Saturday, Aug 13th

The Weinberg Nature Center will offer a Forest Preschool for children ages three to five years old in the fall. The program will run from 9:15 am to 12:15 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from September 2 to November 20, 2021.

Based on the European forest school model, preschoolers will be immersed in outdoor STEAM environmental activities that emphasize nature and animal learning., foundations in math and science, language arts and health and wellness.

Learn more here

Weinberg Nature Center

RonSchulhofLetter from Board Member Ron Schulhof:

Board of Education Responsibilities and Why I am Voting for Jessica and Jim


To the Editor: Jessica Resnick-Ault and Jim Dugan, the SBNC-nominated candidates, are my choices for the Board of Education.

The Board of Education has significant influence on the education of children in our community. Among its many important and impactful responsibilities, the Board establishes the District’s vision, sets District policies, is responsible for the Budget that funds every aspect of education in the District, and provides oversight of the Superintendent.

Board members are elected to bring about the best outcome for children’s education. At times this may mean supporting school district administration’s advice, but it may also mean challenging the administration to consider additional information or perspectives. In my view, Board members should exercise oversight with sensitivity, while at the same time engage in open discussions to reach the best result and inform the community about rationales behind decisions.

Under New York State law, the Board of Education is required to conduct board business in public; therefore Board discussions and deliberations are required to occur at the public meetings the community can attend or watch, with only a few limited exceptions. I believe it is part of the job of Board members, as elected officials, to engage in transparent and informative public discussions.

Throughout my years as a volunteer in Scarsdale, I have worked with community leaders and elected officials at all levels of government. I believe the most effective leaders are those that speak even when it is not easy, approach issues with an open mind, and are transparent with the community. They bring their energy to all issues before them and are approachable and accessible. They foster an open dialogue, even when there is disagreement, to ensure there is constructive engagement with all stakeholders.

I believe Jessica and Jim embody these qualities. They have each taken on impactful roles in the community. They have shown good judgement, possess strong qualifications for service on the School Board, and will bring a “yes we can” attitude. Jessica and Jim have focused on being available and accessible throughout the campaign, hosting meet-and-greets and attending numerous public events so community members could speak with them directly. They are transparent about who they are and have shown their willingness to discuss issues.

Jessica and Jim are fully committed to furthering our excellent schools through an accessible, transparent, and collaborative approach. I hope you will join me in voting for Jessica and Jim, the SBNC-nominated candidates, on May 18.

Ron Schulhof
Springdale Road

Note: The author is a member of the Scarsdale Board of Education, but this letter expresses the author’s individual views and not the opinion of or on behalf of the School Board.

To the Editor of Scarsdale10583:marcgreenwald

I urge Scarsdale voters to support Jessica Resnick-Ault and Jim Dugan for school board. Our non-partisan system has nominated these two excellent candidates. The system, and each of these two candidates, deserves our vote.

We are blessed here in Scarsdale to have 100 years of excellent governance, anchored by our non-partisan nominating process. This year, as in years past, about 30 of our neighbors on the SBNC spent many hours confidentially vetting candidates. The committee chose two accomplished, community-minded volunteers in Jessica and Jim, and both have demonstrated their preparedness for this role right now. Jim and Jessica are committed to needed transparency and a devotion to inclusion and excellence. They have professional expertise to be stewards for our community values and responsible fiduciaries.

Just as important, our unique non-partisan system deserves our support and votes. Those of us who didn’t give up significant time vetting candidates can defer to the judgment of our elected neighbors who did. Rather than candidates who believe they are entitled to public office or complain the loudest that they know best for our schools and Village, the SBNC and CNC nominate candidates who can represent us all. Voting is always a leap of faith, but we see our non-partisan system working well, nominating independent, experienced leaders like Jim and Jessica, who are ready to serve.

If you want to improve our system, great. Run for CNC this Fall or SBNC this Winter. But now let’s come together and ratify our unique community process. Let’s reject entitlement, divisive voices and end vacuous signs littering our Village parks and public spaces. This election presents the opportunity to support a system that promotes excellence and volunteerism.

Vote for Jessica and Jim on May 18 because they will be great school board members and because the SBNC nominated them.

Marc Greenwald
Former CNC voting member; 2019-20 CNC Chair
2 Oak Lane

In Strong Support of the Non-Partisan System – Jessica Ault-Resnick and James Dugan

JLemleMy family moved to Scarsdale when I was 4 years old, I went on to attend Fox Meadow, graduating from SHS in 1997. My two siblings and I loved growing up here and benefit from the education that we received. I proudly moved back to raise my own family. My parents (who still live here) were consummate civic volunteers and instilled in me the value of the non-partisan system.

