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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 info@scarsdalestep.org, or visit its website, www.scarsdalestep.org.

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

STEP Gala Celebrates 50 Years of Success

cfd0cb 8759801ca8694772958703bab3f54249Scarsdale STEP will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Saturday, November 12, 2016 at the Scarsdale Women's Club from 6-8 pm. The cocktail party will honor Rashid Silvera, the esteemed Psychology and Race and Ethnicity teacher, who has been an educator at Scarsdale High School since 1981. Eric Rothschild, the founder of STEP, village historian and retired SHS teacher of longstanding was honored at the 45th anniversary gala.

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. While in Scarsdale, each visiting student lives with a host family and is encouraged to become an integral part of the Scarsdale community. 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.

Scarsdale's STEP program was founded in 1966. Its original goal was to share the educational opportunities at Scarsdale High School with students from segregated Southern schools of limited resources. Since that time, STEP has expanded its recruitment base to include students of color from areas throughout the United States. Many former STEP students have continued their education at the graduate level, pursuing law, medical, and business and Ph.D. degrees.

The community is invited to meet the current STEP student, honor Rashid and join this celebration. Tickets may be acquired or donations made by visiting scarsdalestep.org/step50.

Back to School: Managing the Transition and Minimizing Meltdowns

schoolbusThere's a chill in the air first thing in the morning and you've worn your white jeans for the last time. As parents, we often breathe a sigh of relief when school finally starts, but for kids the transition can be a little trickier. While most children begin the year with a healthy mixture of nerves and excitement, those first few weeks of early wake-ups, new teachers, and the return of homework and schedules can be tough on everyone. So whether you spent the week before school getting organized and easing back into regular routines, or just in complete denial that the lazy days of summer were actually coming to an end, here are some tips to help kids ease into fall.

Start by talking to your kids about the year. Find out what they are thinking -- what they are looking forward to, what they may be worried about. Ask them to think about any goals they have. Having this discussion as a family or one-on-one with each child is a way to connect and also to acknowledge that things are about to change. It can also alert you to any specific concerns they may have. Yesterday, for example, I asked my 8th grader what he wanted out of this year and he said he wants to do really well in school because he knows this year counts for his transcript for college! I'm not sure where he heard that but I was able to tell him that that actually wasn't true, and I saw him visibly relax.

Get in the habit with your child of organizing as much as possible the night before – from clothes picked out to backpacks packed and lunches made. The fewer tasks left for the morning, the less hectic and frazzled everyone will feel. With a calmer start to the day your child (and you) will feel centered and ready to meet the world.

Encourage kids to spend time outside after school. Winter is long, and there will be plenty of time for the x-box, but you can take advantage of the weather these first few weeks leading into fall to let them expend energy and get some natural light and fresh air between school and homework. Being outside changes moods for the better, and will help make the transition to sitting inside for hours in a classroom seem less like a complete system shock.

Have spaces set up for homework that are organized and clutter-free. Plan with your child where he/she would like to do their work. Older kids tend to like the privacy of their rooms, while younger ones often prefer the kitchen table, or other areas of the house where they feel less isolated. There is no right or wrong place to do their work, as long as it's getting done, and it will give them a sense of control if they are allowed some say in where they set up.

As much as possible keep bedtime on the earlier side these first few weeks. Even an hour more of sleep per night can help a child cope with stress and regulate his emotions better. As the evening winds down, go over the following day with your child, including any appointments and after school activities, who is picking him up and driving him home, and where he should look for the rides. You may know you signed your son up for soccer on Tuesdays, but it's news to him! If possible, keeping extra-curriculars light that first week or two also helps ease the transition to a longer more structured day.

Consciously make time to connect as a family. Eat dinner together as much as you can, and make a weekend day or night plan that includes everyone. Chances are the summer offered many opportunities to be together so it's helpful to keep that thread going as the year starts and it can feel like everyone is off their own direction.

Accept that when all is said and done, there will be a period of adjustment, complete with anxious and cranky children, an extra tantrum (or four) and some frazzled nerves on your end. Many kids hold it together at school, only to seemingly fall apart at home until they get used to the routine. Give them the space to let it out, and let them know that you understand that it takes time to adjust to new teachers and schedules and that it's SO normal to feel overwhelmed.

