District News

District News

H.C. Crittenden Middle School Science Olympiad Team Finishes 17th at States, Best Showing in Years


The H.C. Crittenden Middle School Science Olympiad team brought home nine medals from the state competition on April 13-14 to finish in 17th place overall, the school’s best showing at the state level in at least 15 years.

“It was an amazing performance,” Coach Robert Sendlenski said. “I’m very proud of the kids for all the hard work they put in and the number of medals they won as a result of that hard work.”

Eighteen students competed together at the state competition and brought home nine medals, which are awarded to the top 10 finishers in each category. The competition at East Syracuse Minoa Central High School in East Syracuse, New York, featured 39 teams participating in testing-taking and engineering events.

Eighth-grader Priscilla Zhang became the first H.C.C. student to win three medals in a single state competition in at least 15 years. She won fourth place in Disease Detectives and Towers and seventh place in Optics.

“That shows the work that she put in before school, at lunch and after school on a daily basis to cover three topics so thoroughly,” Mr. Sendlenski said. “It’s a great accomplishment.”

Most of the medal winners are in eighth grade, but there were a few younger medalists as well.

Seventh-graders Caleb Palappillil and Ben Chapman won third place for Ecology and fourth in Meteorology. Sixth-grader Daniel Ndocaj won third place in Parasitology, along with Sebastian Vasquez.

Other double-medal winners were: Alicia Huang, taking fourth place in Dynamic Planet and Disease Detectives; John Ndocaj, who won fourth in Dynamic Planet and Fast Facts; and Orlov Sullivan, who took fourth in Fast Facts and seventh in Optics.

Brothers Alex and Derek Araki-Kurdyla finished tenth in Mystery Architecture.

Mr. Sendlenski said he will miss the students who are graduating from H.C.C. this year.


“I’ve been with these kids for three years and I’m looking forward to seeing all the great things they do for the high school team in the coming four years,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to the next batch of students joining the club next year.”

Alicia Huang, at left, and Priscilla Zhang. Alicia won two medals and Priscilla took home three.

Ben Chapman, at left, and Caleb Palappillil won third place in Ecology and fourth place in Meteorology.

From left, are brothers Derek and Alex Araki-Kurdyla, who won tenth in Mystery Architecture.

Priscilla Zhang became the first H.C.C. student to win three medals at a state competition in at least 15 years.


 A celebration of self-acceptance, inclusion and diversity swept through Coman Hill Elementary School last week with the annual Coman Cares event, which highlights the unique abilities of all students and reminds children to appreciate everyone for who they are.

“Coman Cares is a way for the Coman Hill community to really celebrate our uniqueness and our own school diversity,” Principal MaryBeth Crupi said. “The week is about celebrating our talents and who we are as individuals to help us achieve emotional wellness.”

On Tuesday, students enjoyed a hilarious school-wide assembly starring teachers and administrators acting out typical school-day scenarios. Kindergarten teacher Elise Feder served as the terrific emcee and waded into the crowd to ask students for solutions to the tricky situations the characters found themselves in.

As students roared with approval, they watched the actors handle situations that reinforced the rules for using the Buddy Bench: If you see someone on the bench, invite them to play; say “yes” to the first person who invites you off the bench to play; and children sitting on the bench can play together. The skits also offered ideas on how to make good decisions, solve problems and compromise.

Among the skits was a girl who got bumped by somebody’s lunch bag when they were lining up and a group of girls who disagreed on whether to go on the swings or the seesaw. A favorite skit reminded students how to play a safe game of tag, which starred Ms. Crupi running in slow-motion.

Someone pulled Ms. Crupi’s ponytail and tagged her too hard. She crumpled to the ground and cried. But they went over the rules for soft and safe tagging - in the midsection of the body - and Ms. Crupi jumped back up to play.

Students loved seeing the staff on stage and found the assembly to be educational.

“It was a good reminder of what to do when somebody is on the Buddy Bench and to be kind,”
second-grader Izzie Cooper said. “It was pretty funny to see all the teachers on the stage.”

Second-grader Asher Rosenzweig said he learned that “when two people are on the Buddy Bench they can play with each other.” The message from the assembly was “to always be nice to different kids. Treat all kids the same as you’d want to be treated.”

On Wednesday and Thursday, parent volunteers visited classrooms to read books on self-
acceptance. They read “I’m Gonna Like Me,” by Jamie Lee Curtis; “Be Who You Are,” by Todd Parr; and “Small Saul,” by Ashley Spires.

Daria Contacessa read to Susan Tyrrell’s first-grade class, which includes her daughter, Ava. “It’s important for the kids to feel good about themselves and to know how to treat others,” Mrs. Contacessa said.

