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Announcing the Winners of the 2016 Halloween Window Painting Contest

PaintingV-31The Scarsdale Recreation Department announced the winners of the 2016 Halloween Window Painting Contest. Kids of all ages, siblings and parents participated on a balmy October Sunday and created colorful and comical works. For the second year in a row, the Grand Prize went to Lucy Du whoh painted the skeleton shown here on the Chase Bank window on East Parkway.

See the results below and the first place paintings. The award ceremony will take place on Thursday November 10 at 7:30 pm at  the Quaker Ridge Auditorium.







Helping your Sixth Grader Navigate the Social Scene: Through Halloween and Beyond...

batmanThis column was written by Clinical Social Worker and Scarsdale resident Julie Stonberg:
Am I supposed to wear a costume to school? Am I too old to go trick or treating? Does everyone have a plan for Halloweekend but me? If you have a sixth grader, chances are you've been stumped by one or more of these questions in recent days. Halloween stress is just one of the many social transitions your new middle-schooler will face. As kids mature physically and emotionally at vastly different rates, the middle school years can be some of the most difficult socially, and you won't be able to neatly fix everything. But there are ways you can help support their entry into this brave new world.

For starters, you can help and guide them as they begin to make their own social plans. In elementary school you probably arranged after school and weekend activities for your child, including "play dates." They may have let you know who they wanted to spend time with, but you were instrumental in making it happen. As this begins to shift (for some kids earlier than others), help them plan ahead by thinking about a time they are free, for example a Friday afternoon or an upcoming half-day of school and suggest ways to approach friends, old or new. You don't have to completely step out of making plans for them but try to mix it up so they get used to doing it on their own.

Always be curious. Ask open ended questions about what their day is like. What does the cafeteria feel like? Who do you sit with usually? Do they go outside after lunch? If so what do you usually do? Ask them about the social scene in their House and in the school as a whole. Some will talk more than others, but if you know what they are struggling with you can best help them come up with solutions. I know one kid who used to head into the bathroom at lunch in 6th grade to play a game on his phone when the cafeteria felt too overwhelming. Eventually he stopped and joined the crowds, but in the beginning he needed the downtime. Lunch can also be a good time to meet with teachers for extra help, or look for a club or activity that meets during that time.

Continue to encourage new social outlets, clubs and other activities outside of school as well as inside, and model openness and inclusion. For example, if your child says "there is no one I like in my house" instead of agreeing (or worst thing: trying to change houses!) encourage them to look around and make an effort to get to know someone new.

Try not to overreact to social shifts or slowdowns. While there are a few kids who seem socially adept, the vast majority are just trying to figure it all out. Switching groups of friends is a natural occurrence throughout the teen years. In fact, if you ask most seniors at Scarsdale High School who their closest friends are, most likely they are kids from other schools who they didn't know until middle school or later, which means they all switched friends at some point!

But, if your middle schooler is your oldest, and you're coming from a tight group in elementary school (that involved your social life as well) it's natural to panic a little if it feels the winds are shifting.

If you do feel your child is being eased out of a group of friends, try not to jump to conclusions, or give in to impulses to call parents or try to force the tides to turn back. It could be that her old group is ready to participate socially in ways she is not, whether that means hanging out with the opposite sex, walking to town by themselves, or engaging with social media. It may also mean that your child is exploring a different sense of who she is, and she will need your support and positive guidance along the way. You can explain to your child that everyone goes through this type of thing, and if her social life feels slow, you can slow yours down a bit too. It doesn't mean that you can't have adult-only plans ever, but it doesn't hurt to be around a little more often on a Friday or Saturday night.

Sixth graders are still happy to watch a movie and eat dinner with their parents or play a video or board game together. If you act like it's perfectly fine to be hanging with your folks on a Friday night, they will believe that it is. If you pressure them to make plans when they may not be ready or know quite who to make them with or how to make them, they will feel like something is wrong with them. This moment between childhood and adolescence is precious and fleeting. Don't waste it worrying if they are popular!

If your child is the one moving on, talk to them about your values, which hopefully include kindness and empathy. You can validate that they may have outgrown some friendships and want to spend time with new people, but make it clear that it is not acceptable ever to be mean. Encourage them to see the old friend from time to time, and remind them that everyone is looking at everyone else for cues on how to behave. If they include people and act kind, other kids will follow their lead.

Regarding Halloween, if they seem to be struggling, ask them what they are thinking. Tell them that they certainly do not have to wear a costume to school on Monday, although many kids will, and they also don't have to dress up with a group of friends, although many will do that too. They should make a decision based on what feels comfortable to them. And if they don't have plans to trick or treat – they are definitely old enough to stay home and hand out candy - maybe they want to invite a new friend over for pizza and a scary movie. (This plan will probably cause a sigh of relief in someone else's house!)

