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tennisThe matches were held on the high school tennis courts.One could taste the vitriol in the air at the SHS Boy’s Varsity A tennis match last Monday. The raiders faced off against arch rival Horace Greely in a game dominated by screeches, grunts, and anticipation. The victor would secure the number one seed in the section one playoffs, a coveted position that was to be decided on the court.

The match took place on an unseasonably warm mid afternoon in May with clear skies. After a quick meeting and pep talk, each player grabbed their rackets and separated into their respective matches.

It was a bit of a rough start, with Scarsdale losing three matches to Greely. But not all was lost. Tennis captain Luke Smith (’18) was victorious in first singles, toughing out the #1 singles player at Horace Greely. Also victorious was Jordan Ziffer (’19) and George Brady (’19) in fourth doubles, beating out their Chappaqua opponents. Nikolay Sahakyan (’20) came down from a set and break to even the match score at three a piece.

These victories made the game extremely contentious, and it came down to first doubles. Captains Suhas “Su” Vennam (’18) and Gus Thompson (’19) faced off against Greely’s top doubles team. The first set was close, but lead to an ultimate 3-6 Scarsdale loss. Suhas and Gus, however, weren’t going down easy, and proceeded to dominate Greely to a 6-3 victory in the second set. Now, it was the final set. The tiebreak. Suhas and Gus had laser focus, but sometimes even lasers break. After a valiant effort, Suhas and Gus fell to the first doubles greely team 6-10, which proved to be the critical mass necessary to tip scale over in favor of Greely, giving Greely the first seed in the section one playoffs, and Scarsdale the second.

On the loss, Suhas said “Well our team has been injured all season, especially at the top of the order with our singles players. Now that we are healthy, I feel like we could beat any team we face. We gained confidence from the Greeley Match, even though we lost. The score was close; we lost that match by a few points coming from my doubles match. If we close out matches, then we should be fine. The whole team is confident, if we meet in the playoffs, that we can beat them. I feel comfortable with the team currently. And if we just focus on each individual match. Then we should be fine”.

Although Greely was victorious on Monday, Scarsdale pulled off an impressive 8-3 season, allowing them to continue into the playoffs. Last Friday, the raiders played their first playoff match against Pelham and swept 7-0, demonstrating their true power as a team. As Suhas said above, the playoffs also give the opportunity for the two teams to potentially face off again if both are successful, perhaps allowing for the two rivals to truly determine who is the victor of the conference.

Photo courtesy of Village of Scarsdale.

school safety 2Emotions ran high at the School Safety Panel held at Scarsdale Middle School on Wednesday, May 2nd. The meeting was moderated by Scarsdale Middle School Principal Meghan Troy and led by Stuart Mattey, the District Safety Committee and Assistant Superintendent for Business and Facilities, Eric Rauschenbach, the Director of Special Education and Student Services, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin along with Police Chief Andrew Matturro, Lieutenant Joseph Dusavage, and Sergeant Steven Delbene of the Scarsdale Police Department.

The meeting started calmly with panelists providing information on school safety. Mattey kicked off the affair by reading the email Dr. Hagerman sent to the community back in February highlighting the steps the district has taken to improve safety and security across the schools. In 2016, the district contracted with Altaris, a K-12 safety, security, and emergency management firm. Altaris is collaborating with the district in three key areas: preparedness and prevention, emergency response, and post-incident recovery. Altaris attends District Safety Team meetings to brief members on current safety and security trends as well as provide updates on building level team meetings. Improvement opportunities identified during assessments and building level team meetings are discussed for consideration for uniform district-wide implementation.

Hagerman also cited specific progress made since 2016 in the Scarsdale Schools, including single, limited points of entry at each of the schools; portable radios for every administrator and other select staff; extensive public address system upgrades; electronic card access control systems for doors; landscaping hazard mitigation (to improve sight lines, and to deter concealment); exterior lighting enhancements; and evacuation drill improvements, to name a few. Mattey also added that a district liaison will be added to work with district/building teams to ensure consistency in safety policies between buildings.

Scarsdale Police Chief Andrew Matturro spoke next about the ongoing efforts of the Scarsdale Police Department to improve school safety. Specifically, every patrol vehicle is now equipped for immediate response to an active shooter incident so the police no longer need to wait and assemble before entering the school. Additionally, five years ago, the police department began making random school visits to district schools to both familiarize the officers with the floorpan of the schools and to allow students to see officers in a non-threatening way. Matturro also highlighted that the goal of the police is to address the threat before an incident occurs, and information regarding these threats may not be given publicly due to safety and not secrecy. He ended by encouraging people to contact the police department whenever they have relevant information.

