District News

District News

Byram Hills “Pink the Rink” Fundraiser Nets Nearly $14,000 for Breast Cancer Research

The Byram Hills Athletics Department is grateful to everyone who participated in the varsity ice hockey team’s seventh annual “Pink the Rink” game and fundraiser, which raised $13,817 for breast cancer research last week.

The fundraising effort included the sale of baked goods and “Pink the Rink” merchandise at school, a chuck-a-puck contest and Friday night’s game at the Brewster Ice Arena against John Jay High School of Cross River.

The Byram Hills Bobcats skated in pink jerseys and socks in honor of those affected by breast cancer. The team exceeded its fundraising goal of $12,000, and donated $13,817 to the American Cancer Society to fight breast cancer.

“The team always works to top their previous effort,” said Rob Castagna, the Byram Hills director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics. “They did so once again by raising over $13,000 to donate to the American Cancer Society.”

2019 Byram Hills Pink the Rink Team

The Byram Hills High School varsity ice hockey team at Friday night’s “Pink the Rink” hockey game and fundraiser. The team raised nearly $14,000 to fight breast cancer.

“We’re incredibly proud of our varsity hockey team for this tremendous effort for an important cause,” Mr. Castagna said. "Congratulations to both school communities for coming together to support the teams on the ice and throughout this successful fundraising campaign."

Seven Byram Hills High School Seniors Named Scholars in Regeneron Science Talent Search

Byram Hills High School is pleased to announce that seven seniors have been named top scholars in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search, a high honor that recognizes the independent scientific research they conducted in the high school’s three-year Authentic Research Program.

Byram Hills High School is pleased to announce that seven seniors have been named top scholars in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search, a high honor that recognizes the independent scientific research they conducted in the high school’s three-year Authentic Research Program.

The students are Samantha Abbruzzese, Alan Chang, Rachel Chernoff, Alessandra Colella, Ethan Jacobs, Brent Perlman and Jonah Schwam.

Byram Hills Regeneron Semi-Finalists

Seven Byram Hills High School seniors were named scholars in Regeneron Science Talent Search. From left in the rear is Alessandra Colella, Alan Chang, Ethan Jacobs, Jonah Schwam, in the center is Rachel Chernoff, and in the front from left is Samantha Abbruzzese and Brent Perlman.

In all, 300 students were selected as scholars from nearly 2,000 entrants in this first round of the math and science competition founded in 1942. Each scholar wins $2,000 and moves on to the next round, and Byram Hills receives $14,000, or $2,000 per scholar, for STEAM education.

“Our seven top scholars represent the tremendous, groundbreaking work of our entire Authentic Science Research senior class of 27 students,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of Byram Hills’ science research program. “Their hard work, sacrifice and determination brings great promise to the future of science. We are extremely proud of them.”

The Byram Hills winners were overjoyed, hugging and cheering in the science research classroom along with their teachers.

“It’s really rewarding,” Alan Chang said. “It’s just really nice to know that the program is being recognized for all of the hard work that everyone’s putting into it.”

The Society for Science & the Public, which runs the competition, selects scholars based on their exceptional research skills, commitment to academics, innovative thinking and promise as scientists.

"These amazing young people have demonstrated an exceptional degree of hard work and passion for discovery, said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public. “We are inspired by their brilliant thinking, and look forward to continue supporting them in their scientific endeavors."

On January 23, 40 of the 300 scholars will be named as finalists. In March, the finalists will go to Washington, where they will speak before judges and present their work to the public as they compete for more than $1.8 million in prizes. The winners will be announced on March 12.

The competition was founded to provide a national stage for the county’s young scientists to present their original work to professional scientists, following the belief that scientific advances are key to solving worldwide challenges.

Over the decades, the winners have had world-changing careers. The society says the winners have gone on to win 13 Nobel Prizes, 42 became National Academy of Sciences members, 19 were MacArthur Foundation fellows, 13 won National Medals of Science and five were Breakthrough Prize winners.

