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iCanBikeBiking is such a summer staple activity, especially here in Westchester. However, it’s an activity that most people take for granted. Although it’s usually considered to be a basic skill that all kids learn, many people with disabilities go their whole lives without taking a ride. This summer, Scarsdale High School rising junior Natalie Schonfeld is working to change that. Natalie is pairing up with iCan Shine, a non-profit organization which works to improve the lives of people with disabilities. The organization offers three programs, iCan Bike, iCan Swim, and iCan Dance, and pairs with hosts to run these programs across the country. Natalie is the host of the iCan Bike program which will be held in Yonkers over the summer. The program runs for 5 days, and each day the participants attend a 75 minute session. By the end of the camp, about 80% of the participants are able to ride a bike on their own.

Natalie first found out about iCan Shine from her cousin, who hosted her own camps for a few years in Massachusetts. Natalie volunteered at her cousin’s camp last year, which is what inspired her to become a host herself this summer. As host, she has a lot on her plate. Natalie is in charge of finding the space for the camp to be held, volunteers to help run everything, and most importantly the riders. As far as hosts go, Natalie is pretty young to be taking on all of the responsibility. However, she is devoted, and so far, everything is on track to be successful.

When asked what’s been the best part of the experience, Natalie said this:

“What’s been most enjoyable is the great response from campers’ families- which shows there really is a need for [iCan Bike] in lower Westchester. Although I know that once the camp begins, seeing campers improving their skills will be even better.”

To Natalie, it is such an incredible and rewarding experience to help these kids develop a new skill. As of now, she is still looking for volunteers. Anyone over the age of 15 who is looking for a way to help others over the summer should consider helping out at the camp for five days. To volunteer, enroll, or ask any questions, contact Natalie Schonfeld directly at icanbikewestchesterny@gmail.com.

SeniorOptions1One of the highlights of senior year at Scarsdale High School is the Senior Options program which allows graduating seniors to leave the classroom and work and pursue an independent project for the final six weeks of the school year.

The Senior Options program, run by Spanish teacher Jose Lamela, allows students the chance to spend their time pursuing passions or exploring new fields and is a welcome change of scene from the academic program.

Students can either participate in an unpaid internship or devote their time to an independent project. While most students go with the former, there is always a lot of interesting variety in how kids choose to spend their senior options time. A pretty common internship is working in the classroom of a favorite teacher from elementary or middle school and many seniors are now back at the schools they attended for first grade.

However, not all internships are so close to home, though. The only requirements are that students must work for a documented total of both 168 hours and 28 days. Some kids actually travel, domestically and internationally, for one of a kind experiences that they otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to do. Here is a sampling of what three notable students are doing this year:

GavelSydney Albert is working in the office of Judge Cacace at the Westchester County Courthouse. Sydney hopes to go into law in the future, which is why she wanted to work in the field. She chose to work with a judge, more specifically, since she wanted to “get an objective, unbiased view on each case.” While she may pursue a career in Judge Cacace’s field, criminal law, she says “it is definitely one of the most interesting and exciting branches of law.”

In the past few weeks, Sydney has been able to watch many hearings and trials, including a three-week murder trial. She sees arraignments, conferences in judge’s chambers, bail hearings, and SORA (Sex Offender Registration Act) hearings. In addition, she also helps Judge Cacace review hundreds of pistol permits each week.

Sydney has learned a lot from working with Judge Cacace. Going into it, she hoped to learn more about different branches and aspects of law. While criminal law may not be her strongest suit, this internship gave her the chance to try it out and learn more about what might interest her. The internship has really given her a lot, she says, “they really try to give me the best, most educational experience possible.”

SeniorOptions5Harry Liu had quite a different Senior Options experience interning with the Stewardship program of Friends of Acadia, an organization based at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. Harry traveled to Maine and lived almost completely on his own, working with this non-profit organization to help maintain and protect the national park. He worked with the trail crew to help restore an old trail, and make sure it would last for many years to come.

Harry lived in government housing provided by the park. While he did have a roommate who he met when he arrived, he was living mainly independently. He had to take care of himself, drive himself everywhere, prepare his own food, and take care of all other personal responsibilities. When he wasn’t working, Harry’s supervisor gave him a lot of free time to explore the park. As an avid hiker, this was definitely a highlight for him. He hiked over 60 miles in just the first two weeks.

