Saturday, Jul 02nd

questionmarksA fact finding report on the Scarsdale School’s problems with the IRS written by investigator Anthony J. Brock clearly confirms that the former Scarsdale School Superintendent Thomas Hagerman, was well aware of the district’s tax problems seven months before he revealed them to the Scarsdale Board of Education. However, the report is short on details and explanations.

The three page timeline of the district’s tax issue, posted on the district website on June 28, 2022 gives a chronology of the unfolding of the IRS tax issue. It does not provide any context, evidence, recall of conversations, reactions, insights into what happened or findings about what occurred. Though Brock presumably interviewed the key players, there are no direct quotes from anyone involved. It fails to provide any information about the work environment in the district office at a time of ever mounting tax penalties, interest and a tax lien.

The report documents conflicting claims about who was informed and when:

September 20, 2021: Superintendent Dr. Thomas Hagerman stated he first learned of the IRS issues from Mr. Martin and Mr. Mattey on September 20, 2021.

October 12, 2021: IRS Notice of Federal Tax Lien/Right to request hearing is issued. The amount of the lien is $1,309,118.34.

October 29, 2021: Mr. Martin stated he returned from his leave of absence and opened the envelope containing the IRS Notice of Lien on October 29, 2021.

October 29, 2021: Mr. Martin stated he notified Mr. Mattey of the tax lien.

October 29, 2021: Mr. Mattey stated he immediately notified Dr. Hagerman of the lien. Dr. Hagerman stated he did not learn about the tax lien until after the IRS appeal hearing on March 16, 2022. According to the witnesses, there were no emails or other written communications between Mr. Mattey and Dr. Hagerman at that time.

October 2021: Dr. Hagerman stated that he had another conversation with Mr. Martin and Mr. Mattey in late October 2021 when they provided a further update as to what work had been done with the IRS.

What’s puzzling is that Dr. Hagerman admits that he was informed about the tax matter in September but also denied knowing anything about the tax lien issued one month later. He claims he did not learn about the lien until March 16, 2022. In the intervening months, in addition to the lien, the district accrued penalties and interest and paid considerable legal fees for representation with the IRS which according to the report was all concealed from the Scarsdale Board of Education.

During the period, it appears that Dr. Hagerman negotiated for a new position as Head of School at the Chicago Latin School, which he accepted in January 2022. Between the months of September and January he failed to inform either the Scarsdale Board of Education or his new employer about the district’s tax issue. He announced his resignation in Scarsdale on January 24, 2022 without giving the 12 months notice stipulated in his contract.

The report from Brock offers no explanation for conflicting reports on who knew what and when. For instance, Treasurer Martin states that he notified his boss Stuart Mattey about the tax issue on January 11, 2021 however Mattey claims that he did not learn of the IRS matters any earlier than July 2021, six months later.

There is no comment at all from the investigator on the fact that the superintendent concealed the IRS matter from the Board and the community for seven months. Did Brock interview Hagerman? What else did he learn? What reasons did the former Superintendent give for failing to disclose the tax issue?

The report has a two sentence conclusion that states that Brock did not find any evidence that the Scarsdale Board of Education knew about the issue any earlier than March 24, 2022. Rather than provide a broad look behind the scenes, Brock seems to have narrowed his charge to determine what the Board of Education knew, rather than to get to the bottom of what happened.

In their original email announcing the investigation the Board of Education said, “The Board is committed to confirming the facts of the IRS payroll tax matter and discovering any additional pertinent information. The scope of this investigation will focus on timeline and communication. This investigation will also assist the Board in determining appropriate next steps.”

On June 28, 2022, in an email to the community announcing the release of the fact finding report, the Board indicated that in addition to this report, they also received “Privileged advice,” which will not be shared with the public. Perhaps they have a fuller picture of what transpired from that report.

As next steps, the School Board is conducting an internal audit of the payroll withholdings function and will focus on the “broad payroll function” for the school year ending June 23, 2023.

Last week Mr. Martin and Mr. Mattey were sanctioned for failing to “properly supervise the business office,” and failing to “recognize that reporting the matter to the Superintendent of Schools was insufficient in meeting his (their) duty to the Board of Education.”

