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Seniors Look Back and Forward on Transition Day

trans1On Monday, June 6, the class of 2016 had the chance to look back at their high school experience and forward to what is to come at Senior Transition Day, the last class-wide activity before graduation. The day started when seniors met n the High School auditorium for "The College Freshman Experience," a question and answer session with SHS alumni who are college freshmen. The experience was an opportunity for students to gain first hand insights into what it's really like to enter college from Scarsdale High School. The alumni discussed college workload, relationships with professors, and sexual assault on college campuses among other relevant topics. "The presentation gave me a clearer idea of what to expect next year. I'm a little more confident about dealing with all of the new, potentially scary aspects of being a college freshman now" explained senior Madeline Frankel.

After the college freshman presentation, seniors moved to separate classrooms for discussions with their high school deans. Each dean has a group of seniors that they've counseled and consulted with through high school. "It was nice to be in a room with the same group of students that we started our high school experiences with on our first day again" said senior Madeline Frankel. At the separate meetings each dean spoke personally to their small group of students, reiterating the messages in the first presentation. The students also shared memories they had with their deans and the other students. trans3"We're kind of ending high school the same way we started it with the same people," said Jack Dolgin. After conversing about entering college next year, deans prompted everyone to recount and share a fond memory they have from their four years at Scarsdale. Finally, students were given paper and instructed to write an anonymous letter to the teachers that have influenced them the most over the course of their four years at SHS. Those letters were then delivered to the teachers' mailboxes by the deans. The dean meetings were a way for the small groups that have bonded to have a final afternoon together.

Following the dean meetings the students all gathered in the gyms for a lunch and the yearbook ceremony. Parents arranged sandwiches from Giannoni's and assorted baked goods and snacks for students. After students ate the lunch, a stand was set up to pass out everyone's yearbooks. Students sat on the bleachers and signed notes in the yearbooks. "I loved being able to sit with the entire grade and reminisce about our memories together," said Sara Shah. The day was enjoyable for the class of 2016 as they recalled old memories and bonded before graduation.

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College Demystified at Student-to-Student Night

student-to-studentThe college process has finally ended for this year's high school seniors, and one thing is now on everyone's minds – the college process for next year's seniors. On Wednesday May 25, 120 Scarsdale High School juniors came to the school at night to participate in "Student-to-Student Night," where 65 Scarsdale alumni currently attending 43 different colleges chatted with the juniors about their college experience. The event is meant to give juniors a perspective on what college is generally like as a Scarsdale High School graduate, and how well Scarsdale has prepared them for college-level academics. Most college students seemed to agree that Scarsdale's rigorous academic program has made them perfectly equipped for college. No college students felt that they went away to school unprepared academically. They explained that they learned how to study, how to research and write a scholarly paper in high school; all skills they have put to use in their higher level studies.

Additionally, each college student spoke specifically about the university they are attending. They discussed the social life at their college and answered juniors' questions about their specific institution. The high schoolers in attendance were better able to figure out what kind of school that would like socially, whether it's one with a big Greek life or one with a more mellow environment. Moreover, juniors could sign up for specific colleges they are considering and talk with college students from those institutions to either confirm or reverse their interest in that school. Many juniors felt that this night solidified which colleges they were considering applying to while many others felt that some schools they were originally interested in weren't actually for them. Most of all, the juniors became more cognizant of what they actually wanted in a college. This night cleared up much of the fog created by admissions hype and parental influence, and students could better figure out which schools they truly want to attend.

Generally, "Student-to-Student Night" exists to make current high schoolers more comfortable heading into the college process. students2The college process is a notoriously stressful time for students, and this event gives them more direct insight about it so they don't feel like their choosing colleges blindly. The most common piece of advice given by the college students there was, "Take a deep breath and remember that whichever college you choose, you will have a great time." Most college students admitted that the school they ended up at was not their first choice. However, every college student agreed that they love the school they're attending and are having an amazing time. Overall, "Student-to-Student Night" was a success. One junior attending the event said, "This was really helpful in giving me stronger insight on which colleges I would like to apply to. I must admit I was freaking out a lot beforehand. Now I'm only freaking out a little bit."