After listening to the story and talking about the book, students got to work on a project. They wrote the words “I am” followed by a word that describes them and an illustration. In Mrs. Tyrrell’s class, students wrote that they were brave, artistic, creative, strong and funny.

The self-reflections will be displayed around school. “We’ll create a big mosaic on the walls so
everyone can look at who we are at Coman Hill and celebrate that uniqueness,” Ms. Crupi said.

The week culminated with a DJ dance party during recess on Friday, a time for the children to
celebrate their individuality with some dance moves.

The week was all about being content with who you are and accepting of others. “Coman Cares week provides our students with an opportunity to celebrate their uniqueness while
also reinforcing how to be respectful, responsible and safe in all environments,” Ms. Crupi said. “This helps all students with their emotional health and wellness.”

Parent volunteer Daria Contacessa read to Susan Tyrrell’s first-grade class at Coman Hill Elementary School as part of Coman Cares week.

During Coman Cares week at Coman Hill Elementary School, students wrote and drew about who they are by writing the words “I am” followed by a word that described them.

Students loved seeing their teachers and administrators up on stage acting out skits during a school-wide assembly for Coman Cares week at Coman Hill Elementary School.


Thirty Byram Hills High School seniors in the Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program competed at the Westchester Science & Engineering Fair, with many earning top honors in their categories or winning special awards.

2018 WESEF Participants

“I’m extremely proud of the vast number of students who were recognized for their hard work and accomplishments,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the research program.

“They’re studying a wide range of really interesting topics, from infants’ acquisition of language, to the development of a hypoallergenic peanut protein to ways to predict a football player’s success in the NFL,” she added.

Here are the top honors the students won at the fair, held on March 17 at Sleepy Hollow High School:

-- Among the second place winners in their categories were Alexis Aberman for behavioral and social science, Stella Li for neuroscience and Devon Wolfe for behavioral and social science.

-- Taking a third place honor in their categories were Christina Baris for neuroscience, Brian Glatt for mathematics, Arjun Goyal for medicine and health, Dylan Massoni for biochemistry and Zachary Milewicz for behavior and social science.

-- Finishing with a fourth place honor in their categories were Ramy Berenblum for medicine and health, Jonathan Mui for engineering, Shrey Solanki for engineering and Julia Zaborowsky for behavior and social science.

In addition, many students won special awards:

-- Cooper Gray, the American Psychology Association Award for outstanding research in psychological science.

-- Dylan Mack, the ASU Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiative, for projects that find innovative solutions to complex sustainability challenges.

-- Brett Stafford, Mu Alpha Theta Award, for using mathematics in an original and creative investigation.

-- Alexandra Remnitz, NASA Earth System Science Award, for projects offering insights into Earth’s interconnected systems.

-- Dana D’Onofrio and Lindsey Steeg, Innovations in Biological Sciences Research Award, for outstanding projects in the biological sciences.

-- Joshua Piecyk, Office of Naval Research Award, for outstanding projects in science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics.

-- Sophie Winston, Walter Kass Memorial Award for Behavioral Science, for outstanding research in behavioral science.

In addition, Byram Hills High School was one of three lucky schools that won a high-powered, $1,800 Carl Zeiss stereo microscope in a raffle.

HCC Science Olympiad

HCC Science Olympiad

Middle School Students Finish Strong at Regional Science Olympiad Competition, Heading to States

 ARMONK, New York -- H.C. Crittenden students had a strong showing at the regional Science Olympiad competition, finishing in fourth place and advancing to the state competition in April.

The sixth, seventh and eighth graders in H.C.C.’s Science Olympiad club competed in 20 test-taking and engineering events at the regional competition, held on March 3 at Scarsdale Middle School.

Of the 33 teams that competed, only the top five from the region advance to the state competition, which is being held at the East Syracuse Minoa Central High School on April 13 and 14.

Coach Robert Sendlenski praised the students’ hard work in qualifying for states.

“Their dedication is the only reason they’re as successful as they are in this type of competition,” he said.

At the regional competition, several students finished first in their event. They are: Priscilla Zhang and Nora Lowe, who competed in the technology and engineering category called Towers; John Ndocaj and Alicia Huang, who competed in the earth and space science category, Dynamic Planet; and Derek Araki-Kurdyla, who competed in the technology and engineering category, Wright Stuff.

The students who placed second are: Priscilla Zhang for Optics; John Ndocaj and Orlov Sullivan for Fast Facts, and Ben Chapman and Caleb Palappillil, who competed in Ecology.

“They did an outstanding job,” Mr. Sendlenski said. “They put in hours of hard work to get those results and that’s what they do on a weekly basis - extra hours of work and extra hours of studying. I’m proud of the kids who set goals for themselves and independently work to reach those goals.”