The superintendent resigned for a second time in May 2022 saying, “the IRS issue has become a major distraction,” but did not own up to his role in the issue or accept responsibility for concealing it from the Board of Education.

The report appears to be back up documentation for an analysis, recommendations and conclusions, leaving the public left to draw their own conclusions about what transpired.

Commenting on the report, Mayra Kirkendall Rodriguez said, “The Board of Education chose an investigator behind closed doors without telling Scarsdale taxpayers if any other lawyers had been considered. Mr. Brock's idea of a report is to put together a timeline that anyone reading the documents posted in the District since May would have been able to assemble in a couple of hours, and for a lot less than what we the taxpayers have been compelled to pay for this investigation. Were all District employees interviewed about the IRS matter? Were member of the last couple of Boards interviewed? Did he FOIL emails about the IRS matter going back to 2020? The report is incredibly light on details. Moreover, Brock's report does not include any documents to support some of the timeline, such as where are the contracts and invoices from BSK. Was the BOE supposed to approve BSK being hired to investigate the IRS matter. Weren't the external auditors informed about the IRS matter by Messrs. Martin and Mattey? If BSK and the external auditors knew about the IRS matter since the Fall of 2021 and did not inform the BOE, their contracts, should be terminated immediately.”

Commenting on the report on Facebook another resident said, “Did the investigation stop short of an actual independent review of email servers? Investigator just took the witnesses’ word at face value?”

CeskeSchool Board President Karen Ceske accepts a hug and an orchid from Interim Superintendent Drew PatrickIt was a bittersweet ending to the 2021-22 school year for the Scarsdale School Board who confronted COVID, issues with the IRS and the resignation of the Superintendent. As several noted in their departing remarks, they may have held more meetings this year than in the last three combined as they weighed thorny issues, hired consultants and met with legal counsel.

But what emerged from their comments was a sense of camaraderie, mutual respect, admiration and pride in their work.

School Board Vice President Amber Yusuf, who hopes to serve as President next year, told President Karen Ceske that she was “so grateful to have served with you,” and noted Ceske’s years of volunteer work from Greenacres to the high school, PTA’s and PT Council. She credited Ceske for her “Zen demeanor,” calling her “A calm and steadying force as we weathered a myriad of surprises.” She marveled at Ceske’s “continued kindness to everyone, “ and her “commitment to the whole child.”

Offering thanks to Carl Finger who is also completing his service, Bob Klein said, “I didn’t know Carl that well but now we have shared a lifetime of trials and tribulations to support the Scarsdale School District. We have ended up serving far more hours than I would have imagined. All the board has struggled together… Carl’s attorney brain and gentle touch of humor will be missed. He taught me to add a little humor to every comment. His perspective and knowledge will be missed.”

Board member Ron Schulhof said, “Karen and Carl, it has been quite a three years. While the pandemic was at the forefront, we dealt with so much more. Carl we have worked on so many volunteer projects together…. Karen you have kept students, education and the community at the forefront of our discussions. Thank you for your tireless dedication. It has been a pleasure serving with you both.”

Jessica Resnick Ault told Carl, “Your presence will be missed. You have shown us it is possible to juggle a busy career with board service. I appreciate your lawyerly advice. You are Scarsdale through and through. You have seen both the village and school board operation – a perspective that will be missed. And you’ve shown me that the secret to managing all these priorities is drinking enough Diet Coke!”

To Karen she said, “You are one of the most gracious and kind people that I know. You have faith that everyone has a soul. You are able to view everyone’s soul in a pure way. We are so lucky to have had you sitting in that chair during this tumultuous year.”

Jim Dugan said, “ I agree with everything that was said and I will miss both of you.”

Carl Finger made his parting remarks, saying, “I generally try to be candid and I have had four months to think about what I wanted to say. I am so appreciative of this board and all of you – it has been a great experience to serve with you. I am sorry that I will not be able to serve. A variety of issues, personal and professional, caused me to reconsider. Negative comments from the community impacted my family. Scarsdale is not immune to the broader discourse in the country. It is important that the Board hears the positives outside of the board room to get a full sense of the community.”

