Dear Members of the Scarsdale Community,
I am pleased to present this report on the second quarter of the school year. As you know, we have been working on reducing students’ cell phone use during the school day, especially in classrooms but also in social settings to maximize student engagement and enjoyment. To renew our shared commitment to this endeavor, members of the Wellness Committee, led by Jennifer Rosenzweig, organized a celebration of “Off and Away for the Day” on the first day of the third quarter. The day featured music during hallway passing, board games, Rubck’s cubes, snacks, and instant photographs, courtesy of the teacher and PTA Wellness Committees. The day received some local TV coverage. My thanks to the teachers and parents who worked on this event, which served to re-energize the initiative. It is no small feat to achieve a mindful reduction of something so appealing as a cell phone, but it increasingly appears that nothing is more important to our students’ academic success and overall wellbeing.
Another recent event was our Lunar New Year celebration held in the Learning Commons last week and hosted by the Chinese Culture Club, featuring delicious food and fun activities. We had a full complement of parent volunteers supporting our student leaders and Ms. Guo of the World Language Department. My thanks to all who made this day a success, especially to the parents who prepared many of the homemade delicacies for our students. This celebration came just as the Board of Education gave consideration and ultimately approved the inclusion of four new holidays in next year’s school calendar (Lunar New Year, Diwali, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha) in recognition of how many families in our community celebrate these holidays. I commend the many students who advocated for these changes, including by speaking at Board of Education meetings.
I hope you enjoy reading about our work across the school and in each of the disciplines in the report below. I wish you a wonderful February break and a successful spring semester.
The A-School had completed its 50th year of January internship. Although, when the internship program was first formed students only had A-School classes, our students found fruitful opportunities even with their tight schedules. Our students worked in all types of fields. Many chose medicine, like Jane Hoffman with Dr. Boockvar at Lenox Hill hospital, or Mattie Silberfein at Pediatrics 10583. Jake Gordon worked at the Pleasantville cottages, a residential treatment program for children ages 7-16. A few students worked for non-governmental agencies Julia DeNelsky at the Anti-Defamation League and Cole Liebowitz at the Foreign Policy Association. We had student writers like Jade D’Agostino at the Scarsdale Inquirer and Tyler Hughson at Scarsdale 10583. And Ava Shandler looked after rooms of costumes at Beyond Costumes. Maya Katcher created digital animation with a former Scarsdale grade at Antell Animation Inc. Finally, many of our students choose to work in education. We had over a dozen students in the elementary schools, the middle school and high school. Even the Scarsdale Board of Education hosted an intern; Arthur Pevzner. We are so happy to have our students returning to class, and we can’t wait to hear about their January experiences.
On February 7th we will begin our annual recruitment process. Students will be presenting our program to all of our freshman English classes. We will be holding a parent informational meeting on Monday 2/13 at 7pm in the Little Theater.
One of the highlights of the AT program in the Arts are museum visits. These in-person visits immerse students in artwork in a way unlike any other, where they can see traces of the artist's hand in the work. The experience invites one to imagine how it might feel to work with the materials to create the art. All three AT classes will have visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, and the Whitney during the year. AT Studio Art and Art History students studied celebrated collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an all day field trip on November 21st and most recently on December 19th.
AT 2D Studio Art students made their way through European 18th -19th century Paintings investigating the Impressionists use of Color firsthand with students comparing swatches and color theory analysis prepared in class next to the real work of art in person. Also seen below are AT 2D students drawing from marble and bronze 17th-19th Century European Sculptures continuing their figurative study of Portraiture and Identity. The AT 2D art students heavily document their museum experience and investigations in their sketchbooks,
3-D AT students searched for work that spoke about IDENTITY, their topic of investigation, and witnessed sculpture discussed in class, deepening their connections and understanding of the work. Students documented, asked, and answered critical thinking questions, and sketched sculptures as they wandered through galleries, in awe, appreciation, wonder, and inspired to return and bring the experience into their work. We had a great time and can’t wait for our next field trip.
