From the Classroom to the Cell Phone: My Bobcat App Connects Byram Hills High School Students
An idea that started as an assignment in a Web Design class has blossomed into a cell phone app that can be found on nearly every student’s phone at Byram Hills High School.  Senior Zach Malter developed the app three years ago, hoping to make it easier for students to plan, organize their work, and stay informed about upcoming events at school.
MyBobcat App Creator, Zach Malter

Zach has always had an affinity for technology and making ideas come to life.  He developed an app for HCC students when he was in Grade 7 called “Day to Day Homework,” which compiled homework by teams and made it available to all students who uploaded the free app.  “The feeling that people were using my app and benefiting from it felt amazing,” Zach said.

The app received 400 downloads over two years, at a time when apps were not as prevalent as they are today.  The praise he received from then HCC Principal, Dr. Powderly, gave him the confidence to continue looking for ways to help others, through coding and app design.

Upon arrival at the high school, Zach began working with Ms. Marna Weiss, his Web Design teacher, on a new idea that would help the entire student body.  That idea evolved over time into the My Bobcat app.  Zach loved working on the technical aspects of the app and sought the help of others for the layout and practical components.  “When people asked for a specific feature, I always tried my best to give it to them,” Zach said.

The app launched on May 10, 2017, and was an immediate success with over 1,128 downloads.  My Bobcat can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.  Ansh Arvati, a Byram Hills freshman said, “The My Bobcat app is an amazing tool that I rely on every day. Whether it's writing my homework down, checking my GPA or most importantly seeing when my next class begins, I depend on My Bobcat." 

“Given almost every student at BHHS has this app, Zach really created a window for us to showcase student programming at Byram Hills. Students can enjoy innovative content created by their peers,” said Brian Melso, Byram Hills District Communication Strategist.  

Zach has received a tremendous amount of support from BHHS Principal, Mr. Walsh, and the high school administration.  They have My Bobcat running on monitors outside the main office and in the cafeteria.  “The My Bobcat app is a perfect example of the types of authentic assessments we value,” said Mr. Walsh.  “It demonstrates his understanding of the topic while having a positive impact on the community.”  Students and faculty use it as a resource and some parents have even installed it on their phones.

Zach always has multiple projects in the pipeline.  Currently, he is working on a new addition to My Bobcat, which is geared toward helping freshmen better understand their schedules. He said, “When I’m passionate about something, it becomes my complete focus.”

Three Byram Hills Students named National Merit Semifinalists

Three Byram Hills High School Seniors have been named semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program.

The students are Christina Ferarri, Kallie Hoffman, and Elena Lowe.  

"These three students have worked incredibly hard throughout their academic careers.  I am very happy that they are being recognized for their achievements on a national level,"  said Principal Christopher Walsh.

The Byram Hills semifinalists were among approximately 16,000 chosen in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.  These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition which offers 7,600 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $31 million, to be awarded next spring.

“Over 90% of the semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship earning the Merit Scholar title,” according to a National Merit Scholarship Program release.

Kristina Wilson, Byram Hills Guidance Department Liaison said, "This is a wonderful accomplishment for our students; a high honor."

Byram Hills is extremely proud of the success of these semifinalists.  Congratulations.

Elena Lowe, left; Christina Ferrari, middle; and Kallie Hoffman, right.

Elena Lowe, left; Christina Ferrari, middle; and Kallie Hoffman, right.

World Language Induction Ceremony
Keynote Speaker Carlos Toribio

On Monday, October 7, sixty Byram Hills students were inducted into the World Languages Honor Society.  These students were celebrated for their hard work and dedication to the study of Spanish, Italian or French.  Carlos Toribio, a Byram Hills senior, was the keynote speaker this year. He presented a touching and powerful keynote address describing his own language journey before a supportive audience of fellow inductees and community members. Félicitations, congratulazioni, felicitaciones!

Click HERE to see a full list of the inductees.


Congratulations to the Class of 2019!

With excitement in the air, members of the Class of 2019 arrived on the graduation stage to the traditional melody of “Pomp and Circumstance,” heard inspiring speeches packed with words of wisdom, and finally crossed the stage as graduates.