“I am appreciative to the community for giving me the opportunity to serve. I thought I was well prepared but the volume of information thrown at board members is more than I could have imagined. I owe a debt of gratitude to the cabinet for my understanding of issues that come before the board. The teachers have taught me that they are the backbone of the district. We owe them a debt of gratitude.”FingerDeparting Board Member Carl Finger with an orchid and a Diet Coke.

Turning to the board he said, “We have disagreed but worked through all of that time and again to arrive at excellent decisions for our students. This board had greater capacity to express disparate opinions. The vast amount of times we hit the mark. Jim and Jessica were invaluable. Bob was on point and helpful – more than once he has convinced me to change my thoughts. Ron, Karen and I joined the board three years ago happy go lucky with no idea of the hurricane that was coming our way. Karen you had the ability to manage a seemingly unmanageable series of crises.”

“Thank my partners in law for covering court appearances so that I could do my work – and thanks to my wife and daughters.”

Karen Ceske said, “I have been here a long time. I can’t believe I am leaving but I am. I have learned that schools are vital and those who work here are essential. Our students are our true north. We work hard and together on their behalf. It has been an honor to work with all of you, (naming each board and cabinet member individually.)”

She continued, “It is impossible to adequately thank all of you who have helped my along my school board journey. And thank you Rob too! (her husband)

She turned to her VP and said, “I wanted to spotlight Amber. You have worked shoulder to shoulder with me. You are always thoughtful, calm, prepared. You read a million words a minute. You have been my rock. I feel so fortunate to have had you here this year. I wish you all well.”

Interim Superintendent Andrew Patrick had parting words and orchids for Karen Ceske and Carl Finger. He said, “In these extraordinary circumstances you have done the work of 5 terms in 3 demanding years. The community is lucky to have had such strong stewards of the schools.” Discussing what they both have in common he said, “You both ask thoughtful questions. You listen intently and seek to understand. Your decisions are informed by what’s best for our students.”

“Carl I thoroughly enjoyed working with you. Teaching and learning is our mission and I have learned from you. If you were to win an award it would be, “Most likely to make or second a motion – you waste no time.”

“Karen, you will always be my first Scarsdale parent On the day of my last interview you took me on a tour of the Scarsdale Schools in your car and showed me your pride in the district. You conjure our students vantage point. I have learned so much from you and I will remain forever grateful. Your contributions have bettered the lives of our students.”

Superintendent Search Firm

The Board voted to sign a letter of agreement with Hazard, Young, Attea Associates to conduct a search for the next Superintendent of the Scarsdale Schools. The agreed upon fee is $23,500. See the letter of agreement here.

Budget Transfer from Reserves

The board agreed to cover a shortfall in the 2021-22 school budget by transferring $2.8 million from reserves: with $1.3 mm from the undesignated fund balance and $1.5 million from the health insurance reserve.
Increases in expenses were as follows:

Home Bound Tutors - $482,130 – the district paid for tutoring during COVID when students could not attend school. $33,00 went to contractual tutors and $449,000 went to Scarsdale teachers who tutored students at home.

Legal Services - $237,316 – some of these costs were due to legal help with the IRS tax issue.

Personnel Office - Consultants - $279,668.20 – these funds were primarily for consultant Ellie Drago-Severson from Columbia Teacher’s College who assisted the district with professional development and executive coaching. Drew Patrick said that this was a one-time expense that would not recur next year.

Custodial Overtime - $279,649 – for extra cleaning during COVID and flood clean up at SHS.

Safety/Security - $204,000 for new lockdown systems purchased via BOCES.

PPE Equipment and Supplies - $150,000 for COVID supplies

Health Services - $51,720 – This is a bill back for health services at private and parochial schools attended by Scarsdale students.

Fuel Oil/Natural Gas - $102,000 – due to increases in gas and oil prices.

Interscholastic Athletics - Supervision of Athletic Events - $62,000 for supervision of athletic events during COVID and supplies.

Health Insurance - $1,500,000 – due to a one time claim of $1.2 million that was filed after the stop loss coverage period by a third party administrator. The district hopes to recoup some or all of this expense.