High School Deans wear several hats, supporting students in every aspect of their high school experience - socially, emotionally, and of course academically. Though we don’t view our students through the prism of college admissions, we recognize that many in our community view that process as our primary focus. As trained school counselors, our role is much larger, but nevertheless recognize the importance to stay ahead of the latest trends. To that end, we are committed to providing insight to our stakeholders, and do so through ongoing professional development, as well as formal and informal interactions with high school and college admissions professionals.
Deans are members of professional organizations including the Westchester/Rockland/Putnam Counselors Association, the New York State Association of School Counselors, and the National Association of College Admissions Counselors. We collectively visit dozens of institutions on a yearly basis, meeting with admissions professionals to gain further insight. We attend professional conferences relating to the process, and are members of various admissions advisory committees. The Counseling Department recently hosted a program for private and public school counselors in our region to discuss the admissions landscape, and later this year, we will hold our annual symposium, an opportunity for rich and meaningful conversations with high school and college admission professionals regarding the latest trends in admissions. Indeed, the counsel we provide is based on ongoing professional interactions and conversations, and we hope that it is a reflection of our constant commitment to our students and families.
In the English Department, the second quarter was a time of meaningful conversations about wonderful literature both classic and contemporary. Many ninth-grade students studied the Hero’s Journey, applying Joseph Campbell’s monomyth to stories ranging from The Odyssey to Catcher in the Rye. After finishing their study of Catcher in the Rye, Mr. Zeliger’s ninth-graders also charted how the Hero’s Journey related to a contemporary film of their choice. In Rachel Stark’s American Experience course, juniors read texts by Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Frederick Douglass in order to reflect on America’s legacy of racial inequity. Nicole Jakymiw’s sophomore Skills class created presentations connecting one of Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series paintings to Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.
Numerous special events took place second quarter as well. Students taking Kimberly Summerfield’s Dilemmas course saw The Kite Runner on Broadway and had a chance to attend a Q&A with the cast afterwards. Also traveling to Broadway were Pamela Kroll’s AT Literature students, who saw Wendell Pierce star as Willy Loman in a groundbreaking re-imagining of Death of a Salesman. Stephen Mounkhall’s tenth grade English class had a visit from Pulitzer-Prize-nominated Wall Street Journal reporter (and SHS graduate) Rachel Wolfe, who answered questions about journalistic research, writing, and editing as a way to connect the writing skills students are practicing to real life. Both in school and out of it, students in SHS English classes have the opportunity to gain rich insight on the human condition and the way we live now.
It is an exciting time at SHS! Students are getting ready to engage in the second half of the Italian Exchange in Udine, Italy followed by exploration of Pompeii, Rome, Florence, and a climb up the Tower of Pisa! More than 100 students in band, orchestra, and chorus will be traveling and performing in Europe over the February break. Next week fifteen SHS students will participate in a virtual global exchange titled “Student Mental Health in Schools.” In February and March, twenty students will join our partner, Envoys, with national and international students exploring discussions in Saturday summits titled “Activism and the Arts” and “International Women’s Day.” Together students develop their global citizenship skills, discuss, and problem solve real-life issues. Students, be on the lookout for additional virtual and travel opportunities in future months and next school year. You are always welcome to stop by Room 366 or email Ms. Waters at email@example.com to learn more about our global opportunities.
Health and Physical Education
Some of our 11th and 12th grade Physical Education students took part in our annual Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater residency! Professional dancers Theara Ward and Wayne Williams, along with percussionist Joseph Barnes, worked with some of our PE classes for four weeks in November and December. Our students learned the fundamentals of the Horton Technique, which is the foundation for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. We then proceeded to learn a modified version of a few different sections of Revelations, Ailey’s most famous signature piece. The sections included “I’ve Been Buked,” “I Wanna Be Ready,” and "Rocka My Soul.” One class also performed an original choreography to Ailey’s Night Creatures. Each class performed their unique version of these sections for an audience on the last day of the dance unit. All of the dances were a showcase of our students' commitment and hard work, and were a fun culmination of the residency.