Here’s a closer look at the Byram Hills scholars’ work:

Samantha Abbruzzese: Samantha investigated the development of neurons from a mouse model of Huntington's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder. She determined the impact that different gene-regulating proteins have on these neurons. The findings of her study could be used to develop a therapeutic approach for patients with Huntington's disease.

Alan Chang: Alan’s work focused on understanding how a specific tumor suppressor gene mutation promotes cancer progression, an important step in improving the development of cancer treatments. He programmed a novel computational method of analyzing cells using machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence, and ultimately found several ways in which the tumor grew faster via immune evasion. By further applying this form of computational analysis, researchers can better understand genetic causes of tumor growth and increase the effectiveness of future cancer treatments.

Rachel Chernoff: Rachel's novel study used ischemic preconditioning, a research technique that protects the brain from a future stroke by depriving the brain of its blood supply in small amounts for brief periods. She investigated the source of a specific type of brain cell that helps with immunity and clearing cellular debris. As part of her work, she noticed behavioral differences after ischemic preconditioning between male and female mice, which may point to a hormonal difference. Together, her results lay the groundwork for the use of ischemic preconditioning as a potential preventative technique to reduce the damage from strokes.

Alessandra Colella: Using novel statistical measures, Alessandra investigated if variable responses in neuropsychological tests could be an indicator of the fogginess known as chemo-brain. Her findings could lead to a more accurate way of measuring cognitive decline in cancer patients.

Ethan Jacobs: Ethan mapped the population of river otter, beaver, muskrat, and raccoon species in three rivers in the Northeast. He used a novel method based on environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis to detect excreted DNA in collected water samples. His results help to further develop overall eDNA-based research, provide data for the distribution of mammal species in multiple rivers, and enhance the time and cost efficiency of population mapping methodology.

Brent Perlman: Brent induced photosynthesis in human cells by first isolating chloroplasts, the green components of plant cells that produce sugar and oxygen using the sun’s energy, from spinach leaves. By culturing the isolated chloroplasts in the same well as human cells, the cells incorporated and sequestered the isolated chloroplasts without digesting them, conducting photosynthesis over a period of 11 days. Brent's research has applications in the engineering of functional organs in a lab; the treatment of heart attacks, strokes, and cancer; the delivery of biopharmaceuticals to affected human cells in the body; and even space travel.

Jonah Schwam: Duchenne muscular dystrophy, caused by a point mutation on the DMD gene, leads to progressive decay in muscle tissue; however, it remains unknown which muscle cell type is most affected. Jonah used a novel CRISPR gene editing system to create modified muscle tissue consisting of dystrophic mature muscle cells and cured muscle stem cells. This model demonstrated the relative importance of muscle stem cells in regenerating dystrophic muscle tissue, optimizing all future gene therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Seven Byram Hills High School seniors were named scholars in Regeneron Science Talent Search. Pictured from left in the back row: Principal Christopher Walsh, Science Chairperson Debra Cayea, Science teacher Caroline Matthew, and scholars Alan Chang, Jonah Schwam, Ethan Jacobs, Brent Perlman and Superintendent Jen Lamia, in the middle is Authentic Science Research Program director Stephanie Greenwald, and in the front row from left, Rachel Chernoff, Alessandra Colella and Samantha Abbruzzese.


Tri-M Music Society Members 2018

October was filled with celebration as dozens of Byram Hills High School students were recognized for their accomplishments through induction into the Cum Laude Society, the World Language Honor Society and the Tri-M Music Honor Society.

Twenty-two seniors were inducted into the Byram Hills chapter of the Cum Laude Society in an evening ceremony on October 25. The students comprise the top 10 percent of the class based on their weighted GPAs.

2018 Byram Hills Cum Laude Society Induction Members

Twenty-two Byram Hills High School seniors were inducted into the Cum Laude Society during an October 25 ceremony. Pictured in front, from left, are: Samantha Abbruzzese, Ellen Amico, Abigail Binder, Alan Chang, Zachary Cogan, Rahul Gupta, Tyler Harp, Isabelle Ilan, Elyse Kanner, Emma Lucchino, David McDaniels, and in the back, from left: Sydney Nepo, Pietro Perez, Brent Perlman, Lindsey Perlman, Griffen Rakower, Jonah Schwam, Hayley Siegle, Dylan Starker, Nicole Tissot, Zachary Tuzzo and Spencer Weinhoff.

