Middle Schoolers Encouraged to "Think Kindness," Dance and Give Back at Human Rights Day
- Written by Wendy MacMillan
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“What is the one thing you can do to make today, better than yesterday?” These were only a few of the inspirational words that Brian Williams from “Think Kindness” shared with the eighth grade class at Scarsdale Middle School during their 20th Annual Human Rights Conference on Friday November 17th. Williams was just one of the keynote speakers for the conference that encouraged SMS students to, “Stand Up and Be the Change.” In addition to keynote speakers, throughout the motivational day of learning students also took part in a variety of thought-provoking activities with teachers and guest speakers alike.
Through his masterful storytelling, Brian Williams managed to capture the attention of an auditorium full of eighth graders (and even a few administrators like Dr. Patrick and Dr. McIntosh!) as he described the experiences of volunteering around the world that lead him to create, “Think Kindness. Think Kindness is a foundation that, “believe(s) that each act of Kindness, no matter how small, has an unforeseeable ripple effect that makes the world a better place. Every person on this planet can think of at least one Kind act that made your day a little brighter.” Think Kindness states that it is their” mission to inspire these Kind acts. To gather thousands of people to perform seemingly simple acts of Kindness in solidarity and that will result in a wave of good, that will make a difference in the world.” Before they filed out of the auditorium, Williams challenged each student to “Be brave. Be kind. And to take action.”
Another keynote speaker literally had kids out of their seats and dancing in the aisles. Danny Batimana, aka “Cousin Danny,” is a Filipino-American-born former dance choreographer for the Los Angeles Lakers, former math teacher, and the creator of, “Happiness is NOW. The mission of Happiness Now “is to inspire kids to improve their physical and mental health, which, in turn, enhances their academic performance.” Through his high energy and engaging presentation, Cousin Danny not only had his audience (including teachers and faculty!) moving and laughing, but he also managed to teach them about brain chemistry and how physical movement activates chemicals like Dopamine and Endorphins which can help us feel happier, kinder, and more motivated and focused. With the auditorium vibrating with excitement and energy, Cousin Danny also talked about the importance of taking time to recharge your batteries and surrounding yourself with a positive group of friends because, “we can’t take care of the world, unless we take care of ourselves.”
Dan Zauderer was also on hand to talk about Grassroots Grocery and his mission to drive out hunger in some areas of the Bronx and right here in Westchester. As a former middle school teacher, Zauderer easily captivated his audience’s attention as he described how Grassroots Grocery works to rescue good, healthy food from being wasted and then distributes it to neighborhoods in need. Zauderer went on to explain that Grassroots Grocery relies heavily on volunteers and that students can easily get involved to help sort and distribute food every Saturday morning. Two student ambassadors, Logan Meschewski and Jack Levin, joined Zauderer to discuss their experiences with Grassroots Grocery and how others can join the Student Task Force or take part in the “Student Change-maker Award."
Throughout the day, students also took part in creative and thought-provoking activities and lessons like:
- Amnesty International: Wage Gap Presentation led by SHS students
-Creative HeARTS: Art project for White Plains Hospital
-When Wonder is Real: Bullying and Facial Deformities with My Face
-Creating dog toys for Paws Crossed an animal rescue in Elmsford, NY
-Creating Healthy Snack Bags for Grassroots Grocery
-STEM Flood Barrier Project led by teachers Brittany Vella and Laurie Ciccone. In this activity students used supplied materials to plan and build flood barriers. Students practiced teamwork as they worked in groups to share ideas and complete the projects.
-Discussing accessibility for all with Melanie Millard
-And much, much more!
Red Bandana Project in honor of her late son, a 9/11 civilian hero, Welles Remy Crowther. Welles Crowther is, “Known around the world as the “Man in the Red Bandanna” for his selfless, heroic actions during his final hour at the World Trade Center.” Today, Crowther’s parents carry on his legacy with lessons that can inspire and encourage youth to embody the same heroic traits as their son. The lessons cover aspects like “Leadership, Caring for Others, TEAM, The Power of One, Bridging Divides, Forgiveness and Carpe Diem.” Some lucky students also got to hear from Alison Crowther who helped to establish the
Whether dancing in the aisles, building flood barriers, or creating healthy snack bags for Grassroots Grocery, students enthusiastically helped to celebrate the 20th annual “Human Rights Day” Conference at SMS. Coordinators of the incredible day, teachers Cara Forray and Tayla Holtzer, believe that, “the service learning opportunities serve the purpose of a deeply meaningful experience and resulting impact that one person can have on the lives of others,” and that the day, “is an opportunity for all different types of thinkers and learners to come together with one purpose.” They couldn’t have been more pleased when one student shared, “that they felt great pride in connecting their work in school to a truly authentic outcome for others in their community.”
