Quarterly Update

January 2021

SHSLogo

Principal's Message

Dear Members of the SHS Community:


This week marks the beginning of the spring semester and the third quarter of the school year. It’s a great time to reevaluate your mode of instruction. We know that many students need to stay home because of health concerns they have for themselves or for members of their families, and of course, we want people to put that decision before anything else.


It’s important that students make the decision that’s best for their families. We are also encouraging students who aren’t coming to school merely because of routine, or because it’s more convenient or comfortable for them, to come to school, as there are so many benefits to in-person learning. Students report that they learn much better when they’re in the actual classroom, rather than on Zoom for hours at a time. In addition, it’s much harder to be distracted by your cell phone or computer when you’re in the classroom.


The data we have from the fall is telling us that the measures we have in place in school are making it very safe. There’s no evidence that the virus is being transmitted on campus as long as everyone follows the rules. More recently, new quarantine measures were instituted which make it very unlikely that anyone in our classrooms would get quarantined even if someone was later diagnosed with Covid—and again this is supported by the evidence that transmission is not happening in school.


Classrooms need students to be vibrant places of learning, where there can be rich discussions and social interactions that make school school. So please, unless there’s a health concern in the family, come to school for the third quarter and beyond, and let’s do our best to safely bring our community back together.


I am pleased to present below updates from the various departments in the school on what’s been happening during the second quarter.


All best wishes,

Kenneth Bonamo

Principal

Alternative School

The Alternative School ended the second quarter with a variation of our traditional Internship program, in which we expanded students’ options to include passion projects and virtual internships, in addition to in-person internships that met safety requirements. Our students approached this opportunity with creativity and thoughtfulness. For example, Alex Horvath refurbished a discarded digital piano and used it to record an original jazz composition. Abby Fine took professional-quality photographs (see image). Allison Coburn, Olivia Cohen and Samantha Gross developed their cooking skills with the help of a professional caterer, while Gabby Arovas studied the chemistry of cooking with a focus on the book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Talia Levenson jump started a program entitled “Juniors Helping Seniors,” reaching out by telephone to senior citizens to provide social connection and technological help. Julia Assa learned about profiling and hostage negotiation through reading and online courses, while Sabrina Siegal prepared for the Real Estate Licensing Exam.


Students also found exciting internships. Sam Drescher worked with a neuroscientist studying a treatment for ALS. Wade Massey enhanced the social media presence of a construction company, while Sedna Gandhi worked to expand use of a music-based tool for diagnosing dementia. Tommy Chesnut researched legislation on solar batteries for the Town of Greenburgh. Some students undertook carefully designed in-person experiences, such as Annie Cavalluzzi’s internship at Boulder Brook Equestrian Center, and Ryan Gerson’s internship fitting clubs at the Complete Golfer. In all of these experiences, students were able to pursue their interests while developing autonomy and self-discipline.

Art

The Hammond Museum and Japanese stroll garden reached out to Dr. Eisenstadt to work with them on creating lesson plans around the Autumn Moon Festival. Dr. Eisenstadt created two lesson plans and students in her classes and Ms. Sapione’s ceramic classes brought the lessons to life. When we return to school the Hammond Museum invites our students for a tea ceremony and other programs. We intend to establish a relationship with the Hammond Museum as we have with other institutions in our area. View the student artwork on their website.


Isabella Godshall's cinematic photograph of a nocturnal street scene was selected for inclusion in The 2020 Drexel University High School Photography Contest Exhibition. Isabella is a sophomore who is a member of The National Art Honor Society and is currently enrolled in Digital Photography II.


Congratulations to Isabella for her excellent work and for being recognized as a member of a group of remarkably talented high school photographers.


Advanced Topics in 2D art students have been studying artwork throughout history and across cultures focusing on the human figure and portrait representation. Students discovered and discussed major artworks that were far from representing mirror reflections, these portraits were complex constructions of identity. Students then explored the depth and construction of their own identities from personal to societal influences. Using a painterly practice of the gel-transfer process, students built rich visual imagery of their own complex constructions of identity. Using a wide range of media, students creatively explored the dimension and meaning behind the rich topic of Identity particularly evident in 21st century Art.