Byram Hills High School’s 51st Commencement Ceremony was held on June 18th at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, where seniors said goodbye to high school life and welcomed the start of their next chapter.

Principal Christopher Walsh welcomed the graduates, their relatives and friends and the Byram Hills faculty by declaring that all of the graduating seniors have fulfilled the mission of the District. “I am very happy to report that on stage tonight we have assembled 213 productive and responsible citizens ready to face the world and all of the challenges that come with it.”

Salutatorian Emma Lucchino questioned how, at age 18, high school graduates are supposed to have their lives all figured out. “It’s exciting and freeing to not know what’s going to happen,” she said. “Now is our time to experience new things, take chances and find our own paths.”

“This is one of the few times when not knowing could be seen as a good thing,” she continued. “That’s why we have a high school graduation, to declare that none of us know what we’re doing, and that’s something worth celebrating.”

Valedictorian Alan Chang addresses the crowd and his class.

Valedictorian Alan Chang told the story of himself as a 16-year-old boy who thought he could solve his problems by reaching a goal one summer. He discovered that it was finding the confidence to be himself that led to happiness. 

"We are all capable of such great change, yet sometimes we’re too hung up on trying to change our self rather than change the world,” he said. “In reality, every single one of us is, and should stay, their own person.”

In the principal’s address, Mr. Walsh recalled the Oscar-winning documentary, “Free Solo.” It’s the gripping story of renowned rock climber Alex Honnold’s “free solo” climb of El Capitan, an ascent up the 3,000-foot, vertical rock face in Yosemite National Park he made alone and without a rope or other safety gear. 

Mr. Walsh believed that Mr. Honnold was lucky to find his life’s purpose at a young age, and he urged the graduates to spread their wings in search of their own.

“My hope today is that each of them will find a purpose, which they will pursue with as much passion as Alex Honnold did, and that those of us in their lives have the courage to support that pursuit,” Mr. Walsh said. “Graduates, what you’ve earned here today is the opportunity to become what you have the potential to be. That can only happen if you’re willing to take those risks and remain vulnerable in life.”

Superintendent Dr. Jen Lamia reminded the graduates that she had seen most of them learn, struggle and bloom since they were 5-years-old. “Through the years, you have defined the Byram Hills student,” she said. “You are brilliant, committed and independent. How can you use these attributes in the next chapter in your lives?”

“Remember that your motivation to be who you will be is within you and must be true to you,” she said. “That is what you have shown us thus far. Seniors, thank you for the way you have defined yourselves and for the lessons you’ve taught all of us about brilliance, commitment and independence.”

Other highlights included the presentation of the senior class gift, the concert choir’s performance of “A Million Dreams,” the presentation of the diplomas and the cap toss.

Byram Hills High School Valedictorian is Alan Chang, Salutatorian is Emma Lucchino

Byram Hills High School is pleased to announce the top-ranked students from the Class of 2019: Alan Chang is this year’s valedictorian and Emma Lucchino is the salutatorian.

Principal Walsh with Valedictorian and Salutatorian

Principal Walsh with Valedictorian Alan Chang and Salutatorian Emma Lucchino

The students, who have the highest weighted grade point averages, will be recognized at this year’s commencement on June 18.

“Congratulations to Alan and Emma on earning valedictorian and salutatorian honors,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “It is an incredible achievement and the faculty and staff are very proud of their hard work and dedication during their four years with us. These achievements have earned them the honor of addressing their classmates at Byram Hills High School's 51st Commencement Ceremony. They join a distinguished list of valedictorians and salutatorians who have come before them.”

Alan, 18, is headed to the University of Pennsylvania, where he will study in the Vagelos Life Sciences & Management program in pursuit of a dual degree in science and business. During his four years at Byram Hills, Alan, a STEAM-focused student, was deeply involved in school life while earning wide national recognition for his academic achievements.

Alan was a semifinalist in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship competition and a National AP Scholar. He is a member of the Byram Hills chapter of the Cum Laude Society, an honor for the top 10 percent of the class. A student in the  three-year Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program at Byram Hills, Alan was a semifinalist in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search and his research was published in the scientific journal Cell Systems.

