Dear Members of the SHS Community:
As the school year draws to a close, I would like to thank each of you for the contributions you made to our school community during the past year. We very much enjoyed the return to normalcy and were reminded of the importance of in-person experience in helping our students grow academically and socially. May we all keep some of that gratitude as we enjoy the fullness of life in all areas of our lives.
This spring we celebrated the careers of our staff members who are retiring: Lisa Yokana, Mitchell Thompson, and Greg Leong. We thank them for their years of service and for their many contributions to our school. In working to find successors for these staff members, we conducted selection processes that involved multiple rounds of interviews and broad representation to ensure the best possible outcomes. I extend my thanks to all those 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 this year, and congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2023!
Good evening President Yusuf, Superintendent Patrick, fellow members of the faculty, parents and friends, and most especially the members of the Class of 2023.
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 occasion. It is so good to see all of you here to celebrate this moment that is filled with meaning, as it represents both the accomplishment of having graduated and the commencement of your adult lives. Let us pause here for a moment to appreciate the beauty and significance of this moment.
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 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 impact of your work in developing your academic skills and fostering your growth as individuals.
This accomplishment also represents the hard work you have put into getting here. Individually and collectively, you faced formidable and unprecedented challenges during your high school career, and you responded with tenacity and ingenuity. You have excelled in athletic and extracurricular activities, finding ways to maintain continuous engagement in the most difficult of circumstances. And you have completed your coursework and your exams and your Senior Options and have earned a seat at this very ceremony. This is not by accident but instead through commitment and dedication to your goals.
Each class stands out for the way they navigated adolescence and their high-school journeys, and your class is no exception. While we came to know each other primarily through zoom meetings about weird class schedules, in the time we have been together in school I have come to appreciate the overall tone of your class as one of maturity and kindness. I was reminded of a common sense of altruism in a note I received. Many of you dealt with the loss of your classmate, Paul Jimenez, and responded so beautifully by honoring his memory in ways large and small. Paul’s family shared with me how honored and grateful they feel for the love and support they have received from Paul’s classmates and the community as a whole.
To be sure, the road you have traveled as a Class has not been easy, and you have overcome obstacles to reach this point. We are gathered here to recognize your efforts in and out of the classroom that made this moment possible.
Indeed, the common thread between the start and end of your high school years has been the importance of personal relationships. Being in isolation for so long with all contact mediated through technology made us all realize how important shared experiences are, and now with AI able to do increasingly complex tasks, those qualities that are truly human will become ever more valuable. Compassion, curiosity, and leadership. The ability to sense a need and set about trying to address it. Taking care of those less fortunate. Original, creative, and critical thinking. Setting worthy goals to achieve in your life and creating your own assessment of progress. Taken with the power of true human interaction, these human capacities are no match for AI. So really, make the most of your humanity, your independence, your ability to think and reason. Engage in academic tasks that will sharpen these skills, and use the memory of isolation and the challenge of AI to remind yourself that humans are meant to collaborate and connect in order to thrive.
I do hope that your educational journey allows you to find work that truly engages you, that motivates you to pursue it on its own merits, where you find yourself in a state of flow—where you lose a sense of time and space in answering a question or satisfying a curiosity. That is one of the true pleasures of learning, and I hope you use the privilege of being engaged in study as your primary occupation to search broadly and then deeply to find the subject that brings you the most intellectual satisfaction.
Then, 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!
On Friday, June 16th, the A-School said goodbye to its 50th graduating class. Our ceremony celebrates each of our graduating seniors with an individual speech by their Core Group Advisor. The ceremony is organized by our student Graduation Heads, this year Monica Afran and Dani Goldman had the honor of that role. The Heads work on everything from creating the invitation, organizing the gifts for the seniors, and decorating the space. Jared Waldman was our master of ceremonies weaving together jokes and sentimental anecdotes about his time in the A-School. Finally, our student speaker Thomas Chesnut delivered a powerful message about the A-School’s message “you get out what you put in.” We wish our seniors the best of luck next year in their post-high school lives!
On April 24th the district art teachers and several teachers from other disciplines came together for a PD day on the Reggio Emilia Approach to Teaching and Learning. Each teacher invited colleagues who teach in other disciplines with the goal of creating discussion around possibilities for interdisciplinary work K-12 focusing on the Reggio Emilia philosophy.
