Friday, Apr 12th

RocahRedMany of us here in Scarsdale know Mimi Rocah both as a neighbor and a friend. We also know that whether she is enforcing the law as a federal prosecutor, volunteering her time at her children’s school, or marching in the streets with her daughter to help end gun violence, Ms. Rocah always leads with her heart and with a strong sense of integrity.

It is with this great integrity and her commitment to justice, fairness, and accountability that Ms. Rocah ran for the Office of the District Attorney in Westchester County. Since winning the election and then taking office in January of 2021, Ms. Rocah has stayed true to her campaign promises and has worked diligently to accomplish change, to create justice reform, and to ensure the safety of all of her constituents.

Among her achievements, Ms. Rocah’s office created a five point plan for gun safety, hosted a first-of-its-kind Hate Crimes Training in Hudson Valley to improve public safety response and to provide police, prosecutors and public safety professionals tools to strengthen community outreach and victim support, and created a misdemeanor Domestic Violence Bureau within our Special Prosecutions Division to better service victims of domestic violence. But when asked what she is most proud of, Ms. Rocah pointed to the establishment of the Conviction Review Unit which helped to exonerate an innocent man earlier this year.

Many of her Scarsdale neighbors (and Westchester residents at large), applaud Rocah’s hard work and dedication, and were surprised when she announced on October 26th that she wouldn’t be seeking reelection. In a statement, she said, “This has been a difficult decision, but one that is right for me and my family at this time. As I approached the decision whether to run for a second term, my thoughts have been occupied in recent weeks by the terrorist attacks in Israel and the aftermath, which has profoundly and personally impacted me in ways that I did not expect. I do not know what my next role will be. But I do know that I will work to raise public awareness and advocate for the extremely necessary ethical reforms for our county, continue to fight for truth and justice, and work on pressing national and world-wide issues.” Click here to read her statement:

Shortly after Rocah made her announcement, she appeared as a guest on MSNBC’s Morning Joe where she elaborated on how the October 7th attacks influenced her decision. After being asked by the hosts of the show, Rocah explained that she is shocked to see “the level of antisemitism rise up in the way it has in this country. My father escaped the Nazis in the 1940’s. I am here because he was one of the lucky ones. I see what is happening now and I understand how the Holocaust happened. What is different now is we have allies, we have people who are willing to speak out for us…and I thank all the people shining a light, people in the government protecting us. I need to find a way to use my voice in that way.”

Rocah further explained, “I’ve been the kind of DA that I wanted to be. I’ve made the changes I wanted to make - lasting changes. But I also served with integrity and running for reelection while you are a sitting DA wouldn’t allow me to be the kind of prosecutor I want to be, which is to keep politics out of it…to keep politics and outside influences out of the criminal justice system.”

Though some have speculated that it is likely Rocah will run for another office, she asserts that she truly doesn’t know what is next for her, but that she is not running for another office now (though it doesn’t mean she never will). She is excited to continue to carry out her mission of providing, “fair, effective and efficient investigations and prosecutions of criminal offenses committed in Westchester to keep our communities safe while working with our government and community partners to prevent over-utilization of incarceration in the criminal justice system“ as she finishes her term as our District Attorney.

Whatever Ms. Rocah chooses to do next, we’re sure she will embark upon it with the same heart and integrity that she has become known for in our community.

Topping2It was a packed house with standing room only at both screenings of the Scarsdale Historical Society’s new documentary, The Road to Heathcote and the Forgotten Railway. The half-hour film explores the origins of the Heathcote neighborhood and traces the last vestiges of the New York, Westchester and Boston Railway (NYW&B) that stopped at Five Corners from 1912 to 1937. The Scarsdale Historical Society released the film alongside a new exhibit titled “Heathcote’s Forgotten Railway,” which will be on view for the month of November at the Scarsdale Public Library.

This film tells the story of a small group of friends who founded the Heathcote community and built the first elegant houses on Heathcote Road after draining the swamplands of an old abandoned farm. Traveling to the other end of Heathcote Road, our local historians reveal the unusual history of the Donnybrook Inn, and the story behind the small real estate office that used to be the Heathcote Train Station. Viewers will also glimpse the surprising remains of the so-called ‘million-dollar-a-mile railway’ in our bordering towns.

