Dear Members of the SHS Community:
I am pleased to present to you our third quarterly update of this school year. The end of winter and beginning of spring provided a few important activities for professional learning for our faculty and staff, notably a visit from Thomas Guskey, an expert on assessment and grading, and our time with Derrick Gay, the District’s DEI consultant. Dr. Guskey met with high school administrators and department chairs as well as members of the Assessment Committee before presenting to the entire faculty on ways to evaluate our approach to grading and assessment. Dr. Gay presented to District staff on the meaning of diversity in the context of Scarsdale and the different ways people respond to challenging situations. The latter part of the day provided time for teachers to discuss scenarios where different behaviors were not in keeping with creating an inclusive environment and how we as faculty members might respond. Feedback on both events was very positive, and we look forward to continuing our work in these areas, guided by these learning experiences.
The work of the Assessment Committee has continued this year with an analysis of a rolling gradebook and a recommendation for its adoption for the next school year. Currently, most of our courses use the quarterly grading system, where each quarter gets an internal numeric grade and a reported letter grade, and those four quarter grades, sometimes with the inclusion of a final exam grade, comprise the final course grade. In a rolling gradebook approach, each report card would provide a progress report of student performance in the course until the end of that quarter, including all previous performance that school year. It may be helpful to think of the entire year as one quarter in terms of grade calculation, where the fourth-quarter grade would be identical to the final course grade because both would reflect all work done to that point in time. (Most of our science courses already use the rolling gradebook.)
Our motivations for pursuing this course of action include the desire to remove the intensity of assessments clustering at the end of every quarter, allowing teachers to schedule assessments more naturally as the course progresses and providing students with a more meaningful and manageable assessment experience. The use of a rolling gradebook also promotes the idea of a growth mindset, fostering an emphasis on the totality of a student’s coursework rather than looking at a particular grade as one of only a few in a quarter. Further, sometimes the number of assessments is different from quarter to quarter, meaning that a grade in one quarter with 5 (equally weighted) grades would be 20% of that quarter grade, whereas that grade in a quarter with 8 grades would be 12.5%. A rolling gradebook considers each grade in the context of all performance to that point in time.
Given the potential for the rolling gradebook to improve the student and teacher experience, the Assessment Committee has recommended that we pilot this school-wide next year. Parents will have the opportunity to hear more about this plan at the parent-principal programs sponsored by the PTA in the fall.
Please enjoy the reports from the various departments and activities below, and please accept my best wishes for a productive finish to the school year and an enjoyable spring season.
While reading the Handmaid’s Tale, A-School American Studies students were asked to evaluate Margaret Atwood’s, 2017 statement that, after decades of moving away from her dystopia of Gilead, it was now moving towards it. To do so, student teams engaged in open-ended, self-directed research into the areas they considered pertinent to assessing Atwood’s claim, and used their findings to craft argumentative responses to it together.
After their dive into feminism AmStu students are beginning their unit on race in America. This week the students read James Baldwin’s Essay “A Talk to Teachers” along with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. This unit will culminate in a student driven research paper discussing the equity within an American system.
For the past two months WH10 students have been researching topics of their choice, drawing conclusions and analyzing sources in order to write their research paper. This year a few students chose contemporary issues, like Areeya Anavil’s paper on beauty standards in South Korea, Ilana Paris’ discussion of Zara and fast fashion, Brandon Cascade’s research on avocados as a conflict commodity and Lexi Kanowitz’s exploration of the German juvenile justice system.
In Environmental Science students are working in small groups to create student directed lessons on the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of commercial energy sources.
On March 2nd the HS AT 2D class hosted Lorella Lamonaca's Kindergarten class from Quaker Ridge at the High School.
The Kindergarteners worked with the AT 2D Studio Arts senior and junior students. They participated in a gallery visit and discussion as well as engaged in color theory and design hands-on activities together. They used light boxes and colored gels to explore and create images. The Kindergarteners continued their color studies in a sensory drawing lesson inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach.
There are plans for the AT 2D class to go to Quaker Ridge to continue this creative liaison. This amazing opportunity for our students was all made possible by the great connections made through the STI Reggio Emilia study group.