Most likely these weekend nights with your middle-schooler at home will soon feel like a distant memory, as they head off into the land of cars and curfews and choices faced in high school social life. When you give them the space to step back and figure it out without judgement or pressure, they head into that land secure that they are loved and supported for exactly who they are by the people that matter most, and they will be comfortable in their ability to decide what is right for them.

stonbergJulie Stonberg is a clinical social worker at Westchester Family Counseling in Hartsdale,

What Goes On Inside the College Admissions Office

collegeaheadWhat really happens behind the closed doors of the Admissions Office? On Wednesday, October 19, 2016 from 7:30-9:00 p.m. at the JCC of Mid-Westchester, 999 Wilmot Road, Scarsdale, the deans and directors of a number of top colleges and universities will open those doors and dispel the myths about what it takes to get into college. This is the ninth year in a row this program is being presented.

The free community-wide event – "Inside the Admissions Office" -- is sponsored by the JCC of Mid-.Westchester and Woolf College Consulting. Students and parents will hear the real story behind how decisions are made from the deans and directors of Bucknell University, Dickinson College, Oberlin College, Swarthmore College, Syracuse University, University of Chicago and University of Richmond. The evening will give the public the opportunity to learn the differences and similarities in how decisions are made by selective universities and liberal arts colleges. Advance registration is required at

Moderated by Mamaroneck-based college admissions consultant Betsy F. Woolf of Woolf College Consulting, students and parents will learn:

  • What makes a student's application "stand out";
  • How an admissions staff makes the ultimate decision to admit, deny or defer;
  • How colleges weigh grades, test scores, family connections, athletics, campus visits, interviews, essays and other factors;
  • The institutional needs and policies behind the decision-making;
  • The difference between a well-rounded student and a well-rounded class – and why that is important in college admissions;
  • Whether declaring certain majors gives students a leg up in the admissions process;
  • How admissions committees treat the application of a student who discloses his or her learning difference or ADHD.

The JCC of MidWestchester is located at 999 Wilmot Road in Scarsdale. Register for the event here:

2nd Annual STEAM Day Planned for November 19 at SMS

STEAMDAYWhat do science, technology, engineering, art and math have in common? Find out at the second annual Scarsdale STEAM Day!

STEAM Day 2016 is scheduled for November 19th, from 11am-3pm at the Scarsdale Middle School. This year's format has expanded to include a large Makerspace, Discovery Tables, Workshops, and exhibits of student, parent, and faculty work. Geneticists, mathematicians, physicists, engineers, teachers and artists, to name a few, will present a broad range of topics from coding and structural engineering, to mind-controlled helicopters and magnetic levitation cars. Scarsdale students, parents, faculty, staff and community members are invited to attend. Workshops for 4th through 8th graders will run throughout the day. Registration for these workshops is recommended and will begin soon; a limited number of walk-in spots will be available for some workshops on the day of the event. Visitors of all ages are welcome to check out the exhibits, explore the Discovery Tables and Makerspace at their own pace, create a miniature RFID-equipped car to race at Nerdy Derby, or attend a show featuring the physics of bubbles.

STEAM Day 2016 is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation and the support of District administrators, faculty and staff, parents, students and vendors. PT Council STEAM Day Committee also wishes to gratefully acknowledge the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation for its sponsorship of Nerdy Derby at the event. PT Council STEAM Day committee co-chairs Kathleen Campbell and Seema Jaggi are organizing and overseeing the event with the assistance of a strong and committed core of parent volunteers.

Last year's inaugural STEAM Day provided workshops for 275 students in grades 4 to 6. It sold out quickly and was a huge success. Identifying the need to expand the event's offerings and broaden its reach, Campbell and Jaggi began planning last spring. They traveled to other STEAM events in the metro area to gather additional ideas, deciding to unite some of the activities they saw there with last year's workshop format. They are especially excited to offer a wide variety of STEAM activities to a larger audience by opening this event up to families.

The entire PT Council STEAM Day Committee hopes that Scarsdale students, parents, faculty, staff and the larger community will enjoy the fun, educational and inspiring activities, workshops and exhibits at Scarsdale STEAM Day 2016.

New STEP Student Zaria Cash and Host Family Each Embrace New Experiences

zariaJunior year is a daunting one for any Scarsdale student. Just when academic rigor and extracurricular commitments are peaking, the college application process -- campus visits, standardized testing -- begins in earnest.

So just imagine junior year for a student both new to the high school and over 1,000 miles removed from family and friends? What sort of 16-year old student would even think to challenge herself on so many levels at once?

Meet Zaria Cash, an exceptionally intrepid and determined student from Memphis, Tennessee, who joins Scarsdale High School's Class of 2018 as the latest in a long line of remarkable Scarsdale STEP students.