Their achievements are akin to “teaching themselves a Regents-level science course and getting an A on the test,” Mr. Sendlenski said. “That’s really the effort that goes into being successful.”

Students in the Science Olympiad club attend a weekly meeting and work on their own, with some doing additional preparation before school, at lunch and at home.

“They have a passion for science and they’re following that passion,” Mr. Sendlenski said.



Seated in the front row, from left: Nikolet Vataj, Rocky Yang, Daniel Ndocaj, Alex Araki-Kurdyla, Ben Chapman, Samara Brown, Amelia Chung, Nora Lowe. Middle row, from left: Caleb Palappillil, Harry Goldin, Jake Santos, Andrew Abraham, Kiki Gavriil, Carissa Chung, Adin Kersh, Aaron Lestz, Leeza Reichenbaum, Jacob Dusansky, David Pavlenishvili, Dylan Pozzuoli-Doyle. Back row, from left: Sam Hadiano, John Ndocaj, Colton Millar, Lia Aldea-Lustig, Sebastian Vasquez, Orlov Sullivan, Derek Araki-Kurdyla, Sofia Cobos, Priscilla Zhang, Alicia Huang. Not pictured is Eli Lowe.


Three Byram Hills Seniors Win Local Computing Award, 11 Receive Honorable Mention

When Lisa Pellegrino was an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame majoring in the male-dominated field of computer science, one professor played an influential and preeminent role in her academic experience.

“I only had one class that had a female professor the whole time I was there,” said Ms. Pellegrino, Chairperson of the Mathematics Department for Byram Hills. “That made a big difference in my ability to relate to the course material, and in how comfortable I felt seeking guidance if I started to struggle. It was also influential in how I viewed my place in the field of computer science.”

Now a role model herself at Byram Hills High School, Ms. Pellegrino was thrilled to learn in late February that three seniors won the 2018 Award for Aspirations in Computing from the Hudson Valley Affiliate of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, and that 11 received honorable mention for the award.

Byram Hills’ 2018 Hudson Valley Affiliate winners of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing are Alexandra Brocato, Alexandra Cvern and Marina Treibenbacher.

The students who received honorable mention for the affiliate-level award are: Christina Baris, Dylan Dorfman, Stella Li, Malorie Lipstein, Dylan Massoni, Alexis Rosenberg, Dina Sokol, Phoebe Waxman, Samantha Wurm, Dana Zamat, and Julia Zimmerman.

“I’m so proud of all of these young women,” said Ms. Pellegrino, who nominated the students and has taught all of them in computer science or mathematics courses. “They are all inspirations and role models in the field of computer science. Young women seeing other young women in computer science is inspiring.”

This was the first year that Byram Hills students were nominated for the award, which honors female high school students for their computing-related achievements and interests.

Recipients are chosen based on “their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing; leadership ability; academic history; and plans for post-secondary education,” according to the National Center.

Most of the young women are students in a new class this year at Byram Hills, AP Computer Science Principles, a college-level introductory computing course designed for students without a computer science background.

“They’re seeing computer science for what it really is, something that touches the arts, the humanities, something that touches business and education,” Ms. Pellegrino said. “It’s not just folks working in isolation writing code. They’re really seeing how it touches the other disciplines and other aspects of their lives.”

In addition, Ms. Pellegrino won the regional-level NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award. The National Center says the award honors educators who “encourage high school women’s interest and participation in technology pursuits.”

Lisa Pellegrino - NCWIT Teacher Awards Winner


Of the winners, Ms. Pellegrino said two had computer science experience before this school year, but one did not. She praised them all as motivated self-starters who are persistent and passionate about their studies and helping others.

“All three of them, I would say in their own ways, are inspiring folks to go into computer science who otherwise might not consider it,” she said.

National Center for Women & Information Technology Award winners with Lisa Pellegrino

Ms. Lisa Pellegrino poses with the Byram Hills High School seniors recognized by the Hudson Valley Affiliate of the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

In the front row, from left, are the winners of the affiliate-level Award for Aspirations in Computer, Alexandra Brocato, Marina Treibenbacher and Alexandra Cvern. Those who received honorable mention are, in the middle row, from left are: Phoebe Waxman, Dylan Dorfman, Alexis Rosenberg, Dina Sokol and Malorie Lipstein, and in the back row, from left, are: Dana Zamat, Samantha Wurm, Stella Li, Christina Baris and Julia Zimmerman. Missing is Dylan Massoni, who received an honorable mention.

Ms. Pellegrino is proud of the 14 young women.

“I’m thrilled that they won,” she said. “I’m hoping it inspires them and others who might not consider computer science as a career to perhaps take a computer science course in college or become more involved in the way their chosen field relates to computer science.”