Principal Christopher Walsh congratulated them for their tremendous accomplishments as their proud family members and teachers looked on in the cafeteria. He noted that while the requirement for induction is easy to calculate, the students’ educational journeys have been anything but simple.

“Behind each GPA, there are stories of perseverance, struggle, growth and enlightenment, late-night studying, weekends spent with schoolwork, extra time with teachers after school and many other sacrifices that helped them get here,” he noted. “This induction is just a small acknowledgment of all of your hard work, dedication and sacrifice.”

Mr. Walsh told the audience that the students were encouraged to invite the adults who have influenced their education, and he recognized the many educators in the audience.

“This tradition of inviting past teachers, coaches and administrators to be part of the celebration represents the best of Byram Hills,” he said. “I was asked by this group of inductees to extend invitations to more faculty than in any class before them, which says a lot about them.”

The Cum Laude address was delivered by special education teacher Joy Reynolds, who recalled being inspired by “The Miracle Worker,” the biographical movie about Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan.

2018 Cum Laude Address by Joy Reynolds

The Cum Laude address was delivered by special education teacher Joy Reynolds.

“Helen understood that Annie was the key to her escape from darkness and isolation,” Mrs. Reynolds said. “She finally understood the power and the beauty of effective communication. She finally understood what it meant to have a teacher and a friend.”

“My wish for all of you sitting behind me is that you learn the value and the impact of your words, that you exercise your strong minds, that you forge ahead with persistence and resilience and that you rise above to discover, build and celebrate the unique abilities of all people,” she told the students.

The students inducted into Cum Laude were: Samantha Abbruzzese, Ellen Amico, Abigail Binder, Alan Chang, Zachary Cogan, Rahul Gupta, Tyler Harp, Isabelle Ilan, Elyse Kanner, Emma Lucchino, David McDaniels, Sydney Nepo, Pietro Perez, Brent Perlman, Lindsey Perlman, Griffen Rakower, Jonah Schwam, Hayley Siegle, Dylan Starker, Nicole Tissot, Zachary Tuzzo and Spencer Weinhoff.

The faculty inductees were Jennifer Laden, the Social Studies Chairperson, and Christopher Lewick, who teaches math.

2018 Cum Laude Faculty Inductees Jennifer Laden and Christopher Lewick

The faculty members inducted into the Cum Laude Society were Jennifer Laden, the Social Studies Chairperson, and Christopher Lewick, who teaches math.

The Cum Laude Society is a nonprofit organization founded in 1906 that honors academic achievement in secondary schools. It has 382 chapters, primarily in independent schools. The Byram Hills chapter is one of about two dozen public school chapters.

On October 10, 64 seniors who study French, Italian or Spanish were inducted into the World Language Honor Society. These students were honored for their consistent academic excellence, maintaining an A or A+ average for three consecutive years of the same language. (See box for names of the inducted students.)

At the induction ceremony, World Languages Chairperson Melissa Stahl praised the students’ language and communication skills and encouraged them to continue growing into global citizens.

“As you continue through this final year at Byram Hills, be daring, seek out and embrace differences among people, learn about yourselves through the eyes of someone else, and lastly, speak up,” Ms. Stahl told them. “Use your language, whichever one you choose, to improve the world around you for all of us.”

Nine students were inducted into the Tri-M Music Honor Society in an October 4 ceremony filled with beautiful music with several student performances.

2018 Tri-M Music Society Members

Byram Hills High School music faculty with the newly inducted and veteran members of Tri-M Music Honor Society.

“We recognize these young adults not only for their wonderful talent, but for their dedication to their communities, their academic achievement and for their leadership in our music program throughout the years,” said Deepak Marwah, the Director of Fine Arts.