As a junior, Alan won the Harvard Prize Book and the Columbia University Book awards. This year, he won the Byram Hills mathematics award for outstanding senior.

He also was co-president of the Interact Club, a community service group; co-captain of the Math Team; co-president of Science Olympiad; co-captain of Mock Trial; secretary of eNable, a community service club; captain of the Academic Challenge team and he was co-captain of the swim team junior and senior years and earned All-League distinction as a senior. Alan is an accomplished pianist, violinist and Chinese calligrapher.

Becoming the valedictorian felt like a reward for all of his years of hard work, and a validation of the effort he put into his studies.

“It’s humbling, but yet it’s something I’m very proud of,” Alan said. “I was happy and proud that all of the long nights and hours of studying was worth it at the end.”

Alan said the key to his academic success at Byram Hills was a combination of determination and a strong work ethic, while always trying to work to his full potential and stay on top of his studies. “It’s setting a goal for myself and holding myself to the goal that I set, even when it seemed intimidating and hard,” he said. “My central mantra was, be the best me I can be, and to not do less than what I think I’m capable of.”

He said Byram Hills has prepared him well for life after high school, especially by teaching him skills that are not traditionally covered in the classroom. As a science research student, he learned to send professional emails and present his research in public.

“The teachers here are phenomenal,” he said. “They are excellent at explaining complicated concepts and they’re always open to helping me, whether it’s at lunch, before school or after school. In addition to academics, they give worldly and life advice. They provide support outside of the class and they’ve taught me a lot of real world skills. Byram Hills has done a great job in implicitly preparing a proper work ethic and a proper college mindset.”

Alan urged students coming up behind him at Byram Hills to go after what they want, but also to remember the other things in life, like extracurricular activities and friends, that matter.

“Do the things that you like and set your goals and hold yourself to those goals and you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve,” he said. “Challenge yourself, but keep in mind everything else that is important.”

The most important lesson he learned in high school is to be open-minded when it comes to finding solutions to problems or obstacles, and to always keep pushing forward, even after a setback.

“It’s the importance of moving on and learning from mistakes and to keep going and not to be held down by any problems you’re dealing with because that only wastes time and takes away from your future endeavors,” he said.

Emma, 17, plans to attend Vanderbilt University in the fall, and is leaning toward a major in a STEAM field.

Emma was a National Merit semifinalist and is a member of the Byram Hills Cum Laude Society and the World Language Honor Society. A student in the science research program, she placed third as a poster presenter at the Upstate New York Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and third at the New York State Science and Engineering Fair.

As a junior, she won the University of Pennsylvania Book award, and this year, she won an award for outstanding senior English students at Byram Hills and the award for general excellence in French. She was co-president of the Second Grade Club, a member of the Autism Speaks Club and a volunteer at the Mount Kisco Child Care Center. She played field hockey at Byram Hills for all four years, and was also a chemistry teaching assistant senior year.

Emma was excited to learn she had been named salutatorian.

“I feel like it’s rewarding after working really hard for the past four years of high school to have this honor,” she said. “It represents everything I’ve been through. I don’t think that every class I took in high school was easy, that every grade I got, that I earned it easily. There were definitely times when I was frustrated, so it reminds me of how I persevered through that and still was able to earn this honor.”

She credited being organized and having good time management skills with helping her succeed. “It’s one thing to be able to perform well on a test,” she said, “but you always have to be thinking ahead and you have to plan your time well.”

Emma urged younger students to never give up as they move through high school.

“Keep trying because there are definitely times when the work will get hard or it will be frustrating, especially now with finals and APs, but if you keep trying and push through, it will be rewarding at the end,” she said.

Emma summed up the most important thing she learned at Byram Hills this way: “Instead of just learning facts in high school, I learned how to think.”

“You learn to analyze information and interpret it for yourself,” Emma said. “Learning one fact will only apply to that one unit or class, but if you learn how to think, you can apply it to all subjects and life beyond.”

“I definitely have a really good foundation for what I’m going to learn in college.”