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Greenacres Neighborhood Association Urges School Board to Move Forward on School

greenacresschool(This letter was sent to the Scarsdale School Board by the GNA. A shorter version was read at the meeting by Linda Doucette Ashman)
On behalf of the Greenacres Neighborhood Association, I want to address two topics:

(1) First, I want to share concerns expressed by members of our association regarding Greenacres School and,

(2) Second, I want to, again, invite the School District Administration and Scarsdale Board of Education to participate in a moderated forum with the sole purpose being for the District to present an update and timeline for work to be done at Greenacres School and engage in a conversation with residents answering their questions and listening to their views.

The primary concerns that we have heard are: (1) lack of information on plans for moving forward with the Greenacres School, (2) lack of sense of urgency to address the Greenacres School all together and (3) continued delay of structural work at the Greenacres School to ensure parity with other Scarsdale schools.

(1) Lack of Information:
The District notified the community in September that it was choosing to "pause" the work underway regarding the Greenacres School. This came as a surprise to some residents. For approximately two years, the District has held meetings, engaged architects and other stakeholders to study the school and proposed options and solutions and convened two Building Committees to evaluate priorities for the educational needs of the building. Now the community is faced with silence. Despite an assurance to the contrary, there have been no communications from the District setting forth goals, plans or even a timeline on the next steps to be taken with regards to the Greenacres School. Concerns are now being raised that the lack of a publicly articulated "Going Forward" plan may result in no plan for addressing the Greenacres school in the foreseeable future.

(2) Timing:
We all are well aware of the thoughtful process that District Administration undertakes when it comes to budgeting for the District facilities' needs (including its assessment/analysis of existing debt/ bonds and what is retiring). This process is long and meticulous and integrated into the District's annual budgeting process which will begin shortly. With no public "Going Forward" plan on Greenacres, residents are concerned about where the Greenacres School work fits in to the District's overall timeline. These are issues that must be discussed and resolved now if the Greenacres School is to be addressed during the next wave of School District projects scheduled for the next 5 years.

(3) Delay:
As we all know, the process of determining what to do with Greenacres School began years ago. The School District created a list of District's priorities and the Greenacres School was put last as the work needed was too significant to be combined with other facility upgrades. These conversations and decisions predate the current School District Administration and most, if not all, of the members of the Board of Education.

We are now approaching the end of 2016. Another year has passed and still no closure to the process for deciding what is needed for the Greenacres School and how these needs will be addressed. If our community is to have any hope of an updated or new Greenacres School in the next five to seven years, the District needs to act now. It can start with the one step the District itself identified in its September, 2016 letter – "to coalesce the community around a shared vision/option that focuses on Greenacres students and their learning". The budget process begins shortly. Once that process begins, more doors will be closed for Greenacres and the project will be furthered delayed by yet another year.

The Greenacres School work deserves a place at the top of the District's priority list now. Our neighborhood community has repeatedly been told to be patient and wait while other schools in the district received the attention. Residents in our community have consistently supported initiatives at other schools, expecting that, when the time came, the entire Scarsdale community would support Greenacres School solutions in order to ensure parity in structures across the District.

To demonstrate that the District intends to commence any work on the Greenacres School initiative during 2017, we request that you: (1) develop and implement a "Going Forward" plan on next steps and (2) inform the Greenacres community and the Scarsdale community at large on what those steps are. It is critical that the School District and Board of Education develop and provide a 21st century learning environment for Greenacres children. To this end, we again reiterate our offer to host and moderate an event in either January or February of 2017 for the School District to do this and allow the residents opportunities to ask questions and share their views. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you on this endeavor.

Thank you.


Andrew Sereysky
Greenacres Neighborhood Association

17 Year-Old KenKen Whiz Publishes Her First Book

ellie1Do you solve KenKen puzzles? One Scarsdale teen does far more than do the puzzles ... she has become the U.S. Student KenKen Champion and has just written a book explaining how to solve the puzzles. Ellie's Grueskin's dad introduced her to the puzzles that appear on the New York Times crossword puzzle page when she was only ten. Since then Ellie has honed her skills, attended tournaments and ultimately risen to be the U.S. Student Champ.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the game, KenKen is similar to Sudoku in that both are based on logic and arithmetic operations. Within the puzzle, the solver must use the indicated operations to find the target number and not repeat a number in any row or column. The numbers of rows and columns in each KenKen dictate which numbers you can use; in a 3x3 puzzle, you can use digits 1-3, in a 4x4, you can use digits 1-4 and so on.