Rauschenbach took the floor next to speak on district wellness initiatives designed to improve student quality of life and decrease the threat of violence. Many teachers have participated in STI courses to better understand mindfulness and the anxiety students may face. Measures have been taken including assuring students have adequate recess time and free periods. Additionally, special programs have been put in place to target students with specific wellness issues.

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin finished the panel discussion with a brief synopsis of gun control legislation that has been passed or introduced in Albany, the most comprehensive of which is the SAFE Act, passed after the Sandy Hook shooting, which requires a universal background check on gun purchases, enacts a ban on assault weapons, and requires the recertification of pistols every five years.

After Paulin spoke, the panel began answering pre-submitted questions before answering questions from the vocal audience. Among the pre-submitted questions included the notion of adding metal detectors, which was not discussed when planning new safety changes. Other topics addressed in the pre-submitted questions included the new safety measures created from the latest bond, which included the addition of security vestibules at all five elementary schools accompanied with camera surveillance systems. Additionally, a floater security guard has been added to the high school to take the place of the current security guards during their breaks.

School SafetyThe next round of questions came from the parents present in the room, and the main topics of discussion revolved around the idea of adding police officers to the schools and the addition of metal detectors. Metal detectors tend to only be present in schools that face serious violence issues, and tend not to be an active deterrent when it comes to school shooters. According to a study done by the Journal of School Health, there is insufficient data to determine whether the presence of metal detectors in schools reduces the risk of violent behavior among students, and may even detrimentally impact student’s perception of safety.

Many parents also voiced support in adding police officers to all district buildings to improve safety. However, many mass shootings, including Columbine and Virginia Tech, occurred despite the presence of armed police officers on their campuses. Furthermore, because officers no longer wait and assemble before entering an active shooter situation at a school, response time has been significantly decreased. While addressing the issue of police presence, Chief Matturro also noted that Scarsdale is part of a mutual aid agreement throughout Westchester so an officer from a neighboring area can respond to specific incidents nearby.

Roger Neustadt, who was unable to attend sent the following comment to Scarsdale10583, “It was apparent from the video that the parents in attendance...are in favor of having police officers stationed at each of our schools. The reception from school representatives on the panel was tepid at best. Our children are not afraid of the police. Their familiarity with police officers can only be a positive in the face of horrific circumstances. There was frequent mention of the fact that Scarsdale is not an urban environment and we don't have the same issues with respect to gang violence, etc. Does it really need to be said that the Columbine, Sandy Hook and Parkland tragedies occurred in communities far more similar to Scarsdale than to NYC?”

He continued, “as mentioned at the forum it is certainly possible that a resource officer may be at the other end of the school from the location at which an incident occurs. Is this a serious objection to the placement of officers in our schools? I prefer to look at the glass as half-full and think that there is a chance the officer will be in the right place at the right time. He/she will certainly respond far faster from several hallways away than driving from the Village. The time for this discussion is now and the essential parties to this conversation are the parents. It is we who have far more to lose in the face of delayed or insufficient action and our tax money that will have to pay for the increased expenditures. Are we willing to put a price on the safety of our children?”

One could hear the tangible fear in many parents voices when discussing school safety; however, difficult as it may be, the school administration is working to strike a balance between maintaining student safety as well as safeguarding student freedom and access to the schools by the community. It should also be noted that the most concerned parents were in attendance of meeting, and the views expressed by these parents may not represent the collective view.

To watch the entire presentation click here.

MegaBrainSHS Junior Emma Townsend attended Healthy Brain Day on April 19, and here are her reflections on walking through the large inflatable brain:
On Thursday, April 19th, the Scarsdale Drug and Alcohol Task Force hosted Healthy Teen Brain Day at Scarsdale Middle School. Students from fifth to twelfth grade, as well as parents, were invited.

Entering the hallway leading to the auditorium, I saw a sign leading to an “Escape the Vape Room,”and a table with "foggles," which mimic the effects that alcohol and other drugs have on a person, such as blurred vision. Further down the hall were several more tables, such as a food table and one for the Scarsdale Police Department.

On my way to the stage, there was a table with "Brain Teasers,”including a wordsearch and a maze where I had to find my way through the creases of the brain. Next to the Brain Teasers I found "stress brains," which are similar to stress balls–only in the shape of a brain.