We were led by Lorella Lamonaca and Lindsey Hicks, both seasoned educators in Reggio Emilia. The day consisted of learning more about the schools in Italy, their focus, the philosophy, and ways to explore Reggio concepts and how we might incorporate them into our curricula. Reggio uses art as a vehicle to understand the world, ideas, and oneself. It is about the process of thinking creatively and critically. Much of the work is collaborative and uses the exploration of sustainable materials. The day was extremely successful with everyone enthusiastic and thinking about ways to work together, as well as about the integration of Reggio principles into their individual classrooms.
SHS students, who are in the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) and their advisor, Janna Johnsen, have spent the past six months designing and painting the new 8' x 8' mural for the village. The poem on the mural is by Francesca Lloyd.
Enjoy the newest colorful public art installed across from the Scarsdale Train Station, creating another chapter for the inspirational "Healing Tree'' originally created during SHS's 2022 Non-Sibi Day. The story continued as NAHS led another interactive and collaborative art installation on Non-Sibi Day 2023 at the healing tree's Brewster location. Please come by and view this lovely installation as the colorful messages catch the wind.
At the conclusion of each year, the Counseling Department hosts an annual Symposium, a roundtable of high school counselors and college admissions professionals. The Scarsdale Symposium provides an opportunity to share thoughts from the perspective of both the high school and college side, and allows us to reflect on the past year, as well as gain insight into future trends. As far as we know, there is no such equivalent among public (and most independent) high schools in the country, and it is indeed an event that many high school and admissions professionals seek to attend. Aside from the extensive travel and interactions Deans have with admissions colleagues, the Symposium is yet another opportunity for us to gather knowledge about a process some see as opaque, but one that we recognize is led by caring and thoughtful professionals. It should also leave our stakeholders, both within our school and in the larger community, with the confidence that the information we provide is based on extensive professional development, conversations, and unmatched insight into the college process, something that cannot be replicated in its scope. Whether we are having a conversation regarding our AT Curriculum, test optional policies, the impact of Covid on the admissions process, or countless other admissions related topics, the Symposium, college visits, local and national professional conferences, and other professional development opportunities Deans take on demonstrate our ongoing commitment to our students and families. The information we provide on an ongoing basis is born from our collective first-hand knowledge and extensive combined experience.
In the English Department, the fourth quarter was a time of closure and celebration. At the end of May, our ninth-graders enthusiastically brought A Midsummer Night’s Dream to life on stage during SHS’s Shakespeare Festival. The day-long celebration began with a breakfast sponsored by the ninth-grade class government, followed by an exuberant performance of Shakespeare’s play, and concluded with classes meeting in teams for community-building activities. In similar fashion, the twelfth-grade AT classes marked the end of the year with a celebration of their studies in our annual Poetry Festival at the end of April. All seniors from our Advanced Topics English classes gathered in the library to listen to fifty student presenters read aloud their favorite poems or share original poetic compositions.
Elsewhere in the department, students were busy with assignments designed to bring the year to a fulfilling end. Many junior classes ended the year with research papers on a book of their choice, while Susanne Conklin’s sophomores concluded their course with research presentations on issues of American justice. Drawing upon topics in To Kill a Mockingbird and the 2019 film Just Mercy, Ms. Conklin’s students researched different aspects of the American carceral system. After investigating statistics about and legal analyses of the death penalty, for example, students applied their findings to the primary texts. Through these thought-provoking essays and presentations, students are invited to examine the human experience from different perspectives, deepening their understanding of what it means to be human.
The end of the year was an exciting time for our SHS global citizenry. April welcomed both the Global Entrepreneurship Challenge and a group of students from Campana, Argentina. The Challenge had groups of students from the AT Entrepreneur Class explore the UNSDGs and found practical solutions to real life problems in their communities. Students were able to get feedback on their projects and learn about life as a teen around the world. They were joined by UN and community experts in areas of their problem studies. In addition, students from our partner schools in China, Italy, Argentina, Indonesia and Florida. Students from the Austin Eco Bilingual School near Buenos Aires joined us at SHS for a week as part of the GEC. Our students got to share American life and SHS with their Argentinian counterparts. They were also able to add interesting discussions to the AT Spanish classes explorations of Latin American issues. In the fall, we will welcome students from Madrid as part of our next exchange. February will be an exciting month as SHS students will travel to stay with their hosts in Madrid and another group will explore geothermal energy and Icelandic culture in Reykjavik and Vik, Iceland. If you would like to know more about our exciting future global programming, reach out to Heather Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Health and Physical Education
In Health Education, Mr. Tulley’s students began discussing healthy relationships to begin their comprehensive sex education unit. Health classes identified and compared the characteristics of healthy versus unhealthy relationships. In addition, they looked at the key differences between unhealthy and abusive relationships. Students analyzed different scenarios to determine red flags. They were given tools and resources to help identify dangerous situations and how to break free from them. Classes also worked on outlining what informed consent is and the different ways that it can look. Emphasis was placed on the creation of consent versus consent being transactional. Students worked to examine different case studies where consent was the main theme.