The KenKen Puzzle Company runs Championships twice a year and students and adults of all ages are invited to come. Traditionally, there areellie2 about three rounds with different sets of puzzles where the competitors receive points for completing the puzzles along with bonus points for finishing with extra time. This is followed by a Championship round of the top three contestants from the three rounds. There will be an international tournament on December 18th in New York City and Ellie encourages everyone to register! You can see the details here:

kenkenbookThe story behind her new book is surprisingly simple. She worked for the KenKen Puzzle Company during the summer of 2015 and her boss, the President of KenKen, asked her if she would be interested in writing a book in order to teach beginners how to solve KenKens. The book is co-authored by Joshua Rosen, a teacher who uses KenKens in his math curriculum. At this point, it is the only book that provides a guide to solving KenKens for beginners.

Fortunately for Ellie she did not have to search for a publisher because the KenKen Puzzle Company publishes its own books. You can buy your copy of KenKen for Beginners here:

Ellie is currently a junior at the Hackley School in Tarrytown. Her favorite subjects in school are math and history because she finds them both to be the most applicable to her own life. Outside of classes, she's a swimmer on the school's varsity team, an editor for the literary magazine, an officer for the soup kitchen club, and a student leader for the peer tutoring program.

For those of you who would like a few ellie3tips on solving KenKen, here is what Ellie suggests:

Use the process of elimination when possible. For example, if you're doing a 4x4 and you know three of the numbers in a row or column, then you know the fourth number!

Start with 3x3s and gradually advance to 4x4s and 5x5s--the beginning sizes will help solvers develop techniques and stamina necessary for the more difficult KenKens.

Each puzzle has one unique solution. So while it may seem like there are many possibilities for each puzzle, only one is correct. I'd advise that you try out as many options as possible before coming to a conclusion.

President Obama Recognizes Two from Scarsdale

alexA six year-old boy from Edgemont and an 88 year-old Scarsdale Physicist were both spotlighted by President Barack Obama as he completes his final days in office.

Alex Myteberi of Edgemont made headlines in September when he wrote a letter to the President asking if he could welcome a Syrian boy from war-torn Aleppo into his home. The President quoted Alex in his speech at the United Nations, saying, "We can learn from a young boy named Alex, who lives not far from here in Scarsdale, New York. Last month, like all of us, Alex saw that heartbreaking image -- five-year-old Omran Daqneesh in Aleppo, Syria, sitting in that ambulance, silent and in shock, trying to wipe the blood from his hands.

And here in New York, Alex, who is just six years old, sat down and wrote me a letter. And he said, he wanted Omran to come live with him and his family. "Since he won't bring toys," Alex wrote, "I will share my bike and I will teach him how to ride it. I will teach him addition and subtraction. My little sister will be collecting butterflies and fireflies for him...We can all play together. We will give him a family and he will be our brother."
Those are the words of a six-year-old boy. He teaches us a lot."

The President continued, "The humanity that a young child can display, who hasn't learned to be cynical, or suspicious, or fearful of other people because of where they're from, or how they look, or how they pray, and who just understands the notion of treating somebody that is like him with compassion, with kindness -- we can all learn from Alex. Imagine the suffering we could ease, and the lives we could save, and what our world would look like if, seeing a child who's hurting anywhere in the world, we say, "We will give him a family and he will be our brother."

On November 10 Myteberi and his family were invited to tour the White House and received a surprise greeting from the president. Obama complimented Ale's suit and told him, "You being so nice and kind, hopefully, makes other people think the same way," "So I was very proud of you." You can watch the video here:

richardgarwinOn Wednesday November 16, President Obama announced that Scarsdale's Richard Garwin is among 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The prestigious prize is given to civilians who've made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." Also on this year's list are: basketball legends Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; television host and actress Ellen DeGeneres; actors Robert De Niro, Robert Redford, and Tom Hanks; musicians Bruce Springsteen and Diana Ross; Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels; famed architect Frank Gehry; sportscaster Vin Scully; businesspeople and philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates; actress Cicely Tyson; the late Native-American activist Elouise Cobell; Miami Dade College president Eduardo Padrón; former FCC chairman Newt Minow; computer scientist Margaret H. Hamilton; the late Naval leader and computer scientist Grace Hopper and designer/artist Maya Lin.