The Scarsdale Student Transfer Education Plan (STEP) is an independent community program that identifies promising students of color and enables them to attend Scarsdale High School for their junior and senior years. The program offers qualified students access to Scarsdale High School's strong college preparatory program and extensive extracurricular activities, as well as the cultural and recreational resources of the New York metropolitan area. By offering students exposure to a different and challenging environment, STEP prepares them to take positions of leadership and responsibility in a multi-cultural society

Zaria Cash comes to Scarsdale with a track record of embracing new experiences and seeking challenges. She was an honors student at KIPP Memphis Collegiate High and a member of the school's cheerleading squad. In her freshman year she competed in the greater Memphis Science Olympiad and won 4th place as the only 9th grader on teams of juniors and seniors. The summer after her sophomore year, the Eleanor Roosevelt Foundation selected her to participate in their Girls' Leadership Worldwide program in New York City, which Zaria considers a life-changing experience. She spent part of this past summer in Minnesota attending Carleton College's Liberal Arts Experience program.

When asked how she came to apply to the Scarsdale STEP program, Zaria replied, "Well, my college advisor, Mrs. Weber, recommended STEP to me. At first I didn't like the thought of being away from home; but, as I kept asking about the program, I realized that this was an amazing opportunity to better my education and succeed in life."

Scarsdale STEP could not provide such an opportunity to Zaria, or to the other STEP students before her, without also being able to offer a strong system of social and emotional support. Most crucial is finding a Scarsdale family willing to provide the student with a nurturing and supportive environment -- that is, a home away from home. Host parents not only supervise and take responsibility for students but also offer moral support, reassurance and advice in solving problems. STEP students typically become integral members of the host family and often maintain close ties with them well beyond their high school graduation.

STEP's 2016 graduate, DonTavius Holmes, also of Memphis, lived with Bettina and Michael Klein and their children. DonTavius now attends Oxford College at Emory University under full scholarship.

In stepping up to play this pivotal role in Zaria Cash's life, the Greenwald family has shown that they, too, welcome new experiences with a warm embrace. Diane and Marc Greenwald and their two sons, Jay and Eli, are hosting Scarsdale's newest STEP scholar for the next two years.

As Diane Greenwald explained, "Neither Marc nor I had ever been involved with STEP, but last spring, I saw the notice in the Inquirer that STEP had selected Zaria and was seeking a host family. Something about her just caught my attention. We talked to the STEP board members and learned how much support the board and community would provide. Then we talked to our sons, and really it was their unhesitating enthusiasm to share our home that clinched our commitment."

samwickThe success of each STEP student further depends on a consistently strong network of personal support and access to resources from the fifty-plus member STEP organization, as well as the broader Scarsdale community. Scarsdale High School also offers a structure of support in the form of a new student group run by Dean Nancy Thompson and Youth Outreach Worker, Lauren Pomerantz. In addition, the student-run STEP Club organizes fundraisers and social events.

Just a few weeks after her arrival in Scarsdale, on September 14th, STEP hosted a potluck dinner to welcome Zaria, along with its first board meeting of the 2016-17 year.

Zaria reported on her academic courses, and was especially enthusiastic about the prospect of conducting experiments in Psychology and developing public speaking skills in Acting class. Zaria has already joined the Junior Varsity cheerleading squad and is also interested in trying out for one of the school's a cappella groups.

Asked to reflect on her adjustment so far to life in Scarsdale, Zaria remained both focused on the positive, as well as candid. "I believe that everything is going well. Everyone is so nice and welcoming that I am kind of distracted from not being close to my family and friends. Although I do miss the little things sometimes...."

It will no doubt take time for this new STEP student to build new relationships and to feel she is part of the Scarsdale community, but already her open and straightforward demeanor and positive attitude have helped to ease her transition. As host parent Diane Greenwald puts it, "Zaria has made it easy for us to welcome her, as she approaches everything she does with a ready smile. She is a brave and positive young woman. In this very short time, Zaria has impressed us all with her enthusiasm, determination and maturity. It has only been a few weeks, but I anticipate we will learn much from her, and I hope she from us."

2016 marks STEP's 50th year and a community-wide celebration will take place to commemorate this milestone on Saturday, November 12th at the Scarsdale Woman's Club. It was former Scarsdale Social Studies teacher Eric Rothschild who first established the Student Transfer Education Program in Scarsdale in 1966 and the guest of honor for the anniversary celebration will be Rashid Silvera, another venerated Scarsdale High School Social Studies teacher who has also been a true friend of STEP. Those interested in learning more about STEP, attending the 50th celebration, donating funds or services, or becoming a host family, should contact STEP at, or visit its website,

Author Mary Beth Evans is a member of the STEP Board.