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Work Begins on the Design Lab, Learning Commons and Fitness Center at SHS

shsfitnesscenterThe district's vision of 21st century learning spaces to match Scarsdale's innovative teaching methods and curriculum, coupled with space needs from increased school enrollment culminated in Tuesday's ground-breaking ceremony for three new facilities at Scarsdale High School.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Thomas Hagerman has been working on this project since his first day at Scarsdale Schools two and a half years ago. He noted that while the high school's facade is majestic and gothic, the inside has been neglected and learning spaces are inadequate. A new learning commons, design lab, and fitness center will make health and wellness a priority in a competitive and prestigious school district. Dr. Hagerman says the construction should be complete in time for the 2017-2018 school year.

President of the Board of Education Leila Maude thanked the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation for backing the design lab and fitness center, the Madoff family for making a generous donation in honor of their son Tyler, the building committee, the steering committee, and Maroon and White for their support which helped to make the new fitness center possible. Principal Ken Bonamo thanked residents who voted for bond referendum in 2014, since these projects are the final product of that bond plan. Mark Bezos, President of the Scarsdale Education Foundation, thanked friends and community members for putting their trust into the foundation in such a short amount of time. The foundation has raised more than $2 million, Bezos says, and they plan to raise even more in the coming months to ensure these projects run smoothly without budgeting obstacles.

shsbonamoEach speaker emphasized that the goal of these massive undertakings is to inspire Scarsdale's children for generations to come. It is ironic that no students were present, the event was closed to the public, and I as a journalist was the youngest attendee by twenty years.

A new learning commons will take the place of Gyms A and B to offer more collaborative work space, along with new furniture and cafeteria facilities. Inside the gym, Dr. Hagerman noted the loud hum of the ancient radiator on the wall and expressed his excitement to see the space torn down to be replaced by a modern learning environment.

The new design lab will take the place of an auto repair shop that for years escaped notice, occupying the hidden inner depths of the building. The design lab will revolutionize Scarsdale's STEM curriculum and take advantage of building space that was collecting dust. New STEM classes at Scarsdale already have high enrollment. According to art teacher Lisa Yokana, this year the Intro to Engineering and Intro to Design and Fabrication classes have had to squeeze large numbers of students into a physics lab. These courses run two days a week to allow students to be gradually introduced to groundbreaking (pun indeed intended) fields of technology. The new facility will allow Yokana to expand the curriculum to new electives including 3D Printing and Design, Robotics, Design-Build, and Wearables and Physical Computing.

Yokana is also considering a third year capstone shsgaragecourse in social entrepreneurship. Bonamo emphasized that the key take-away from the new STEM plans is that the courses appeal to broad spectrum of kids wherever their starting point in STEM may be. Access to engineering and design courses years before making college decisions gives Scarsdale students the advantage of early exposure to help them narrow down what they want to study.

shsworkThe current "fitness center" is a vestige of the 1980s, forcing many students to buy gym memberships elsewhere instead of using the school's facility. The space is dark, musty, poorly equipped, and uninviting. In total, the fitness center project will cost $1.6 million. The Board of Education contribution and the donation for fitness equipment accounts for $500,000 and $300,000, leaving $800,000 to be raised in the coming months. Offering a 6,200 square foot training center, the District is finally embracing its responsibility to promote fitness and healthy decision-making as a sustainable way of life for stressed, sleep-deprived students in a competitive academic environment. High school age students are particularly sensitive to body image, and this new space will provide an atmosphere where boys and girls, athletes and non-athletes, will be encouraged to exercise in a safe, pleasant, and convenient space.

Nicole Roemer, Physical Education Department Chair, emphasized the importance of the mind-body connection in SHS students. One of the greatest gifts Scarsdale can bestow upon its graduates is an appreciation for the value of fitness as a coping mechanism for stress. As a teenager, it is easy to fall into a routine of caffeine dependence and sleep deprivation, developing poor habits that later plague academic success, athletic performance, social life, and healthy relationships in college. By incorporating cathartic activities like yoga into the physical education curriculum students participate in throughout the school day, SHS is taking a significant step in the continuing struggle to produce students that can balance it all.