With these transfers, the district’s undesignated fund balance will fall to about $4.4 million or only 2.4% of the budget which is far lower than the recommended 4%.

The district will have to consider raising revenues or cutting expenses to refill their coffers next school year.

Gifts

The Board accepted two gifts from the PTA:

-The SMS PTA gave a gift of $38,229.89 to purchase and install library shelving and circulation tables for the SMS Library.

-The Greenacres gave a gift in the amount of $3,000.00 for the upgrade of the Greenacres faculty lounge.

The Board will next meet on Friday July 1 for their annual reorganization meeting where they are expected to elect new officers.

Wonka 1Many times, people consider the Senior Prom to be the last major event for the graduating class before the graduation ceremony. But, while seniors are working hard at Senior Option internships, some double down to also participate in the Senior Class Play. This year’s production is Willy Wonka Junior, and time is running out to grab tickets.

Based on the famous Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with words and music by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, adapted for the stage by Bricusse and Timothy McDonald, the production is spearheaded by the Class of 2022. From the cast members to costume design to lighting and practically every aspect of a play one can think of, it is done by the seniors.

Not all seniors in this play come from the same acting background: some are almost prodigies while others participated in the play for the sake of senior tradition and to spend valuable moments with their peers before college. Nonetheless, this does not prevent the show from having professionalism and being an enjoyable watch. Tryouts were held to give people roles, so the star roles are still held by some of the Class of 2022’s best actors and actresses, while the supporting roles are given to those who are not as acclimated to the spotlight but still want to be on stage. Wonka 2Thomas Gibney and Jonah Rosenstein are set to play major roles

For those who want to go to see a quality, humorous production locally, the Senior Play is for them. For those who want to see some of their peers on stage to make fun of them after show, the Senior Play is for them as well. For those who want a fun way to spend Friday or Saturday night, or even Sunday afternoon, the Senior Play is for them. 

Students can purchase tickets to the play using their My School Bucks account or by using the QR codes on the flyer attached below.

Wonka 3Some scenes feature comical numbers of Oompa LoompasThis tradition is a captivating experience for all seniors, from the participatory cast and crew to those who have devoted no time to the play and just come to see their friends on stage. The Senior Play will not want to be missed – especially by anyone who has any sort of relationship with a member of the production team.

The first show is on Friday, June 3rd at 7:30 pm. The following night the play is at the same time. The final time to see the performance is Sunday at 2 pm.

Click here to get your tickets.

Wonka flyer

WilcoxSome of Scarsdale’s most decorated staff members came to the SHS auditorium for a celebration of their dedication to the schools and students on the afternoon of Tuesday June 7, 2022. Staff members who have worked in Scarsdale for 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 years were celebrated, and special recognition was given to those retiring after many years of service in Scarsdale in the 37th Annual Retirement and Recognition Ceremony.

Interim Superintended Drew Patrick kicked off the event, introducing the ceremony and the SHS Jazz Ensemble, led by Nick Lieto, who played Doxy by Sonny Rollins and Softly as in a Morning Sunrise by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein to set the tone for the event.

After the ensemble left the stage and Patrick gave thanks to the Board of Education, retirement planning committee, and more, it was time for the recognition to begin.

Amongst 21 Scarsdale retirees, there were 505 years of collective service to the district – averaging over 24 years per person. 15 were in attendance, receiving their retirement gifts accompanied by a speech. The 68 staff members with career milestones (increments of five years between 20 and 40 years of service) combined to give 1580 years of service.

The career milestone recognition was punctuated by speeches about the retirees. With every career milestone celebrated, a tune was played from that year and some trivia facts were presented. When Patrick mentioned that gas was only 89 cents per gallon 35 years ago, a collective sigh of jealousy passed over the auditorium.

