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Gelles(Click on the image above to watch)Beth Gelles, a Broadway fanatic and natural entertainer, got a burst of inspiration during the long days of the COVID-19 quarantine and collaborated with her daughter on the production of a video about the crisis to the tune of Alexander Hamilton from the famed Broadway show. With her kids home from college and her students stressed, the Fox Meadow mom saw the need for comic relief turned out a great performance in just hours. Watch her tour de force here and read more about Gelles below.

How did you get the idea to do the video - what inspired you to write the lyrics?

I have always loved to rewrite lyrics of popular songs and Broadway shows, especially to create songs for my friends’ birthdays. Over the past few weeks, with the Corona virus all over the news and on everyone’s minds, I wanted to do something to acknowledge the stress in our world as well as to entertain and distract people. I love making people laugh and wanted to give something to my friends, family, and current students. I run a college counseling business in Scarsdale and our students were stressed long before Corona disrupted all our lives. My daughters and I are huge Hamilton fans and I kept thinking about what words would fit into the seven syllables A-Lex-An-Der Ha-mil-ton and Co-vid Nine-teen Quar-an-tine matched beautifully. I was on the treadmill when inspiration hit!

I sat down at my computer and worked up some ideas and verses. I came back to it every few hours to add and revise -- the song probably took me between 2-3 hours to compose.

When I finished it, I sang it for my daughter Lindsay (accompanied by the karaoke version of Alexander Hamilton). Lindsay is a freshman at WashU and, like all students, she’s stuck at home. She is incredibly creative and musical and is majoring in Psychology with a double minor in dance (ballet) and drama. Instantly, she declared, “Mom! I will record you doing this and you should post it!”

Do you have a background in writing verse? Acting and singing?

Yes. As mentioned, I enjoy rewriting songs for friends and family members. I have been performing since early childhood. I love to sing, I play the piano, and I can still tap dance. I’ve performed in musicals in high school in NJ, at Harvard, and even at Kellogg Business School.

I am a ridiculously religious Broadway musical fanatic, and I have made my entire family endure listening to show tunes. Fortunately, they put up with me. My middle child Lindsay loves to see every show too. We’ve seen over a hundred musicals together in the past 18 years, and she collects every single Playbill. My son Zack is a freshman at Harvard. He doesn’t love musicals but he can carry a tune, play a little piano and guitar, and he has a great ear for languages. My youngest daughter Carly is a freshman at SHS. She is an incredible dancer and she can also sing. She loves musicals too, particularly when there is extensive choreography involved. My husband Jeff can carry a tune. He will come to Broadway shows with me on my birthday or Valentine’s Day but it’s definitely not his first-choice activity!

Who filmed you and edited the video? How long did it take to do? Did you have to do many takes of each scene?

Lindsay! She is incredibly creative and artistic. She is also a devoted Hamilton fan. We actually have TWO Hamilton costumes because she entered the Hamilton lottery day after day for almost 2 years and then won two free tickets to Hamilton on Halloween 2018. I bought the costumes on Amazon. We have tons of costumes in a closet in our basement and dressing up and performing skits and fun musical reviews has been part of my kids’ childhoods.

Believe it or not, the video didn’t take long. Lindsay recorded me singing the song accompanied by the soundtrack on Garage Band. I messed up once and did it again. I told her it was good enough. Lindsay had most of the ideas for each scene. It took us an entire afternoon to film everything and none of the scenes required more than two takes. The most challenging part for me was to memorize a lot of lyrics at once. Lindsay filmed each of these clips around our house and then put the whole thing together on i-Movie. It took her about 2 hours in total.

You say it has gone viral - how many views to date? Have you gotten inquiries from people around the country?

With Facebook and YouTube combined, I have had over 17,000 views (as of March 29th).
Yes, it is around the country! I have friends in California and Florida who have contacted me. They have received the video from people that I don’t even know.
The video was also sent (not by me) to Channel 12 News in Westchester and aired on a continuous loop on March 27th.

Also a friend of a friend in San Francisco sent it to someone at ABC News and it will air next week!

What-- if any-- is their attitude about Scarsdale?

Honestly, people have told me that they feel the SAME exact way no matter the suburb! They feel stuck at home and they want to remain positive for their kids who were sent home from college. They are struggling with distance learning, and they are figuring out how to manage and cope with the entire family in quarantine. Wine certainly helps!

Has anyone given you grief for making light of the pandemic?

Not one single person. It has been wonderful how so many people have been appreciative. Many people have “friended” me on Facebook just to thank me for giving them a smile and a good laugh.

Tell us about yourself and your life in Scarsdale. What do you do?

I co-founded a college counseling business in 2012: Acceptance Ahead.