The art department continues to add to our virtual gallery.

Counseling

The daily work of a Dean is multi-faceted. Some of that can be witnessed firsthand, while a significant amount occurs behind the scenes. We view our role as a counselor first and foremost, and much of that is related to supporting students in their social, emotional, and personal journey. For example, we meet frequently with our ninth grade English and Social studies colleagues to discuss our students' progress, specific concerns, and review those individuals that may require follow up. We hold regular Department meetings, as well as Mental Health meetings with School Psychologists and Youth Outreach workers, discussing specific students at all grade levels, as well as larger goals relating to students' overall mental health and well-being. The Deans take part in several school-wide committees that relate to this focus on emotional health, including the Wellness Committee, Dignity Team, Mental Health Restart Committee, and Pupil Support Team. We also meet regularly with faculty to discuss individual concerns that they are witnessing, as well as provide context when appropriate. And of course, we often counsel students directly on a host of non-academic issues, seeing that as central to our work. The pandemic has made this work all the more important, albeit challenging given that much of this must be done virtually. Nevertheless, we hope that our school community continues to utilize us as a resource, and recognizes our work encompasses far more than what can be readily seen.

English

In English classes, the second quarter found teachers and students growing accustomed to the unwelcome new normal of the pandemic. Students donned winter coats to sit in classrooms with open windows, while instructors learned to juggle teaching students in person while Zooming with students at home. Despite the challenges, meaningful lessons in reading and writing took place throughout our school community each day. For example, Jennifer Rosenzweig’s juniors studied the transcendentalist writings of Emerson and Thoreau, and then wrote essays exploring their own encounters with transcendentalism. Students’ topics ranged from Tony Hawk to Game of Thrones to Coco Chanel as they analyzed the ways in which transcendental philosophy is woven into the world around us. Meanwhile, students in Susanne Conklin’s English 10 classes drew connections between William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and current events, finding haunting similarities between the shattering of the conch and acts of vandalism at the Capitol. Turning to more ancient stories, Pamela Kroll’s ninth-graders created Google Slide presentations about Gilgamesh. Their presentations explored the topic of loss, and the difficult human necessity of learning to accept death.


As part of our response to the national reckoning with issues of social justice, several ninth-grade teachers piloted a selection of texts featuring diverse protagonists, texts which freshmen read as independent-reading books. Students in these classes had the opportunity to read Dashka Slater’s The 57 Bus, Nic Stone’s Dear Martin, or Trevor Noah’s memoir Born a Crime. Teachers will now meet to share feedback from students about these pilot texts.

Global Opportunities

SHS Students have explored issues of Global Justice and Student Activism and Making Change with students from around the country and nation. Through our global education networks, our students discussed current issues and these topics with their peers from China, India, Hong Kong, Bhutan, Canada Russia, and France. Students shared that, “It was so amazing to be able to represent Scarsdale and speak about the issues that we are facing and discussing in class with kids from around the world.” In January, a group of 9-12th grade students began their four month international forum examining identity and belonging with our partner schools in Finland and Singapore. This is part of our longstanding program in the Global Learning Alliance in association with Columbia University, TC. In February, the Global Exchange Club is beginning a bi-weekly cultural exchange with our international partner schools in Italy and Germany. Zoom has allowed us to make connections we couldn’t before. If interested in our future international opportunities, please contact Heather Waters hwaters@scarsdaleschools.org.

Heath and Physical Education

Students have been working on the Health Fair final project, which is a collaborative effort aimed at taking a deep dive into a specific health topic. Each student group is responsible for researching the connection to longevity, quality of life, and health care as they apply to the topic. As students work in these small groups, they are also building fundamental collaborative skills in the digital classroom. While maintaining the rigor of the Health Fair and the integrity of the final essay, we have worked to design an accessible learning experience for all students. Ultimately, we will have a curated site where all Health students will have access to the final presentations, and this will serve as a resource for them to continue to explore relevant health topics.