For a Dean, each day is always full. One of our colleague’s recent mornings included a first period college conference with a junior, a second period scheduling conference with a ninth grader, followed by a visit with a teacher to discuss a student concern. They returned to their office to respond to emails, and then counseled a student regarding a personal issue. This was followed by a phone call to a parent, and a visit by our school social worker to discuss an ongoing situation they were collaborating on. The Dean walked into another counselor's office to check in on their approach to an upcoming conference, and met with one of our assistant principals regarding a senior’s graduation status. A meeting with their ninth grade English and Social Studies team was next, followed by several appointments with students to discuss academic and personal goals. Their day concluded with a Counseling Department meeting, with topics ranging from an upcoming program to a discussion regarding ongoing collaboration with other disciplines.
Much of what we do happens behind the scenes, and ranges far beyond the academic work that many perceive to be our primary focus. We are proud of our role as counselors first and foremost, recognizing that the teens we work with arrive each day with their own challenges, hopes, goals, and expectations. Our aim is to meet them where they are, and always consider how to best support them to the extent possible. It is why we entered this field, and the reason we are excited to do what we do on a daily basis.
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 or literary topic, 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 skill that will help them succeed in college-level writing assignments.
Meanwhile, special events both lighthearted and serious happened in English classes throughout third quarter. For example, in Frank Ceruzzi’s American Studies class, co-taught with Social Studies Department Chair Jen Maxwell, students enjoyed a Great Gatsby soiree to complement their study of Fitzgerald’s novel. While sipping sparkling apple juice out of champagne flutes, students competed to answer Gatsby and Roaring Twenties trivia questions and even learned how to dance the Charleston. Also in March, twelfth-graders in Kimberley Summerfield’s Dilemmas courses had the opportunity to travel to Pennsylvania and D.C. for an overnight field trip exploring responses to injustice. Students’ first stop on this trip was the Eastern State Penitentiary historical museum in Philadelphia. From there, they went to D.C. to visit the Museum of African American History as well as the Holocaust Museum. Touring these powerful sites gave students a chance to reflect on man’s inhumanity to man and how theories of justice have changed over time.
This quarter saw SHS embrace international travel in robust fashion. Over 100 students traveled to Europe on our music performance trips to Spain, Italy, and Switzerland. The Educandato Statale Uccellis in Udine, Italy welcomed twenty-one students, now life-long friends, for the second half of an Italian exchange program. SHS students walked in their Italian peers’ shoes attending classes and enajoying cafe and gelato in the piazza during their homestays, then traveling south to explore additional Italian cities and sites. They saw Michelangelo’s work, climbed the Tower of Pisa and Mt. Vesuvius and even reenacted a gladiator fight in the Colosseum. At the end of this month, we are looking forward to a visit from a group of Argentinian students from the EBS school outside of Buenos Aires. Our global programs offer opportunities for virtual connections as well. Students participated in virtual international conversations about bias, censorship, student mental health, International Women’s Day and climate change. Interested students should be on the lookout for emails that present opportunities as they arise, or stop by 282A or email Ms. Heather Waters email@example.com to learn more about upcoming events.
Health and Physical Education
All health classes concluded thi]e third quarter with a presentation from Mr. Ty Sells. Mr. Sells brings over thirty years of experience in substance prevention, community service, and youth development. Much of his presentation at Scarsdale High School centered around addiction and marijuana. During his time with each of our classes, he used personal anecdotes, explained why people start to use substances, why they continue to use them, and how society's point of view on substances such as marijuana has changed. His presentation opened the door to our next unit on substances, which will expand this conversation to include alcohol, vaping, marijuana, prescription medications, and more.
We would like to thank the Scarsdale Action for Youth for the incredible opportunity of bringing Mr. Ty Sells to Scarsdale High School.
The third quarter was full of healthy and active learning in all of our PE classes. Our 9th & 10th grade students spent time in our Volleyball unit and our In-line Skating unit, while our 11th & 12th grade students spent the quarter building their skills in the Cooperative Games/Traverse Climbing unit and in our RaiderFit unit in the Fitness Center.