My partner Nancy Stuzin (who lives in Edgemont) and I work with students primarily in the NY area but we also have students around the country and a handful of international students (Greece, the UK, Saudi Arabia). Nancy and I work with 30-35 students per grade, and we also do pro bono college counseling every year for YPIE (Yonkers Partners in Education). Both of us are on the Advisory Board there.

I recently chaired Westchester Reform Temple’s cantorial search committee for a new assistant cantor and that was rewarding.
My family moved here in July 2011 from the San Francisco Bay Area because my husband Jeff was transferred. He works in finance. We have been extremely happy living in Scarsdale. The community was instantly welcoming!

How has this crisis affected your college counseling business? Are you still working during this break?

We are still working during this break to support our students but we have shifted to online in order to give them continual guidance during this unprecedented time. Some of our seniors are still figuring out where to enroll but they cannot attend “Accepted Student” days. We are having conversations with them via Zoom, discussing our own experiences when we visited various campuses, and putting them in touch with some of our current students at those schools so they can obtain candid information. It’s extremely challenging and anxiety-provoking to choose a school under normal circumstances, but sight unseen really adds to the stress. We are encouraging kids to do virtual tours where available, read comments and reviews from students, and attend virtual info sessions. For our juniors, we are also communicating via Zoom, email, phone, and text. Some of our advice is being altered about how to build a college list since many of them will not have the opportunity to visit schools this spring. Nancy and I have visited over 110 colleges across the country and we try to provide unbiased observations and suggest good matches for our students. We are staying up to date and constantly providing information to our juniors about standardized test changes and colleges that are going test optional for this coming application season. We are also offering ongoing suggestions for ways to keep busy from home and how to pursue individual interests in creative and meaningful ways. Since this is a stressful time for all of us, we emphasize how everyone is in the same boat and that admissions officers are going to be extremely forgiving of the spring of 2020 due to Coronavirus. Nancy and I belong to several higher education organizations and we have received many emails from highly selective university admissions officers about this.

We heard anecdotally that more American kids are being admitted to colleges/universities this year because students from abroad are having difficulties getting visas and traveling here - is that true?

We have not heard recent statistics about international students compared to American students for this season. However, we have seen a huge increase in students (Americans and international?) offered a place on waitlists. We think this is because colleges are uncertain about what their ultimate yield will look like and they want to maintain a viable waitlist should they have availability.

couchEveryone can use some comic relief during this depressing time. There are many creative memes and videos circulating on the internet - here are just a few. And please - keep your sense of humor. These are for fun.


Donald Trump goes on a fact-finding visit to Israel. While he is on a tour of Jerusalem he suffers a heart attack and dies. The undertaker tells the American diplomats accompanying him: "You can have him shipped home for $50,000, or you can bury him here, in the Holy Land, for just $100.”

The American diplomats go into a corner to discuss for a few minutes. They return with their answer to the undertaker and tell him they want Donald Trump shipped home. The undertaker is puzzled and asks, "Why would you spend $50,000 to ship him home, when it would be wonderful to be buried here and you would spend only $100?”

The American diplomats reply, "Long ago a man died here, was buried here, and three days later he rose from the dead. We just can't take that risk.



Click here to watch the medley:



VillageMarch9The new normal in Scarsdale is anything but normal. It’s Monday but there are no SUV’s shuttling kids to and from schools, few shoppers in the Village and virtually no one drinking coffee at the diner. It feels like a snow day, except spring has sprung.

The sudden announcement on Sunday night that schools will be closed until Wednesday March 18, took many by surprise. Up to this point, the district was doing everything they could to remain open. But the news that a faculty member had been infected with the dreaded Coronavirus left administrators with little choice.

Scarsdale is home to overscheduled parents and children with packed calendars and little free time. They juggle school, after school programs, sports and tutoring, sometimes not finishing until the evening hours. Volunteers are busy campaigning for the Village election scheduled for Wednesday March 18 and the upcoming Scarsdale Bowl Dinner, honoring community volunteers. However it appears that much of this activity has come to a halt. People are being asked to refrain from meeting and face to face contact – causing the cancellation of plan after plan.

Furthermore, with no end in sight to the escalation of the virus, people can’t reschedule cancelled meetings or dates or even make plans. Many report that they have abandoned planned trips and vacations and are negotiating with providers for refunds. Will the crisis be over in a week or a few months or worse? No one seems willing to guess. It is as if time has stopped.

Fortunately the weather is glorious. With the thermometer hitting 70 degrees for the first time in 2020, many are out for a stroll or a bike ride. Kids are enjoying a day with no agenda. Adults are taking stock of their lot, appreciating their good health – and hopeful they can shield themselves and their loved ones from danger down the road.