The start of the second quarter provided a transition for all PE classes to start their new units of study. Our ninth and tenth grade classes participated in either a Start-Up Fitness unit in our state-of-the-art Fitness Center or a team sports unit with field hockey. Our eleventh and twelfth grade classes took part in either a lifetime sport unit with tennis or a team sport unit in soccer. In all four of these experiences, this is the first time we are teaching & learning with equipment since March. Wow! Everyone continues to embrace the health & safety protocols that we have been using since September as well as the additional protocols in place with the use of our equipment. Both teachers and students have reported these class experiences as bringing back a small sense of normalcy to our class routines. We do see so many smiling eyes in our PE classes, so we know our students are smiling behind those masks... having fun while learning!

Library

Thanks to our amazing teachers, we have had plenty of opportunities to meet remotely with classes to identify and cite resources for research projects. As always, we encourage students to reach out to us individually for personalized help. We have also met with English classes to help students select books for independent reading assignments and to demonstrate how to check them out during the pandemic.


Focusing on our book collection, we have identified titles we already own and those we wish to purchase that reflect our current day issues of race and discrimination. In addition to nonfiction titles, we are also amassing anti-bias young adult fiction books that include characters and stories about a wide array of social, cultural, ethnic, and identity issues.


We cannot wait until we can greet students in the library but until then, we are available to help students who are encouraged to contact us via email.

Mathematics

A pandemic hasn't stopped the Scarsdale Math Team from their success as usual! In the fall, students participated in the annual Math Madness, an online bracketed tournament consisting of some of the best schools in the nation. In the New York Mathematics League, Scarsdale ranks 1st in the county and 13th in the state. In the Westchester Interscholastic Mathematics League (WIML), Scarsdale ranks 1st as well. Highest scoring students in the WIML league will qualify for the annual NYSML competition in April. In past years, Scarsdale has been well represented at NYSML, so we hope to continue that streak this year, albeit virtually!


New Tech Tools

Students in Ms. Quinn’s 454 and 443 classes have uploaded work to hellosmart.com, while students in 431 are working with Desmos. Teachers are implementing the use of this website to assess class participation and understanding.

In Mr. Menick’s 442 classes, students have been working with the Law of Sines using Google Jamboard. As they write, type, or upload work onto their screen, members of their group can see what's being added to the Jamboard in real time. The posts are also visible to Mr. Menick, so that he can provide feedback in the moment. The Jamboard activity is a great way for students to work with each other while receiving instantaneous instruction as they learn this important topic in Trigonometry.


Cryptography & Logic

Mr. Apostle’s 424 students learned how data is encrypted and sent online using prime numbers and modular systems. Students used RSA encryption to encrypt and decrypt a short message. We also discussed other uses of mods including how the last digit of every credit card number is determined.


Mrs. Pulford’s classes collaborated to complete a Breakout EDU activity. Students used cryptography, logic, problem solving, and mathematical reasoning to solve.


Group activities during office hours.

Students are developing friendships across cohorts. A few students prefer coming to Ms. Ying’s office hours together. This gives her an opportunity to check their understanding in the form of a friendly contest or let students respond to each other first before she shares the answer.


Fun with Food and Proportions

In 411, students put their cooking and proportions skills to the test by increasing the serving size of one of their favorite holiday recipes!

Performing Arts

The Tri-M Honors Music Society and the Music Education Club have partnered with the Friends of Music and the Arts to develop a practice buddy program. Beginning this month, SHS students will meet and mentor elementary orchestra students online. The orchestra successfully held two live-streamed concerts in December. You’ll have opportunities to enjoy the music once performances are posted online!


The Drama Club produced two virtual shows: The Spoon River Project and the student-directed one-act plays, “At the Bottom of Lake Missoula” and “13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview.” We are beginning rehearsals for the musical, “Raiders Do Radio,” featuring two Jack Benny episodes (one radio, one television) plus songs selected especially for the cast. We’ll record in February and March and stream in April.