The “Heathcote’s Forgotten Railway” exhibit features archival photographs, maps and artifacts from the NYW&B. The exhibit traces the spectacular rise and slow demise of the railway, with particular attention to its roots in Scarsdale. Scarsdale Historical Society member Michael Zeller has loaned pieces from his collection for the exhibit.

The railway exhibit is on display all month in the library’s Local History Center. The film, and other films produced by the Scarsdale Historical Society can be viewed at: https://www.scarsdalehistoricalsociety.org/videos.

HeathcotesignFilm participants holding the NYW&B station sign that’s over 86 years old, including (left to right) Michael Zeller, filmmaker Lesley Topping, Leslie Chang, Jordan Copeland, Randy Guggenheimer, and Eliot Goldfinger. Jonathan Lerner, current owner of the former Heathcote Station and Reverend Dr. Kelly Hough Rogers of Scarsdale Congregational Church also appear in the film. railwaycarA model of a NYW&B Coach.RailwayexhibitThe Heathcote’s Forgotten Railway exhibit delves into more history of the abandoned railway.

 

We stand with IsraelThe war in the Middle East has generated a war of words thousands of miles away in the US, where there are as many Jews as there are in Israel. Passionate voices are arising at rallies, at religious centers, online and on lawn signs.

To what extent should local businesses take a position on the conflict? Do customers have the right to demand that all the vendors they patronage express a view?

That’s the question that arose at a local store where a good customer asked the owners to place a sign demonstrating support for Israel outside the store. If they refused, it was understood that she would take her business elsewhere.

Here’s the response she received from the storeowner. What do you think about this issue? Please comment below:

Dear _________________:

We completely stand with Israel and condemn Hamas and their barbaric attack on Israeli citizens.

We are donating money to the IDF and to United Hatzalah and praying for peace in Israel.

With that said, we have to recognize that we live in a world where lunatics roam the streets and wish to do harm to Israel and its supporters.

While we completely stand with Israel, we decided to post the sign you gave us above the register inside the store so that it is visible to all but will not attract the attention of some lone wolf looking to do the dirty work of Hamas.

Often times, there is only one salesperson and one teenager in the store, and we have to consider the safety of the employees. It is indeed a sad state of affairs when posting a sign in support of a democratic state against terrorism could be dangerous.

We hope that you understand,
Am Yisrael Chai

Do you stand with the customer, the store, Israel? Share your thoughts below.

ParadeTrioEveryone got into the act for the 2023 Halloween Parade in Scarsdale Village on Friday October 27, 2023. It felt more like August than October and a large crowd came out to join the festivities. Parents and kids were in costume and clearly enjoying showing off their costumes in the Village, which was closed to traffic.

The Rec Department made the event even more fun -- handing out treats and inviting an amazing bubble man and a wizard to give a magic show. A good time was had by all!

See the photos of the kids of Scarsdale below.

And send us your photos to add to the gallery - at scarsdalecomments@gmail.com.

 

 

parade1
paradeastronauts
ParadeBubbles
ParadeDots
ParadeFamily
ParadeFriends
paradeghost
ParadePeakcock
ParadePumpkin
ParadePurple
ParadeRec
paraderoses
paradespiderman
ParadeSword
paradetiara
ParadeTrio
ParadeWig
ParadeWizard
01/18 
start stop bwd fwd

McCann1Keynote Speaker Colum McCann with ModeratorsWith modern technology, the internet, and affordable travel, the world seems smaller and more accessible than ever before. Yet it sometimes feels like as a society, we couldn't be more divided or detached. This growing sense of division in an age where many people source their information and “learn” about current events from social media posts and online videos, makes a day of elevated learning like Global Citizenship Day at Scarsdale High School seem ever more important and necessary.

This year, Global Citizenship Day, a day of “awareness, advocacy, and action,” celebrated its 10th year of “educating students about the issues that they as citizens and future leaders of the world need to know to inspire change.” The goal for the day is for students to be “moved to act and that they are able to have a more global perspective on the rights and responsibilities inherent in being a global citizen.”

