Dear Members of the SHS Community:
I am pleased to present the first Quarterly Update of the 2022-23 school year and to report that our return to familiar routines and the ability to see students and teachers smiling and working together has continued to fill the air with a sense of joy and gratitude. The first quarter also saw many student activities, prominent among them the Ninth Annual Global Citizenship Day, designed by a committee of teachers and featuring many teacher-designed presentations and outside speakers, as well as our International Luncheon with many of our parents and PTA volunteers providing key support. Our Community Service Dinner was well attended and provided students, staff members, and parents with a unique opportunity to connect and socialize in a relaxed atmosphere.
Perhaps the most striking news of the first quarter was the stupendous performance of so many teams in our athletics program. Our cheerleading, cross-country, football, girls swimming and diving, girls volleyball, and girls soccer teams all participated in postseasonal play. Further, our boys volleyball team won the section title, our field hockey team won the section and the region, and our girls tennis and boys soccer teams won section, region, and state championship titles. Congratulations to all of our student-athletes on these remarkable accomplishments.
We continue to work on our “Off and Away for the Day” cell phone initiative. The foundation we had with a strong rollout at the beginning of the school year was reflected in feedback from students, teachers, and parents. Our parent seminars on the initiative were well attended and provided important dialogue about the challenges of managing device use that we all face, adult and adolescent alike. Most important in the feedback was the students’ sentiment that the reduction in cell phone usage was making their daily experience in school more enjoyable, especially the ability to focus in class and socialize in the hallways. As the year has progressed, some hallway usage has crept back up, and we continue to strategize to get at this issue in a positive, affirming manner without reporting to overzealous enforcement. I appreciate the widespread support this initiative has garnered.
We are grateful to the Board of Education and the community for supporting the addition of a school psychologist position and a school social worker position to our faculty. The addition of these positions is being supported by an enhanced organization into a defined Psychology and Social Work department. During the summer and through the fall, this new team has been designing new programs that will allow more of our students to access the services they provide by raising awareness of the work they do. In the same vein, they hosted workshops for our teachers on Superintendent’s Conference Day and for parents last week. Please see the report below for more information on their work.
The past few years have witnessed significant changes in the college admissions landscape, and the Covid-19 Pandemic has had an accelerating effect on that. Oren Iosepovici, Director of Counseling at SHS, will provide an overview of these changes from the perspective of the Counseling Department, insight to what we have seen at SHS with respect to college admissions, and a review of how the Counseling Department supports students in this process at an evening program entitled, “The Evolving College Admission Landscape: Trends and Thoughts from the SHS Counseling Department” on Monday, December 5th, at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium. The presentation will be followed by a Q & A.
Below, please find updates from each department on the work they’ve been doing so far this year. Please accept my best wishes to you and your families for a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday season to come.
We began this year with our student organized and run Orientation where we greeted returning students and welcomed new members. The Orientation heads, Gabby Arovas, Julia Assa, Dani Goldman and Mattie Silberfein, planned a fun day with ice breaker games, conversations about A-School values and lots of opportunities to get to know each other.
In addition, the A-School was able to return to our traditional annual Outing this September. Our retreat took place at the beautiful Camp Kinder Ring in Hopewell Junction, where Sophie Brenner, Arthur Pevzner, Ava Shadler and Arianna Wilson led us through team building activities and deep conversations. Of course this event would not be complete without our talent show, a special shout out to our emcees Ben Flicker and Justin Liang for creating a fun and inclusive space.
In the classroom this quarter SAS math, students have been working on culminating unit projects to demonstrate mastery of their new skills. In 453, students have been analyzing the properties of polynomial functions in order to design and model a quantifiably thrilling roller coaster. In Public Policy students are debating big questions around ethical business and institutional practices. In American Studies students are exploring to what extent America is as politically divided as the media portrays it. Finally, Amanda’s students read the novel Weather, an experiential piece that touches on concerns about climate change.
Our first gallery show of the season featured several of our Fashion I and II students.
