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Junior Olympics, Testing Days and More

High School correspondant Melissa Tucker gives her views on issues affecting Scarsdale High School students:

Junior Olympics:
At a house meeting last week, the ongoing Junior Olympics battle has been settled. For now. The plan is to have heavy police patrol the night before Junior Olympics, and if something goes wrong, Mr. Klemme will call the whole thing off. All juniors will be breathalyzed when they arrive at school, and students will not be permitted on school grounds before 7:30 A.M.

Frankly, I think students will find a way to misbehave no matter what preventative measures are taken. From the opinion of a sophomore who can’t wait to reunite with her elementary school friends for a day, the juniors should remember they aren’t just representing their grade, but could seriously jeopardize the event for everyone in years to come. If they misbehave, they will not only get Junior Olympics cancelled for themselves, but for all future grades. Is that really the legacy the class of 2011 wants to leave behind?

Testing days, which were under review, will still be in place for the third quarter. Approximately 300 students completed an online survey about the testing day system, and most students want to keep the system because they fear that without it, several tests could be scheduled on the same day. Personally I was furious when I heard the decision, because we already have the mercy rule here at Scarsdale, where students can only have two assessments, including tests, papers or project due on the same day. Most students don’t know about this rule, and some of those kids are afraid to tell their teachers that they have to move a test date. While that’s a legitimate fear, a rule is a rule, and if kids are so afraid to speak to their teachers they can go to their deans. In my opinion, we should at least try one quarter without testing days and see what happens. We can always reinstitute the system. If we keep the system, I think the rules need to be more clear, and all students need to be aware of these rules.

Disaster Week
: SHS students celebrated for three days when they got phone calls from Linda Purvis, announcing the cancellation of school for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The SHS community erupted instantaneously as those with and without power relaxed, knowing that we’d have a one and a half day week.

We milked our “snow days” to the last drop, using up every snow day before we had to add days back on. Although students rejoiced, we are now paying the price with schedule changes in most classes. The pressure is on next week as tests scheduled for this week were pushed back to next week, stacking the assessments before Spring Break. Most students find themselves with a major assessment in almost every class next week. Some students bargained with teachers to have tests delayed, claiming that the lack of power made it impossible to study. We all enjoyed our free days, but that call on Wednesday from Linda Purvis confirming the opening of school son Thursday sent us back to reality, with the sinking realization that it was time to crack open the books yet again.

Awaken the Love of Music

Jackie Freimor’s enthusiasm for the Music Together program is infectious. She caught the bug almost seven years ago while attending a class with her infant daughter on her day off from her job as a medical editor. She enjoyed the class so much that she decided to train to teach one day per week.

She learned about the Music Together curriculum that is a research-based early childhood music and movement program for children from birth through age five. Children, with a parent or caregiver, attend the classes that include songs, rhythmic rhymes, movement and instrumental play that develop children’s natural enthusiasm for music. According to Freimor most people have an aptitude for music and Over the Moon Music and More on Garth Road, where she uses the Music Together curriculum, helps children to awaken their own innate skills. There are no standards or performance expectations, which often inhibit children and discourage their love of music. During the class, children use props, instruments and even scarves to visually experience and feel the music and its rhythms.

Freimor is a musician in her own right and has performed as a singer and guitarist since she was a child. Most recently she played the rhythm guitar and sang back-up vocals for a Manhattan-based alternative rock band. She now operates Over the Moon Music and More in Scarsdale as well as in Briarcliff, Chappaqua, Dobbs Ferry, Mount Kisco, Tarrytown and Tuckahoe. She and her staff teach classes that are developmentally appropriate for children ages 0-5, which allows kids to attend with their older or younger siblings.

If you are curious, you are welcome to attend a free demo class with your child. You can find the schedule on the Over the Moon Music and More website. Also watch the online video of a sample class to see if it looks right for you. It sure looks fun to me!

Over the Moon Music and More is located at 78 Garth Road in Scarsdale. They are currently accepting registrations for their spring classes. Learn more at their website or by calling 914-722-2025.

We've Got Visitors

Scarsdale High School families are currently hosting fourteen students from the Instituto San Isidro in Madrid who have come to town in the first phase of the Spanish Exchange. These students attend an urban high school and are now getting a first-hand experience of life in a suburban American community. Senora Judy Hochberg from SHS arranged the exchange in cooperation with Maria Eugenia Perez Pascual and Rafael Martin Villa Imageof San Isidro High School. Each Spanish student has been matched with a Scarsdale family with a Spanish-speaking student in the house. Scarsdale students will complete the exchange with a two-week visit to Madrid in February 2010.

The visitors have a very ambitious schedule. Five school days will be spent here accompanying their Scarsdale hosts to class and the other five weekdays involve extensive tours of the area. The Spanish students have already seen the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Natural History, the Dakota, Central Park and West Point. Upcoming excursions include a Circle Line Boat tour, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero and much more. Their 12-hour days are exhausting, but fun.

Their level of proficiency at English is as varied as our ability to speak Spanish, so families are communicating however they can. The Spanish students have a wonderful attitude and seem very happy to be here. Personally, our family is enjoying Inez who speaks beautiful English and can even tell jokes. We all went to see West Side Story and as much of the show was in Spanish, it was a good opportunity for Inez to go to a Broadway show and understand it too. She may have been the only person in the audience who was happy to hear “I Feel Pretty” sung in Spanish.

The students are here until April 30th, so if you spot them in the community say “Hola” and ask them their impressions of Scarsdale. You’re bound to be amused.

Chinese New Year at Greenacres

Students at the Greenacres School celebrated the Chinese New Year with their fourth annual lion parade on February 23, 2010!  As in previous years, the school's main entrances were decorated with long, vertical Chinese scrolls with poems about the coming of spring and blessings for the New Year.  In the lunchroom, several five-foot-long dragon garlands, large red lanterns and colorful firecracker garlands dangled from wire strung across the floor-to-ceiling columns.  Red, yellow and purple Chinese New Year banners were hung over each doorway to wish that all would “come and go in peace”.

To celebrate the year of the tiger (虎; pronounced “hu”) and Lunar Year 4708, Ms. Krisanda's kindergarten class led a lion parade around Greenacres School. The students carried a variety of noisy musical instruments: hand drums, cymbals, maracas and a traditional Chinese chau gong; parent Melissa Chepuru provided Chinese drum and gong accompaniment for the parade.  The loud ruckus of the lion parade (usually with firecrackers) is meant to scare away evil spirits and bad luck, thus ensuring a happy, prosperous new year.  Parent Chip Lee operated the lion's head while two students manned its tail.  Some of the students wore traditional Chinese outfits in red and gold—the colors of happiness, abundance and longevity.
Throughout the week, Chinese New Year was celebrated in several classrooms:  parents talked about customs in preparing for the New Year and for the Lantern Festival (last day of the 15-day New Year celebration); showed how modern-day Chinese characters evolved from ancient pictographs; staged a riddle-guessing contest with prizes; taught students how to write Chinese characters and make a New Year greeting card; brought in homemade dumplings, clementines and red envelopes for the students.

Chinese New Year Celebrated at Edgewood School

Edgewood students and faculty celebrated Chinese New Year on February 23 with a parade of the dragon, Chinese New Year symbols, noisemakers and loud chants of Gung Hay Fat Choy, which means “have a prosperous New Year.” This is the year of the tiger and children paraded carrying little stuffed animals representing all of the characters, but the tiger had a special place.

Ms. O'Farrell's third grade class and all of the first grade classes marched while the rest of the school lined the halls to watch and join the chant.