With all of this action-packed fun, we specifically wanted to highlight our in-line skating program, which offers our students the unique opportunity to skate in school! Our students gear up with all the safety equipment, including helmets, wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads, and learn a skills progression with the emphasis on safety. This includes learning to fall safely, learning different methods to stop, practicing controlled movements at different speeds, and more challenging skills such as weaving and skating backwards. In-line skating offers several personal health benefits such as building lower body strength, improving balance, strengthening stabilizer muscles, and improving cardiovascular health. It’s also a positive boost to your overall well-being as one fun cardio session can improve your emotional state by increasing energy levels, stimulating the increase of neurochemicals (such as dopamine), and lowering stress levels. With a set of in-line skates and safety equipment, you not only have a fun way to move, but also a fun way to improve your overall health and wellbeing.
The 24/7 newscycle, social media, deep fakes, and ChatGPT deliver a constant deluge of information, making it increasingly difficult to discern fact from fiction and straight reporting from opinion. Using today’s headlines from the most read and watched news organizations, we developed a lesson to raise awareness about the crucial need for critical thinking through hands-on experience with media literacy skills. After teaching this to Michelle Britto’s 12th grade social studies classes, we are also offering it as an option on Non Sibi Day in May.
In addition, the library calendar has been jam-packed with research projects. These have ranged from The Worlds of the Fifteenth Century to Cold War Cults of Personality to English research on a wide array of literary forms, including poetry, novels, and memoirs. As we continually seek to offer the resources our students need, we have added several exciting reference ebooks to our robust collection which now includes the Gale Encyclopedia of American Law, 4th edition, and The American Blockbuster: Movies That Defined Their Generations.
On March 14th, Scarsdale High School students participated in Pi Day workshops and were treated to an array of guest speakers, from SHS faculty to university professors, retirees and industry professionals. Attached is the menu of workshops that were offered.
March 14 was an exciting day with the math department presenting Ins-π-re, Pi Day 2023! Ms. Harrison presented an interactive activity on Mobius strips. Students were amazed by what happens when you cut this one sided surface in different permutations!
Mr. Earle worked with a group of 421 students. They “sifted” for prime numbers using Eratosthenes’ prime sieve! They found that 97 is the largest prime less than 100 and then used a computerized sieve to find that 991 was the largest prime less than 1000! Students colored in boxes following patterns that follow multiples of primes in order to eliminate composite numbers, leaving only primes. Just the way Eratosthenes did it!
During quarter 3, students in 441 worked on a unit involving matrix operations. They worked on finding the order of a matrix, identifying elements, performing operations with scalars, matrix multiplication, finding inverses and solving a system of equations using matrices. ,After their unit on matrices, Mrs. Connolly’s students learned how to make a hologram, using their phone as a projector (some pictures are attached).
Ms. Bodner's 442 students worked on a project, where they investigated real-world phenomena that could be modeled by a sinusoid. Students found various real world scenarios, such as ferris wheels, average daily temperatures, hours of daylight, etc, and applied the trig techniques
learned in quarter 3 to model the data.
In Mr. Shah’s 913 class, students created different dimming patterns for an LED using Analog functions. Here are some examples of the pattern they created. Background: LEDs are digit devices. They can only be turned ON or OFF. However, using a technique called Pulse Width Modulations, students FADED the LED. The graph show LED "Fading" levels against time. (Pictures attached)
The math team has once again been hard at work these past few weeks. This month, we have completed the final rounds of our County and State League contests, as well as round 5 of the American League. We are also participating for the second year in a row in Spring Math Madness.
The math team also took part in SHS's annual Pi Day Celebration. During both lunch periods, our members set up a table in the Learning Commons for students to come play a round of 24 and win some prizes. As always we welcome new members, so please email Mr. Greenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining us for future contests.
Music and Performing Arts
The Drama Club presented She Kills Monsters on March 24-25. The production was a wonderful collaboration between the actors and the tech class, and an ode to 90s culture. The Acting II is working on voicing and embodying children’s stories while Improv learns to endow scenes with emotion and movement in space.