We reached out to social studies teacher Heather Waters, who is largely responsible for organizing GCD, and asked, “For ten years in a row, you have worked incredibly hard to organize this exceptional day of learning for SHS students, why do you think it is important for students to take part in Global Citizenship Day? What do you hope students will walk away with?” Ms. Waters responded by saying:

“It is a tremendous amount of work that takes months in planning. Every year I invite a group of like-minded teachers to join the committee that creates the day. This year we were a committee of 10 which provided 68 sessions, more than 20 led by student groups supported by their club advisors and classroom teachers. The work is all worthwhile when we debrief with the students and hear the impact it had and how much they love the day. Today students were moved by Mr. McCann's words especially as he read from his book Letters To a Young Writer. He spoke of the lessons in failure and the importance of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, taking risks and being willing and open to failure. This is so much of we, their teachers and administrators try to help them understand too. There was so much power in the words and messages our students heard from experts around the world, across a myriad of fields and their teacher, staff, administrators and peers. That so many are willing to share their passions and expertise with our students speaks volumes to the importance of the day and that our students are our future global leaders. We hope students feel informed, enriched and inspired. The slogan of the day has always been Awareness, Advocacy and Action.”

GCD committee members included Kimberly Summerfield, Meredith Dutra, Chris Hughes, Michelle Britto, Beth Colleary, Ethan Paul, Vinny Licciardello, Amanda Gundling and Kevin Viviano. In addition to the efforts of these committee members, SHS teachers and administrators alike, pulled together to deliver a variety of enlightening presentations in a symposium style format. Some of these presentations included a talk given by SHS Assistant Principal Dr. Christopher Griffen: “The Significance of Belonging?”-DASA- the importance of inclusivity and the problems of bullying, harassment, and discrimination (DASA); a presentation by Superintendent Dr. Drew Patrick titled, “Exploring our Sustainability Priorities”; and a discussion about AI and School facilitated by social studies teacher Kami Wright and computer science teacher Jigar Jadav.

Another notable presentation was given by Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Dr. Edgar McIntosh and Director of Instructional Technology, Meredith Dutra. In their presentation, “Appropriate Discomfort: Complexity and Disagreement in a Polarized World” the two explored media literacy and highlighted A.G Sulzberger’s CJR paper about objective vs. independent news and the tensions of free speech and hate speech. Through their passionate and engaging exploration of Censorship and Flow of Information, Cancellation and Accusations of Indoctrination, Effects Mainstream Media and Beliefs, and much more, McIntosh and Dutra not only created a “Brave Space” for the students, but challenged students to create Brave Spaces of their own. They defined communication guidelines for a Brave Space as:

● Welcome multiple viewpoints
● Own your intentions and your impacts
● Work to recognize your privileges
● Take risks: Lean into discomfort
● Step back
● Notice and name group dynamics in the moment
● Actively listen
● Challenging with care
● Confidentiality
● Break it down

McIntosh and Dutra communicated that it was their hope to, “cultivate resilient, ethical and articulate students who appreciate that informed, civil, McIntoshEdgar McIntoshand supported debate is essential to fully participate in the learning process and provide practice for meaningful engagement in a modern
Democracy.”

In addition to the variety of thought-provoking presentations given by faculty and administrators, several experts from various fields were also on hand to share their knowledge with SHS students. One such inspiring presenter was the keynote speaker of the day, Colum McCann. Mr. McCann, a National Book Award Winner and Best selling author spoke to his audience about the “power of a story” to help build empathy and understanding amongst even the most conflicted groups of people.

Answering questions from student moderators, McCann recounted how when he first began writing novels, he had two books rejected by several publishers. He shared this information as a reminder to students that it is important to take risks, to risk embarrassment, and to persist despite initial failures. McCann also described the ‘F Word” (Failure) as a necessary tool in developing stamina and perseverance.

Mr. McCann went on to relate a story about a cross country bike trip he took from Boston to San Francisco and his experiences spending time with people from all cultural and economic backgrounds. During this trip, McCann says he learned the value of listening, crossing boundaries, and stepping into other people's shoes. He credits this experience with profoundly changing him and helping him to appreciate the importance of bringing people together to tell their stories and to learn from one another. McCann maintains that through sharing stories, we can begin to recognize similarities in each other despite our different backgrounds and that, through shared stories, we can begin to heal the world.

When asked about her experience as one of the moderators for Mr. McCann’s presentation, senior Maya Vora expressed, “I really enjoyed interviewing Mr. McCann because he had many incredible experiences to share, and overall it is eye-opening to learn about the way other people are living.”

Some of the other remarkable speakers included:

WatersJim Huerta, Heather Waters and Matt McCauleyJim Huerta, the chairman of Stamford’s Economic Development Board, and Vice Chair of the Board of Prospanica, the National Association of Hispanic professionals, spoke to students about the importance of building connections between businesses and community. Drawing on his own experiences as a prominent businessman, Mr. Huerta stressed the importance of communication and the need to work together as a society. He also highlighted the need to respect and to speak with one another instead of fighting.