In Mr. Tulley’s Health 10 classes, students researched marijuana and debated the current issue of legalization. Students worked in groups and took on the role of one of the following stakeholders: law enforcement, medical marijuana patients, doctors for legalization, doctors against legalization, high school students, parents, and towns/villages. In preparation for the debate, each group first discussed, researched, and defined specific points as part of their argument. Each group considered what points they would bring up and how they would present a convincing yet respectful argument in favor of their group’s stance. Additionally, they created and presented a poster with the salient points and supportive data and research that was cited. Each group had five minutes to present initial positions, then they regrouped and considered rebuttals. Groups concluded with three minutes for their rebuttals. Students then responded to one another on Google Classroom using the Question feature, where they discussed which groups presented the best arguments and why, and which had the strongest rebuttals and why. Overall, this experience was an opportunity for students to use their research, debate, and presentation skills to learn more about a current health-related topic.
In our ongoing pursuit to provide the best resources for our students, we have added two subscription databases to our already expansive offerings. Thanks to the suggestion of social studies teacher, Carine Thompson, we now subscribe to Social Explorer, which provides deep insights into any United States location through thousands of data variables and stunning visualizations, including maps and demographic profiles. Also with thanks to another social studies teacher, Kami Wright, we now have access to CIAO (Columbia International Affairs Online), the world’s largest online resource devoted to research, analysis, and scholarship on international politics and related fields.
In Ms. Palekar’s AT AB Calculus class, students create videos to address the prompt: How is the trapezoidal rule related to the Riemann sums? Prove it. The links below are for videos they created.
The 431 class used their knowledge of conic sections to create images using equations in Desmos. This project facilitated great discussions about domain and range and transformations of parent functions. The final projects are displayed on bulletin boards in the hallway. 442 designed images using transformations of functions on Desmos. Here's a link to the 442 projects.
In Math 423, students are divided into teams and applied triangle inequality theorems and corollaries to different real-world situations such as air navigation, dog training, and desk arrangements in a classroom. They learned that when analyzing real-world situations, they have to take into consideration all possible scenarios in their conclusions. In Math 424, students applied their indirect proof skills from the logic unit in Quarter 1 to prove some important geometric theorems in Quarter 2. They appreciated how materials have been spiraled and enjoyed the applications of their skills in different areas of math.
In AT Statistics, students took part in a Probability Lab, playing games of chance and investigating Monte Hall's Dilemma, an activity modeled after the popular game show Let's Make a Deal. The students ran simulations and made relevant computations involving conditional probabilities, expected value, and random variables.
In the Westchester Interscholastic Mathematics League (WIML), our SHS Math Team has completed four 4 contests so far, with two more to come in February and March. Top scorers in the county are invited to participate in the New York State Mathematics League (NYSML) Championships in April, which historically has been well represented by Scarsdale. We look forward to another chance to bring home the gold!
In a separate New York Mathematics League (unrelated to the NYSML Championship), after three contests, Scarsdale is currently ranked 2nd in the state, behind Stuyvesant High School in New York City. Frederick Li is currently listed in the top 35 highest cumulative scores after the first three rounds. We are always looking for new members, so students who are interested should email Mr. Greenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
As a department, we continue to enjoy the return to our full range of engaging lab activities and experiences this year. As course sequences develop, the opportunity for increasingly complex and real-world application becomes available. This is particularly true in our senior Advanced Topics Biology course. After reviewing and enhancing their understanding of biological organization and interactions this fall, students are ready to engage in advanced experiments. Currently this group is studying genetics, the inheritance of genes that confer traits in an organism. Frederick Griffith’s experiments using bacteria in 1928 discovered a “transforming factor” that was responsible for the transfer of traits. He was able to transform nonpathogenic bacteria to become pathogenic ones. Future experiments elucidated the “transforming factor” to be DNA.
Modern molecular biology exploded from that point on and continues to this day. Since then, scientists have been able to transform bacteria with selected genes of interest in pursuit of benefiting the medical and scientific field. For example, bacteria have been transformed with human genes. Genes have been cloned using this technology. Transformed bacteria are now able to make human proteins to treat certain conditions. Examples include human insulin to treat diabetes and human growth hormone to treat growth defects. The AT Biology class performed their own transformation experiment, in which bacteria were transformed to contain the green fluorescent protein gene from a jellyfish and an antibiotic resistance gene. Successfully transformed bacteria were identified on petri dishes containing the antibiotic. These bacteria fluoresce green under UV light, as shown below.