On the stage in the auditorium there was a towering inflatable brain with a tunnel where I walked from the "back" to the "front" of the brain. The back has parts of the brain labeled, such as the temporal lobe, occipital lobe, and cerebellum, while the frontal lobe was labeled on the opposite end of the tunnel. Within the tunnel were diagrams and blurbs about various drugs, such as opioids, as well as information about plasticity, myelin, and Parkinson's disease, or PD. Abuse of opioids like Oxycodone impacts a person's ability to control their emotions and can eventually inhibit the flow of oxygen to the brain. PD, which impedes movement, is more likely to present itself in those who use methamphetamine, as the drug damages dopamine receptors. This damage was demonstrated by a flashing-light visual representation comparing the receptor cells of a healthy patient to those of a patient with PD.

On the exterior of the brain were similar posters, such as one that explained that alcohol affects the front of the brain first and that other parts of the brain are impacted as alcohol consumption progresses. After a certain point, a chronic alcoholic may develop Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, which is a permanent disease that causes psychosis and deprives a person of the ability to create new memories. Another poster shows a diagram of the many parts of the brain compromised by marijuana. The amygdala, for example, is affected and therefore can cause increased anxiety and paranoia.

A docent walked students and parents through the brain, giving in-depth explanations about the different parts of the brain. One particularly interesting fact was that alcohol impacts the front of the brain, which is responsible for emotion, explaining why alcoholics are likely to experience emotional outbursts.

A poster on the inflatable brain showed what to do if someone is having a stroke: Act FAST. If a person has symptoms pertaining to the face (‘F’), arms (‘A’), or speech (‘S’), call 9-1-1 in as little time (‘T’) as possible. Not only is this information useful,
but giving students access to such interactive presentations may also encourage them to become more invested in learning about the impacts of drugs on the brain, rather than having students be lectured by a teacher. Students may be more inclined to attend events like Healthy Teen Brain Day if the events are accessible more often throughout the year. As more students go, other students may be more likely to follow in their footsteps, feeling less embarrassed about something there is no shame in doing: ensuring that they are taking care of themselves, both mentally and physically.

If students have the opportunity to learn in-depth about how drugs operate on the human body, rather than hearing about the effects by word of mouth, they might be more likely to think twice when they are offered a drug at a party. Having this knowledge can transform a person’s perspective on the dangers of drugs from a half-informed hypothesis to an educated, thought-out stance.

thankyounoteMargaret Smith and Emily Vallario ran Healthy Brain Day: Here is a letter of thanks from them to everyone who participated:

To the Editor: The Scarsdale Drug and Alcohol Task Force (DATF) presented Healthy Teen Brain Day on Thursday, April 19th at Scarsdale Middle School. The program invited 5th through 12th grade students to participate in substance use prevention activities designed to help students more accurately access the risks of using any substances, especially alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine. Parents were also invited to attend and increase their knowledge as well as their comfort and ability to discuss these sensitive issues with their children.

The DATF could not have delivered this intervention without the generous support and collaboration of many sectors in our community. We would like to extend our warmest thanks to the Scarsdale School District and Middle School Principal Meghan Troy, the 7th grade science teachers, and Head Custodian Rob Schweit and his staff for helping develop the program and making the Middle School campus available and set up for its delivery. The event was made possible by White Plains Hospital, the Village of Scarsdale Recreation Department, Maroon and White, the Scarsdale Rotary Club, the Scarsdale Police Department, and Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service. We acknowledge Mayor Dan Hochvert and the Village trustees and staff for proclaiming April 19th Healthy Teen Brain day in Scarsdale. We also thank the many parent volunteers, led by Sharon Higgins and Sidney Witter, who gave their time and talent to organize the many moving parts, man tables and doors at the event and keep everything running smoothly. Finally, we had wonderful support from our DATF youth members, Bridget Foley, Caroline Higgins, Julia Kawai, and Jack Waxman, who helped run the event and mentor the younger students in attendance

Besides the afterschool program, the DATF also ran an in-school program for all 7th grade students during their science classes. Science teachers in all houses developed a curriculum centering on the adolescent brain, and this was augmented by a formal symposium at the mega brain for each individual science class run by a trained docent.

By any measure, this program was a resounding success. The DATF hosted 285 students and 115 parents during the after school program and covered about 360 7th graders during science classes. Students enthusiastically engaged in the activities, making this prevention intervention an effective and impactful experience that is likely to be well remembered. Both students and faculty provided very positive feedback about the program.

We are so proud of our community for pulling together to create and deliver an impactful prevention program for our youth. This is population health at work! The DATF looks forward to continuing its activities in the community to give our students the best possible environment for growing up safe and healthy. We invite anyone interested in this mission to join us.