This system has served our community well for decades, In an unfortunate era of increasing hyper-partisanship, our system is an asset to our community, as it provides the space to assess and nominate candidates based on their qualifications/experience and not based on some rigid one size fits all criteria. Further it obviates the need to pander to certain constituencies, or pledge fealty to particular issues. The system fosters social cohesion amongst our community, by removing politics from our most sacred public institution, our schools. The confidentiality, that is the bedrock of the nominating process, allows for prospective candidates to experience a dignified vetting process. It is almost certain that every year not every member of the School Board Nominating Committee had their candidate(s) of choice nominated, but what is certain is that a democratic process, without the interference of partisanship, is serving our community well.

It is with this in mind that I hope the community will join me in voting for Jessica Ault-Resnick and Jim Dugan for the Board of Education. Embedded in everything the board undertakes is the responsibility of governance/oversight/accountability. Jessica’s professional training as an investigative reporter and Jim’s as a litigator provide them the foundation to excel in this role. They are both committed to greater transparency and collaboration with the community. They both have children currently in the school system, including the elementary level, which has been underrepresented on the board. Jim will have children in all three schools next year, giving him a unique vantage point for the issues facing our children. Jim sits on the Pro Bono committee at his law firm working on cases for the Innocence project, illustrating his commitment to use his extensive professional training to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.

Through her performance as a board member and the type of campaign she has ran, Alison Singer does not deserve a second term. Alison has failed in her responsibility of governance/oversight/accountability, below I will give a few examples that are emblematic of this. She has remained silent during the majority of board deliberations on important topics, rendering irrelevant the supposed benefit of her experience. At the August 6th board of education meeting, with the community reeling and desperate for leadership, in absolutely tone-deaf commentary, she congratulated the district administration and board for a job well done. Her comments further fractured the relationship between the community and the teachers, many of which I spoke with firsthand. At the November 2nd board of education meeting, Alison advocated limiting public comment to just the end of board meetings, which would have eliminated the ability of the board to hear from the community before they voted. We need board members that are encouraging feedback from the community to aide in their decision making. Alison has displayed a callous indifference, exhibiting no empathy for what the community has endured. The two might not be linked, but she currently has no children in the our schools.

Her campaign and its surrogates have resorted to running a negative campaign, that has endeavored to delegitimize the non-partisan system by attacking the process, thus creating a distracting from the issues. Their premise is that the only possible explanation for Allison not being re-nominated is that the process is somehow broken. Maybe it was as simple as the committee thought that Jessica and Jim could better serve the community. To impugn a process and the volunteers that serve it is unbecoming of someone who wants to continue to represent our community and children.

Rob Tepper (her brother, who lives in Scarsdale), has written extremely derogatory comments on social media about another board member. While Alison is not responsible for his comments, it is her responsibility as a community leader to denounce bullying comments, that are inconsistent with the type of community we strive to maintain. Otherwise what type of example is she setting for our community and children? Surrogates of hers in an attempt to persuade me to vote for her, have excused her failings as the fault of Pam Fuehrer, saying that Alison didn’t agree with how Pam handled running the board, but didn’t feel comfortable disagreeing with her. Aside from lacking credibility, the problem with this, as a member of the board, no less its Vice President, what does it say about her ability to lead if she cannot speak up for what she believes.

With my family’s nearly 40 year presence in Scarsdale, I urge everyone in support of the non-partisan system and the quality of our children’s education to vote for Jessica and Jim.

Jon Lemle
Kent Road

knowmyname“When a woman is assaulted, one of the first questions people ask is, did you say no? This question assumes that the answer was always yes, and that it is her job to revoke the agreement. To defuse the bomb she was given. But why are they allowed to touch us until we physically fight them off? Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut.”
- Chanel Miller, Know My Name

You may have heard of the name Brock Turner – the Stamford swimmer who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at a fraternity party in 2015. The case garnered international attention and is often referred to as a textbook example of sexual assault and rape. Mr. Turner, an affluent and white 19-year-old, infamously served only three months of his already insignificant six-month jail sentence. During the trial, the victim was protected by the alias Emily Doe, and her powerful victim impact statement made headlines after it was read in court in 2016 and later published by Buzzfeed News.

In 2019, Emily Doe came forward as Chanel Miller, the survivor of Brock Turner’s assault. She published Know My Name, a forthcoming and honest memoir of her experience of the assault and the tumultuous and devastating aftermath of her rape. The book is both a beautifully written memoir and a haunting look into how the American criminal justice system treats victims and those who perpetrate sexual violence.