The SHS Theater Tech class created the sets for She Kills Monsters. For the first time, student designers are tackling specific elements of production from design to build to finish. We also have piloted the Mentor/Apprentice peer program between advanced and introductory tech students. Two successful Saturday Build Days included an incredible number of parents, teachers, and students building and painting!
Two chamber music ensembles were selected to perform for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s regional concert on March 2. Tri-M students have had a successful quarter volunteering and helping others.
Members of the Concert and Mixed Choirs and the Bands traveled to Spain. We participated in three large concerts in Valencia, Toledo and Madrid, took a master class in Madrid and explored the rich history of this region of Spain. SHS was extremely well received and performed beautifully. Our music department community bonded across ensembles and came home with a deep appreciation for musicianship, artistry and performance.
Finally the department is delighted to report that our hosting of the NYSSMA festival on March 10-11 was a huge success thanks to the amazing teamwork of our K-12 staff!
Psychologist and Social Work
The mental health professionals of the Psychology and Social Work Department (PSW) spent the first part of the third quarter visiting sophomores in their health class. We administered a survey to students the week prior, inquiring about topics they felt were important to discuss. It would not be surprising to learn that sleep and stress were top of mind, and there were good conversations regarding the difference between healthy and unhealthy stress and coping strategies. We always appreciate providing students with a different perspective, while also allowing them to gain insight to the support we provide. We are looking forward to reflecting on our work across all grade levels, and to continue developing programs that meet both the individual needs of our students, as well as the larger school community.
As part of our ongoing work, the PSW has developed a departmental website. It includes contact information for all members of the department, links to community resources, a virtual relaxation room, and a link to all electronic communication we have sent this year. We hope that students and parents will visit the site (High School website > Departments > School Psychologist and Social Worker) to learn more about our programs and services. We believe that our ongoing collaboration with all members of our school community ultimately benefits the students in our charge, and as always we remain committed and available to all who may need our services and support.
Once again, the winter months bring the excitement of competitions. Members of the Science Olympiad team successfully competed in six invitational competitions, as well as the Lower Hudson Valley regional competition, advancing to the New York State Science Olympiad. Each competition consists of 24 different events, designed to represent different disciplines of science. Events are a mix of academic written exams and design & construction tasks.
This year our advisers moderated the It’s about time event, in which students must build a device that acts as a timer. The Science Olympiad team is organized and run by its members. Student specialists are assigned to small teams to prepare for specific events in the different academic areas of science. Leading up to the events our dedicated competitors can be found practicing in the High School hallways and conference spaces well into the evenings.
The Science Olympiad team took third place in this year’s regional competition, which allowed them to compete in the State competition at LeMoyne College in Syracuse. The team had a great time competing at the State level, which included events such as Chem Lab where students were tasked with titrating an iron solution, as well as using a lemon to generate several different batteries to collect voltage data. Students were able to use the knowledge gained in chemistry class and apply it to this rather challenging application.
In our third quarter update, the Social Studies Department is highlighting just a few of the many creative and engaging activities in our ninth grade classes.
Mr. Widelec’s students studied the medieval West African kingdoms of Ghana, Songhai, and Mali. During this unit, they read the book Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali, a transcript of a story of King Sundiata passed down by West African griots (musical storytellers) for eight centuries. At the end of the unit, we invited Famoro Dioubate, a West African griot who lives in New York, to perform for several ninth-grade classes, discuss West African culture, and do a Q&A session.
Ninth graders in Mr.Sherrin’s class role-played tradespeople in a market on the Silk Road. Each student brought it a poster advertising their wares. They took turns as buyers and sellers, haggling and making deals to purchase goods they wanted while selling their own stock, such as spices, paper, jewelry, and more. Through this activity, students gained a hands-on understanding of how the far-flung trade routes of the Silk Road helped to spread goods and culture across the region.
In Mr. Candullo’s class, ninth-grade students created a video tour to teach their classmates about different aspects of the Golden Age of Islam, including mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy. Through this project, students gained practice in skills such as research, collaboration and video editing.
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 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 couldn’t be more proud of their achievements. The annual “LRC Senior Send-Off” will take place right before they begin their internships.