Margaret Smith
Chairperson DATF

Emily Vallario
DATF Coordinator

SchoolBoardCandidatesForumSchool Board Candidates Woody Crouch, Alison Singer and Pam Fuehrer at the LWVS ForumScarsdale voters will find themselves in another pickle this May when they will be asked to vote for two school board members, out of a pool of three, on Tuesday May 15. Why a pickle? Because traditionally the Scarsdale School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC) vets, interviews and selects the school board candidates and they run in an uncontested election for their seats.

However this year, when the SBNC announced their selections, Alison Tepper Singer and Woodrow Crouch, some were surprised that a candidate that had served her first term on the board had not received a re-nomination to serve three more years. After consideration, that board member, Pam Fuehrer decided to run independently. And in yet another quirk, rather than running for her own seat, she decided to run against SBNC candidate Woody Crouch who was running for the seat vacated by current board member Art Rublin.

Per the SBNC Resolution, candidates run for individual seats and the candidates who gets the most votes for each seat win.The proceedings of the SBNC are confidential in order to protect the candidates, so no one knows why Fuehrer was not re-nominated. However, there has been speculation that the SBNC’s decision was a reaction to community concerns about board transparency and the process for determining what projects would be included in the controversial 2018 bond. The February 2018 bond was the biggest in Scarsdale’s history, and it passed by only 65% with 667 voting no. Perhaps the SBNC was signaling that it was time for a change of leadership

So again the community appears to be divided among those who support the non-partisan system and slate of candidates and another group of former school board members and PTA leaders who are standing behind one of their own.

On Monday night April 30, the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale held a candidates’ forum and invited the public to hear the views of Crouch, Fuehrer, and Singer. Each candidate gave opening and closing statements and answered questions posed by the League and from the audience. The forum was moderated by Stephen Cohen, who is the President of the League of Women Voters of White Plains. The forum, held at Village Hall, was well attended, and was also televised on SPTV for viewers at home.

In their opening statements, the candidates highlighted the unique strengths that differentiated them. Woody Crouch explained that his experience as an engineer combined with his years of community service has prepared him to guide the district through the large scale facilities projects that are in the works. Allison Singer noted that having both a special needs and a high achieving child gave her a unique perspective on Scarsdale’s educational program. Pam Fuehrer emphasized that her service on the board for the past three years and volunteer work within the schools for the past fourteen years has given her the experience needed to serve.

When asked about the three most pressing issues facing the Scarsdale Schools, all three candidates agreed safety was among the more pressing issues. Singer and Crouch furthered that mental health and wellness are important due to the high levels of stress facing high school students. Fuehrer specifically noted to “Put taxes first; the non-deductability of most state and local taxes must be at the forefront” and also cited sustainability as a key issue.

Responsiveness to the community was a hot button issue over the past year, and was addressed multiple times throughout the forum. Fuehrer noted the complicated budget process is designed to utilize community input, as evident by the recent shift towards funding STEAM and world language education. Crouch felt that talking directly to people from each area of Scarsdale was the best way to gauge community sentiment on a given issue. Singer highlighted the value of public comments at board meetings, as people who comment tend to be experts in their specific issue and ought to be recognized and respected.

When asked about changing the budget process, Fuehrer said that the process weighs all viewpoints and comes to a decision that fits the vision of the district. Crouch believes the process should start earlier to give people time to raise issues. Singer reinforced her belief in ground-up budgeting, and was happy the current process allocated funds for the field and safety.

In response to a question about private contributions to the schools, Singer cautioned that while donations to Scarsdale Schools are welcome, it is important that spending decisions are at the discretion of trustees. Fuehrer noted that the decision to recognize the individual donors of the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation for their gifts to fund the Design Lab and Fitness Center was a one-time occurrence and is not a precedent moving forward. Crouch believes that people who donate should be thanked, but not recognized with signage or plaques.

Regarding community appraisement in construction projects, Singer noted that communication and transparency are key. Crouch added that it’s also important to ask the right questions. Fuehrer believes the recent survey on the state of school infrastructure has provided a clear view on the conditions of the nine district buildings moving forward.

On fiscal responsibility, Crouch stressed the importance of using funds responsibly so the budget in whole can be applied properly. Both Singer and Fuehrer emphasized the significance of balancing fiscal constraints with strong and safe schools, with Fuehrer stating that every expense should align with the district’s vision.

When dealing with differences of opinion among board members and the administration, Both Fuehrer and Singer believe diverse viewpoints are a strength of Scarsdalians, but Singer furthered that once a decision is made, board members should support it regardless of personal beliefs. Crouch believes respect is key when addressing differences in opinion.

