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A Glorious Tribute on Memorial Day

memdayflagsAlthough organizers feared that rain would ruin the Memorial Day festivities, the day dawned bright and clear. The Scarsdale Memorial Day ceremonies on Monday May 30 were hosted by American Legion Post 52 Commander Thomas Adamo. The Master of Ceremonies was Robert T. Gillin, a retiree from the U.S. Navy and the Parade Marshall was John Steger.

The Scarsdale High School Band performed along the parade route. Jonny Turousky played "Taps". The invocation was given by Deacon Ted Gaskin, a WWII Marine Corps veteran. Other participants were the Scarsdale Police and Fire Departments, PBA Color Guard, the 56th National Guard Brigade, Scarsdale Boy and Cub Scouts, Brownies, Girl Scouts, Explorer Scouts, Little League, Youth Soccer, Youth Hockey, Scarsdale Volunteer Fire Companies, SVAC, and Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution.

There was a dedication ceremony at the Scarsdale Memorial Garden honoring deceased members of Scarsdale American Legion Post 52 with a plaque presentation in tribute to Richard Limbacher by Admiral Nelson Heyer, another retiree from the U.S. Navy.

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Photos and Text above by Harvey Flisser

We also received the photos below from the ceremony at Memorial Park that followed the parade:



Scarsdale Students And Their Senior Options Internships


Every year seniors at Scarsdale High School start their Senior Options programs in early May and begin the transition process out of the school and into the real world. Students end their classes and final tests at the end of April and then begin a 6 week long internship. According to the school website, the Senior Options program is "the culmination of students' careers at Scarsdale High School." Students enjoy ending their classes to begin more practical learning. The program allows students to apply to internships  that interest them. Students are able to experience working in the real world, for many students for the first time. "The program allows students to extend the skills and knowledge that they have developed in school by applying them in areas of personal interest." Students and the community both benefit from the student's work programs. Many students work at local venues like restaurants in the village or real estate offices. Other students work in other towns or over state lines. Each student is assigned a faculty member to monitor their progress and what they've learned on the job. Students must keep time logs, signed by their internship employers, and hand them in each week to ensure accountability. "To ensure that this experience will be rigorous and worthwhile, seniors work closely with faculty members", states the Scarsdale website.

At a traditional internship the student works 30 hours a week, 5 days a week. The student chooses to caraintern in a field or category in which they may be interested in pursuing as a career. While some believe the students' senior year would be better completed in a classroom, most of the community supports the Senior Options program and rely on the students' help. Some interesting programs include working at an art gallery or working around horse stables. Scarsdale10583 profiled a couple Scarsdale students and their fascinating internships.

Cara Blumstein is working at Samuel Owen Gallery in Greenwich CT for her Senior Options project. Cara has always been passionate about art and found senior options to be the perfect opportunity to explore the art world. "I am really enjoying learning about both sides of the business of art, both the creative and the selling, as well as everything in between", explained Cara. While at the Gallery Cara performs a variety of tasks, both creative and professional. She is currently assisting in a line of art pieces created entirely out of folded paper butterflies. "At the studio, I sort, fold, and pin the paper butterflies that are cut from vintage comic books and decommissioned currency. Lee, my boss, then uses these butterflies to create large, colorful targets and stars, amongst other things", explained Cara of the art pieces pictured. "I also enter pieces of art into the cash register system and help with other administrative tasks", elaborated Cara. The whole process of creating the butterfly pieces and other art was surprisingly difficult and time consuming. "I was really surprised by how labor intensive creating the pieces is. A lot of contemporary artists use machines to streamline the creation process, but the butterfly pieces are truly handmade, start to finish" described Cara.

While she loves working at the gallery, the working world is new to Cara, like many other senior options students. "Commuting is definitely one of the less fun parts of Senior Options, but I try to pass the car rides by listening to podcasts", stated Cara. She explained that she has a newfound respect for her parents who have been commuting and working hard for years. She now better understands their lives. "I admire that my parents can fit in activities, like exercising or meeting up with friends, before and after work. I come home each day thoroughly exhausted!"

This internship has further inspired Cara to pursue art as a career. "I have always been interested in art, and this internship has only increased my excitement to enter the art world. I hope to pursue a career in the gallery or museum world, and I love working for the Samuel Owen Gallery team!" exclaimed Cara.

Steven Nicodemo is working the counter at the Provisions Bakery in Pelham for his Senior Options. So far he has been taught to work the register and take customer orders by the phone or in person. Steven says he enjoys working at this bakery especially because the bakery has a friendly-family environment. Steven said, "I do have an increased level of respect for my parents because I never realized what it was like to work a 9 to 5 job". So far Steven is enjoying his Senior Options experience and it has opened his mind to possibly considering this venue as a career option.