We were contacted by Junk Kouture, an organization that began in Ireland and whose participation has grown to a global platform. Junk Kouture is a fashion competition about using recycled materials-challenging young people to design, create, and high-end model couture from everyday junk. It takes in elements of fashion, design, engineering, and environmental sustainability.
Lisa Scavelli took on the challenge with her Fashion I class, which gave students an opportunity to learn how to use recycled materials to create original fashion designs. It was optional for the students to enter their creations in the Junk Koture global fashion show. The students worked as a team last Spring to create the fashions you see in the Positive Space Gallery.
Beth Colleary worked with our Fashion II students with a similar theme. In keeping with the current fashion trends focusing on sustainable fashion, repurposing, and a Do It Yourself (DIY) handmade aesthetic, students began with garments that they no longer wore and created new wearable fashions with the addition of hand-painted, hand-sewn, embroidered, patchwork and applique elements. In addition to garments, there are fashion illustrations with sustainability and repurposing materials as a focus.
Students were inspired by the fashions featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute exhibition PUNK: Chaos in Couture and the Scraps: Fashion, Textiles, and Creative Reuse exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum.
The Deans are counselors first and foremost, and we remain committed to supporting our students personally, socially, and academically. We work with faculty to identify students who may need additional support, and collaborate with the Psychology and Social Work (PSW) Department to determine how individual concerns could be best addressed. We attend Pupil Support Team (PST) meetings to advocate for students who face personal or academic challenges, and meet regularly as a department to discuss recent social-emotional trends. Each quarter, we meet with the entire team of support staff, including our school psychologists, social workers, nurses, and administrators to discuss our programs, students, and overall work in supporting students’ social-emotional growth.
Establishing a knowledge of and comfort level with our students is a primary focus of our work. Our structures and programs are designed to facilitate this, beginning with our ninth grade transition programs (Freshman Seminar of Civic Educations), and continuing with our tenth and eleventh grade seminars, our senior workshops, and the many other individual and group meetings we hold with students. Our Deans also frequently visit homerooms, another touchpoint where students and Deans can build on our work together.
We emphasize our focus on our students’ personal and emotional growth, as that is at the core of who we are and what we do. Though we recognize that students often look to us for academic counsel, the reality is that all of us benefit from individuals who are there to listen, no matter the concern.
One of the primary aims of the English Department is to get teenagers reading, a responsibility we feel acutely in an era when the lure of the cellphone is omnipresent. Reading helps foster critical thinking, encourages attention to the nuances of language, develops imagination, and fosters empathy for others. For these reasons and many others, we enthusiastically support SHS’s new “Off and Away for the Day” initiative. As a community, whatever we can do to help students build the mental stamina to concentrate without distracting themselves by reaching for their phones, the more we will help them develop healthy reading skills.
So far this year in English classes, we have sought to introduce students to stories that will both interest and challenge them. Students have encountered books that run the gamut from the classic (Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Kafka’s Metamorphosis) to the contemporary (Woodson’s Another Brooklyn, Yu’s Interior: Chinatown). Juniors have focused in particular on texts that explore the complexities and contradictions of America. They were introduced to such figures as John Proctor from The Crucible, Hester Prynne from A Scarlet Letter, and Jay Gatsby. Meanwhile, students in Dr. Kroll’s Advanced Topics class began the year with a focus on poetry. The class celebrated a classic poetic form by chalking famous sonnets on the pavement in front of the Brewster Road entrance. This activity brought colorful poetry to the attention of the entire school, while helping AT students explore the rules of the sonnet structure.