Sometimes it helps to stand back and think big picture about your child and how she reacts to stressful situations in general. For example, when my daughter was about to start 9th grade, she had such a complete and violent meltdown when I asked her if her school supplies were organized, that I wondered how she would make it through the year. But when I thought about it, I realized that not only had she had an almost identical meltdown when I tried to explain to her how to use a combination lock the day before she started middle school, but I also remembered handing her to the elementary school secretary crying for the first two weeks of first grade, and her practically hyperventilating when I left her in the "two's" for the first time. It helped me to see that in the past she had been able to pull herself together just fine, and this pre high-school meltdown was just another stop along the road.

Finally, remember to reassure yourself that this too shall pass, and that kids usually do settle in within a few weeks, and those long lazy days will seem a distant memory...for now.

stonbergJulie Stonberg is a clinical social worker at Westchester Family Counseling in Hartsdale, www.westchesterfamilycounseling.com.

National Merit Names Local Semifinalists

nationalmerit-logo122Eleven students in Edgemont and 26 in Scarsdale were among the 16,000 semifinalists named by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) in the 62nd annual 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program. These high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.

About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest- scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist's academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record through- out high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student's earlier performance on the qualifying test.

From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance
to the finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

Here are the names of the semifinalists from Edgemont and Scarsdale High Schools:

Edgemont High School:

Barnwal, Anshul
Brandfonbrener, James A.
Gupta, Nikita
Kim, Michelle
Lu, Alexander T.
Parsi, Pranav
Reyes Gomez, Federico J.
Saha, Mitul
Salsberg, Avery
Stern, Kasey
Wexler, Jocelyn H.

Scarsdale High School:

Arora, Srishti
Blatt, Louisa E.
Boxer, Miles
Brody, Tyler L.
Chang, Vincent
Clapp, Laura L.
Ewing, Zoe L.
Gao, Cindy D.
Gillespie, Claire M.
Kapner, Zachary
Kaspers, Thatcher A.
Kaufman, Caroline
Kelson, Caroline M.
Kourakos, Michael H.
Landau, Michael S.
Levin, Andrew M.
Li, Dexin
Ng, Julia E.
Rastogi, Keshav M.
Rothberg, Samantha
Singer, Lauren H.
Suzman, Chloe H.
Weinbaum, Seth P.
Yaseen, Grant D.
Zhang, Yunmo
Zipursky, Gillian

Another Successful Season for the Scardale Recreation Department Day Camps

scarsdalepoolNow that the season has wrapped up, we asked the new Supervisor for Scarsdale Parks, Recreation and Conservation Brian Gray a few questions about how the summer camp program went this year.

How many children did the program serve this summer – and what is their age range?

Overall the camp season was a great success with a total of 857 campers enrolled in the program on our busiest weeks. Children range from entering K in the fall to entering 8th in the fall.

How many people did the program employ?

180 for Day Camps, 11 for Sports Camp, 5 for Teen Travel

What is the largest/most popular camp? And why?

Tough to tell why certain camps have higher enrollment then others, however, here is the breakdown of campers per camp:

Sagamore (K) 141
Lenape (1st grade) 145
Wapetuck (2nd grade) 166
Patthunke (3rd – 8th grade) 220
Sports Camp (1st – 8th) 69
Soccer Camp (1st – 8th) 36
Travel Camp (6th – 8th) 2 sessions of 40

What special programs did you offer this summer?

Our elective program at Camp Patthunke was a big hit this summer offering activities such as horseback riding, fashion design and robotics.

How did the teen travel camp go? Any interesting trips to note?LakeCompounce

We filled 2 sessions of 40 children each session. Most popular trips are always the amusement parks such as Great Adventure, Lake Compounce and Mountain Creek however we also send the campers to activities such as: deep sea fishing, indoor rock climbing, whitewater rafting and major league baseball games.

What were some of the highlights of this summer?

A very successful Family Carnival held at the Scarsdale Middle School

What were some of the biggest successes? .... Anything you will repeat next summer – or not?

Overall I fell the camp is a success for all age groups. We will continue with our traditional offerings such as performing arts, arts and crafts, sports, and our swimming program. In the off season, camp staff will brainstorm additional offerings for our elective program at Camp Patthunke as well as new ideas for trips.

When does the recreation department begin work on next year's program? Is it a year-round effort?

Unfortunately there is not much down time for a camp of our size and program offerings. Over the next few months we will be wrapping up this season and as early as December we begin reaching out to our returning staff and begin to book trips, order supplies, etc.