On Wednesday, April 21, the Scarsdale Safe Coalition, led by Youth Outreach Worker Lauren Pomerantz, held a virtual community discussion about the impact of sexual violence and the resources available to victims. The discussion was guided by topics from Know My Name, and featured panelists Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah, Westchester County Second Deputy District Attorney Fred Green and Sarah FitzSimmons, a social worker and survivor of sexual assault.

District Attorney Rocah has served as a federal prosecutor for over 16 years, where she prioritized victim-centered, trauma-informed policies. She has outlined a comprehensive and ambitious vision for this work while she serves as Westchester’s District Attorney. She opened the Safe Coalition discussion by sharing that her mother was a victim of a violent rape before she was born, and that in 2010, her parents’ home was violently invaded. During the break-in, her then 85-year-old mother was sexually assaulted. At the time, even though Mimi Rocah was a "big-time federal prosecutor,” she “felt powerless to help her.” DA Rocah described that she was asked by an officer handling her parents’ case if she thought her mother was making up the assault. She stated that “this is what we are still dealing with in the criminal justice system… it is something I think about every day when dealing with victims.”

Sarah FitzSimmons followed by bravely sharing her story of being sexually assaulted while in graduate school. After seeking help from the on-campus police, Ms. FitzSimmons was told that her case would likely fail. She shared how the police did not believe her, and that the university sided with the perpetrator. She highlighted that she was made to sit in the same room as the perpetrator over and over again, and that her trauma and her story were not taken seriously. Reflecting on the assault, Ms. FitzSimmons states that, “it lives with you forever… it is still a part of my everyday being.”

Finally, Fred Green introduced himself as a longtime advocate for victim-impact and trauma-informed work with the District Attorney’s office. He ran the Adult Sex Crimes Bureau for 15 years and now oversees all Special Victims cases. He emphasized how important it is for victims to know “they have someone who will fight for them, listen to them, and involve them in the process” and stated that he has “the most amazing job. My passion and belief in this kind of work continues year after year.”

To begin the discussion, Ms. Pomerantz asked the panel what they thought was effective in terms of preventing sexual assaults.

Ms. FitzSimmons stressed that prevention starts from “the culture we are creating… [it] perpetuates the idea that it’s okay to speak and act [in derogatory ways] towards women.” She stressed that we must raise children to be respectful and incorporate sexual assault and consent discussions into school health curriculums. DA Rocah also touched on the importance of education, especially the education of first responders, such as security staff on college campuses. She mentioned how important it is to have honest conversations about assault and for people to hear about real-life examples from survivors. These examples will demonstrate that sexual violence can happen to anyone and that we all must be aware of. Second DA Green added that the onus must not be on victims to avoid the assault, but rather on teaching men to respect women. Referencing the two men in Know My Name who intervened and stopped the assault, Mr. Green stated that “those fellows got the message [on the importance of consent] at some point and came to call this guy out… and interrupt the crime. The message can get out there through education.”

Next, Ms. Pomerantz posed a question about the limitations that exist in terms of helping victims.

Both DA Rocah and Second DA Green spoke about the outdated sexual violence laws on the books. DA Rocah talked about her efforts to close the voluntary toxication loophole, which states that if a person is so intoxicated that they cannot remember, or were unable to say that they did not consent, then a prosecutor cannot prove lack of consent. There is currently legislation being pushed that would change this structure to require active and affirmative consent. Additionally, DA Rocah mentioned that bad actors are often a limitation to this work. She disclosed that peoples’ stories of sexual assault crimes, “all too often have someone in the process who did not serve them well… they are out there in the world of law enforcement whether it's intentional or not… these inherent biases come into play way too much."

Adding to the discussion of archaic laws, Mr. Green stated that although people should only make disclosures of sexual assault when they feel ready to come forward, New York “has a law that is hundreds of years old that says if a survivor doesn’t make a report immediately, it is not admissible in court. It is counter to everything we know… the court system is not set up to be an empathetic and warm environment that survivors of crime need.”

Speaking to the barriers that exist in the system, Ms. FitzSimmons shared that after reporting her assault, the police questioned what she was wearing, how tight her outfit was, how much she fought back against the aggressor, and if she screamed. They told her that she should not proceed with her case because she would not win. She also said that these officers would not help her understand the language on the forms she was asked to fill out, and they were not mindful of the fragile state of mind she was in when she was reporting the assault.

Adding to her story, Mr. Green emphasized that this type of education is critical and that he specifically trains officers on how to approach victims. He shared a powerful example of a case he worked on where the officer was so skeptical of a victim’s story of being raped by her boyfriend that the victim dropped her case. Luckily, the woman went on her own to the hospital to ask for an evidence collection kit, and after being approached by a more compassionate officer, she eventually agreed to proceed. When she showed that officer a photo of her rapist, the officer identified the man as someone who was wanted for an earlier unsolved sexual assault case and an unsolved first-degree murder case. Mr. Green’s story highlighted how critical the need is to listen to and believe victims when they come forward and the disastrous consequences that can result if we do not.