Garwin is the winner of the National Medal of Science in both the fields of Engineering and Science and is the author of the design used in the first hydrogen bomb. He has served every U.S. president from Eisenhower to Obama. Dr. Garwin's lifelong commitment to such projects as Global Warming, Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Disarmament, and Energy are unparalleled.

Dr. Richard L. Garwin received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Chicago in 1949 under the sponsorship of Enrico Fermi. He has worked in particle physics, nuclear physics, solid state physics and in a wide range of technology such as air traffic control, satellite communications, satellite navigation, touchscreens, laser printers and magnetic resonance imaging. While working at the IBM Research Division at Columbia University, Garwin served as a consultant at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory where he provided the design for the first thermonuclear weapon test (the hydrogen bomb) at Eniwetok on November 1, 1952. Garwin has advised the United States government on many aspects of nuclear power including the disposal of spent fuel. He is a prolific author and was the subject of a documentary film.

Scarsdale Forum Presents Panel on the Global Economy

forumlogoThe Scarsdale Forum invites all Scarsdale residents to attend its December 8th Public Forum and Membership Meeting on Thursday December 8th 2016 at 7:30pm in the Scott Room of the Scarsdale Public Library, 54 Olmsted Road. This event is free and open to the public.

The Scarsdale Forum, which is dedicated to education the public on all matters of civic importance, is pleased to present a panel discussion on "The Global Economy-What Lies Ahead" featuring a panel of Scarsdale Residents Norman Bernstein, Timothy Foley, Mayra Rodríguez Valladares and Robert Selvaggio (biographies below).

The US election resulted in a largely unexpected victory for Donald Trump. Analysts, legislators, and pundits are now in a frenzy trying to predict what a Trump presidency might mean for all sectors of the US economy and a wide range of international initiatives. At the same time, a slowdown in the Chinese and Mexican economies, uncertainty surrounding BREXIT, and challenges in the Middle East will also have a significant impact on the US economy.

The panel will present on the economy, financial sector reform, Obamacare, and US environmental policies. After a brief presentation, panelists will encourage comments and questions from the audience.

BernsteinNorman Bernstein is a member of N.W. Bernstein LLC. He has forty years' experience as a business transnational lawyer and litigator and more than twenty years' experience in environmental law. His practice focuses on Federal trial court and appellate litigation, environmental problem solving including advice on new environmental regulations and their business impacts, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) cost recovery, structuring environmentally challenged deals to control risk, cost effective environmental cleanups, environmental rule makings, and defense or prosecution of environmental related claims. His B.A. is in History from Columbia College and his LL.B and J.D. are from Columbia Law School.

Timothy Foley is the Political Director for the Committee timfoleyof Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare, a labor union for resident physicians, as well as the Secretary-Treasurer for the SEIU State Councils in both the New Jersey and the Maryland-DC regions. He sits on the steering committee for the Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign, a New York City-based multi-constituency health care justice coalition, as well as for the Save Our Safety-Net Campaign, a community-labor coalition that focuses on the issue of hospital closures that disproportionately affect lower-income families and communities of color. His AB in English is from Harvard College.

Stephan Meili is a Managing Director at Citi leading the Convergence Risk effort for the investment and corporate bank. Previously, he was Global Head of Market Risk for Securitized Products Trading and Municipal Derivatives at Barclays. Stephan has over years of financial markets experience in Europe, US and Asia ranging from risk management (market, credit and operational risk) and asset management to quantitative modeling for investment banks, asset managers and consulting firms. Furthermore, he has represented banks at industry forums and conferences on financial regulation and has taught courses on derivatives, regulation and risk management at the Federal Reserve Bank and at Columbia University. He holds a MS in Finance from Northwestern University and a degree in economics and business administration from the University of Basel, Switzerland. He is also a CFA, FRM and CAIA charterholder.