Protect Greenacres' Legacy

GA2This letter was contributed by Mike Greenberg of Brite Avenue: I'm a 15-year resident of Greenacres. Two of my three children have graduated from Greenacres Elementary. My daughter is now in 3rd grade there.

I attended the Board of Education meeting on Monday, May 16, at which the proposed renovation (Option B1) or demolition of Greenacres Elementary and construction of new school across the street on our existing fields (Option C) was discussed extensively, and I would like to note a few things.

First, I'm not sure why Option C supporters continue to compare the finished Option C building to the current school, PRIOR to renovations, as I often heard at the Board of Education meeting on Monday night. This is an irrelevant comparison. Obviously, the correct comparison is between the finished Option C building and the finished Option B1 renovated school, which will, in almost every respect that matters, be the equal of Option C at a far lower cost. The school board's most recent proposal and proposed budget illustrates that. Other than a handful of rooms at the current school that are smaller than comparable rooms at a new Option C school, as the article above points out, the RENOVATED Option B1 building will be substantially equivalent to a new Option C school, especially when features of the more expansive Option C are inevitably stripped away during the highly-charged public review period that precedes the community's vote on every substantial bond issue. This is the consistent history of every major bond issue for capital improvements in this town, as long-time residents of Scarsdale understand and those more recently here apparently do not.

Similarly, the suggestion that those favoring Option B1 primarily abut the playground defies explanation. 860 people signed the original "Save the Field" petition. As of last night (I checked with a Greenacres resident who helped create the original Save the Field petition), it is my understanding that 20 or so residents of Greenacres have withdrawn from that petition. I think its fair to say that while the handful of homeowners who abut the playground mostly oppose Option C, they are joined in that opinion by many hundreds of their neighbors. To suggest otherwise simply distorts the truth. And while we're not deciding this by counting votes, the preponderance of opinion within the Greenacres neighborhood counts. While the Save the Field petition still contains some 840 signatures, the Option C petition, despite vocal campaigning and advocacy and no shortage of publicity, has crested at 154 votes, which has not changed for several days. Based on that, it appears that the Save the Field group outnumbers the Option C group by more than 5 to 1.

The suggestion that Option C is the "safe option" also is incorrect. As described at Monday night's School Board meeting, the Scarsdale Board of Education has tremendous experience renovating old schools while students continue to attend, while it has no similar experience demolishing large school buildings that contain hazardous materials. Of course, the law requires abatement of hazardous materials before demolition occurs, but the precautions that will be taken to do so thoroughly in an empty school building that's about to be torn down, will be minimal, as anyone familiar with the hurried pace of demolition knows. Anyone concerned that renovation work will release toxic dust, as some eagerly pointed out at Monday night's meeting, even when extraordinary precautions are taken, should be more concerned about what will happen when a demolition team knocks down the entire school and releases all of those toxic substances into a pile of debris that will be shoveled from the ground into a legion of dump trucks. This sort of work threatens to release such materials not just in the limited areas of a careful abatement project, where rooms are sealed and air is filtered, but instead into the entire neighborhood. Hopefully, none of us will be down wind that day.

And can't we conduct all asbestos and lead paint abatement over the 2.5 month summer of 2017? It seems to me that with sufficient staffing, we could knock out that part of the project over the summer, at least for a large portion of the school, which would allow ordinary (non-abatement) work to take place on abated areas while students are in school.

I also have to say how insulting it is for those of us who support Option B1 (i.e. renovating the current school and saving the fields), and those on the Board of Education who are in the direct line of fire, to be told by parents of children who will attend Greenacres when it is renovated, that those in our community who won't have children there are either ambivalent or simply don't care about the welfare of their children. Do they honestly believe that a single one of us would put anyone's child at risk of injury? Do they believe the School Board would do so? Do they know a single one of us well enough to make such a claim? Their temerity in making this sort of personal attack on the basic humanity of their neighbors is beyond the pale.