SHS was abuzz in September welcoming Italian students and teachers from Udine, Italy. This was the first half of an exchange program with our Italian partner school, Collegio Uccellis. Many students got to meet them as they sat in on classes and immersed themselves in life as a Scarsdale High student. Our students will do the same over February break, living with a family and attending Uccellis as part of the second half of this exchange. Our historical music trips will also be performing in Europe over the February break. Just after we said “Ciao” to our Italian friends, the Ninth Annual Global Citizenship Day kicked off the year on October 13th. A myriad of students, teachers and guest speakers from within the community and outside helped us engage our SHS community on issues of wellness, altruism, human rights, UN SDGs, empathy and free speech, to name a few. We were lucky to be joined by two Holocaust survivors, leaders in business, philanthropy and academics from the community, all with the goal of helping our students develop into leaders and global citizens. The day was topped off with an amazing International lunch celebrating SHS’s global heritage. If you would like to see the full slate of sessions that day click here. There will be more virtual and travel opportunities offered throughout the year and we encourage students to check their SHS email accounts. We are so happy to be able to get back out into the world and engage in SHS programming as global citizens and scholars. If you have questions email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 721-2568 or stop by office 282A.
Health and Physical Education
The Physical Education Department began the school year with the Start-Up Fitness unit across all grade levels. Lessons included warm-up principles, speed & agility training, strength training, circuit training, and various individual, partner & group fitness challenges. 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 field hockey and lacrosse in a team sports unit. Our students in the 11th & 12th grade classes took part in our tennis unit, which offered a few outdoor and indoor racquet sports including tennis, platform tennis, pickleball, and table tennis. While working on sport-specific skills, students were also increasing their levels of endurance, improving balance and coordination, and developing concentration and cooperation.
This semester the Health Education Department revived one of its past electives, a course on the important topic of nutrition. As a department we felt it was an opportunity to give students at SHS the opportunity to go beyond the Health 10 curriculum and dive deeper into a specialized area. The nutrition course is open to all juniors and seniors who have completed the Health 10 course and are interested in a closer look at up-to-date information in the field of nutrition. Students are spending the fall semester with Ms. Levenberg, who has been a Registered Dietician for over fifteen years. So far, students have explored why we eat the way we do, including investigating powerful (but not always easily observable) environmental factors that influence our food choices. This includes family, culture, convenience, availability, lifestyle, athletics, and advertising. Understanding why they make certain food choices and understanding various factors that impact their decisions will help students to make informed and healthy choices. The class is continuing their journey by looking into how we choose and consume functional foods, nutritional supplements, macronutrients, and micronutrients. The goal for the course is for all students to have the ability to create healthy meal plans to meet their individualized needs.
The school year is off to an amazing start in the library. Classes have been coming in for freshman orientation, research, and independent reading selections. In addition, we had the honor of presenting at this year’s Global Citizenship Day. We paired Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story, with The Lunch Date, a 1989 Oscar winning short film to talk about misperceptions based on what we think we know about others. Beyond classes, students have been making great use of the library’s space and resources before and after school, as well as during their free periods.
AT Linear Algebra (New Course!)
In Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Li's Linear Algebra classes, students just completed an electrical circuits project where they applied concepts learned in class. We first learned how to represent a system of equations using a matrix and how to solve the system using elementary row operations. For the project, students were also taught physics concepts such as the difference between series vs. parallel circuits; how to draw a schematic diagram, build a circuit using an online simulator, and measure the amperes and voltages using an ammeter and voltmeter, respectively. They also applied Kirchoff's Current and Voltage Laws to write the system of equations which represented the circuits they created. Students then shared what they learned about the project and what they still wonder about. We will use the circuit simulation provided by the University of Colorado’s PhET website.
AT AB Calculus
In 455AB, students learn how to draw the derivative of a function. To help students with this concept, we used two websites that gave them some hands-on practice. The first exercise was to identify which graph was the original function and which was the derivative. Students could select the difficulty level and practice selecting each. Once they become comfortable with the activity, they had to write a paragraph explaining their strategy. Then, given a graph students were asked to sketch the graph of the derivative. After attempting it, the site would "score" their attempt.
In 453, after finishing a unit on polynomials, students designed a roller coaster and created a presentation and video to advertise their coaster.
Community Building in Math Classes
In September, Mr. Li’s classes played "Moon Ball" to build community. Students worked together and used strategies to keep a beach ball afloat. They score a point when everyone in the group has hit or bump the ball upwards once and only once. Students problem-solved by trying various positions and techniques to keep the ball afloat. Once they scored some points, we gave them another challenge such as keeping two beach balls afloat simultaneously. Leaders emerged, students persevered, and listened to each other. They got to know each other in a fun, engaging way. Ms. Harrison’s classes also engaged in a fun activity, 100 numbers, to learn about each other.