Mayra Rodríguez Valladares is Managing Principal of MRV Associates a capital markets and bank regulatory consultancy. She has over 25 years' experience Mayraworking with financial institutions and bank regulators globally. She has over 80 publications about bank regulations, capital markets, and commodity markets. She holds an AB in Russian and Soviet Studies from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, an MA in International Relations from The University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from The Wharton School. She is a Raoul Wallenberg Fellow from Hebrew University.

Robert Selvaggio is Co-Owner and Head of Analytics at Rutter Associates. Rutter Associates provides advisory services in the areas of market risk management, credit risk and credit portfolio management including analysis of Collateralized Loan Obligations (CLOs) and other structured products, economic capital and risk adjusted performance measurement, valuation and model review of exotic derivatives and hard-to-value assets andSelvaggio liabilities, and litigation support. He has a BA in Economics and Mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in Economics from Brown University.

In addition to the panel, there will also be a demonstration by the Forum's Sustainability Committee of easy zero-waste practices for your home and office.

The portion of the evening dedicated to Forum members will include votes on a previously released reports. All reports are available on their website; or, you can contact our office for reprints at or (914)723-2829.

Scarsdale residents who wish to vote on reports may join Scarsdale Forum prior to the December 8th meeting.

STEP Celebrates 50 Years of Changing Lives for the Better

STEPAScarsdale STEP (Scarsdale Student Transfer Education Plan) celebrated 50 years of success and honored their alumni, host families, Board members and beloved teacher Rashid Silvera at a well-attended event at the Scarsdale Woman's Club on Saturday evening November 12.

Many of the forty students who came to Scarsdale to study along with representatives from their host families were in attendance and shared stories of how their experiences here have shaped their lives.

Some of the impressive STEP alumni who were in attendance have made substantial contributions to society. The Honorable Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson, who graduated SHS in 1969, is now a federal appeals court judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Reverend Josephine Reed Fuchess (SHS '72) was one of fourteen children born to Mississippi sharecroppers and went on to become an ordained minister. Queen Booker went from SHS in 1982 to earn an undergraduate degree from Harvard, and then got advanced degrees from Wharton and the University of Mississippi. She worked at the Ford and Kellogg Foundations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and currently teaches at the Minnesota State's Department of Management. Two of her sisters were also STEP students.

Legendary Social Studies teacher, Eric Rothschild who launched the program in 1966 was at the center of the event and received kudos for changing the lives of so many in a positive way.

In her introductory remarks, Nan Berke who hosted STEP student Robert Lee and now serves as a STEP Co-Chair said, "In its own small and incredibly optimistic way, STEP seeks to give everyone the same chance to succeed by opening up the gift of an amazing education to students of color from underserved areas. I have seen time and again the incredible generosity and open-heartedness of this community in trying to make this program work. Host families provide a stable Scarsdale home, the high school is fully committed to helping our students succeed academically and socially, doctors, dentists and tutors volunteer resources for our student and our board provides extensive support to the student from college counseling to taking our students to cultural events.... In return our students always touch our lives in ways that are immeasurable. STEP students widen us, and make us better, and introduce new perspectives."

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In his remarks, STEP student David Lee said, "I'm honored to be a part of such an awesome accomplishment... for 50 years; this program has not only changed lives but also caused a generational shift filled with hope, prosperity and most importantly, opportunities to be someone far greater than what cultural standards had set out for them. I know I speak for myself and my fellow STEP alum that we are eternally grateful for the impact this program has had on our lives. I also want to give homage to Mr. Eric Rothschild, your tenacity and willingness to do what was right has lived on for half a century and it is because of you that we can all sit here today and celebrate. We stand on your shoulders."

STEPRashidSHS teacher and STEP honoree Rashid Silvera, served as a mentor to many STEP students. He told the story of his journey to the Scarsdale Schools, where he was eager to teach curious, engaged students who asked questions. He said his connection to Eric Rothschild was "beschert," and credited Rothschild with helping him make his way to his position at SHS in 1981. About the community and the students he said, "You allowed me to share the majesty of your generosity," and added, "I shine when you shine and you shine where they shine." He announced that he will retire this year but promised that he would never be out of reach. About the current political environment he said, "People are satisfied with less than truth," but vowed, "We are better than that." He quoted W.E. DuBois who said, "Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States." Saying goodbye, he said, "I pray that I have not borrowed more than I have repaid."