 454i, Interdisciplinary Mathematics, students had the pleasure of interviewing, via Zoom, a recent SHS graduate: Roy Kirshnan. While he was a student in Scarsdale, he was a 3 sport athlete! Mr. Krishnan is currently working for the Dallas Mavericks and talked about how data is collected and analyzed by his team and how he communicates the findings to the coaches and players. Having also interned with the Oakland A's, Mr. Krishnan provided a wealth of information and helped our students understand how data can be transformed into useful and actionable information! This was followed up by a fascinating presentation on the math behind baseball Sabermetrics by Brandon D'Agostino and Kenneth Aldridge.

Students brought their instruments and vocal talent to the Math 412 classroom where they practiced singing, playing and writing the quadratic formula song. Mr. Greenberg made the scavenger game for 433 using exponential and logarithmic equations. Ms. Ying’s students had a blast during the scavenger hunt. They went around the classroom solving exponential and logarithmic equations as teams. Some of the questions were named after well known mathematicians and some of the questions were named after students in our own classroom. In Ms. Rauch’s 432 class, students played log war (to practice converting between logarithmic and exponential forms, then solving simple equations) and Log Race (to practice expanding and condensing expressions using the properties of logarithms).

Students in the digital logic design class culminated the unit on combinational logic by building a circuit which performs addition and subtraction of 4-bit binary numbers. The calculator is able to perform addition and subtraction of two numbers in the decimal range 0-15, and is a small-scale replica of the kind of circuit which allows computers to perform arithmetic. Students formulated their design, constructed and successfully ran tests on their circuits, and wrote a technical report detailing their design. One of our students, Hunter Koch, enjoyed the project, noting that "getting hands-on experience with digital circuits and learning the complicated design and logic behind every piece of digital technology changes one's understanding of everything we use everyday."


For biology students, this year not only had the excitement of hands-on laboratory experiments once again, but the ability to operate some advanced technical equipment that truly made them feel like scientists!

In the summer of 2019, AT Biology teacher Ms. Chen attended a conference where she was exposed to the MiniOne Electrophoresis System. Used for separating DNA fragments based on molecular fragment size, gel electrophoresis can be used in crime scene analysis, forensic investigations, paternity tests, as well as testing for genetic disease. Previously, the AT Biology course used a gel electrophoresis lab that took a long time to run, and students only had exposure to pouring the gels and loading the DNA samples in the gels. The freshman biology courses used only paper labs to simulate such a complex laboratory experiment. However, with the use of this innovative system, students in all levels of biology can experience, first hand, the loading and separating of DNA into specific band patterns, within a double class period.

With a roll out postponed by the unexpected closure of school in 2020, all biology students this year have been engaged in a variety of inquiry based laboratory experiments using gel electrophoresis technology. In AT Biology, students were tasked with justifying whether either or both twins will develop Huntington’s disease. In one freshman group, students had the objective of justifying why a student doesn’t taste PTC (Phenylthiocarbamide) as bitter, while the rest of her family does. In addition to loading gels and viewing DNA bands separating, students are able to take pictures from their cell phone for later analysis.

Performing Arts

The Visioned by Sound club met with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and blind consultant Maria Mucaria to discuss the development of their outreach program. Three SHS chamber ensembles were selected by the CMS of Lincoln Center to perform at their regional competition, and one of them has advanced to a performance on May 5th at Alice Tully Hall.

Tri- M recorded and shared several performances with local seniors and rehabilitation centers. They recently raised money to purchase a new computer for Shogufa Safi who is the conductor of Zohrea, the first all female orchestra from Afghanistan.

The Honors Wind Ensemble performed (for the sixth time in school history) a full-length featured concert at Carnegie Hall on April 19th. The band premiered a new work, “River Memoria,” by internationally-renowned composer Kevin Day, who served as a guest conductor, along with Dr. Travis Cross, Director of Bands and Chair of the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA.

The SHS Drama Club had a very successful production of Clue. The acting classes are preparing for their Showcase in June currently devising plays about consent, censorship, academic pressure, and grieving in a pandemic.

The SHS Theater Tech class built and realized an incredible set, costume, light, and sound design for CLUE! The class is currently in the middle of learning how to hand and machine sew building pockets, skirts, and sewing on buttons.

Social Studies

This quarter, teachers continued to put students at the heart of the learning process. In Chris Paulison’s tenth grade class, students role-played the appeasement debate in British parliament following the Munich Conference. Their debates highlighted how the traumatic experience of the First World War loomed large in the minds of British policymakers and caused them to overlook the signs that Hitler needed to be confronted.

Allie Brody’s juniors participated in a two-day simulation of the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. After achieving financial success in the 1920s stock market, they then had to adapt to a crashing economy, making decisions in response to historical events while trying to survive the Great Depression. Students considered how the challenges Americans faced affected their views of the role of government, resulting in a significant transformation of federal powers with the New Deal.

Heather Waters' Public Policy seniors investigated Title IX Legislation as it applies to college safety and the reporting of sexual assaults on campuses, as well as university wellness programs. In the next unit, a study of hunger locally and nationally, they prepared and served dinner two nights in Mt. Vernon at the CSA Soup Kitchen.