World-renowned theoretical physicist, Sylvester James Gates Jr., talked about “Intersecting Race & Physics.” Based on decades of professional and personal experience, Gates Jr. discussed why race matters for doing physics.

Courtney Williams, a scientist at Regeneron and the founder of the Safe Energy Rights Group, spoke about her failed efforts to stop the expansion of the Algonquin Pipeline throughout Peekskill. As she described, “the pipeline expansion created a new 42-inch high-pressure liquid natural gas pipeline that a) runs through the Indian Point nuclear plant, notably between the plant and two of its emergency backup sources of power b) also runs across a fault line at the plant, which is just 42 miles from Manhattan. The pipeline's 800+ foot blast radius would instantly destroy both the plant's spent fuel pool, and the Buchanan-Verplanck elementary school, which is just 400 feet from the pipeline and 1800 feet from the plant. The review process was so mismanaged that even the NRC's own Investigator General admitted we have no way of knowing it is safe.” Ms. Williams encouraged students to become advocates to help create system-wide change and described that they can get involved by writing to their elected officials, sign petitions, and show up to community meetings.

Geoffrey Zweig, a Director of AI at META, discussed AI Through a Language Modeling Lens. In his talk, Zweig described many of the core concepts of AI, by telling the story of how this language modeling technology progressed through several waves of development. The class also discussed some implications of the technology and speculated on what might be to come.

Professor Andrew Porwancher of Arizona State University spoke about his national award-winning book, “The Jewish World of Alexander Hamilton.” Porwancher described the untold story of the founding father’s likely Jewish birth and upbringing—and its revolutionary consequences for understanding him and the nation he fought to create. Dr. Porwancher demonstrated how Hamilton was the most global citizen of the early founders and how evidence of his Jewish childhood influenced his perspective as a founding father.

Bill Doescher, a Scarsdale resident, author, and retired corporate executive who is on the Board of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, discussed his most recent book, “Crossing Over the Bridge: Voices of the Second Generation of Civil Rights Leaders,” written with co-author Dr. Rochelle Ford, president of Dillard University in New Orleans.

Matt McCauley, a former NYPD police officer and active lawyer and advocate for 9-11 heroes, spoke to his audience about the Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act and what the challenges are to making policy in the U.S. In addition to teaching the students in his class how to be strong advocates, McCauley encouraged them to be relentless, to keep going in the face of adversity, and to never let someone tell you, you can’t do something.

Dr. and Rabbi Aliza Erber shared her story of being a Holocaust Survivor. Dr. Erber described how “when her town was taken over by the Gestapo, her mother had to give her away to a doctor who created an underground bunker in the woods. Eventually the bunker was discovered and to this day, Erber is unsure how she survived. Ms. Erber also described how her father was part of the resistance and Dutch underground before being caught and sent to Terezin, where he died. After the war, Erber and her mother were reunited. After learning about what she and her family went through during the Holocaust, she set about in search of answers and studied at seminary to become a Rabbi. Today, Ms. Erber is a Rabbi, College Professor, Hebrew teacher, Playwright, Actor, and former Podiatric physician. As one of the last survivors, Erber believes that it is her responsibility to share her story and that of her family.”

Ali Park, an SHS alum and Wayside Cottage educator and Witness Stones program coordinator, spoke about Slavery at Wayside Cottage and the history of the Cottage as a farmhouse, inn, post office, and library and its noteworthy inhabitants, free and enslaved.

Throughout the day there were also inspiring programs presented by students themselves, some of which included:

Mock Trial Club- SHS students and their advisor Brendan Lee, presented about eyewitness bias and the amount of times people have been sent to jail due to incorrect testimony.“It is important to bring light and awareness to this issue as eyewitness testimony is commonly a very important part of a case, and when there is bias behind the witness, it creates injustices that need to be addressed both in the justice system and also in the classroom.”

The Rise in Antisemitism - SHS students and their advisor Kimberly Summerfield discussed how “Today, over 75 years after the Holocaust ended, antisemitism is still apparent in various forms. Hate crimes, Holocaust denial, the rise of Neonazism, as well as antisemitic remarks made by public figures, all contribute to the growing antisemitism we see today. The goal of this session was to spread awareness on how detrimental this behavior is to society and what we can do to combat it.”