I realize that the old option B (which preceded B1) was rejected, in part, because of the heavy use of temporary classrooms, which some found unsightly or inadequate for teaching or simply too expensive to justify. To at least partially address the concerns of Option C supporters about toxic dust, perhaps we use a small number of temporary classrooms to house, on a rotating basis, students who would otherwise be located in the classrooms closest to construction. That way, we could "belt and suspender" our precautions with dust. Those precautions would include sealing off areas under construction (and not with the thin plastic sheets that most homeowners are familiar with in their home renovations, but with full, temporary construction barriers, that are essentially walls that that seal off one area of a building from another), together with a second, buffer area of empty classrooms adjacent to the construction area. The "buffer area" of empty classrooms adjacent to construction areas would place students who remain in the school during construction even further away from ongoing work. The buffer area, like the sealed construction area, would be sealed off with full construction barriers and contain a filtration system to capture airborne dust and, perhaps, equipment to monitor air quality. So if any dust passes a sealed construction area into the "buffer area", it would be detected and filtered. And if dust migrates to the buffer area, we could stop work temporarily and make adjustments until air quality testing in the buffer area again indicates zero dust.

Our school and field have spent a century at the center of our neighborhood. They are part of the legacy of Greenacres and should be cherished and protected, just as the old buildings and open spaces at Yale and Harvard and other schools among our nation's academic treasures are so carefully preserved and updated to match modern building codes and academic missions, The idea that we should lose the existing school and much of our fields because of concerns about exposure to toxic substances, that have no basis in fact and are contradicted by the extensive past experience of this town with earlier renovations -- and that we must spend tens of millions of additional tax dollars over the life of the bond issue to finance this downgrade to our neighborhood -- must be called out for the misguided effort that it is. As the meeting on Monday night and some of the conversation in these threads have made clear, emotion and hyperbole have been substituted for logic. Its time for the School Board to act and approve the only sensible course, which is a thoughtful and careful renovation of our existing school, which brings our school's interior into the 21st century while preserving a field that benefits us all.

Junior Olympics: The Class of 2017 Has A Day in the Sun

jr3When the sun came out on Thursday, May 19th, Juniors at Scarsdale High School anxiously awaited the announcement ... would today be the day? In order to avoid trouble the night before the event, the administration now keeps the date of Junior Olympics a carefully guarded secret. Though the event is planned in advance, no one know when the fun will begin. Once the call was made and announced on the loudspeaker one could hear cheers from miles away as the Juniors excitedly got ready for Junior Olympics.

Every year the SHS administration hosts Junior Olympics where juniors compete on their elementary school teams in various games. One of the most interesting aspects of Junior Olympics is that the date is a surprise. This builds up suspense among the students and creates a fun and exciting atmosphere when the event is announced.

The Junior Olympic games take place on all the fields and inside too -- and include dodge ball, capture the flag, a jeopardy game about the school, whiffle ball, a pie eating contest and more. Along with these games the school sponsors a lunch for the juniors. Whichever team wins the most games wins Junior Olympics.

Even though it is a surprise the event it is well planned out. Students from each team designate two captains for the team who lead them in cheer and organize who will participate in the various games. Here are the captains that were elected for each team this year.

Quaker Ridge: Shannon Regan and Bradley Tatz
Edgewood: Hayley Meisel and Christian Waterhouse
Greenacres: Julia Klayman and Miles Boxer
Fox Meadow: Lena Proctor and Sol Thompson
Heathcote: Carolina Stainfeld and Adam Schwall

Along with electing captains, online within their teams students sign up for which activities they want to take part in and what nickname they want written on the back of their jerseys which are printed on t-shirts in the elementary school colors. This organization online is especially fun because teams decide who should participate in which activities based on their skill set.