The project proposal takes great care to emphasize that a "larger, more accessible fitness center is especially important to meet the needs of our female athletes." The old fitness center was used by a small minority of student-athletes so it is yet to be seen whether or not the new fitness center will be a comfortable environment for girls and non-athletes.

Ms. Roemer is working on building new coursework for the new space, including a Raiderfit course for high intensity interval training, and Principles of Modern Fitness I and II to teach students goal setting and individual program planning, seeking to create a more well-rounded fitness experience than Scarsdale has offered in the past. Group fitness classes, like yoga, step aerobics, and zumba will make gym classes more universally appealing, and promote self confidence so that students will leave after four years ready to manage their own fitness for their lifetime.

Athletic Director Ray Papplardi is excited to see the new training facility be used as a resource for the 60% of students who participate in athletics and as an asset for the Scarsdale Athletics program. He highlighted that there will be after school hours for all students, and he mentioned that the department would explore possibility of access for alumni as well.

Looking ahead, Dr. Hagerman noted that these projects represent only the beginning in Scarsdale's campaign for 21st century learning, and they are the first of many projects in the works on facilities across the school district.

Carly Glickenhaus, SHS '16, is a freshman Biology major at Georgetown University and a Division I Varsity Rower.

Culinary Jewels at the New Jewel of Himalaya

himalaya1Climbing the Himalayas has never been a goal of mine. However, discovering a top quality Himalayan restaurant close to home, sounded most appealing. With the recent opening of Jewel of Himalaya on Central Avenue in Scarsdale, we can now enjoy the culinary jewels of Himalayan cuisine in our own community. We were greeted by the gracious, soft spoken owner Nuru Sherpa and his pleasant staff. He explained that people were traveling all the way to Yorktown Heights to try Himalayan food since 2011 where he opened his first restaurant. To accommodate his lower Westchester diners, he and his wife recently opened Jewel of Himalaya right here in Scarsdale. The large space seats about 80 guests. The tables are nicely spaced for privacy, and the perimeter of the room has comfortable white tufted banquettes. Eventually low table traditional seating will be offered, as well. Pride in his Himalayan culture is represented in the décor. There is a large painting of The Himalayas on one wall. Ornate framed carpets used by the Nepalese king are on another wall. An artistic rendering of three wheels representing peace, love and compassion which must turn and spin around the world and a wall hanging of squares of white, gold, blue and red representing clouds, earth, sky and sun, as well as screens with travelogues of Himalayan culture complete the setting. The gentle sounds of the bamboo flute and the dramyang fill the air, and a sense of peace and well-being permeate the room. An additional plus is the parking lot behind the restaurant.

Nuru Sherpa came here as a teen. He worked himalaya2his way up in every aspect of the culinary field throughout the country. "My goal is to make people happy. I try to serve in the best way. If you prepare and serve food nicely from your heart, with love, people will appreciate it. Dining restores the whole body and you must relax and treat your body well. ." When asked whom he would like to serve he replied," I want to serve genuine human beings. The customer is most important," Nuru is a generous man. After the Nepal disaster he made donations to help rebuild the schools and hydro power facilities.

Influences of Chinese and Indian cooking are evident in the Himalayan cuisine. As we checked out the menu, we nibbled on complimentary papadam and chutney. A bamboo steamer arrived with assorted momo, traditional dumplings, homemade from dough to filling. I opted for the tomato, cilantro and fenugreek sauce but a cayenne infused hot sauce is offered, as well. I even got a lesson in how to eat the momo in the traditional way. We pick up the dumpling with our fingers and bite into the opposite corner. Pour some sauce into the opening and bite into this delicious treat. The vegetable, beef and chicken momo each had a distinctive shape and the thick dough paired well with the hearty fillings. You can also order them fried. Very tasty was sha phaley, an individual beef tart encrusted with flaky pastry. The rock shrimp appetizer arrived with many tail off small shrimp glazed and battered with a cornstarch and flour mix for a crisp golden result. A creative original appetizer was a crab cutlet. Mashed potato and crabmeat are mixed together and formed into two nice sized patties. It is Sherpa's own variation of a crab cake, and indeed very good. A variety of chilli with chicken, beef, lamb or pork are appetizers, as well. If you wish to begin your meal with soup, try the traditional thendup variety. My steaming bowl of thendup was thinly hand pulled homemade flat noodles, beef and fresh spinach in a rich beef broth. Thukpa with handmade noodles as well, Lentil soup and momo soup with dumplings are very popular, as well. As I write on a cold and rainy morning a bowl of thendup sounds very tempting. Several salads are available, as well. Himalayan salad with a ginger dressing was appealing.