Our Physical Education classes have enjoyed the outdoor classroom setting, feeling the positive effects of exercise in the fresh air and sunshine. Our ninth and tenth-grade students spent some of the fourth quarter 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 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 upperclassmen took part in our annual fourth-quarter golf unit in PE classes. The golf unit included lessons on the full swing (drivers and irons), the short game (pitching and chipping), and putting. Our 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 move forward into the summer months, we encourage our students to find ways to be active with family and friends in ways that are both enjoyable and meaningful. We wish you all a healthy and active summer!
As the end of the year draws near, we are setting our sights on 2023-24. Taking into consideration the research needs of both SHS’ required and elective courses, we have added three new online resources. To support our psychology courses as well as 11th and 12th grade English classes, in which students sometimes delve into the psychological issues at the heart of books like Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, and Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, we have opted to expand Proquest’s Psychology Database to OnePsychology, which will provide more comprehensive resources, accessible through a more user-friendly interface. To support our courses in government and constitutional law, we purchased a 3-volume e-reference collection, Milestone Documents of the Supreme Court, which covers decisions from the early republic to the present day, pairing each decision with in-depth commentary and analysis. Lastly, for our physics courses, we acquired the American Physical Society’s free database which provides access to Physical Review Journals.
In Ms. Palekar’s AT AB Calculus class students studied calculating volumes of solids using cross sections. She then collaborated with Ms. Johnsen, an Art teacher to bring the concepts to life. Students chose an object and used Adobe Illustrator and plexi-glass to visualize the cross sections. Once the models were laser cut and assembled, students used the rectangular, square or semi-circular cross sections to calculate the volume of their irregularly shaped solid. Geometry 422 classes also collaborated with Ms. Johnsen and created tessellations in the plane. Once students understood translations, rotations and reflections, they were ready to use Adobe Illustrator and a laser cutter with some imagination sprinkled in.
In AT Statistics classes, students worked on a data analysis project using R, a software environment for statistical computing and graphics. Students selected variables to analyze from AddHealth, a longitudinal study containing adolescent demographic, social, familial, socioeconomic, behavioral, and health survey data. By entering code into R, students performed an analysis of variance to determine if an association exists between their chosen variables and presented their findings to the class. While working on the projects, Sharon Weinberg, Professor of Applied Statistics and Psychology at NYU Steinhardt, visited each of the AT Statistics classes to discuss how R is taught in college-level Statistics courses and how it can be utilized in the growing field of Data Science.
Students in Computer Science 913 are working their way toward having a fire alarms system with audio and visual warnings and a reset button for false alarms. They are also learning about the trade off between precision, stability and response time. Computer science 912 students completed a unit on game design and were treated to a visit from a video game producer from Atari. He spoke about careers in computer science and elements of game design.
On June 5th, students from CS 922 and Digital Logic had the opportunity to learn about language modeling and see the connections between probability, statistics, computer science, and linear algebra. Dr. Geoffrey Zweig, a director of AI at Meta, gave a presentation on Language Modeling and how AI works, focusing on training data, neural nets, and computing probabilities. It was a wonderful integration of digital logic, linear Algebra, and contemporary topics in computer science. We are so grateful that Dr. Zweig volunteered his time to come in and share his experience and knowledge with our students and faculty.
Music and Performing Arts
The Symphonic Band, Honors Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Ensemble all did an outstanding job at their Spring Concert in April. In addition, members of the Symphonic Band and Honors Wind Ensemble volunteered to march in the Scarsdale Memorial Parade for the first time since before the pandemic renewing an important link between the school and community.
The Concert, Mixed and Chamber Choirs performed a beautiful Spring Concert on May 9th. We acknowledged our wonderful seniors as they performed a Senior Song accompanied by one of their own, Estelle D'Alessio. The performance concluded with Mozart's "Dies Irae" accompanied by members of the Orchestra and Band. Towards the end of the school year, the choir members prepared solos, duets, and quartets to showcase their individual voices in a final recital.