After the 20-year milestone achievers received their accolades, the first batch of retirees was called up. The first person honored was Greenacres, SMS, and SHS cleaner Ed Richardson. Stuart Mattey explained, “Richardson’s spaces were always ready to go for tomorrow’s journey.” Nancy Van Camp, who taught at Greenacres and Heathcote, was next up. She was praised for the “genuine joy she exudes,” and how she flawlessly “capitalizes on students’ preferred learning styles.” Jan Schorr was then honored. An anecdote of a Kindergartener’s interaction with her at Fox Meadow tells one all they need to know about the dedication of Schorr, when a kid pleaded for her to “just take a couple of days off” instead of retiring. BarzelattoJami Barzelatto received special recognition for her secretarial duties after 20 years in Scarsdale.

Athletic Director Ray Pappalardi then called up the 25-year milestone recipients, followed by the next set of three retirees. Scarsdale Middle School’s Susan Lopez-Leach was described as the school’s “true heart.” Her “desire to make beauty of the world around her” shaped the way in which she worked every day. IT director Rachel Mosley was congratulated next, with an emphasis on how “the Rachel work day is equivalent to 2.4 human work days.” Without her, Scarsdale would have been far behind in the intersectional world of technology and education. Working in the first grade at Quaker Ridge, Sabrina Tavernia, “Ms. T” as her students love to call her, received her well-deserved recognition.

Mattey then introduced the 30-year milestone achievers, noting that the year they started working in Scarsdale, the first text-based web browser was made available to the public. In other words, the individuals recognized have been in Scarsdale for the full duration of this technological revolution.

Cooper House secretary Jamie Barzelatto’s retirement celebration speech had a few interesting aspects to it, including a description of how she was a huge success in private enterprise before moving on to her most rewarding work yet: as a secretary for countless students. Quaker Ridge’s Lee Sherman was then acknowledged, for her admirable work in the nurse’s office. This set of three retirees was capped off by Paulette Clark, a 21-year veteran whose smile graced any hallway she passed through.

Patrick gave thanks to Jennifer Gilbert for her 35 years of dedicated work in Scarsdale. However, this is not yet the end of her road in the school district.

HarrisonJohn Harrison given words of praise after illustrious Scarsdale career.High School history teacher and Department Chair John Harrison was the next retiree celebrated. His presence in the high school is impossible to miss, both for students who were lucky enough to have him as a teacher and those who were not. A graduating student once even wrote to HR emphasizing how remarkable of a teacher Harrison was.

Janet Wilcox followed in the proceedings. Scarsdale’s “local fashionista,” the bus driver of 26 years was thanked for all her hard work and congratulated on a truly deserved retirement.

Greenacres Librarian Carole Phillips was next on stage. Having been at Scarsdale for three decades, the demands of her employment continued to change. Nonetheless, she proved her prowess as a librarian could more than firm the test of time. WixtedDavid Wixted receives retirement honors.

Edgar McIntosh then came up to congratulate Jeanne Cooper on 40 years of service to the Scarsdale School District. For her, this also signals the end of an illustrious career in the town. She was the last retiree celebrated, with her authenticity and strides to make avenues for student voice emphasized.

Before Cooper’s retirement acknowledgement, David Wixted and Jerry Crisci had their moments in the spotlight. Wixted, the President of the Scarsdale Teacher Association and a decorated teacher, was thanked for all his hard work and the manner in which he represented the teachers.

Then came, Crisci’s time to shine. Assistant Superintendent Edgar McIntosh made sure his brief speech about Crisci would be impossible to forget – literally impossible. After changing outfits on stage and putting on a jazz beat, McIntosh started to rap – yes, the Scarsdale Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum was rapping at the retirement ceremony – to humorously, fittingly commemorate Crisci’s time in Scarsdale. 

McIntosh shared the lyrics: Jerry is Cool: A beat poem (with apologies to Alan Ginsburg) -

"
Jerry is cool, Jerry…is..cool. You share your Rockland cookies with veterans and rookies; You move with tenacity and social elasticity and building capacity This is your secret sauce- —-more buddy than boss, more Rachel than Ross, more ballet than lacrosse, 

Jerry is cool, Jerry…is..cool. International speaker, knowledge heatseeker, Interest peaker. Influence leaker, sometimes on Friday wears a sneaker.