As a department, we are delighted to again have the opportunity to begin the year with engaging lab activities and experiences in science. We are excited to have developed a new thematic idea for learning Geology here in Scarsdale: Telling the Story of Scarsdale.
Geology students walked the campus and collected a (verified by a teacher) ‘Native’ Scarsdale Rock sample. They have revisited their samples throughout the Rock and Mineral unit in an attempt to classify them as we observe, measure, and test over 20 minerals and 25 rocks. We have even replicated the process of sedimentary rock formation in the classroom with sediment and evaporating salts!
Students learn to associate the physical observations of their samples with the processes that formed them. In this way, the Story of Scarsdale is revealed. The complexity of this story will have students wondering how it is possible for an environment to change so dramatically over time. They will see ancient Scarsdale as a warm and thriving shallow sea only to be transformed into a majestic mountain range. Scarsdale will neighbor a coastal volcanic rift system and ultimately morph into the bucolic hills and valleys of the ‘Dale today. But how did these transformations occur? These questions lead naturally into our study of Tectonics, Geomorphology, and finally people’s relationship to this deep history
Music and Performing Arts
The Acting Master Class presented a docudrama workshop on Global Citizenship Day performing snippets from plays based on real events. Students have been working with great enthusiasm on our fall musical. Rehearsals are in full swing and the cast and crew have bonded at two successful set Build Days. We hope you will join us for the Drama Club’s production of Mamma Mia, 11/18-20. Tickets are on sale here.
Our performance ensembles are making beautiful music in and out of SHS. Concert and Mixed Choirs have begun joint early morning rehearsals to develop a mentorship and camaraderie between our 9th and 10th-12th grade choirs. Varsity band students have filled the fields with music at home football games and the recent pep rally. Chamber orchestra opened the school year with a lovely performance at convocation. Orchestra students are preparing for auditions for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Special thanks to one of our student groups led by Andre Tsou who provided music outside the cafeteria during lunch on Global Citizenship day! Congratulations to Steven Su who was accepted into the All-National Honor Mixed Choir, and many thanks to Samantha Loeser who performed at the Scarsdale 9/11 memorial ceremony.
In addition to our upcoming concert season, 28 students will represent SHS at the Area All-State festival concert on November 5th, and the orchestra, choir, and band ensembles are preparing for this year’s international performance tours to Europe in February!
This fall, David Sherrin's ninth-graders combined their study of world religions with the school's "Off and Away for the Day" policy. The students learned about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism and then considered how the ancient teachings and sacred texts might apply to smartphones and social media. Meanwhile, Carlos Bedoya’s Civ Ed students put “non sibi” into action, doing a candy drive for children who cannot go trick or treating.
In American Studies, Steve Mounkhall and Kendra Claussen are teaching LGBTQ history in connection with their “Founding Moments” theme. Students watched Milk and discussed major moments of LGBTQ history - Stonewall, the change in APA designations, Anita Bryant and the Moral Majority - and then made connections to proposed laws in Florida.
Seniors in “Food for Thought” researched industrial agriculture. They taught their classmates about issues such as organic produce and the environmental effects of pesticides, then collaborated to produce PSAs using print, video, and social media. In Michelle Britto’s “Living in America” course, students worked in groups to suggest reforms to the American electoral process, sharing their findings in oral presentations (see Nico Galeano in photo).
In AT Macroeconomics, students wrote papers evaluating the degree to which the American macroeconomy is currently healthy. Also, after a unit on the development of macroeconomic theory, students had an opportunity to decide whether they aligned more with Keynesian or Neoclassical economic thought.
Finally, for Global Citizenship Day, teachers Ron Widelec, Brendan Lee, and Andrew Morgan ran a session in which students considered the extent to which judicial review is an effective mechanism for resolving our nation's disagreements.
