Wednesday, Jun 19th

Students Demonstrate Generosity, Responsibility and Empathy on Non Sibi Day at SHS

RefugeesSophie Kushnick and Emma Kornfeld leaders of: A Refugee's Journey: Interactive Games and Making CardsWith the year winding down, the weather warming up, and students already looking forward to a long Memorial Day Weekend, Scarsdale High School kept their students attentive and engaged by letting them take the helm of teaching classes and leading activities for a special day of learning. In what has become a beloved tradition, SHS held its third annual Non Sibi Day on Friday May 24th, and the thoughtful activities, largely led by student volunteers, were nothing short of incredible. As Assistant Principal of Student Life Andrea O’ Gorman describes,

healingtreeThe Healing Tree“Non Sibi Day represents some of what I find most special about the Scarsdale High School community - faculty members seeking innovative ways to bring the spirit of our school motto to our students in tangible, meaningful ways. Students design and lead sessions around topics of importance to them, then engage with others to learn something new or give something back to the community around them. The workshops are thoughtful, creative and fun…A highlight of Non Sibi Day is that students choose their own workshops to attend. In this way, students are given the agency to spend the day learning about topics of interest or engaging in activities that move or inspire them.”

Drawing upon our District’s motto of Non Sibi, “Not for one’s self alone,” students organized and took part in a wide variety of sessions that promoted generosity, responsibility, empathy, and a deeper understanding of the world around us. With over eighty sessions to choose from, students had no trouble finding a topic that piqued their interests and sparked their passions. Some of the sessions included activities like packing backpacks for El Centro Hispano, making Operation Smile care bags, an introduction to American Sign Language, a brook clean up, and a class called Discovering Your Unique Passion: Adding Value to Your Community, just to name a few.

In one session led by the Habitat for Humanity Club’s officers Lily Gordon and Samuel Smith, students learned about homelessness and food insecurity in Westchester and helped to make sandwiches for Mt. Vernon Soup Kitchen. With 1 in 5 people in Westchester County facing food insecurity, Lily Gordan encourages students to get involved with clubs like Habitat for Humanity because, “It is important to give back to others and in the H4H Club, we do our best to give back, feed people, and build homes…we help in a variety of impactful ways.”

Samuel Smith, along with Zack Grossberg, is also one of this year’s presidents of the Hospital Club. The dynamic duo gave an inspiring presentation before teaching their peers how to make origami hearts to help lift the spirits of the White Plains Hospital Community. Smith said he is so involved with volunteer work because it feels important for him to give back to the community and to try to make an impact in meaningful and special ways.

oragamihatsZack Grossberg and Sam Smith teaching a class and making origami hearts for the White Plains Hospital community.In another session, Hannah Khang and Lindsey Frank taught their peers about Gigi’s Playhouse, an organization that provides free educational, therapeutic-based, and career development programs for individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and the community. Together with their peers, Khang and Frank made bracelets with uplifting words on them to help bring kindness and joy to the Gigi’s Playhouse Community. The young ladies were motivated to organize this class because they felt it is important to create more awareness about Down syndrome and to create something that would hopefully brighten someone’s day and bring a smile to their face.

PaquinsCoach Synoweiz, Ali Greco, Ursula Paquin, Chloe Paquin and Ian DiLorenzo making bracelets for Able Athletics Ali Greco, Ursula Paquin, Ian DiLorenzo, and Chloe Paquin also made bracelets with their peers, but for an organization called Able Athletics which provides inclusive sports opportunities for children with different abilities. In addition to making bracelets with empowering words like, Strength, Power, and Love, the organizers of the session also volunteer their time with Able Athletics helping to run drills and practice at various clinics.