For creating a strategic process for the Scarsdale Schools with community involvement, Fuehrer brought up the importance of ongoing budgeting to guide community goals and holding forums on wellness and safety so the board understands the direction of the community. Crouch mentioned the importance of having a singular vision when developing a strategic plan, and would use his communication skills to reach out to the community. Singer noted the plan must be based in a collective community vision, and new plans should be based in studies and research on topics including stress and differentiation of instruction.

To keep Scarsdale on the cutting edge, Crouch believes teachers and principals should be brought in when planning the curriculum. Singer believes Scarsdale is already on the cutting edge with diverse extracurriculars, small class sizes, and high achieving students but improvements can always be made. Fuehrer wants to incorporate 21st century learning while maintaining achievement, and also expressed interest in funding the Center for Innovation so that teachers can get grants for designing and testing new and innovative forms of teaching.

Regarding curriculum review, Both Singer and Fuehrer believe teachers should take the lead in planning, and Fuehrer also noted that the board is designed to ask “why” and “how much” when dealing with potential changes to the curriculum. Singer believes differentiation of learning should be addressed to support instruction for different kinds of learning. Crouch noted the importance of vetting changes made to the curriculum.

Regarding political advocacy by the board, Fuehrer believes advocacy is one of the board’s primary responsibility and Scarsdale ought to have a district level advocacy committee made up of parents, community members, and administrators to issue joint statements to legislators. Crouch highlighted the value in collaborating with other school boards on various issues. Singer brought up her own experience helping pass the Combating Autism Act of 2006, and said, “We should not let perfection be the enemy of the good when dealing with advocacy."

When asked about unique experiences, Singer stated that her experience as a parent of both a special needs and non special needs child combined with years of professional experience at NBC and the Autism Science Foundation has provided her with communication skills and the ability to negotiate. Fuehrer said her experience as a board member gives her a unique edge, as she has already received training. She also touted her fourteen years of volunteer experience in Scarsdale, from the Junior League at Wayside Cottage to the League of Women Voters. “I’ve built billion dollar plants throughout the state of New York and am no stranger to dealing with complex issues firsthand” stated Crouch on his uniqueness, and also cited his expediency in completing these projects.

Singer believes the most important role of a board member is to maintain the balance between strong schools and reasonable tax rates and listen to their constituents to represent the collective view. Fuehrer believes students are the ultimate focus, and a good board keeps community members informed and has a collaborative relationship with the superintendent. Crouch believes carefully planning the budget and infrastructure are a necessity to make sure the schools run smoothly.

In her closing statement, Fuehrer cited her passion for students along with her veteran status on why she should be a member of the board. She cautioned that with elections taking place in the next few years, there could be up to six new board members in three years, causing an imbalance and leaving no veterans on the board. Crouch noted that the School Board Nominating Committee carefully vetted him as a choice for board member, and that his experience as an engineer can be vital when planning infrastructure. He’s also claimed to be a quick-learner, and told the community they “won’t be disappointed”. Singer expressed gratitude for the experience the Scarsdale Schools brought her family, and said she will bring enthusiasm and experience to the board while maintaining an open mind.

The three were collegial and cooperative, often agreeing with another and building on each other’s statements. They all appeared eminently qualified to serve. Voters will have to decide whether to consider the individual candidates on their merits or to support the nominating process and Scarsdale’s Non-Partisan System.

Voting will be held Tuesday May 15 from 7 AM to 9 PM. According to District Clerk Honore Adams, NYS law requires voting machines with optical scanners to be used and there is a section for write-in votes on the ballot, which are separated for counting purposes.

The forum in full can be viewed by clicking here

CukJohn Cuk conducted his last choral concert on Tuesday April 17This week, Craig Sherman District-wide Coordinator of Music and Performing Arts learned that for the tenth consecutive year, Scarsdale was one of 583 communities named to the list of Best Communities for Music Education by the NAMM Foundation. According the NAAM website, “The award program recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of a well-rounded education. Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and access to music education.” See the list of top districts here:

Commenting on the honor, Craig Sherman said, “We did it! With everyone's support I was able to secure this recognition for the tenth consecutive year. This is quite an honor for all of us, and I am grateful to you for your efforts that allowed this to occur. It does take all of us, and we are the village that makes this happen. It is clear this is a widely held consensus.”

Also this week, Director of Choirs John Cuk conducted his last choral concert at Scarsdale High School. He has announced that he will retire at the end of the year. According to one attendee, “It was a beautiful concert. Lots of tears. It was his last concert after 17 years at Scarsdale High School and he gave the seniors a little gift and they gave him a signed music stand and sang a few songs in his honor.”


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