Mike Blank is working at City Hall for NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Mike explained what he has been doing "Recently I have been working a lot for the Chief of Staff of Intergovernmental Affairs, making an organized chart that details the hierarchy of everyone working within IGA as well as their contact information and position. I also have been helping her by scheduling interviews with multiple applicants for a high ranking job within the Department of Education" Mike's Senior Options sponsor is is the director of the Department of Education.

Mike has been able to see first hand the problems that his sponsor deals with. Mike explained, "he has been dealing with a charter school that wants to co-locate with a public school in Queens, a situation that has caused protests by parents from the public school. I have been conducting research on the public school for him".

mikebMike has also "worked for the Director of Social Services by creating a spreadsheet of the governmental representatives (Council Members, Assembly Members, State Senators, and Members of Congress) of the city's homeless shelters. Additionally, I have been helping the DC rep by contacting the offices of New York's congressmen and senators about public constituent events in NYC so that de Blasio can make appearances". Blank explained that he finds his senior options very enjoyable because he is passionate about the topics and issues he has faced in City Hall. He further explained that he enjoys being in City Hall because of the "cool architecture, paintings of political figures, and the demonstrations that happen outside of it fairly often and also the food outside of City Hall is also amazing".  He is surprised to see how passionate government workers are about what they do.  Mike said the experience has furthered his interest in going into politics and government as a career.

lucas1Lucas Tesler is working with groomers at Boulder Brook Stables in Scarsdale.  Lucas described his main activities at his job saying, "I care for the horses, clean their stalls, put their saddles on, feed them, work around the barn." Lucas is also in charge of painting the polls that the horses jump over." Additionally I have been doing lots of painting. The horses do a lot of jumping over painted wooden polls and they get knocked and battered with use. I have been tasked with sanding and repainting these polls", explained Lucas. He does a lot of manual labor outside painting and working. He says this new experience has given him a "newfound respect for manual labor. It takes a lot of discipline and energy, and I am not nearly as good at simple tasks as the experienced guys. Believe it or not, there is a right way to sweep the floor." Lucas says that Senior Options has given him a new interest in horses, and he would like to take up riding at some point. He has enjoyed working with the groomers who work there and learning about their lives. "Every single groomer is an immigrant, they speak varying degrees of English. I have spoken to many of them about their personal lives and working at Boulder Brook has given me a new respect and insight into the lives of people who are members of a very different ethnic and socio-economic class than the one I'm used to".

SHS Says Farewell to Beloved Math Teacher Mr. Cappucci

Mr cappucci

Scarsdale High School will say goodbye to a beloved math teacher Roger Cappucci who will retire at the end of this school year, after the completion of his 50th year at Scarsdale. Cappucci has been a school favorite for the entirety of his time at SHS. Cappucci teaches by the belief that math is an art form that needs to be worked on by a team. His engaging and interactive classes help his students fully grasp complicated math topics, while also forming bonds with him and each other.

Capucci grew up just a few miles from here but a world away from Scarsdale in Arthur Avenue in the Bronx with three other siblings and his italian immigrant parents. Early in his humble start at P.S 74 and then at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, he loved math and dealing with numbers. He graduated from Fordham University in 1957 and then began his first teaching job at Lincoln High School in Yonkers at just 21 years old. After a couple years at Lincoln he moved to New Rochelle High School, and then finally to Scarsdale High School.

Cappucci says that what he will miss the most at at Scarsdale High School are his many students. He references his 2015-16 B.C. Calculus class as one of his favorite classes of his teaching career. "It's been a real joy with [this year's B.C. Calculus class] because they're so good. They are so good and so giving and cooperative. And you can see it in their faces how they enjoy the learning experiences". B.C. Calculus is the highest level of math available at Scarsdale High School, and he is inspired by the level of determination and devotion that these students show each year. One of his B.C. Calculus students, Aditi Valada, spoke about his dedication to the class. "All of his students have grown very fondly of him and have gotten to know how much of an amazing teacher he is". Another B.C. Calculus student, Stephanie Strek, also praised Mr. Cappucci's dedication. "This class has been pretty tough for all of us, but Cappucci really helped us come together as a class and work together to succeed". Cappucci inspires all of his students, no matter what level math class or level of ability. "Math hasn't always been the easiest subject for me but with Cappucci as my teacher this year I really excelled", said Jake Frishberg, a student in his Pre-Calculus level class.