The inducted students were: Christina Ferrari, Emma Keatley, Caroline Kelly, Elena Lowe, Seth Morrison, Sydney Nepo, Ethan Resnik, Jake Wild and Adam Zeng. Superintendent Jen Lamia received an honorary membership into the society, and a posthumous honor was given to Michele Delamonico, the beloved math teacher who died last spring.

At the ceremony, Dr. Lamia called her induction one of her proudest moments, an honor that reflects her love of music and support for Byram Hills students.

“Music has always been the greatest gift to me,” Dr. Lamia said. “It’s why I’m passionate about supporting our students in Byram Hills music programs. It’s a lifelong gift we give to our children.”


Byram Hills High School Delegation Attends Challenge Success Conference in California

The setting was gorgeous and the weather was beautiful. But there was much to accomplish in two short days filled with intense, thought-provoking work.

Just as the new school year began, an eight-member delegation from Byram Hills High School left the familiar setting of Armonk to attend the Challenge Success fall conference at Stanford University.

The cross-country trip was part of the high school’s continuing effort to redefine success for stressed-out, GPA-obsessed high schoolers by balancing rigorous academics and high expectations with overall student wellness and meaningful academic engagement.

Eight members of the Byram Hills Challenge Success Steering Committee were among peers from 50 high schools from across the country who gathered at the conference in northern California on September 14 and 15.

“It was a terrific venue for the conference, and the fact that we were on the other side of the country allowed us to really focus on the important work at hand,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “It is comforting to know that there are other very high performing schools around the country like Byram Hills that see opportunities to create a healthier balance for students.”

In addition to Mr. Walsh, the other members of the Byram Hills group were: Assistant Principal Kristen Sautner, school counselor Gregory Quirolo, science research program director Stephanie Greenwald, ninth grader Eliza Goldman and her mother, Deborah Goldman, and senior Evia Mascaro and her mother, Maria Mascaro.

“It was an intense conference,” Mr. Walsh said. “It was planned out in a way that allowed us to take a deep dive into trying to understand our overall student experience.”

Eight Member delegation from Byram Hills HS

An eight-member delegation from Byram Hills High School attended the Challenge Success fall conference at Stanford University. From left, Kristen Sautner, Gregory Quirolo, Maria Mascaro, Deborah Goldman, Stephanie Greenwald, Christopher Walsh, and in the back, from left, Evia Mascaro and Eliza Goldman.

A highlight was the keynote address by Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. The members of the Byram Hills group split up to attend three breakout sessions of their choice, and also swapped ideas with peers from other schools aimed at improving the student experience.

The group came together to work with the school’s dedicated coach from Challenge Success, a nonprofit organization that helps schools and families create a more balanced and academically fulfilling experience for students.

With the coach, they discussed the results of the Challenge Success student survey that Byram Hills students in grades six through 12 took last year. The survey found that more sleep, a greater balance and more purposeful engagement would help students.

“The really heavy work for our group was the one-on-one coaching session with an expert from Challenge Success who helped us look at our student data and uncover the roots of all of the issues we see coming to fruition,” Mr. Walsh said. “We felt really comfortable at the end of our session that we had discovered the roots of the negative aspects of the student experience for our Byram Hills students.”

The roots of those issues, Mr. Walsh said, are high community expectations around the college acceptance process, the pressure of state and national curriculum standards and teacher ratings, and the constant self evaluation related to social media and other social pressures and peer comparisons.

To help fix the roots, the Steering Committee will examine factors like academic engagement, sleep, academic workload, parent expectations, teacher care, extracurricular activities and academic integrity during the school year ahead.

The committee will be enlisting community support to help make lasting change, and will continue working with the Challenge Success coach once a month. “That will help keep our compass pointed in the right direction,” Mr. Walsh said.

The Byram Hills students who attended said the conference was a good experience that left them optimistic that high school can become more enjoyable and engaging - and less stressful - for students.

Evia said she hopes the conference will lead to an improved high school culture for the students coming up behind her, with a better balance between work and downtime. She wants to help keep “our youth youthful” with time for simple things like playing outside, watching a soccer game and spending time with family and friends, without always feeling tired, overworked and rushed.