Harry had one main goal for his Senior Options; to have fun. He picked Friends of Acadia because he saw that too often, kids participated in things that they didn’t end up enjoying. Overall, it seems he succeeded. He says, “I’ve enjoyed every hike, almost every work day, and I’ve experienced so many new things.”

SeniorOptions8Morgan Kim is spending her Senior Options interning at One River School of Art + Design in Hartsdale. Morgan’s interest in One River is twofold; she gets to be around art, which is a huge passion of hers, and she is also learning how to run a business. With the art aspect, Morgan is in her comfort zone. She loves fine art courses, and gets to experience them in a new way by helping to run classes. On the business side, she is experiencing something that she hasn’t been exposed to before. It’s a window into the world of business.

On a typical day, Morgan is involved with both aspects. She is a Teaching Assistant at art classes for kids and organized One River’s first student show. From this, Morgan says she has learned a lot of patience. While she admits that sometimes impatience is a negative quality of her personality, working with children with art has helped her improve her patience.

Morgan also has administrative duties with One River and helps with advertising and marketing. Since One River at Hartsdale only opened in March of 2018, they are a relatively new business. Morgan works a lot on community outreach, and also curates the business’s social media accounts. From this, she’s learned marketing strategies and people skills that she will take from her internship to jobs in the future. Her favorite thing about the internship is that it’s allowed her to create new connections. She says, “One River allowed me to meet so many new people and build relationships, which I love.”

sbafair9Danielle Lemisch is using her free time for more than just an internship- with about 20 other kids, she’s working to get her EMT certification with the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps. A few Scarsdale kids opt to do this each year, since they walk away from it with a real certificate and real skills they can use. Almost all seniors are eligible for the program, the only exceptions are those with late birthdays. For Danielle, who is interested in biology but unsure about medical school, this program was a great opportunity to learn some medical skills and test the waters of her interests while also serving the community.

Throughout the course, trainees attend lesson days and practical skill days. On the lesson days they learn the skills, and learn about the human body. Then, on practical skill days, they have the opportunity to try out what they’ve learned. There are both written and practical exams. Some things they’ve learned include how to deliver babies, how to administer different drugs, splinting fractures, and how to use the equipment on the ambulance.

When asked about the best part of the experience, Danielle highlighted the sense of camaraderie among all of the students participating. Having about 20 Scarsdale kids made things like late night study sessions and practicing scenarios with each other lots of fun. Danielle also said, “While becoming EMT certified requires a lot of time and energy, I really enjoyed doing it because everyone who volunteers at the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps is so amazing and they always want to help and pass on their knowledge and experience.” She hopes to use her certification to be an EMT on campus next year at Lafayette College, and volunteer with the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

SeniorOptionsNinaNina Metviner decided to intern at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic. Nina chose to do this internship because Planned Parenthood’s mission is something she believes in, and she wanted to find out more about it. She also wanted to try something new and different for her senior options. Having worked at a business before, she is learning that working at a non-profit is a very different experience.

Nina helps out around the office with day to day tasks, attends events, and contacts potential donors. She also had an experience working alongside the development team, giving her a look into how much work goes into planning events. She also gets to visit some of the health centers that fall under Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic.

Her favorite experience so far has been when she and a team traveled to Albany to lobby for a new sex education bill. They met with five legislators, four of whom supported the bill. Overall, she says it was a fun day and an interesting experience. Working at Planned Parenthood is really eye-opening to how little sex education some people receive. Nina said, “In Scarsdale, we are fortunate that our Sex-Ed went far beyond those requirements, but it scares me going off to college and thinking that most people did not receive a similar education as I did.”

Did you have an interesting senior options experience? Share it in the comments section below or email us at scarsdalecomments@gmail.com.

AngstPosterThe IndieFlix Foundation, is sparking a global conversation about anxiety through screenings of its brand-new documentary, “Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety”. On May 28, 2019, SHS Green Ribbon Club will hold a special screening of the documentary at SHS Little Theater to open up a dialogue between local families, community leaders and experts. The event will feature a viewing of the 56-minute film, followed by an informative panel discussion, led by Dr. Jerry Bubrick.

Producers Scilla Andreen and Karin Gornick have one goal: to start a global conversation and raise awareness around anxiety. Through candid interviews, they utilize the power of film to tell the stories of many kids and teens who discuss their anxiety and its impacts on their lives and relationships, as well as how they’ve found solutions and hope. The film also includes a special interview with Michael Phelps, a mental health advocate and one of the greatest athletes of all-time. In addition, the documentary provides discussions with mental health experts about the causes of anxiety and its sociological effects, along with the help, resources and tools available to address the condition.