The Drama Club has begun preparing for Matilda in the Fall (November 17-19) with an audition workshop and sing-through of the music. The 8th grade future DC members were invited to join them. Acting classes performed the end of year “Actor’s Showcase” which premiered many original student works including Theatre for Youth plays, “Cat in the Hat School,” “Magic Trash” and “The Beauty in Me,” a piece about migrant child labor entitled, “The Invisible Ones,” and the devised plays “Happiness” and “I Plead the First” about free speech.
The Theater Tech class acted as “roadies” for Jabberfest just before spring break. They spent the fourth quarter working hard on the senior class play, Annie Jr., and building all of the stage designs for the devised theater pieces in the Acting Showcase in June. We are planning our class for next year as well as preparing our ideas for the fall musical, Matilda!
In our inaugural year as a newly-named and expanded department, the Psychology & Social Work Department (PSW) was ambitious in its outlook. As mental health professionals, we have always collaborated with the Counseling Department in serving the social and emotional needs of our student body. This past year, however, our aim was to be more proactive in our approach, and indeed we have gone a long way in achieving that goal.
We visited all ninth grade Freshman Seminar and Civ Ed groups to present information about resources and the overall transition to SHS. We spent time with sophomores in Health class, and juniors in their English class. We held a webinar for parents, introducing our personnel and services. PSW staff served as panelists on school wide initiatives, including “Off & Away” and Global Citizenship Day. We developed a website to highlight our services and resources for members of our school community. And just as importantly, we have collaborated with academic departments in providing support, and look forward to continuing that work this summer through Summer Program Improvement Days. PSW staff will meet with Math department colleagues to discuss how to support students with test anxiety, and with English Department members to review how we could collaborate when a student may be emotionally struggling with a piece of literature.
We look forward to continuing this important work next year. In the meantime, we wish all of our students a relaxing and recharging summer.
As shared in the fall, we are delighted to again have the opportunity to fully engage students in activities and experiences throughout our science courses. In Geology and Earth Science, we expanded our thematic approach of Telling the Story of Scarsdale. In the fall, students walked the campus and collected local rock samples. They revisited their samples throughout the year in an attempt to connect geologic concepts to our local environment. For example, students classified their local rock, while observing, measuring, and testing around fifty samples as part of the mineralogy & petrology unit.
To expand and further enhance our connection to real formations and our local environment, a field experience was piloted this spring. The study of geology is greatly enriched when students have the opportunity to observe rock formations and sequences in an authentic environment. Throughout the year, students developed a geologic history profile of the Hudson River basin, which Scarsdale is part of. Their field experience allowed them to visit four locations along the Hudson River to observe the environment and sequencing they had studied throughout the course. These observations lead to a more meaningful and lasting understanding of tectonics and surface processes that tell the story of Scarsdale over geologic time. For example, one stop allowed students to view the palisades sill along the Hudson River and contemplate when active volcanoes existed in our area.
In many tenth grade classrooms, research papers were the focus of the fourth quarter, with students developing research questions, finding relevant materials, outlining their arguments and finally producing solid argumentative papers. For example, students in the classes of Andrew Morgan and Brendan Lee explored issues of the Cold War and decolonization. Specific topics included the Arab Spring in Tunisia, civil conflicts in various Latin American nations, and more.
The AT US History courses combined for a field trip into New York City. After beginning with a history of Grand Central, students went on a mission of historical exploration, choosing from one of three loops: Midtown, Downtown/Ground Zero and Roosevelt Island. At each stop, small groups of students served as tour guides, teaching their classmates about the historical significance of each location. This trip was a great way to bring their studies to life.
Of course, the Social Studies Department is also home to a number of electives, such as Introduction to Psychology, the Waking Mind philosophy course, and Criminal Justice, in which Patrick Healy’s students recently took on the role of forensic scientists. For this experience, they gathered in a lab room to examine fiber and hair samples under a microscope, in addition to trying their hands at fingerprint and handwriting analysis (see photo). They used their findings as evidence to determine which of a group of suspects was guilty of a (fictional) crime. This hands-on experience gave students a clear understanding of the role of forensics in our justice system.