Eliza Goldman and Evia Mascaro

Two Byram Hills High School students were among the eight members of the Byram Hills Challenge Success Steering Committee who flew to California for the Challenge Success fall conference. They were Eliza Goldman, at left, Evia Mascaro.

“It was an eye-opener to see how much stress our students are facing, but I was hopeful for the future to see change,” she said.

Eliza learned that Byram Hills wasn’t the only school dealing with the same issues.

“I’m very optimistic that our school can bring about this positive change because everyone there was very determined and excited to see what will come with Challenge Success,” she said. “I liked that we as a school laid down all of our problems and were able to see directly what we needed to do to make the change.”

To continue the mission of nurturing students at Byram Hills, Jon Kleiman, the Challenge Success northeast region program director, gave a talk titled “The Well-Balanced Student” to the community on October 17, and Challenge Success cofounder Denise Pope is due to speak to students and families on February 4.

As the work continues, Mr. Walsh noted that Byram Hills will maintain its high expectations, “but we feel it doesn’t have to be at the expense of students’ wellness.”

Byram Hills High School thanks the Byram Hills Education Foundation for sponsoring its ongoing work with Challenge Success.

Byram Hills Celebrates Two Athletes Committed to Playing at Division I Universities

Byram Hills High School is celebrating two student-athletes who have committed to playing at a Division I university next year.

Byram Hills High School is celebrating two student-athletes who have committed to playing at a Division I university next year.

At a signing ceremony at the high school on Wednesday, right-handed pitcher Carson Frye signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Georgetown. Byram Hills also honored Griffen Rakower, a goalie who has made a verbal commitment to play lacrosse at Princeton.

“The Byram Hills Athletic Program is extremely proud of the accomplishments of Carson Frye and Griffen Rakower,” said Rob Castagna, director of Athletics, Physical Education and Health at Byram Hills. “These two hard-working student-athletes continue to better themselves and everyone around them with their phenomenal work ethic and relentless competitiveness. We congratulate them as they make commitments to bring their talents to the Division I collegiate level.”

Carson and Griffen have established themselves as among the best in Section 1 for their sport.

Carson Frye & Griffen Rakower

Byram Hills High School celebrated two star athletes taking their talents to Division I universities next year. At a signing ceremony Wednesday at Byram Hills, Carson Frye, signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Georgetown. Griffen Rakower has made a verbal commitment to play lacrosse at Princeton

Last season, Carson posted a 4-1 record on the mound in five starts. He led the Bobcats with a .73 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 38 innings. In a major highlight, Carson threw a no-hitter against the rival Rye Garnets.

Carson Frye Signing Letter of Intent

During a signing ceremony at Byram Hills High School Wednesday, right-handed pitcher Carson Frye signed his National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Georgetown as his parents, Jonathan and Noelle, look on.

As a junior, Griffen had a 62.7 save percentage and finished the season with 132 saves. He held his opponents to under 10 goals in 14 out of 16 games. He earned an All-Section honor, a year after being an All-League player in his sophomore year.

Byram Hills lacrosse goalie Griffen Rakower has made a verbal commitment to play at Princeton next year. He poses with his brother, Bennett, and mother, Barrie.

Carson, who plans to study business, credits a mix of athletics and academics at Byram Hills with helping him reach the next level. “The academic environment that we have here is very competitive and everyone always strives to do very well in the classroom,” Carson said. “I tried to focus on my grades in the classroom first.”

“I knew that my talents on the baseball field, I was pretty good and I could go places, but without combining my skills on the field with my work ethic in the classroom, I definitely would not be here,” he added.

Griffen also cited athletics and the academic excellence at Byram Hills.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the Byram Hills varsity lacrosse for the past four years,” Griffen said. “I think the friendships I’ve made and the coaches I’ve been in contact with have really helped me sculpt my game on the field. I think Byram Hills is a great place to learn, to make relationships with teachers.”