The camaraderie that exists among the teams roots back to elementary school days and creates a fun and loving environment. Junior Sydney Lambert spoke about Junior Olympics saying "I actually thought it was really fun and it was really exciting to be with all my elementary school friends again". Sydney's friend Jenna Marcus commented "it was just like a really fun experience to reconnect with old friends and be on a team with people that I've known for 11 years and just like spend time with people that I don't necessarily have classes with or see on a regular basis. Oh and competing against friends from other schools was fun".

The school administration announces if the event will be held after second period. Right after the announcement took place students sprang into action and immediately met with their teams to get dressed in their gear. After everyone was ready all teams gathered outside of the Brewster Road entrance of school where each team displayed their cheer and then are sent off to the various olympic games! This year, after a brutal contest, the Edgewood Elementary School team took home the prize, winning Junior Olympics.

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Gun Threat Causes Lockdown In Eastchester

gunsGuns continued to be in the news this week when a report surfaced that there was an armed man on the White Plains Post Road. This caused all Eastchester Schools to be locked down on Wednesday afternoon. Though it turned out that there was a miscommunication and the man had no gun and was in Rye Brook, not Eastchester, the threat wreaked havoc and frightened the surrondeing communities.

Statistics show that guns pose a significant risk to the population. Here are just a few to consider:

  • On average, 88 Americans are killed by gun violence each day.
  • More than half of women killed by their intimate partner in the US are killed with gun.
  • The risk of homicide for women in a gun-owning household is three times more likely than in homes without guns.
  • People with guns at home are twice as likely to die by homicide than people without guns in their homes.
  • 50% of suicides are committed with guns.
  • The risk of suicide is five times higher for people in gun-owning households.

Local residents are concerned about the presence of guns in the community. The Scarsdale Congregational Church Interfaith Coalition Against Gun Violence held a screening of the film, "Making a Killing, Guns, Greed and the NRA" on Wednesday May 4th. The film traced the impact of guns on families whose loved ones had been shot and showed how the NRA has blocked initiatives to control the sale of guns and safe storage of guns in homes. Following the film, Leah Gunn Barrett, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, shared a few ideas about how those in the room could advocate for gun control.

She informed attendees that Westchester County has a gun safety law in place but it is not currently enforced. She urged residents to ask lawmakers and police why this is so. Here is the law:

Gun Safety Law Westchester: The presence of an unsecured, easily accessible loaded weapon in the home increases the likelihood of death or injury from accidents and impulsive acts. Guns left unattended in the home should be kept locked or stored securely to prevent access by children and others who should not have access to them. Gun owners are responsible for keeping their firearms from falling into the hands of children and other unauthorized individuals.

No person who owns or is custodian of a weapon shall store or otherwise leave such weapon out of his or her immediate possession or control without having first securely locked such weapon in an appropriate safe storage depository or rendered it incapable of being fired by use of a safety locking device appropriate to that weapon.

She also pressed attendees to ask law enforcement for the data on lost and stolen firearms over the last five years. When a gun is locked up, it can't be stolen and end up on the streets.

State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin recently sponsored a bill that would require those convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime to surrender his/her firearms including rifles, shotguns, black powder rifles, black powder shotguns, muzzle-loading firearms, antique firearms and pistols. Commenting on the bill, Paulin said, "Intimate partner homicide is the most frequent type of domestic homicide," said Paulin, who added that firearms, including handguns, rifles and shotguns, are the weapons used in one-third of intimate-partner homicides. "We know that when a gun is in the house, an abused woman is six times more likely than other abused women to be killed."

The bill has been passed in the State Assembly and Paulin is currently seeking a sponsor for the law to propose it for passage in the State Senate.

Barrett from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence said the group also supports passage of Nicholas's Law, that would require the safe storage of guns not in the immediate possession of the owner. The bill is named for Nicholas Naumkin, a 12 year-old from Saratoga, NY who was shot and killed on a play date by a friend who had discovered his father's loaded and unlocked 9mm handgun.

Learn more about Nicholas' Law and deaths from accidental shootings here:

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