This quarter we bid farewell to our seniors at our annual LRC Senior Luncheon as they headed off to Senior Options. After nearly four years of watching them mature and develop into young men and women, it was truly a celebration of their hard work and dedication to their high school experience.
While the seniors were off working at their various internships, the rest of the students were busy preparing for finals and Regents and getting ready to close out the year. Teachers continued to bring students to the elementary schools for the Learning Differences programs, always a highlight of the year for both students in the high school as well as the elementary schools.
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.
As for our returning students and families, we hope that you have a restful summer and find time to recharge and have some well-deserved fun. We look forward to the continued partnership and collaboration in the next school year.
“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” – AA Milne, Winnie the Pooh
Students enrolled in the Advanced Topics Entrepreneurship class this year, also participated in a Global Entrepreneurship Challenge, tackling the UN Sustainable Development Goals and meeting virtually with students from around the world to compare problems and solutions as well as receiving feedback from experts. Fourteen teams participated, representing diverse parts of the world.
On April 28, the teams came together, both via Zoom and in person, to present their groundbreaking solutions. Teams demonstrated their commitment to the SDGs by addressing various global challenges. These projects showcased the participants' creativity and determination to contribute to a sustainable future.
Esteemed experts in fields related to the UN SDGs provided valuable feedback and guidance to the participating teams both throughout the year and at the final summit. This mentorship helped refine their solutions and encouraged innovation. Experts praised the teams' dedication, originality, and the potential impact of their projects.
The Global Entrepreneurship Challenge showcased the determination and creativity of teams from around the world, addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals through their innovative solutions. The event served as a platform for knowledge exchange, mentorship, and collaboration, fostering a global community of changemakers. You can read more about the different teams' projects here.
STEAM classes are coming to a close, with students finishing projects, like adaptive games for children with visual impairments and story boxes to help young children who are blind or have partial vision. AT Entrepreneurship students also pitched their final ideas to the Scarsdale community. You can watch them here.
SHS Design Lab
Welcome to Scarsdale High School's STEAM website. Here you will find an overview of the program, a chart to help you navigate the courses based on your areas of interest, and a page about each course, with descriptions of content and a sampling of past projects.
Our School Government was quite active this quarter. We celebrated our second annual Peer-Led Learning Week, where students presented on a topic of interest in class. Presentations ranged from the wives of King Henry VIII to cryptocurrency to origami. School Government also planned for our first ever spring Spirit Week and Pep Rally. The officers developed a creative point system to encourage school spirit, and the grade that earned the most points by the end of the week was rewarded. The winners, seniors, were happily rewarded donuts during homeroom. Finally, we planned the carnival and it was certainly a success. With the help of pleasant weather, thousands of people from Scarsdale and neighboring towns enjoyed the rides and events led by school clubs. This year, School Government has chosen to donate its proceeds from the carnival, nearly $20,000 in total, to WWF, PaulieStrong, and Feeding Westchester. We have begun to plan for the next academic year, but we are first looking forward to a restful summer!
As we head into the final stretch of the academic year, students and teachers in World Languages have been busy completing the integrated performance based assessments with the interpretive, interpersonal and presentational modes which incorporate speaking, listening, reading and writing tasks. Many of our French students collaborated to create group portfolio projects on topics such as the use of steroids, cosmetic surgery, digitally altered images and images of beauty on social media. Students conducted class discussions Socratic Seminar style and wrote in-class essays using the sources presented by their peers. AT Spanish students have completed their final portfolio projects and presented to one another in small groups on global topics such as women’s rights in Spain, Indigenous people’s rights in Latin America, Child labor in South America, climate change in the Dominican Republic and more. Students in Spanish 342 completed their final projects and participated in the third annual Fairy Tale Story Telling Day via Zoom with elementary Spanish students at Greenacres. AT Mandarin students researched, created and presented their final portfolio projects on an aspect of Chinese culture, such as traditional Chinese gardens, traditional Chinese foods and more. Upper level Latin students are retelling myths from Ovid's Metamorphoses through Latin videos, comics or plays. Other students are writing original fan fiction in Latin involving characters and storylines from their textbook Suburani, and then creating videos or comics to illustrate them.
The language clubs have also remained active though the end of the year with outdoor festivals, games and ice cream sundaes! The clubs once again collaborated to produce the fourth edition of the highly anticipated World Languages Literary Magazine, The Polyglot. Check it out online, it is indeed attonitus, génial, asombroso, 杰出