Next, Ms. Pomerantz asked about consent. She referenced that in Know My Name, there was a big deal made about the fact that Chanel Miller never said no, even though she was intoxicated and unable to do so. Addressing the panel, she asked how we can better understand and handle these situations when they are complicated by the role of alcohol, and how we can do a better job of talking about consent.

Taking the legislative angle, Mr. Green stated that New York currently does not have a statute to address these situations unless a person is so intoxicated that they are unconscious, unable to communicate, or someone else has drugged them. The state does not have a law that fits what to do in an in-between state. He mentioned that the DA’s office is working to push through a Voluntary Intoxication bill that would address this grey area. He also recommended viewing the Consent Tea video which he says is “a good little lesson that is a non-confrontational and easy to digest way to talk about what consent is all about.”

DA Rocah added that their job is to help victims become survivors, and that working in law enforcement often means that she is involved at a very traumatic point in the immediate aftermath of an incident. She said it’s important to recognize “that it isn’t all going to happen at once… [sexual assault] is a unique area…. If someone doesn’t want to talk about it, they shouldn’t have to. If they don’t tell a coherent story in the beginning, that understandable… [we need to] start with we believe you, and with the understanding that these are crimes of trauma.” Mr. Green added that their office takes a victim-centered approach, and they try to empower victims by giving them a voice and building a rapport. In the Westchester office, a survivor works with the same attorney from their first day until years after the case is over. This consistency is one way the office tries to make that person comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. Mr. Green also emphasized the importance of educating survivors about the process and helping them understand what to expect. Referencing Chanel Miller’s positive relationship with her attorney in Know My Name, he stated the importance of feeling empowered through the process. He mentioned that the Westchester office has a trauma therapist on staff who sits with every sexual assault survivor to help them with their healing process.

To close the discussion, Ms. FitzSimmons stated that it is critical for friends, family members, and members of the legal system to validate survivors and to understand that victims are in their “trauma mind.” She said that survivors’ minds are “not functioning in the same capacity that it normally would be… take that extra time to explain to them what is coming up next, and what this experience might look like for you.” From her own experience, she spoke to the importance of giving a person space to identify as a victim or a survivor and helping them on that journey. She stated that people should not be denied the experience of being a victim, that that it is often a very long process for a person to truly identify as a survivor.

You can learn more about the Scarsdale Safe Coalition here and check the site to find out about upcoming events and discussions.

arobr4Scarsdale Village volunteers, trustees, staff and county and state officials gathered on Chase Road in Scarsdale on Friday afternoon April 30 to celebrate Arbor Day and to recognize Scarsdale’s designation as a Tree City for its 38th year.

To mark the day, the Friends of the Scarsdale Parks selected a Winter King Hawthorne tree, to replace a tree that had been removed in front of Julia B. Fee three years ago. The tree was donated by Julia B. Fee.

In attendance were Madelaine Eppenstein from the Friends of the Scarsdale Parks, Michelle Sterling from the Conservation Advisory Council, Marcy Berman Goldstein and Ken Giddon from the Scarsdale Business Allliance, Village Trustees Karen Brew and Lena Crandall, Scarsdale Mayor Jane Veron, Peter McCartt from the Westchester County Sustainability Committee and State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins.

Newly elected Mayor Jane Veron thanked everyone for their collaboration and said the planting of this tree was a sign of “rebirth and regrowth” in the Village which is so appropriate at this time. She thanked Julia B. Fee for donating the tree and all the volunteers and Village staff responsible for keeping Scarsdale a Tree City.

Conservation Advisory Council Chair Michelle Sterling said, “I feel privileged to live in a community that cares so much about trees and the earth.”

NYS Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins remarked on the spirit of volunteerism in Scarsdale, saying, “Everyone does something in Scarsdale. It’s an incredible community. She presented the Village with a NYS Senate proclamation for its designation as a Tree City USA, due to its strong commitment to policies to protect trees.

With that, everyone was invited to shovel some soil at the base of the tree to give it a strong start in its new home.

arbor1Village Trustee Karen Brew, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Mayor Jane Veron and Village Trustee Lena Crandallarbor2Stewart-Cousins presents the NYS proclamation to VeronarborsterlingMichelle Sterling Chair of the Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council

dramaclubchalkAt long last this week, Scarsdale High School students returned to school full-time, with classes held every day of the week, including Wednesdays.