Jerry is cool, Jerry…is..cool. Jerry, Jerry Rarely contrary, how did your department grow. Jerry knows---Innovation is not just disruption but also careful discussion, It’s not just stargazing: but landscape appraising, skillful fundraising, some perfect PowerPoint phrasing, never fazing, and that’s what’s so amazing…The results are trail-blazing! Jerry knows- Innovation can be an explosion—but also erosion, well chosen, handwoven, less commotion, A harmonic motion. 

Jerry is cool, Jerry…is..cool. Jerry went to Rutgers Rutgers, Rutgers. Nothing rhymes Rutgers! Really. Anyone?

Good news for us all this fall, his merry band of Tech with Star Trek shirts and knowing smirks, Will be his legacy, blessedly, breathlessly will take a collective vision, deal with the division,  Break it and fix it. Spill it and Mix it. Dear Jerry, go forward with care- but will wish you were there. 

Congratulations, Jerry. I have loved being your collaborator and co-conspirator for four years- I look forward to many more years. Because Jerry, you are cool.
"

Patrick then rounded off the ceremony by inviting everyone to look around the auditorium one final time to see how many special Scarsdale individuals were there to celebrate. After one final round of applause, they were invited outside for refreshments and a continued celebration.

CrisciMcIntohsEdgar McIntosh's rap about Jerry Crisci's retirement highlighted the celebration.

Greenwald Internship 4The Senior Options program gives graduating high schoolers the opportunity to explore unique internships in the month leading up to graduation. With classes finished and AP exams completed, students are required to enrich their learning in the most immersive way possible: working in professional fields. Whether it be assisting their favorite elementary school teacher, being an accompanist at a music school, baking cakes, working for government officials, or even writing this article, the depth of the Senior Options program is one of Scarsdale High School’s highlighted features. Even though many other schools in the area have similar programs, the networking provided by Scarsdale and the range of experiences is next to none.

Students may choose to work on independent projects rather than internships, which could entail creating an hour-long magic show or even writing a novel. However, the vast majority opt for internships.

The 392 graduating students must complete a total of 168+ hours of work across 28+ days which must span six weeks. At face value, that may seem like a lot, but if only school days and non-holidays are worked on, that would still equate to just six hours per day – the same length as a normal school day. Many students find themselves smashing the above numbers with ease. For some, the transportation time is eye-opening, but it is not too difficult of an obstacle to overcome.

Upon conclusion of Senior Options, there are always some mixed reviews. A majority of students return with a new outlook on the workforce thanks to more immersion than they thought they would experience. Others say their experience was more or less what they expected, but still satisfying nonetheless. And, unfortunately, there are times when a handful of students admit they were bored out of their minds during senior options because they thought they would be, for example, in an operating room, but instead, they were instructed to read textbooks the entire time.

Personal anecdotes about the first couple of weeks of Senior Options show the depth with which students are enabled to learn in these new settings. 

Eli Greenwald is working at New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins’ district office. He has worked primarily as a receptionist. Greenwald explains, “Most of the calls come from constituents who have problems and need support from the government, but there are also a lot of other calls for various other things.” Greenwald Internship 3Greenwald is working with high-ranking government officials

He has also had the opportunity to get involved with other important government work such as writing proclamations and organizing COVID test-kit distributions. “My favorite part so far,” Greenwald described, “has been going to two Salute to Senior events to hand out Covid tests because the events are senior appreciation events and it feels good to help people and see how governments at every level work together to help people and help their communities.”

Janmariz Deguia is working for the Sandbox Theater in Mamaroneck while also being a director for the SHS Senior Class Musical production of Willy Wonka. “These past three weeks, I’ve done everything from being an assistant teacher to assistant director, to costumes department head, to backstage hand, to lighting assistant, and office hand. For Wonka, I am one-third of the drama directors for the show and, well, we direct!” Deguia said.

Going more in-depth, Deguia stated, “I’ve worked on Annie Jr, Snow White – the class I teach the most - and Descendants, where I mostly work backstage. We block, we teach, and we put it all together with other aspects. Luckily for us, one of our directors is also a choreographer.