In the elective Psychology course, Ron Widelec’s students researched the reliability of memory. They were given a fictional scenario in which a person was accused of a crime based on eye-witness testimony. Students had to determine to what degree the testimony was reliable, based on their readings on the topic. They then played the role of an expert witness during the trial, responding to questions from the defense and prosecuting attorneys.

Special Education

Annual review season is in full bloom in the high school. LRC teachers are busy meeting with students and parents at CSE meetings to ensure that the appropriate program, accommodations and services will be in place for next year.

With Senior Options right around the corner, we are getting ready to bid farewell to our seniors. We have celebrated with them as they committed to their schools and could not be more proud of their achievements. We are thrilled to bring back the annual “LRC Senior Send-Off” which will take place on Thursday, April 27th starting at noon in the Learning Resource Center.

In March, we, along with our Counseling Department, hosted the annual College Night for Students with Learning Differences. We had a large turnout and parents were able to hear about the process from an experienced parent as well as from a college representative knowledgeable about services and accommodations at the college level.

Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, we remain committed to helping our students continue to develop the skills necessary to move forward. As always, we are here to help so please do not hesitate to reach out to us.


STEAM students have been busy this quarter learning by doing. The Design/Build classes have learned woodworking skills while making items for the special education class at Edgewood. Our students made napkin, utensil, and cup holders for the younger students to use. Next, Design/Build students will make shelving to hold the younger students’ independent activity baskets, so that everything is easy to find and in one place. Two of the Design/Build students are working on hacking a high chair for a ten month old who has Charge syndrome. She needs additional support for the high chair, as she can’t hold herself upright, as well as a footrest, as this is an important aspect of sitting and eating.

In AT Entrepreneurship, student teams identify a problem in society and work throughout the year to create a working prototype and a business model. One team has created Buddy Connect (follow them on Instagram @buddyconnect_). They have created a service that pairs high school teens with younger children who have cognitive disabilities to provide social connection and belonging. Another group is focusing on making a bag for the back of a wheelchair that holds lifesaving medical devices so they are secure and easy to access in an emergency. We hope you join us either in person or virtually for the AT Entrepreneurship Final Pitch Night, April 28th at 7PM. A link to sign up to attend as well as a livestream link will be available soon on STEAM teacher pages.

Student Government

School Government held elections and welcomed in a new set of officers to continue preparations for upcoming events and represent the needs of the larger student body. Planning began for a new initiative called the Peer Led Learning Plan, a week where students can work with their teachers to present on a topic of their choosing in class. Topics ranged from personal interests to important social justice discussions. Students enjoyed learning from each other and sharing their individual passions and projects. To expand the extracurricular opportunities for students at SHS, School Government reviewed dozens of new club applications. The highlight of our year so far was the return of the School Government-sponsored Carnival! The delightful weather and promise of fun games and exciting rides brought students and families together for two days of wonderful community spirit. Proceeds from the carnival benefit charitable organizations.

World Language

Students are digging deeper into their study of World Languages as we head into the Spring season. Latin Students celebrated the Roman Banquet in costume and gathered to enjoy ancient Roman dishes prepared by their peers. That was followed by trivia games about the Ides of March, and other activities such as mythological speed dating, pictionary in Latin, a Roman dice-catching game, and musical chairs set to some Latin language favorites.

Our upper-level Mandarin students have been busy imagining school settings 50 years into the future. Other Mandarin students have completed original product inventions and “pitched” them, shark tank style, to their peers. The Mandarin club has hosted workshops on bubble tea and chopsticks.

Our French students have been engaged with some exciting activities this quarter. First there was the visit from Erwan Uguen, cousin to Mademoiselle Calhoun. He spoke to many French classes about the university experience in France. Later, during the month of March students celebrated our first annual musical March Madness or Manie Musicale, which is an international French popular song competition with over 3000 schools participating in over 16 countries. Students listened to songs and watched the music videos from all around the French speaking world and voted on their favorites. Also in March, some French students participated in the Grand Concours competition. Another favorite activity was the French club celebration of Mardi gras with mask decorating and fun food.

Spanish students have been similarly occupied with a variety of thrilling activities. Students in Spanish 344 learned about Sephardic art from our very own Beth Colleary in preparation for a presentation about the Ladino language by professional Ladino performer Sarah Aroeste. Students in Spanish 322 learned to dance the merengue with physical education teacher Maggie Bryant. AT Spanish students discussed life in contemporary Cuba with our Cuban guest speakers. AT Spanish literature students have been studying short stories by Latin American greats such as Borges, Cortázar and others. The Spanish club has been busy coordinating a pen pal program with a sports organization for underprivileged youth in Columbia. All of the language clubs are busy organizing entries for the Polyglot, the third edition of our online literary magazine.

And last but certainly not least, our very own Patricia Almanzar presented at the Northeast Conference on the teaching of Foreign Languages! Her research focused on vocabulary acquisition in a traditional versus a technology-infused framework.