SHS Principal Ken Banamo explained that, “We usually have a half day on the Friday before Memorial Day, so we had to expand our programming to accommodate a full school day. In addition, we conducted a common period of community time in the morning for outdoor activities as well as a common lunch period for all students to maximize the impact of the community feeling for our students.” And the common periods seemed to achieve just that…a strong sense of community was felt as faculty and students alike gathered outside to enjoy the beautiful, spring weather. Some just mingled and chatted while others played frisbee on the lawn, but all seemed refreshed and ready to partake in more Non Sibi learning.

environmentaljusticejpgSam Kofman Organizer of the Environmental Justice: How to Lobby and Postcard WritingAfter the break, and in an effort to raise awareness about the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act, Sam Kofman led a session where he educated his peers about the act, which among other things, seeks to expand Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to prohibit federally funded programs, practices, or activities from causing disparate impacts on the basis of race, color, or national origin. After detailing the importance of the act, Kofman led his peers in a postcard writing campaign imploring our state senators to support the bill.

It’s not often that we stop to think about how society and media shapes our ideas about gender, but in a session led by Gender in Politics teacher Patrick Healey, students were challenged to do just that. Students in this session moved through three different “stations” and at station one, students played a game from the 1980’s called “Heartthrob” to compare the gender norms from thirty years ago to what we know today. At another station students played a kahoot game to help them recognize just how recently many of the rights of LGBTQ+ have come into existence. At the third station students watched clips of different movies like Barbie to examine how television and movies help to shape gender expectations in our society.

When asked why she thought a class like Gender in Politics is important, Tessa Leroy said, “Half of the world is female and we need to talk about how women have shaped politics, and to teach young girls what women before us have done to promote our rights and what it took to get here.” Ava Feldman added that in the wake of “Roe V. Wade being overturned and multiple states banning trans rights, it is important that we continue to have respectful discussions about these issues.” She believes “It is good to have multiple perspectives and to understand the other side even if you don’t support them.” Ethan Im also chimed in and said that “classes that explore gender in society are important because it calls for responsible discussion about topics that are often made fun of and ridiculed especially for young men. But a class like this, makes it so a multitude of different ideas are reflected on.”

GuidingEyesAlexandra Israel, Isabella Lu, Coby Cukierman with Guiding Eyes for the BlindIn another session, Isabella Lu, Coby Cukierman, and Alexandra Israel introduced students to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, an organization that provides guide dogs to people with vision loss. Two dogs who were nurtured and trained from birth to age two, were on hand to show off their impressive guide skills. The student organizers felt it was important for their peers to learn about all the terrific work Guiding Eyes does in hopes that more people will want to get involved. Club Officers are Isabella Lu, Alexandra Israel, Alexa Litofsky, Jennifer Schwartz, Kara Chan, and Walker Lewis and members who presented throughout the day were Coby Cukierman, Jennifer Schwartz, Isabella Lu, Alexandra Israel, Alexa Litofsky, Krishaana Rajagopalan, Kara Chan, and Walker Lewis.

Junior Edie Chow described the Positive Psychology class she helped to lead as having different stations and each station taught characteristics that increase happiness and quality of life. Students rotated between stations and engaged in activities to learn about their personal character strengths (e.g resilience, growth mindset).

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In addition to these highlighted sessions, there were dozens of other amazing classes thoughtfully organized by caring students and teachers. And as Mr. Bonamo explained, some activities even included , “field trips to the middle school and some of the elementary schools that allowed our students to partner with their younger peers to explore the idea of Non Sibi through different activities and perspectives, such as baking for Meals on Wheels and creating public-service announcements promoting community service.”

Scarsdale residents know what a terrific job our schools do preparing graduates to be thoughtful, productive citizens, but a day like Non Sibi Day at SHS is a shining example of just how exceptional our schools and students are. The day of student-led, experiential learning wouldn’t have been possible without the support of all the SHS teachers and especially the Non Sibi Day Committee Chairs Ethan Paul and Kimberly Summerfield, who did the vast majority of the planning, organizing, and communicating, working closely with Anie O'Gorman in her role as Assistant Principal for Student Life.

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