Part of the beauty of this film is the openness of the children and young adults featured; for some of them, the “Angst” project marks the first time they are publicly sharing their experiences with anxiety. Our hope is that their candidness and bravery will inspire our community to do the same.

While “Angst” documents the struggles some people have with anxiety, it also reveals their hope for the future. Noah, a teenager in the film, describes it this way: “Anxiety doesn’t define me. It’s not just a curse; it also gives me strength.”

"Everybody needs to know that anxiety disorders are real, common and treatable instead of viewing them as a personal choice or something to be ashamed of,” said Dr. Jerry Bubrick, Senior Director of Anxiety Disorders Center, Child Mind Institute. “Getting help early is crucial in giving people the tools they need to feel better. We just need to start the conversation."

"We felt it was important to make a movie that could raise awareness to open up the conversation and provide hope," said Andreen, IndieFlix CEO and “Angst” Producer. "So many people struggle with anxiety and have trouble talking about it. We want to change that."

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health challenge in the U.S., impacting 54 percent of females and 46 percent of males, with age seven being the median age of onset, according to the World Health Organization. While anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only one-third of those suffering receive treatment. Everyone involved in the development of “Angst” has a personal experience with anxiety – from the producers to the interviewees.

"The conversation surrounding mental health really hits home for me,” said Michael Phelps. “Many people don’t understand how debilitating mental illness truly can be, and even more than that, how common it is, yet people are afraid to have the serious discussions about it. I welcomed the opportunity to be a part of ‘Angst’ to further the dialogue around mental health and to help people understand the impact anxiety has on our mental state and encourage people, especially kids, to ask for help."

"Angst" will be shown in the SHS Little Theater on May 28th, 2019, at 7:00pm. The community is invited.

STEP logo copyThe Scarsdale Student Transfer Education Plan (STEP) Board is thrilled to announce that Victoria Reliford. a rising junior from Littleton, North Carolina has been selected to join the Scarsdale High School class of 2021 this coming fall.

The STEP board now seeks a family living in the Scarsdale School District to host Victoria starting in late August 2019. Interested families should call Nan Berke at 914-548-3617 or email info@scarsdalestep.org.

For over 50 years, STEP has brought promising students of color from economically disadvantaged households to Scarsdale to attend the High School for their junior and senior years. The program specifically seeks students who have demonstrated leadership qualities and a commitment to applying themselves academically.

Victoria is an exceptional student at KIPP Pride High School in Gaston, NC. She loves science and is taking both Chemistry and Physics together during her sophomore year.

She is also exceptionally creative and enjoys designing and creating anime costumes. Victoria and her mother came to Scarsdale in early May to tour Scarsdale High School and be interviewed by STEP. All were impressed by her maturity and eagerness to leave rural NC to learn and grow in Scarsdale.VictoriaRelifordVictoria Reliford

The 30 plus-member STEP Board and 24-member Advisory Board provides a strong network of consistent support to host families, including a generous stipend to cover expenses. The experience can be life changing, not only for the STEP student but also for the host family. Host families gain a wider cultural perspective and often form lifelong relationships with their STEP student.

For more information, go to the Scarsdale STEP website at www.scarsdalestep.org.

Elissa Bookner, MD and Tara Irwin are the Co-Chairs of the Scarsdale STEP Board.

pinkgame1Fans dressed in pink on Wednesday May 8 to remember Scarsdale mom Marla Mehlman who lost a 10-year battle with cancer at the age 51 on December 19, 2018. She loved watching her daughter’s games and this year, daughter Aliza is the senior captain of the SHS girls varsity lacrosse team,

On Wednesdaythe Scarsdale Varsity Girls Lacrosse team held their annual “pink game” in support of breast cancer research and awareness. This year the game had a special meaning, as it was played in honor of Marla. In the stands of the game, everyone on the Scarsdale side wore a pink t-shirt purchased to help support The Mehlman Family Research Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. The girls played their hardest in a game that was neck and neck the whole way through.

In the end, White Plains beat Scarsdale 12-11. However, the pink game served its greater purpose to bring people together in memory of a courageous woman who will remain the hearts of so many in Scarsdale.

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