The Acting I classes are practicing voiceover cartoon work and are working on final projects: radio plays. Master Class is finishing devising plays - one about environmental activism and another about teenage mental health. Master Class members and a small team of actors from The Spoon River Project are entered in the Hear Me Monologue virtual competition hosted by the Museum of American Theater.


The SHS bands are finalizing preparations for their end-of-semester virtual concerts which will be made available at the end of January on YouTube and SPS TV. The concert will feature large ensembles, jazz groups, solos, and creative “pandemic-era” ensembles.


Choir and piano classes are finalizing recordings for their virtual concerts which will stream in late January.

Science

Members of the biology team became interested in, and experimented with, the LATI (Learner Applied Technology Infused) approach to instruction in the last few years. We have always placed great value on developing content with students through discussion, which has included rich questioning and case studies. The LATI model provides student autonomy and allows for the teacher to engage in more formative assessment throughout the learning process. The bio team decided that this approach would provide an excellent structure for curriculum design and lesson planning this year.


In preparation for our current model of hybrid learning, the group developed and organized extensive materials. Each unit of study has a rubric that provides categories and skills, with clear descriptions of what students should know or be able to do. Each learning outcome on the rubric is supported by one or more activities. These activities are meticulously organized and provided to students at the beginning of the unit through Google Classroom. Small group work is the foundation for this model, students work together to learn the concepts and applications. This allows the teacher to provide individual assessment and direction. Currently, this is not fully possible in the classroom. However, as an alternative, we have developed mini-lessons of direct instruction to highlight or clarify concepts for the whole group. During the afternoon virtual meetings, teachers are creating small groups to engage students in shared learning and collaborations. We have also preserved our traditional goal of incorporating real world applications or problems into activities. For our Scientific Method Unit, students were “hired” by the FDA to make a PSA (Public Service Announcement) that explains to the American population why any new vaccine that gets their approval is safe for the general public. Students made a Youtube commercial outlining the protocols of creating a vaccine and why this process ensures safety.

Social Studies

In Elizabeth Harris’ 9th grade World History classes, students employed Buddhism's Eightfold Path in the context of their own lives, using its guiding principles to reflect on their own fundamentals and personal ethics to create a Mandala, a meditative object typically made of sand by Buddhist monks.


In Elizabeth Harris’s American Studies, students completed the "History vs. Hollywood" project in which they critically evaluated a film of their choice featuring Indigenous characters, juxtaposing the role of the Indigenous characters with that of the greater cast in addition to the historical context or fictional inspiration behind the story.


In Fallon Plunkett’s AT Psychology class, students tackled the challenging question of whether political polarization will continue in the next four years with the change of presidential administration. Employing tools of political psychology, student papers analyzed current events through an analytical and psychological lens.


Jonathan Pai’s U.S. History class role played the U.S. Senate in a fictional impeachment trial of Andrew Jackson. Despite a vigorous defense, the class found Jackson guilty on three of four charges of failing to uphold his commitment to the US Constitution


U.S. history students in Jeff Beals classes watched performances of famed abolitionist speeches, analyzed their effectiveness and illustrated their most powerful quotes.


Students in Jeff Beals’ philosophy class dug beneath the surface of the new Pixar film "Soul" to ask, "Do humans even have souls?" Students read Rene Descartes' argument that we do and the modern philosophers who argue the contrary position.


In Chris Hughes and Carlos Beodya’s 12th grade Food for Thought classes, Benjamin Lorr, the author of the Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket visited via Zoom to speak about the economics of supermarket supply chains, and issues concerning social justice, human rights, and our habits as consumers.

Special Education

As we continue to navigate through our new normal, LRC teachers remain committed to providing support to our students whether academically, socially, or emotionally. We meet regularly as a department to share best practices and contemplate what works best during Study Methods sessions in the hybrid schedule. As always, collaboration with our LRC families is paramount to the success of our students. We always welcome feedback, but especially now, as many of our students are learning remotely. We look forward to the time when we are back in school with a regular schedule and until then, we remain committed to providing the best possible support and to meeting our students where they are in their respective journeys.