The Learning Resource Center started the year welcoming our new freshman and supporting their transition to high school. We also welcomed their parents to the “9th Grade LRC Parents Welcome” and supported their transition to high school! The night provided an informal forum for parents and LRC teachers to meet and talk about the high school and the role that the LRC plays in their child’s journey through SHS. An overview of services was provided to the parents, followed by a Q&A segment.
While our freshmen have been busy finding their way around the building, our seniors have been busy applying to colleges. We are thrilled to help them navigate the process as they prepare to make their own transitions next year.
LRC teachers are also busy exploring new workshops and training sessions to keep abreast of the latest trends in special education and to help support our students in all aspects of their high school experience. Some of the topics covered include Transition Planning, Effective Co-Teaching Models and Social/Emotional Learning. We are looking forward to continuing our learning and professional development as the year progresses.
STEAM courses are off to a strong start. In level one classes, Intro to Engineering tackled an aerodynamic challenge using simple materials to create airplanes, learning about the forces that allow an object to be airborne. Next, students are building vehicles using gears to traverse different obstacles. Other sections of Engineering are programming Phidgets to have physical outcomes, like a blinking light and a tug of war game. Introduction to Human Centered Design is focusing on creating connections: connecting to something like art or music, or a community, like creating better bonding on sports teams. In groups, students are identifying a specific problem and creating a physical or digital solution.
Electrical Engineering has completed circuit theory and coding and will now begin hands-on projects to learn more. Design/Build classes are working with two special education classes in Edgewood, creating items needed in their classroom. The students will visit Edgewood kindergarten and special education classrooms to identify problems and use the design process to create and deliver solutions. App Design and Development students are learning Swift UI through mini projects so they can create and code their own app ideas in the second quarter. See the STEAM website for more!
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.
School Government helped rising ninth graders transition to high school and begin to embody Scarsdale High School’s motto of “non-sibi” by giving students the opportunity to fill backpacks with school supplies and then donate those backpacks to local kids in need through Lifting Up Westchester. To expand the extracurricular opportunities for students at SHS, School Government held two club fairs. School Government planned and held our fall Pep Rally to honor our teams and build school spirit, and then we furthered our efforts with our first Spirit Week of the year. Class government elections were held, and a new group of student leaders took over each of the four grades. School Government conducted leadership training for the new class officers to give them the skills to be effective leaders and to better represent the larger student body. Our annual Community Dinner was held on November 7th. It was an amazing night, centered around building community while raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Everyone in World Languages is off to an energetic start this year. We look forward to many exciting events as we continue our return to normal school life.
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 stunning ofrendas as a teaching tool to practice writing and speaking skills. Students have chosen to dedicate the ofrendas to the people of Ukraine, the victims of femicide and the victims of natural disasters. Other students have been involved in a pan de muertos baking competition with faculty volunteer judges.
The AT Spanish students have been busy working on a long term Spanish speaking country project in which they create a Google site and archive articles from the electronic media sources. They also archive their own original speaking and writing samples. The current topic is education in the various Spanish speaking countries around the world.
The AT French students have been exploring the history of indigenous communities in Canada and comparing their experience to those of the indigenous cultures here in the US.
The AT Mandarin students interviewed native Mandarin speaker Ms. Ying from the Math department regarding Chinese parents’ family education as well as aspirations. They are also working on making a movie to participate in a moving competition held by New York University. Other Mandarin students practiced their Mandarin in an authentic interpersonal experience with some Chinese doctors over Zoom.
First year Latin students enjoyed a recent field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where they found Latin in all the right places. They viewed ancient manuscripts, inscriptions, sculptures, vases, mosaics and more. Students completed a scavenger hunt and even participated in a Latin social media challenge.
Our WL clubs are off to a wonderful start as well. Many students offered workshops and participated in the International Luncheon on Global Citizenship Day, which by all accounts was a smashing success. Spanish club officers presented on the border crisis between Venezuela and Colombia. The Mandarin club officers held a workshop to introduce Chinese food culture during the global citizenship day. One last fun fact: the French club celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, ¡vive le cercle francais!