Although Cappucci has maintained his enthusiasm for teaching over his many years at Scarsdale High School, he has observed many changes in the school. Most obviously, he has witnessed the implementation of widely new technological advances for teaching at Scarsdale. The introduction of graphing calculators, Smart Boards, and even online teacher pages have all changed the ways in which students gain and process information. Mr. Cappucci has also noticed more subtle changes in his students since his start in 1957. "I think they're under more pressure than they were years ago", stated Cappucci. He references the increased competition for grades and colleges for this change. He says that competition in the world today is, "so much more vigorous, and that translates to the pressures that the students have in the school". Although his students may be under more pressure, he hopes he has alleviated the increased competition by creating a welcoming class. "We are all under so much pressure with colleges, AP exams, and parents, but Cappucci makes an effort to make us all feel comfortable and relaxed in his classes. I looked forward to seeing him everyday!", said Strek.

After retiring, Cappucci plans to relax, "play lots of tennis", while continuing to tutor and teach those who are less fortunate. He says he will, "continue to teach and give of myself for those who are in need... to give of myself to them". Cappucci will leave a legacy in Scarsdale High School that will live on through all of his students, past and present. "His legacy has grown by the results of his students and their feelings toward him", praised Valada. "We will all miss you, Mr. Cappucci! Thank you for inspiring all of us", said Strek.


SHS City 2.0 Students Transform Harlem Park

jazz-garden-logoThis year, Maggie Favretti's City 2.0 class of 20 SHS seniors put words into action by planning the redesign and transformation of a park in Harlem's Renaissance Playground at 144th and Frederick Douglass Boulevard. The class embarked on the project to create a space for the community, where Harlem families and children could enjoy plants and flowers, learn about, and play jazz and other kinds of music.

When the class traveled to the park to see where they would be working, they met with jazz musician and locally famous florist, Phil Young, along with a community advocate, Michael Allen. Young, Allen, Favretti and a group of Scarsdale High School students. They have made tremendous strides to create the reborn "Harlem Renaissance Jazz Garden".

I was fortunate enough to be a member of the City 2.0 class and help with the process of transforming the park into the Renaissance Jazz Garden. Once our team had made the initial contacts and put together a coalition of support, we had to address the Harlem community board and present our ideas to them. As a group, Ms. Favretti, four City 2.0 students (including myself), Michael Allen, and Phil Young met at the community board meeting to present our pitch for the new garden.

The community board meeting helped create the momentum that the project needed. Ms. Favretti elaborated on the importance of the board meeting and said, "Going to the community board was very helpful to us and informed us of what to do next. We need[ed] to first work with the park system to build support in the community; then the city government will respond to our project once there is a well organized community movement". The community board meeting was also attended by staff from the nearby schools who also committed their support to the Harlem Renaissance Jazz Garden. As the project continues to grow and progress, it is gaining more and more support. As of now, school officials from Harlem Village Academy, Harlem Children Zone Teen Center, the Police Department, and the City Parks Foundation have committed to help the Harlem Jazz Garden develop.

Based on online and in class research it was apparent that community organizing is the most important step in order to keep the project going. Creating a sustainable community base will allow us to receive the necessary signatures of support for the project.

In order to gain the community's support, the Harlem Renaissance Jazz Garden association is hosting "It's My Park Day" on May 21st to help build and fund the organization. Ms. Favretti described the event. "We will meet up with the school government kids from Harlem Renaissance Academy, and at least 20 community adult volunteers who have signed up for planting. Michael Allen has been working all week to clean everything up for the big day." As a group everyone is hoping that after this event, the organization will have enough support to get the necessary signatures in order to apply for a Capacity fund grant.

This Capacity fund grant will allow the group to create a website, receive donations, hire a publicist and pay for the programming of music in the park. Hopefully after the grant is submitted and reviewed, the city's park's department will take over and make further progress on the project.

garden1The City 2.0 class focused on urban design and how to bring about beneficial change in a community. The class and the "Renaissance Jazz Garden" group has faced many challenges throughout the year. When I asked Ms. Favretti what motivates her to keep working on the Jazz Garden, she stated, "Trust, so the hardest thing and the best thing about community based design is trust. In order to build trust there has to be commitment. You have to be committed and once you show that you are committed then you are stuck. You have to be willing to get stuck". One of the hardest things we had to do was prove ourselves to the community and build trust with the community in Harlem we are working with. The class taught me the power of investing myself in an idea to create trust in the project and the wider community.

Mayor Responds to Questions About Revaluation

zoningmapThe following are the comments of Mayor Jon Mark with respect to the 2016 Village-wide revaluation. The comments are substantially those given during the meeting of the Board of Trustees on April 26, 2016 and were in part given in response to an email sent to the Board on April 22, 2016 by Robert Berg which Mr. Berg read at the April 26th meeting of the Board of Trustees. Mr. Berg's email is posted on this web site.