Annual review season is right around the corner. Please be on the lookout for additional information regarding testing if your child is due for reevaluation. You will also receive notifications from your LRC teacher regarding dates and times for your child’s annual CSE meeting. As we did in the spring, all meetings will be conducted virtually.


Our annual co-sponsored College Night for Students with Learning Differences will be held on March 4th. This will also be a virtual event and details will be forthcoming from our Counseling Department.

STEAM

STEAM students continue to make, test and learn in the Design Lab and at home. In Introduction to Engineering, students designed their own vehicles which were propelled entirely by the energy stored in the spring of a mousetrap. They performed some experiments to measure energy, inertia and other variables to be considered in their design. Students were tasked with optimizing their car for maximum distance and making good design choices to handle different tradeoffs in the construction of their car. Many of the cars were very successful, including one car which traveled an incredible 90 feet!


Introduction to Design and Fabrication students are learning the 3D modeling software Tinkercad. In the second level course Design for Modern Production, students learn the more advanced 3D modeling software, Fusion 360.


Students in Design/Build created kitchen utensils out of hardwood and are now learning about joinery for personal projects like a laptop stand to make a standing desk.


App Design students have identified needs in the community and are creating prototypes in LiveCode. One app identifies how crowded certain local stores and areas are, so people will know the safest time to shop during the pandemic.


Entrepreneurship teams have identified problems and are working on solutions for small sustainable farms, food waste, the elderly, and people with hearing loss or visual impairments. They will go through an iterative cycle of identifying and testing assumptions, reiterating their designs, and presenting their solutions in the spring.

Student Government

The School Government continued its commitment to unifying the student body through an online presence in the second quarter. Students were all invited to participate in Spirit Week, which was conducted both in-person and on Zoom. The Student Government hosted another Trivia Night, open to all students. We also partnered with the PTA to create a Teacher Appreciation Video for the Scarsdale High School teachers, administration, and staff. Finally, we have continued to share school news and club announcements on our Instagram and through our weekly videos.

World Language

Students are now fully immersed in their study of world languages, hybrid style, as we approach the end of semester 1.


For a recent project, Latin 323 students researched the gods and goddesses of the Roman pantheon and their respective cities in an effort to select a patron deity for Scarsdale. The goddess Minerva was the top choice for Scarsdale because of her wit and wisdom.


A professional Ladino singer, Sarah Aroeste will return as a guest speaker (via Zoom) in our Spanish 344 classes to present on the etymology of the Ladino language in Spain and around the world.


AT Spanish language students completed their study of Cuba and “traveled” to the southern cone where they are looking at popular cultural figures such as Jorge Drexler, Mon Lafert and Kevin Johansen in preparation for their study of some short stories (Borges y yo, El sur) by Jorge Luis Borges.


AT Spanish literature students have been immersed in the Spanish classic, Don Qujote, recording podcasts of original episodes featuring Don Quijote in a contemporary setting such as Scarsdale or Manhattan.


AT French students examined the role of race and gender in the hiring process. Students discussed the potential success of a resume without a photograph, or an anonymous resume. https://flipgrid.com/9485bee7


Mandarin students recorded themselves introducing a city in Mandarin. They also created a flyer to advertise their dream home.


Our WL language clubs have remained active throughout the first semester meeting via zoom to participate in online cultural activities and games. The Spanish club explored the importance of the Three Kings (Epiphany) celebration and together with the student government organized a toy drive for White Plains Hospital. The French club has been busy with virtual mask decorating, French themed Kahoots and the annual tradition of the Bûche de Noël Cake Decorating competition.


Plans are coming together to create the second edition of the online WL literary website, The Polyglot. Stay tuned for further details. Follow the French and Spanish clubs on Instagram: @scarsdalehsfrenchclub, @shs.spanish_club