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The ceramic work of three Byram Hills High School students was displayed at the prestigious National K-12 Ceramic Exhibition, and two students were honored with awards for artistic merit.

The show coincided with the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts annual conference, drawing an audience of thousands. The juried exhibit featured the best ceramic works created by K-12 students from around the nation.

Byram Hills senior Carissa Chung and juniors Summer Feng and Eve Nepo had pieces in the show, held March 20-22 in Richmond, Virginia.

White RabbitFor her piece “White Rabbit,” Carissa won an Artistic Merit Award along with The Ernst Family Scholarship, which provides $1,000 for tuition. Her work is a rabbit body with a plaster-cast hand representing the head. 

“I'm grateful for the opportunity to have my work shown to so many people and am so thrilled that jurors found my work to be resonant in some way,” Carissa said. “Thank you to everyone who has supported and believed in me and my art.”Cerebus

Eve, who created “Cerberus Pot,” also won an Artistic Merit Award. Her piece is a coil pot with a sculptural lid in the form of Cerberus, the three-headed dog in mythology that guards the underworld. 

“I'm so honored to have my piece recognized at the national level,” Eve said. “Receiving an Artistic Merit Award validates all my effort and motivates me to keep creating.”

Koi PotShe thanked Byram Hills art teacher Amy Menasche “for her guidance and for always encouraging me.” 

Twelve Artistic Merit Awards are given to students in 11th and 12th grade. The show was made up of 150 pieces, chosen from 1,169 entries.

"I was excited to have three students selected for this important show," Mrs. Menasche said. "That they won additional awards there is a great honor."

 

Students

 

HCC Wall Murals 1Some busy bobcats have popped up at H.C. Crittenden Middle School this year. One rides a gondola through Venice, two more are painting, and others are working on the yearbook and learning about healthy eating.

They appear in murals that middle school students are painting in the art and world language hallway to represent the different classrooms. The 11 murals include a beret-wearing bobcat outside the French classroom, one with the MyPlate food groups symbol near the health classroom and a pair of painting bobcats between the art rooms.

These creative artworks are being designed and painted by seventh and eighth graders in 
a Student Directed Learning (SDL) class dedicated to mural painting, part of the H.C.C. Beautification Committee’s work.

Students were given great freedom for their designs, which only had to include a bobcat, the Byram Hills mascot. Sometimes working in groups, students designed the composition of each mural to reflect the different classroom activities in a way that made sense for the space.

“The murals are an artistic and imaginative addition to our school and are brightening the space with a great dose of color and school spirit,” said art teacher Joanna Bergelson, who runs the mural SDL with art teacher Nicole Minoli. “This project is creating positive energy, camaraderie and teamwork among the students painting the murals and excitement among students as they walk down the hallway.” 

HCC Wall Murals 2While the bobcat is the unifying theme, each painting is different. “There is a great deal of personalization and stylization from student-artist to student-artist,” Ms. Bergelson said. “Each mural speaks to the artist’s voice.”

The project came about after high school seniors interning at the middle school last spring painted a mural in the music wing at H.C.C., inspiring middle schoolers to want to create their own public art at school. Seventh grader Kaye Fernandez approached Principal Kim Lapple with the idea for a mural and the leadership opportunity to beautify the school through multiple bobcat murals was born.

Kaye said she wanted to paint a mural at school because she enjoys art and wanted to create something that would last forever. “I love doing it during SDL,” she said. “It’s a fun, relaxing time to do it.”

As for getting the green light for students to paint on the walls, Kaye was proud. “I feel good,” she said. “I feel accomplished being able to do this.”

Students are enjoying the painting process and like knowing that their murals will outlive their middle school days.

HCC Wall Murals 3Seventh grader Hannah Plutzer noted that her canvas is usually a small piece of paper, not a huge wall.

“It’s really cool that my art is going to be here for a while and I get to paint on the wall,” she said. 
“I never got to do that before. It feels like freedom.”

Seventh grader Josh Aronov likes the opportunity for hands-on creativity in the mural SDL. 

“I love it because I really like art and drawing,” he said. “It’s really fun for me.” On the responsibility of helping improve the school’s appearance, Josh said: “I feel honored to be making our school prettier.”

Even before the murals were finished, students were loving the new additions. “They all look amazing,” Maddie Groven, another seventh grader, said as she painted one of the murals. “Everyone did an amazing job on all of these.” 

“They add this little spark of life,” she added. “They bring out the fun in school.”

HCC Wall Murals 3


 

PeroByram Hills High School students had a great showing at the Regeneron Westchester Science and Engineering Fair (WESEF). Twenty-one students won awards, including one who earned the top prize and advanced to the international competition.

More than 700 students from Westchester and Putnam counties presented their original research at WESEF, the largest regional high school science fair in the country.

Senior Zachary Pero won a grand prize, awarded to the top 20 overall scoring projects.

Competing in the cellular and molecular biology category, Zachary’s research focused on prion diseases, deadly illnesses caused by proteins that improperly fold in the brain. He studied the mechanisms that cause this misfolding by examining prion-like proteins in yeast. His work yielded insights into the widely unknown processes that control prion diseases.

As a WESEF finalist, Zachary won a trip to compete at the Regeneron International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Los Angeles, California, in May. The international event is hailed as the world’s largest pre-college STEM competition, involving more than 1,600 students from over 60 countries. 

“The entire WESEF process was a great experience, culminating with an incredible honor,” Zachary said. “Going to ISEF is a testament to everyone who has helped me as a student and a researcher. My research has the potential to help not only those suffering from prion diseases but also people worldwide suffering from diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and I am grateful that I will be able to share my findings on an international stage.”

Byram Hills students won many other awards at WESEF, held on March 16 at Somers High School. 