himalaya3Several entrees followed. Himalayan style tandoori dishes were amazing. A sizzling platter of on the bone chicken was garnished with sesame seeds. The marinade had the flavors of cinnamon, scallions, fenugreek, and yogurt. Onion, lemon and tomatoes shared this fragrant platter. The special tandoori sauce included chicken stock, ginger, honey, celery and carrots. Quite different in flavor than its Indian cousin and succulent and tender to the taste. Breads are an important part of the Himalayan meal. From the tandoor, clay oven we enjoyed the spinach nan. The dough was filled with fresh spinach and brushed with butter. Warm and inviting. Himalayan nan with a fruit and nut filling and a puffy Tibetan bread were appealing, as well. Among the entrees, we loved the lamb saag. Tender chunks of lamb mingled with subtly seasoned puree of spinach, resulting in a divine dish. Shrimp korma in a sauce of cashews and almonds was delicate and refined and coconut chicken was slowly simmered in a vegetable stock for a fine result. We have yet to try the many curry dishes. For the novice at this cuisine try a thali, a set menu with a variety of dishes on a platter. If you like noodles, do not miss the mixed stir fried noodles with vegetables, egg, beef and chicken. At Jewel of Himalaya they start with their house made noodles and add the freshest of ingredients. The results are mouthwatering. Their biryani dishes with basmati rice is a good choice, as well.

For dessert, we enjoyed a traditional ras malai Rice pudding and galub jaman are similar to those of their Indian neighbors. I look forward to sampling the house made mango, pistachio, cashew and almond dairy free ice cream soon.

Worthy of note, at Jewel of Himalaya cleanliness is of utmost importance. They have a freezer free kitchen where everything is prepared daily.

Jewel of Himalaya

751 Central Park Avenue
Scarsdale, NY 10583
(914) 874-5506


1 and ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast in 1 inch cubes
1 tsp. diced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
A pinch each of cumin, turmeric and cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
2 ounces cashew nuts
2 ounces almonds
Enough water to add to the nuts to blend to a puree
1 medium tomato, chopped
4 ounces chopped onion
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
For the garnish, extra nuts and cinnamon
Additional spices if desired

Place almonds, cashews and 2 ounces of onion with enough water into blender container to form a puree. Set the puree aside. Place oil in skillet and heat. Add the remaining 2 ounces of onion and stir until golden. Add garlic and ginger and stir. Add chicken, tomato, cumin, turmeric cardamom and cinnamon stick and stir well for 5 minutes. When the chicken is browned and the tomato is glazed, add the puree and cook for about 10 minutes. Add additional spice if you wish. Garnish with nuts and cinnamon and serve. Remember to remove the cinnamon stick.

JudieContributor Judie Dweck has been writing about restaurants and food for many publications. She teaches creative cooking to children at Scarsdale elementary schools. Through the years, her articles have appeared in Jack and Jill Magazine, Spotlight, The Pleasure of Cooking and The Scarsdale Inquirer. She balances her restaurant tastings with daily ballet classes.