Janmariz InternshipDeguia juggles multiple theatre duties“My favorite part is getting to see someone light up on stage. I know it’s corny, but it’s magical. Whether it be that 6-year-old singing the Tomorrow finale at an elementary school or one of my classmates on stage in the auditorium dancing along to the Candyman, it makes me happy to see them happy. It is great to see the Class of 22 come together, especially through art…I’m very honored to be selected as a leader in this event.”

Megan Chu’s Senior Options Internship is directly tied to planning events for some of the most renowned names in the United States. Interning for Imagine Party and Events, a luxury event planning company, she contacts companies, customizes apparel, researches, and helps out on-site at high-profile events.

Chu is enthralled by the opportunity, saying, “My favorite part of this work so far has been the luxury aspect and seeing these extravagant events come to life. A recent event took place at various restaurants at Hudson Yards in New York City. Being there to listen in on the planning of the event and seeing the event come to life in person is really amazing to experience.”

Working at non-profit organization Adaptive Design Association, Ken Zhu is able to gain special insight into a niche but necessary and important industry. “It’s a really cool place,” he explains, “that makes custom adaptations for people with disabilities. I work with their design and fabrication team to design and build the adaptations out of wood, cardboard, metal, etcetera.” He then raved about how he is loving the amount of hands-on work he has been able to do.

When it comes to discussing how their internships affect their outlook on what life in the “real world” will be like, all shared similar points of view.

Greenwald Internship 2Greenwald works at some of Stewart-Cousins' biggest events“I think this job is preparing me for real life because I’m getting a sense of what office life is like and I’m seeing the inner workings of the government and how it interacts with practically every aspect of life,” claimed Greenwald. He admits the biggest challenge has (understandably) “been answering the phone because it can be a little nerve-wracking to get these calls for the senator and transferring calls isn’t always easy and I don’t want to mess it up. But I’m starting to get the hang of it and everyone at the office is supportive and helps me when I make a mistake. Thus, I’ve also learned how a good work environment can make challenges less difficult to overcome.”

Deguia detailed how her future endeavors tie into this internship. “I’d love to be a teacher and I’d love to work in theatre. If I could be a theatre teacher, even better. I am going into human development, which is an interdisciplinary course in sociology, social work, psychology, poli-sci, philosophy, education, etcetera. I plan to go to graduate school for education and a double minor in theater tech and performance, so this internship is very fitting.”

For her, despite her already extensive experience in the industry, there have been some valuable challenges she has grown from. “Working at Sandbox gives me an opportunity to see what I like and what I don’t as well as what I’m good at and what I’m not. I learned I am not good with stage management or soundboard operation because it is a little stressful and I get bored.”

Similar to Greenwald, the value of a cohesive work environment is viewed as pivotal to progress. “I genuinely wouldn’t be able to do anything without my team,” she continued. “Without them, I’d have too many challenges. I love my bosses Susan and Jason at Sandbox, and everyone I’ve worked with like Maya and both Rachaels. All the credit to the entire Wonka production…I’m so proud of all the performers and so grateful to the crew.”

Chu believes the lessons she has already learned about consumer interaction are of immense importance, stating, “I think that this has prepared me for insight on business meetings and customer interactions. This job revolves heavily around going above and beyond to ensure that the clients are satisfied and the planning suits their vision. Overall, the internship has given me a direct insight into the business world and the hecticness of this industry.”Chu Internship 1One of the venues Chu helped to rent out for a corporate event

The tenseness and sense of rush as an event approaches can be a challenge, but the event planners are still “on top of each and every moment,” showing once more how immersion into a workforce team is proving an important dividend to most people’s Senior Options internship.

“My internship is preparing me for college because it is helping me to develop skills that I may need when studying engineering,” exclaimed Zhu. “I’ve been able to practice the design process and improve my design skills.”

For these students, their Senior Options internships have been successful, entertaining, and informative, as will be the common sentiment found amongst most students. Such absorption into professional industry teams leads to tremendous, unteachable-in-school growth. For those who are not enthralled with their Senior Options internship, this will provide a strong wake-up call before college to direct them towards fields or teams they may be better suited to. Regardless, no matter the students’ individual experiences, positive or negative, valuable life lessons will have been digested and understood to an extent previously untapped.

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