2016 Revaluation: The tentative assessment roll will be filed on June 1st, as required, and notices of the 2016 assessments are expected to be mailed on June 2nd.
As is the case every year, residents are entitled to grieve their assessments. Pursuant to New York State law, grievances can be filed with the Village Assessor's office between June 1st and the third Tuesday in June, or June 21st for this year's statutory grievance deadline. The Village Board does not have the authority to modify the dates established in accordance with NYS law.

Some general notes about the revaluation process. Unlike what occurred in connection with the 2014 revaluation, this year more detailed information will be made available to residents directly and on the Village website soon after the filing of the 2016 tentative assessment roll. Among other things, I understand that the notices residents will receive will be approximately two pages in length and will contain sufficiently detailed information to allow residents to understand how the value of their property was calculated. For example, I am advised that the notice will set forth the physical attributes of the property that were taken into account in the modeling process and the corresponding coefficients applied to calculate the total property value estimated as of the revaluation assessment date which is July 1, 2015. That estimated value will become the 2016 total assessed value. In addition, the model used by the Village's project consultant, J.F. Ryan Associates, will be made available on the Village web site within a few days of the posting of the 2016 tentative assessment roll. Therefore, it should not be necessary to file numerous FOIL requests to obtain an understanding of how the 2016 revaluation was accomplished. This level of transparency should be an improvement over 2014.

Second, without getting into details of the technical or logistical aspects of the revaluation as to which I am not qualified to speak, it is noted that the process being utilized in 2016 has been simplified in a number of respects. For example, the neighborhood map that was used two years ago was simplified from 14 sub-neighborhoods to five neighborhoods that correspond to our five elementary school districts. Site adjustments, referred to as influence factors, will be made to specific parcels for the various factors that impact value (i.e., traffic, flood zones, etc.). The comparable sales data that transacted during the new sales base period in each of the respective five consolidated neighborhoods for the 2016 revaluation will similarly undergo a process of modeling; however, the 2016 modeling process will take into consideration all sales within each of the respective five neighborhoods. It is intended that the new neighborhood designations will ameliorate concerns that previously existed regarding the perceived inaccurate or inappropriate delineation of sub-neighborhoods. Similarly, the possible grades of construction quality assignable to each house were also simplified. The 43 grades that were used in 2014 have been mathematically consolidated into a more manageable grouping of 16 grade categories. These changes in approach, among others being employed, should result in a more robust valuation model relative to two years ago.

One other timing point: A comment has been made that the possible high demand for appraisers triggered by the revaluation will make it difficult for residents who wish to file grievances to find a suitable appraiser that is available to assist them. It is understood that while an appraisal is usually part of the preferred and recommended documentation submitted to support a grievance, the practice before the Board of Assessment Review ("BOAR") is to permit filers to supplement their grievance filing with additional supporting evidence of overvaluation, including an appraisal, after the initial filing of the grievance. It is not unusual for appraisals to be remitted for the BOAR's consideration after the grievance day deadline through the last week of August each year. I am advised that based on the schedule this year, the BOAR would accept additional documentation through September 1, 2016 -- provided that the additional documentation is supplemental to a grievance that was filed no later than June 21, 2016. Note that the statutory date for the Village Assessor to file the final assessment roll is September 15, 2016. Therefore, residents should have substantially more than three weeks to engage a suitable appraiser to prepare an analysis that they believe would support their grievance filings.
Mr. Berg has suggested delaying implementing the pending revaluation for a year. The Board has considered that suggestion and has chosen not to adopt it for a variety of reasons. Among other things, delaying implementation would extend for such a one year period a degree of uncertainty over assessed values in the Village. As some residents stated at the public meeting held on April 21, 2016, that sort of uncertainty is undesirable for residents and for the Village as a whole. On balance it is considered preferable to complete the present process as scheduled and provide some measure of closure on the revaluation process.

Finally with respect to the notice given for the April 21, 2016 public meeting at which an update of the revaluation process was given, the lead time for the notice was one week. While the notice period was shorter than is generally preferred, it was within the time frame permitted under the rules. The choices were to give a longer notice and call the meeting for a date in May, the week of April 25th being a school vacation week when many would be away, or have the meeting on shorter notice. The latter choice was made and the notice was sent to the local media for publication in accordance with the usual practice. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight it would have been preferable to provide a longer notice and the Board will have that in mind in future cases presenting matters of similar importance and interest.