The schedule was not the only change to greet students. All desks are surrounded by plastic and students need to sit in assigned seats in each class.

According to an email from SHS Principal Ken Bonamo, “Classroom configurations will be different: desks will be closer together than they are now and will have polycarbonate shields affixed to the desktops to mitigate the spread of aerosols.” He explained, “Teachers will have seating charts that reflect how students are seated in their classrooms in case contact tracing needs to be performed.”

What about those attending remotely? The memo says, “Students who are virtual-only at the start of the fourth quarter will remain so for the remainder of the school year. Students who are in person will be permitted to attend classes virtually when they have an excused absence but are not required to be offered tests virtually by their teachers. If such students are absent on the day of a test, they can take the test or a make-up test at the teacher’s discretion, in person or virtually.”

How’s the first week going? Most students were a bit overwhelmed by the transition from two days to five days of school, but overall they were happy to see their friends and get off Zoom.

Here are comments from a few Scarsdale High School students:

Vivan Guo: As a senior, it was really nice being able to see many friends that I hadn’t seen in-person for over a year. I also had access to the library, where I was able to study and hangout with friends. Most students came in-person, even previously virtual students, so my classes were packed with people. The only negatives are that there is an increased chance of contracting COVID since there are more people and people tend to cluster together, and that I feel more tired afterschool. But overall, I am enjoying the social energy and I feel great going back to school. However, it seemed as though teachers started assigning a lot more work, which made the back-to-school process a lot more stressful. A lot of my senior friends are worried about upcoming papers and tests and AP Exams, and I can’t imagine what the workload is for sophomores and juniors. I wish that the school kept Wellness Wednesdays because they were an important break in the week and allowed us to relax, catch up on work, study, and meet with teachers. 5 days of school from 8am-3pm with hours of extracurriculars and homework every week is really not sustainable

Sydney Piccoli: Going back to school, I definitely had mixed emotions. After three quarters, I became quite accustomed to the shorter forty minute periods that allowed classes to move at a faster and more comprehensive pace. I also developed a routine to balance my extracurriculars, homework, and social life — in large part because of asynchronous Wednesdays. Thus, I definitely entered fourth quarter with reservations of such a pivotal change when only eight weeks remain in the school year. However, after a few days back, I can confidently say that although the new schedule requires more mental energy and time to get used to it is comforting to know that a sense of normalcy is returning — not to mention each classroom is now filled with more energetic and smiling students!"

Sara Wong : On the first day back, it felt a bit weird seeing twice as many people as I did when the school was still separated. On the other hand, I really enjoyed seeing my friends that were in the other cohort, and I personally like having in person classes as opposed to zoom meetings as I find zooming and staring at a screen all day can be exhausting. For me, the “new” schedule doesn’t feel that new as we used it before quarantine. However, it does feel a bit different having periods that are ten minutes longer, as I had gotten accustomed to shorter periods. One part I was less happy about was removing asynchronous Wednesdays — I definitely won’t be as well rested as I was with the old schedule. Despite these changes the new schedule is just another reminder that SHS is slowly but surely returning back to normal.

Janmariz Deguia: The transition has been overwhelming because being in person after a year online is truly such an odd and unique experience. I've adjusted well and I have my friends and teachers and copious amounts of frees to thank for that, but I got lucky. I know people who are taking APs and don't have good teachers or frees and the transition has been tough. It depends on each student's circumstance. For me, I almost enjoy the crowded hallways and seeing everyone again, even though last year all I ever wanted to do was leave. I'm very glad to be back.

Alex McCarthy: To be honest, it was both foreign and familiar. It felt great to see all my friends in one place but it was very strange to be around so many people at once. The crowded hallways were comforting and anxiety inducing. Sometimes the school feels as it did before COVID hit, but sometimes it feels almost as if we shouldn’t be back just yet. I definitely missed the people and *most* of the environment. Online school does not compare.ChalkRobelen

Chalk it Up

On Wednesday, April 14, Scarsdale High School seniors met at the front steps of the high school for the annual senior chalking event. Although the chalking was postponed from the fall, when it usually happens, Wednesday turned out to be the perfect sunny day to continue the tradition. In an effort to promote distancing and be more Covid-safe, seniors signed up for different time slots to chalk with their friends. While nothing about the chalking this year was typical, the Scarsdale seniors definitely made the best of it and left some amazing, colorful designs on the walkway up to school. Below are pictures of the SHS Drama Club seniors, and their chalk design.

Do you have pictures of chalking? Please forward them to scarsdalecomments@gmail.com to share here.

chalking4

-contributed by Jamie Robelen

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