Music and Performing Arts
Our Acting I class has been working on final scenes. Master Class has completed their plays: the first about Happiness among high school students and the second about Free Speech and its ramifications on social media. Cast and crew wrapped up their production of the student-directed plays, I Don’t Want to Talk About It, and Finding Love in the 21st Century. Drama Club has begun rehearsals for She Kills Monsters which will include guest speakers about rights for people with disabilities and collaboration with the GLOW club.
Our orchestra, choir, and band ensembles continue preparing for this year’s international performance tours to Europe!
The Concert, Mixed, and Chamber choirs had a very successful holiday concert season met with laughter and joy and were applauded by all. In other news, the members of the choir all got a “secret snowperson,” wrote holiday cards for one another, and exchanged the cards over a fun breakfast before the holiday break!
Our Symphonic Band and Honors Wind Ensemble had successful performances in December playing classic and contemporary literature as well as arrangements by two SHS students, Matteo Sohn and Stephen Cai.
Freshman Hayden Fung was invited to the Young Composer program at NYSSMA’s annual Winter Conference in Rochester. There, he participated in workshops with Composer-in-Residence, Vivian Fung (no relation) and coached collegiate performers preparing his piece for its premier on the Young Composer’s Honors Concert.
Advanced Piano Coaching class students performed a beautiful recital on January 10th playing works by Scarlatti, Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Debussy, Sibelius, and Rachmaninoff!
Nicola Minchillo’s tenth grade students explored the development and impact of globalized trade from 1800 to 1945 in an extensive research project. First, students explored motivations of imperialism, such as industrialization and scientific racism. Students examined the role of tools such as steamships, railroads and canals in facilitating expansion, and studied how the desire to control new resources and markets led to conflict and exploitation. Collaborative groups researched natural resources and high-demand commodities. The groups created annotated maps, digital timelines, and either infographics or videos that captured their findings, and then shared their work in an exposition. Finally, students are writing essays about how the demand for commodities shaped international relationships. Through this multi-week unit, students developed skills in research, executive functioning, communication, collaboration and writing.
Kami Wright’s Advanced Topics American Government course embarked on an action-packed overnight field trip to the nation’s capital. They visited the National Archives to see the nation’s founding documents, explored the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and took a walking tour of the National Mall and the White House. The visit to DC was capped off by a trip to the Capitol where students walked by (but sadly didn’t get to talk to) Senator Gillibrand, and then saw Senators Schumer and McConnell speak to the chamber before getting to watch a roll call vote for a federal judge appointment. Although visitors weren’t allowed in the House gallery, the class was in the building when the House voted to protect Marriage Equality.
Psychologist and Social Work
The Psychology and Social Work Department (PSW) continued our outreach to students, meeting with sophomores in their first semester health class, with second semester health classes to follow. The conversations included a variety of topics related to our students’ mental health, and most importantly provided us with the opportunity to engage directly and allow them to see the many caring professionals that are part of our school community. Having previously met with ninth and eleventh graders, it is part of a broader effort to be proactive and provide every student with the opportunity to learn about our staff and approach.
Referrals to the PSW team can be made by students themselves or any concerned party. Though teachers, students, and parents provide us with insight about those that may be experiencing some personal struggles, it is often the student’s Dean who makes a referral, and PSW clinicians meet on a biweekly basis to review any students of concern and discuss follow up. We work closely with other mental health professionals and administrators to discuss outreach and ongoing programming. PSW clinicians have taken part in larger school initiatives, including Global Citizenship Day and parent workshops for our “Off and Away” cell phone initiative. Teachers will often call on us to visit their classrooms when sensitive topics may be raised, and we are happy to support their work and our students in every way possible.
LRC teachers have attended various workshops to keep up to date on the latest trends and learn different strategies to help support our students. Workshops we attended focused on Effective Co-Teaching Strategies and College Requirements for Students with Disabilities. As life-long learners, we are always looking for new ways to strengthen our pedagogy and support our students.
Teachers in the LRC are committed to helping our children improve academically, socially, and emotionally. Several of our teachers have made incorporating mindfulness into our classes a priority. Starting the period by asking what’s good or new or taking a moment for gratitude practices are some of the activities we have integrated into our daily classroom routines.