So What Should I Get for the Person Who Has Everything?

valsoapOne thing that Scarsdale resident Valerie Neustadt never liked was picking up a slimy, used bar of soap in someone's guest bathroom. It felt, well, used. She finally decided that there had to be a more personalized way to treat house guests. Valerie had recently left a career in fashion and wanted to bring that extra touch to a rather mundane household item. Thus began her venture into the business world as she brought single use, olive oil-based, disposable soap chips to market under the name Valsey and Me

Valsey and Me all-natural soaps are 1" x 2" in size and individually wrapped so you can say goodbye to germs. (We all have those friends who are germ freaks.) They are packaged in an attractive, paper mache box of your choosing and can be personalized not only with your choice of font and ribbon color but with the customer's own message. Messages are as creative as the sender and Valerie is always happy to help. Popular customization examples include:

Happy Holidays!valseygifts
The Schwartz family

Please Take One!
Hazel guests

Casa Smith

There are eight unique scents from which to choose: Apple cider, lavender oatmeal, milk almond and honey, white grapefruit, strawberries and cream, cinnamon orange, lemon verbena and cranberry rose. You can mix and match the scents or order exclusively one.

Valsey and Me soaps have adorned bathrooms in the homes of celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Liam Neeson, Reese Witherspoon and former NBA basketball player and Westchester resident Isaiah Thomas. The Chicago Tribune called these soaps, "the greatest housewarming gift since the potted plant." They have been featured by Hoda and Kathie Lee, Oprah, In Style Magazine and have been displayed at a number of high profile weddings.

If you are in search of something different for your favorite Scarsdale resident (who may seem like they have everything), teacher, boss or in-law, these wonderful soaps present beautifully. They also make for unique corporate gifts.

valIn honor of Valsey and Me's 10th anniversary, customers are being treated to 25% off all soap orders before December 20th. Just visit and enter code Holiday10583 at checkout. Be sure to check back in the new year as they will be launching all-natural, personalized liquid soap in early 2017. Stay clean!

Firefighters Recover the Body of Missing Man After Sunday House Fire on Boulevard

Salimbene John 2 bckwxsPolice recovered the body of the missing victim of a fire at 174 Boulevard at 2:30 pm on Monday afternoon 12/5. The man was later identified by the Westchester County Medical Examiner as Dr. John Salimbene who lived, worked and ultimately died in the house as a result of a fire on Sunday afternoon December 4.

Salmibene, age 85, is survived by seven children and twelve grandchildren. His funeral will be held at Immacualte Heart of Mary Church on Carman Road at 10 am on Monday December 12.

Scarsdale Fire Chief Jim Seymour suspects that Salimbene was overcome by smoke in the house when the roof collapsed into the second floor, which fell into the first floor of the house where Salimbene's body was found under a pile of rubble. Though firefighters made several forays into the house during the fire to search for victims, they saw no sign of Salimbene.

Seymour says that firefighters were severely hampered in their efforts to fight the fire by excessive clutter throughout the house. Seymour warned of the dangers of clutter and said that heavy machinery had been brought in to assist with the search.

Salimbene's wife Marie, was taken out of the house by a good samaritan and she remains at Westchester Medical Center where she is being treated for burns.

This was the first time that a life was lost in an accidental fire in Scarsdale since 1976.

(see more here)

Marine Unit Assisting Wayward Whale Rescues Man Who Jumped Off the GW Bridge

policeboatOfficers from the Westchester County Police Marine Unit, who were diverting a wayward whale back toward New York Harbor, rescued a man from the Hudson River Friday evening 11-19 after he jumped from George Washington Bridge.

Detective C.J. Westbrook and Officer Wilberto Saez had been working with other marine units during the day to safeguard a humpback whale that had headed up the Hudson River. The county police Marine 2 patrol boat stayed with the whale when it turned back south at the Bronx-Westchester border on Friday afternoon. The officers were keeping a visual watch and providing a safety zone around the whale so it would not be struck by another vessel as it headed back down the Hudson River.

As Marine 2 approached the George Washington Bridge at 5:22 p.m., the two officers observed a man leap from the span and plummet to the river below. They located him quickly, pulling him aboard the patrol boat before he could slip beneath the surface. The man was in cardiac arrest and the officers began to perform CPR.
Marine 2 brought the man to the Englewood boat basin in New Jersey where he was turned over to police and EMS personnel for continued medical aid. He was transported to a New Jersey hospital.