Model UN - Debating the New Proposed US-Saudi Defense Treaty
“In this interactive workshop, the officers of the Model UN club taught participants about the history and status of American treaties, as well as described our various and at times, competing interests in the Middle East. Following this, participants were divided into sides and prepped to debate whether or not the US should pursue a new alliance with Saudi Arabia. The workshop finished with students having an actual debate modeled on the structure used at weekly meetings and frequent conferences.”

GLOW Club Students with their advisor Natalie Ramos presented on LGBT+ Rights
“In honor of October being LGBTQ+ history month, we wanted to share about the LGBTQ+ community, with a focus on legislation, media and art.”

Science Research (AI)- SHS students and their advisor Dylan Pendergast discussed the benefits and dangers of AI and took part in an interactive activity that tests the students' ability to differentiate between AI created and human created works. “We think it is important for students to learn about AI because technology is such a big part of our lives, and with more artificial intelligence permeating into our school community, we have to learn how to act responsibly. We also want to show people that there could be massive global changes for things like global warming/climate change if we let AI work to improve methods of energy consumption.”

Mental Health Awareness Club and their advisor- Dr. Faustino, presented a slideshow on depression to spread awareness of it and debunk common myths. The club chose depression as their topic because October is Depression Awareness Month (also World Mental Health Day is October 10th which provides for a timely presentation).

UNICEF Club and their advisor Chris Hughes, presented on how UNICEF responds to natural disasters, environmental degradation, and biodiversity loss that concerns the children population. They hoped that by raising awareness about the seriousness of climate change, it can help better our community and our choices.

Robotics Club with their advisor Brian McDonald, aimed to “uncover the technology of AI, its integral role in our daily lives with practical examples from NLP, chatbots, and recommendation algorithms, and the significance of its conscientious use as a global citizen.” They also hoped to inform students about the far-reaching impact of AI and to provide a sense of how to properly, and responsibly use this powerful technology.

SHS Liberty in North Korea and their advisor Monica Palekar, described how “Many refugees have compelling and emotional stories demonstrating how the media often unfairly focuses only on the dictatorial regime rather than the people affected by it.” Through their presentation, they hoped that students learned how to look beyond what the media presents and learn about the dire situation of refugees in North Korea and worldwide.

SAVE Promise (Students Against Violence Everywhere)-Secure storage for combating gun violence SHS students with their advisor James Tulley, presented about “Secure storage, which is the idea that guns should be properly stored in order to prevent tragedies like suicides, school shootings, and accidental shootings.” The students described how “research has shown that these storages play a vital role in reducing and combating the effects of gun violence.” The club also spoke about “why this is important for students to know about and how they can help whether it is signing a petition, contacting policymakers, and advocating for this cause.”

mealsDonated MealsThe Value of Service -SHS Community Panel-- Serge Azor, Chris Hughes, Elizabeth Harris, Luis Marino, David Sherrin and Bonnie Berry. Scarsdale High’s own, talked about their service in the community through various organizations and what it meant to them. “Our staff is rich in a commitment to service from the Peace Corps to the Special Olympics and beyond.” The panel spoke about their commitment to various organizations and how students can also get involved!

This impactful day of learning wouldn’t be complete without their annual international luncheon where students and faculty alike, enjoy a feast of ethnic dishes from around the world. The luncheon, sponsored by the International Students Club, had over fifty families donate food. All of the leftover International Lunch food, as well as 70 meals to go for the homeless and food insecure were picked up by one of our community partners: CSA Community Service in Mt. Vernon, NY.

When asked how families can best support their children’s global citizenship learning at home, Heather Waters responded:

“Encourage your SHS student to engage on all levels. Encourage them to learn and listen to others stories. We are lucky to be in NY where we have access to cultures of the world- engage as a family in exploring this. We are a unique place that offers many opportunities to develop their global citizenship skills. There are clubs, virtual and travel opportunities too. In fact tomorrow afternoon 18 student peers from a partner school in Madrid, Spain arrive for 10 days living with SHS families. Your support of the faculty and their curricular endeavors is key to helping our students develop their global citizenship skills- there are amazing things happening here and they carry that on to college.”

If Mr. McCann is correct, and sharing stories can help heal the world, Global Citizenship Day at SHS took a meaningful step toward that goal.

Leave a Comment

Share on Myspace