Teachers in the LRC are committed to helping our students build their “toolbox” of skills and strategies to compensate for areas of continuing development. We use a variety of resources and materials as we work through the curriculum. Please visit our LRC website where you can find tips for study skills, test-taking strategies, and resources for parents.
Coming down the pike in March is our College Night for Students with Learning Differences, a program we co-sponsor with the Counseling Department. The workshop will be held via Zoom and we hope you can join us as we hear from college admissions officers, special services representatives and a Scarsdale parent who has successfully completed the process. More information will be forthcoming shortly.
The end of second quarter is very busy in the Design Lab with first and second level classes finishing final projects. Design/Build classes have been creating solutions for elementary classrooms at Edgewood School, after visiting in November. Some of the solutions are wooden art carts, organizers for costumes and laser cut acrylic activity trays for water play. Some of the students and their teacher will come for a visit at the end of the semester.
In the introductory class, Human-Centered Design, students pitched solutions to the semester-long design challenge focused on connections. The students shared over 30 innovative apps focused on mental health and anxiety with our panel of experts, ranging from Scarsdale High School psychologists to Congressman Bowman's staff who are interested in continuing the conversation.
Students in the electrical engineering course have been working on mastering electronics and coding using the Arduino platform. This semester, they have built several projects including digital thermometers, morse-code translators, and traffic-light simulators. Students are currently designing and building their final projects including an M&M color-sorting mechanism, a lockbox with a keypad, an LCD video-game and a photo-resistor based music box.
The Robotics Club, Scarsdale Robo Raiders, won their first tournament. They were undefeated throughout and won both of the highest awards, one of which was the Inspire Award, which is given to the team that inspires others with their “gracious professionalism.” They also qualified for the state First Robotics Tech Challenge championship in Utica in March!
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 continued our efforts to improve student life and embody Scarsdale Schools’ motto of “non-sibi.” We held our annual Community Dinner, an event centered around building community while also raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The event brought together hundreds of Scarsdale students and residents and raised $10,000 for the charity. To expand the extracurricular opportunities for students, School Government reviewed dozens of new club applications and approved new clubs at SHS. School Government planned and held our winter Pep Rally to honor our teams and clubs. To build school spirit leading up to the Pep Rally, we had our second Spirit Week of the year, and if the excitement and enthusiasm at the Pep Rally was any indication, we were tremendously successful in our endeavors.
Students are deepening their study of language and culture as we approach the end of the first semester. AT Spanish students completed their study of the classic Lorca play, La casa de Bernarda Alba and enjoyed an authentic performance in NYC at the Repertorio español. In providing feedback on the theater trip and the study of the play, one thoughtful student commented on the damage that gender roles and social values can have in a community.
Latin students researched and presented aspects of Roman culture, such as education, religion, holidays and more. Upper level Latin students created fictionalized historical stories set in the times and places that they have been studying. These stories were made into videos that students filmed, edited and presented to the class. All of the Latin students celebrated Saturnalia, the mid-winter festival of ancient Rome. They wore togas, played games and made sigillaria (clay figurines).
The AT French students have been learning about the cultural characteristics of Guadalupe in their study of Le cœur à rire et à pleurer (The heart that laughs and cries) by Maryse Condé. The World Cup was big news in many of our French and Spanish classes. Some students researched biographical information on players, others narrated video clips of the exciting goals scored by Kylian Mbappé. The Spanish club sponsored brackets to predict the winning team and held an after school viewing session. The Spanish club also coordinated a successful drive in conjunction with the White Plains hospital club. They collected hats, gloves and socks and created original holiday cards for children. The French club hosted its annual Bûche De Noël contest with faculty judges who could not believe their good fortune at being asked to judge such a tasty contest! Indeed a scrumptious time was had by all!
The second year Mandarin students took a field trip to New York City to explore Chinatown and practice restaurant and shopping vocabulary. Third and fourth year students created original children’s books, one particularly memorable story involved Mr. Soup Dumpling who suffered an injury but was saved by Ms. Guo. The AT Mandarin students won a silver prize in the movie making competition sponsored by New York University, kudos to all!