We have also visited a few of the elementary schools to support their “Learning from our Differences” and “Eye to Eye” programs. A number of LRC students have met with 4th and 5th graders to share stories about their varying classifications. They talk earnestly about what it has been like to be in the LRC and how being classified has affected their education. The questions that the elementary school students ask are thoughtful and honest. The responses from the high school kids help the younger students to understand that having learning differences does not have a negative impact. Rather, they explain how they have learned strategies to compensate for their disability which enables them to participate in all facets of the high school experience while finding success. The interaction between students is so positive and the high-school students get as much out of the program as the elementary kids do!
In March, we, along with the Counseling Department, hosted a webinar for our annual College Night for Parents of Students with Learning Differences. We had a great turnout and parents were able to hear about the process from an experienced parent as well as a college admissions officer.
The Robo Raiders, the SHS robotics team, qualified for the Excelsior Regional competition in Utica, New York. Although the team did not perform as well as they hoped, their coach, Brian McDonald won third place in the Compass Award for mentorship!
Students in AT Entrepreneurship participated in the third Zoom call with students from around the world as part of our Global Entrepreneurship Challenge. Teams from Argentina, Italy, China, Jakarta, and two other US schools participated in the call and received feedback from experts from United Nations partner organizations, as well as other experts. They listened to student teams pitch their solutions for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Teams have been working on solutions to local problems related to the UN SDGs, with the hope of learning from one another and scaling their solutions to solve these global challenges. The experts were impressed and hopeful after hearing our students’ solutions. The Global Entrepreneurship Challenge culminates with a final pitch at Scarsdale High School on April 28th, with some teams participating in person.
One of our Entrepreneurship teams has launched their product on Product Hunt and received enough votes to be promoted by the site. The product, FusionAI, helps people create better prompts for Chatgpt, an open artificial intelligence chatbot that can generate language based on prompts input by the user. FusionAI helps users understand what a better prompt might be and why it is better. It also provides information about when to use Chatgpt, as well as an MLA citation.
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.
SHS’s School Government held its elections in late January and welcomed in a new set of enthusiastic officers for 2023. We worked with food services and were pleased to see coffee and a variety of new food items added to the cafeteria. To expand the extracurricular opportunities for students at SHS, School Government reviewed dozens of new club applications. Then the officers began efforts on planning for a number of events that occur in quarter four. We got the word out to faculty and students that we will be celebrating our second annual Peer-Led Learning Week, a week where students can present on any topic of interest in class. School Government began planning for our first-ever spring Spirit Week and Pep Rally; the officers developed a new points-system to encourage school spirit, and the grade that earns the most points by the end of the week will be rewarded. Finally, we are looking forward to the carnival and the promise of warm weather. This year, School Government has chosen to donate the proceeds from the carnival to WWF, PaulieStrong, and Feeding Westchester. We look forward to sharing this fun day with the whole Scarsdale community.
Students are making good progress in their study of world languages as we head into Spring. Upper level Latin students learned about the many ways that the Roman authors Ovid and Plautus influenced Shakespeare and his plays through a virtual interactive session by a professor from the University of Vermont. All Latin students enjoyed participating in the Roman Banquet, complete with Roman food, costumes and games. Beware the Ides of March!
Mandarin students were delighted to celebrate the Chinese New Year, by practicing calligraphy, paper cutting and fan making in class. On March 9th, students held a parade with lion and dragon dances. The following day, Mandarin students also hosted a Chinese luncheon for all students. Happy Year of the Rabbit!
The French students have been immersed in Manie Musicale, the international French song competition that includes over 3,000 schools from all over the world. Some French students celebrated Pi day by learning about "Les Galettes des Rois," learning about the recipe, the history behind the holiday and playing some related vocabulary games. The French club enjoyed a festive Mardi Gras celebration with mask making and French treats.
The Spanish students have also been busy. AT Spanish students have been studying life in contemporary Cuba and considering how Cuba is evolving, particularly in a post Castro era. Spanish 344 students have been learning about sephardic art from our very own Beth Colleary and enjoyed a presentation on the Ladino language by professional performer Sarah Aroeste. Spanish 322 students are practicing Latin dances with our very own Maggie Bryant in anticipation of a dance club competition on March 30th. Cha cha!