Scouts Earn Merit Badges and Travel to the U.N.
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 533
Scarsdale Troop 4 held a Court of Honor on Sunday to recognize Scouts’ advancement in rank and earning merit badges. The Troop also honored Eagle Scout Zachary Weitzman for earning the Eagle Bronze Palm Award and Delfina Kirkendall-Rodríguez for earning the Shoot! Nova Award. The Bronze Palm is awarded to Eagle Scouts who have earned five additional merit badges beyond the 21 required for the Eagle Scout rank; Weitzman earned 30 merit badges in 4 years. Shoot! is the Scouts BSA Nova Award for investigating astronomy and projectile science. Kirkendall-Rodríguez attended a Scout camp where she researched and conducted experiments related to astronomy, space exploration and robotics. She also earned a merit badge in Space Exploration.
Twenty- seven Scouts earned a total of over 110 merit badges and awards in such diverse areas as the arts, citizenship, life skills, outdoor activities, sports, and STEM, The badges are American Cultures, Archery, Architecture, Art, Canoeing, Chess, Citizenship in the Nation Citizenship in Society, Citizenship in the World, Communication, Cooking, Disabilities Awareness, Emergency Preparedness, Engineering, Family Life, Fire Safety, First Aid, Fishing, Geocaching, Inventing, Kayaking, Leatherwork, Mammal Study, Mining in Society, Music, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Robotics, Rifle Shooting, Search and Rescue, Safety, Space Exploration, Textile, Signs, Signals, and Codes, Swimming, Weather, and Wood Carving. Many scouts also earned the Totin’ Chip, a certification that grants a Scout the right to carry and use wood tools after scouts demonstrate that they can properly handle, care for, and use a pocket knife, ax, and saw.
The recipients of the various badges and awards were:
Julia Ruiz Fraile
Last week, eleven Scouts went on a tour of the United Nations to complete requirements for the Architecture, Art, Citizenship in Society, and Sustainability merit badges. The Scouts learned about the history and mission of the United Nations and were fortunate to see the General Assembly Hall and Security Council Chamber. In the art gallery, they viewed “Responsibility for Memory: The Role of Art in Holocaust Remembrance,” an exhibit featuring the works of Holocaust survivor and educator, Yehuda Bacon. They also viewed the historical timeline exhibit “The Question of Palestine- Timeline of Events” and a tapestry by Belarusian artist Alexander Kishchenko, which commemorates the Chernobyl tragedy of 1986. Afterward, the scouts had two enlightening sessions with Senior French Interpreter and Scarsdale resident Laurence Viguier and Cecilia Naddeo, Chief of the Human Rights and Gender Section, United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism. The Scouts were able to ask questions about these two professionals’ roles at the United Nations.
Troop 4 is a non-denominational troop that meets every Sunday at 6:00pm. Troop 4’s Scouts develop character, civic mindedness, and physical fitness. The troop achieves these aims through camping, outdoor activities, and community service, all while having a lot of fun. Middle and high school-aged Scouts, with support from volunteer adult leaders, create and lead activities such as hikes, outdoor games, community service, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) activities. Troop 4 embodies the values of inclusion, tolerance, and mutual respect for all people. Interested 11 - 17 year-olds may contact Scoutmasters Ted Mazza and Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez at ScarsdaleTroop4Scouts@Gmail.com.
An Innovative Costume Display from the SHS Class of 2024
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
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The Class of 2024 and their teachers and advisers put on a resplendent costume show just after the sun camp up on Tuesday October 31, 2023.
The class drew inspiration from history, the movies, popular brands, food, Disney classics and musical stars.
Students were dressed as The Founding Fathers and Alexander Hamilton and his wife in a sign of their critical role today.
We found flamingos, menacing gorillas, chickens, and cows along with astronauts, princesses, scarecrows, wizards and blushing brides.
Some looked back at favorite classics like Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, Three Blind Mice and Winnie the Pooh while others dressed as the casts of more modern films and television shows such as Aliens, The Joker, Men in Black, Pitch Perfect, Top Gun and South Park.
Popular foods included a pair of ketchup bottles, Cheetos, a bowl of vegetables with ranch dressing and four cans of seltzer.