202censusThe U.S. Census, required every 10 years under the U.S. Constitution, takes place on April 1, 2020. The purpose of the Census is to count every resident of the country, regardless of citizenship status.

Why is the Census count important?

Census data determines how many of the 435 Congressional seats every state gets-- the states use population counts to draw district lines. Census data also helps local and state governments plan for transportation, school, emergency and social services needs in their communities. Furthermore, census data determines how much of the $880 billion in federal funding is allocated for programs such as Head Start, Medicare and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Pell grants for college, reduced-price school lunch programs, and highway spending. Businesses also rely on census data in their decision-making to decide, among other things, where to start or expand operations and what products and services to offer in various locations.

What is new with the 2020 Census?

For the first time, most households will be invited to respond to the Census online. Most households will initially receive a letter asking them to go online to complete the census questionnaire between March 12-20 or to respond by phone. Paper census questionnaires will not be mailed to most house-holds unless these households have not responded to the initial invitation. The deadline to respond is July 31, 2020.

Are there concerns about undercounting?

In the last census, households in certain areas of Westchester County did not complete the census, which resulted in these communities not getting their fair share of federal funding. The attempt to include a citizenship question in the census may dissuade certain immigrant groups from participating. *Please note, there is no citizenship question on the 2020 Census. In addition, local and state governmental officials believe that the move to digital census re-porting may negatively impact census participation among the poor and the elderly populations.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer signed an executive order creating a Complete Count Committee for Census 2020 to help develop strategies for an accurate census count and to encourage every County resident to participate in the census. Similarly, state law-makers have allocated $20 million for local governments to use in their efforts to make sure every New York resident is counted.

For further information about the Census in Westchester, click here

SelvaggioBob SelvaggioThis letter to the editor was written by Bob Selvaggio, candidate for Village Trustee:
Laura Halligan captured very nicely the Samwick-Berg dialogue about the Freightway consultancy costs recently made public as a result of Mr. Berg’s FOIL request, as well as the competing Samwick-Kirkendall-Rodríguez viewpoints about the relative merits of the competing parties in the upcoming Village election. Had I been present I might have added the following from one candidate’s point of view.

Why in the world would a busy financial professional or a small business owner or an attorney with a successful practice mount a run for a seat on the Board of Trustees? The answer, I think, is, “if not us then who”?

There is a quiet desperation among many Scarsdale residents who find themselves stuck between the rock of extremely high property taxes that are no longer shared 30% or so by Uncle Sam and the hard place of property value losses that approximate the present value of the future stream of those lost SALT deductions. We are damned if we stay and damned if we go. And we ask, “why has nothing been done about the inexorable trend of rising property taxes? Does anybody really think that the solitary effort made, the lawsuit joined by the Village Board arguing that property taxes are charitable expenses, has even a ghost of a chance of succeeding?” Someone has to work to do “something” because “nothing” is unacceptable. Our long-time residents deserve not to be driven out of Scarsdale by never-ending annual tax increases.

More than 850 residents signed a petition to put a halt to the secretive process that was leading to a disastrously wrong outcome for redevelopment of the Freightway area. Many of these residents crowded Village Hall in December to make the case that neither of the two finalist proposals was acceptable to all but the group sitting at the dais. People have asked, “what criteria are being used to determine what makes for acceptable development and if there are any why have they not been articulated?” Well, many smart people believe that fixed and definitive acceptance criteria should be articulated. I believe that in the case of Freightway development these criteria should be at a minimum: 1) the certainty of positive fiscal impact, i.e., the present value of revenues exceeding the present value of costs such that single family homeowners receive property tax relief; 2) no additional crowding on our Metro North train platform and trains; and 3) no additional crowding in our schools. If any of these are not met, we should simply float a parking revenue bond to repair the garage and poll the community to assess types of nonresidential commercial development we want on Village property. But members of the Board of Trustees have to be willing to argue for and vote for these acceptance criteria or they will never be adopted.

With few exceptions Scarsdale residents believe that government transparency, unfettered information flow and credible competition enforces discipline in elected office holders. Our residents don’t want to have to file FOIL requests to peek behind cloaks of secrecy anymore. Scarsdale voters should never be asked to waste their time voting in an uncontested election, and I am not surprised that voter turnout is so low and characterized by those few exceptions. By staying away from the polls, our residents have been voting for choice. And they want to choose candidates who are eager to apply their expertise in open and transparent decision-making processes.

So why are Bob Berg, Sean Cohen and Bob Selvaggio running? We’re running to effect change and to demonstrate to others who might consider an independent run that it’s simply a civic responsibility of those who yearn for the best for Scarsdale.

Best regards,
Bob Selvaggio

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