We got a kick out of a group dressed as Lois from the Progressive Insurance ad, and teachers dressed as Barbie, Frankenstein and Gamora and Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy and a perennial favorite Captain Hook.
A group of Ed Sheeran look alikes serenaded the group and two sets of leprachauns and seniors sporting Lederhosen brought laughs.
A spirited morning for the SHS Class of 2024!
Send Letters to Santa
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 202
Board Invites the Community to Share Out Program on November 8, 2023
- Written by Wendy MacMillan
- Hits: 523
In a meeting with a packed agenda, here are some additional highlights from the Board of Ed meeting on Monday night October 23, 2023.
Board VP Suzie Hahn reminded those present about the upcoming “Special District Share Out” Program on November 8th at 7:30 pm in the SMS auditorium:
“The PTC, SHS, and SMS Program Committees invite the Scarsdale Community to an informative, two-part program as presented by district administrators. First Dr. Drew Patrick and Dr. Edgar McIntosh will introduce the Belonging Survey. Building on our theme of Connecting our WIDE (well-being, inclusion, diversity, and equity) Community, Dr. Patrick and Dr. McIntosh will outline the District's plan to engage students, parents, faculty, and staff this fall in a survey focused on belonging. They will explain how the survey fits into the district's DEI work, describe the survey measures and elements, and review the timeline for survey administration. They will also discuss how the results will be communicated and utilized to inform next steps in the work. Attendees will have the chance to ask questions during the session.
Next, Jeannie Crowley, Director of Technology and Innovation and William Yang K-12 Coordinator of Digital Learning & Literacy will share a selection of the survey results from the Technology Survey administered in June 2023. The Technology Department solicited survey responses from faculty, parents, SMS students, and SHS students. The anonymous surveys were collaboratively developed by the Technology Department, the PTC, and the STA. In their presentation, Ms. Crowley and Mr. Yang will highlight how the data artifacts can be used by parents, administrators, faculty, and students to learn more about the technology experiences of Scarsdale Public Schools community members.
A short Q & A session will follow the Tech Survey presentation. All are invited to submit questions prior to the presentation via this form:Technology Presentation Question Submission Form”
NYS School Board Recognition Week
Dr. Patrick highlighted that October 16th-20th was New York State School Board Recognition Week. He extended his appreciation for our own BOE members with a gift and by saying, “Our seven Scarsdale School Board Members start their service by taking an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and that of the State of New York. But, as they each know, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Above the surface are Board meetings and events, but their service as volunteers who provide thoughtful, responsive governance for the education of our youth extends deep below the surface. They take training, serve on committees, act as liaisons, read contracts, memos, and resumes, learn together in Board retreats, and much, much more. Their service to the public is demanding, and they are dedicated to improving the education we provide to our students. They serve as a vital connection between the community they represent, and the educators who carry out the mission. Tonight, we have a small token of appreciation for your service. On behalf of a grateful school community, thank you for your service!”
Varsity A Girls Tennis Team
Dr. Patrick congratulated the Girls Varsity Tennis team on their recent sectional win and wished good luck to those participating in the upcoming state finals.
Board member Jessica Resnick-Ault spoke about her meeting with the Scarsdale SAFE Coalition. She reported that October is National Domestic Violence Awareness and National Bullying Prevention Month. She also spoke about a program that the Safe Coalition is hosting: “Everyone knows Someone: Financial Abuse and the Dynamics of Domestic Violence.” The virtual program will be held on October 27th at 12pm.
Board member Jim Dugan reported on the first of many school visits by our Board of Education. During this first visit, BOE members were invited to tour the grounds, building, and classrooms at Greenacres Elementary and Mr. Dugan was “left marveling at how fabulous things at Greenacres are.”
Social Awakening Program
Mr. Schulhof reported on the Social Awakening Program he attended at SMS on October 16th, calling the presentation very informative. For more information about the presentation click here.
Eric Rauschenbach provided an update on the integrated lockdown system and reported that the system will be fully operational on Tuesday October 24th and drills under the new system will begin the first week of November.
Jeannie Crowley, Director of Technology reported on the upcoming “Share Out” program on November 8th and related that the results for the 2023 Tech Survey can be found online. She also noted that the survey results are intended to be a source of “inquiry instead of conclusions” and looks forward to exploring the meaning of the results in greater detail on November 8th.
Assistant Superintendent for Business, Andrew Lennon happily shared his recommendation to appoint Ms. Linda Pisano as the District’s Internal Claims Auditor. Her appointment was approved later in the meeting.