“We are extremely proud of our students for their exemplary research and commitment to scientific discovery,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Authentic Science Research Program.

BHHS WESEFA look at the Byram Hills winners:

Best in Category Awards

First Place ($125)
Grace Lin - Behavior
Kyriaki Gavriil - Animal Science

Second Place ($100)
Jack Canter - Behavior
Adrianna Zawojek - Behavior
Zachary Pero - Cellular and Molecular Biology
Jake Fenster - Cellular and Molecular Biology
Ben Curley - Computer Science
Ben Levy - Computer Science
Ayaka Ammon - Plant Science

Third Place ($75)
Abigail Cushman - Medicine & Health
Jake Santos - Astronomy

Fourth Place ($50)
Zachary Goldman - Animal Science
Joseph Palackal - Behavior
John Cavada - Engineering

Special Awards
Office of Naval Research
Outstanding projects in science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics ($50)
Jon Manowitz 
Lily Anchin


Momentive Women in Science Award 
Awarded to top female students who demonstrate a promising future in science ($100)
Nicolette DiSano

Teatown Young Environmentalist Award 
Projects that aim to protect natural habitats and/or ecosystems ($50) 
Grace Lin

Visionary Engineering Award 
Presented to students who exhibit enthusiasm, desire, and intellect in the field of engineering ($50) 
Daniel Ndocaj

Carl Zeiss Microscopy Award 
Given to outstanding projects that incorporate the use of a microscope ($100) 
Connor Boekel

Creative Approach to Research Award 
Awarded for a creative and innovative approach to research ($200) 
Adrianna Zawojek

David M. Holmes WESEF Engineering Innovation Award
Engineering Innovation Award ($300)
John Cavada

Honorable Mention Award
Projects that exemplify mastery in research ($25) 
Lauren Lombardi 
Romy Schweitzer

The Varley Players at Byram Hills High School were having the time of their lives as they staged four rousing performances of “Mamma Mia!” that had audience members singing and dancing along to the popular ‘70s ABBA hits.

Set in Greece, the musical tells the story of a young woman getting married and searching for the identity of her father by tracing her mother’s history. The whirlwind comedy featured classical numbers including “Mamma Mia,” “Dancing Queen” and “Waterloo.”

“The show was amazing and I am incredibly proud of the hard work of our talented cast and crew,” said Meg Waxman, the director.

Filled with catchy, timeless tunes and big dance numbers, the show was a fun romp that delighted the audience.

“The energy in the crowd was palpable,” Mrs. Waxman said. “It was so lively and energetic, and everybody left the theater smiling and dancing and singing. It was great to see the show give the same amount of enjoyment to the 3-year-olds in the audience as the 93-year-olds in the audience.”

The dancing was spectacular, the costumes shined, the lighting set the seaside mood, and the final number featured the full cast and crew. Following the lyric from “Dancing Queen,” the students truly were having the time of their lives.

Senior Morgan Hecht, who played Sophie, said: “I feel like I couldn't have asked for a more perfect last show experience with the Varley Players. We have all worked so hard and cared so deeply about the production and I think that shined through on stage. I enjoyed every second with my amazing castmates, especially my fellow seniors, and I know I've made some friends for life.”

Another senior, Valentina Marino, took on the role of Sophie’s mother, Donna.

“Participating in ‘Mamma Mia!’ was one of the most thrilling, meaningful, and rewarding experiences during my high school career,” she said. “I, as well as all the seniors in the show, helped to create an environment for everyone to thrive, and to make this musical one to remember.” 

Sophomore Evan Reiss, who played Sky, liked that the show drew a large audience.

“It was an amazing overall experience because I never thought I'd be able to perform in front of that many people,” he said. “Everyone knows the songs of ‘Mamma Mia!’ so tons of people came out to support us.”

The show ran from March 7-9. “Mamma Mia!” was presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).


Mamma Mia 1

Mamma Mia 2

Mamma Mia 3

Mamma Mia 3

Hundreds of students from across the Byram Hills Central School District came together at Byram Hills High School for the Districtwide Music Festivals, three days of music-making, community and inspiration.

Fifth graders from Wampus Elementary School and eighth graders from H.C. Crittenden Middle School traveled to the high school to work with students and faculty in three half-day sessions, one each for students in band, orchestra and chorus. The students rehearsed with each other and after just several hours of working together, they performed a high-caliber final piece.

“The energy was palpable at the festivals,” said Marc Beja, the Director of Fine Arts. “The students were having a really great time with one other, and the younger students got a kick out of playing alongside the high school students. The culminating performances were fantastic.”

The festivals gave younger students a taste of what their musical career could look like at the high school and strengthened the Byram Hills music community by allowing students in different grades to learn and play together. 

“To have high school students sitting among fifth and eighth graders and being able to help them out and talk with them is truly inspirational,” Mr. Beja said. “The younger students get so excited to learn from the older kids.”

There is also a benefit to playing together in large numbers. There were more than 100 students at each festival, and it was helpful for the younger students to hear a more mature sound and exciting to be part of a large, districtwide ensemble.

“The festivals were a great way for our music students to show off what they’ve learned, to blend their talents with students from the other schools and for the younger students to see what’s coming up for them and for the high school students to reflect on their journey,” Mr. Beja said.

The first festival, for the orchestra students, was on Feb. 14. The high school students held a question and answer session with the younger students. Together, they all performed “Viking,” by Soon Hee Newbold, a composer who visited Byram Hills in 2021.

The chorus festival on Feb. 15 included the eighth graders and high school students singing fun pop songs as they got to know one another. The final performance was “Oye” by Jim Papoulis.

At the band festival on Feb. 16, students in each instrument group played a piece together, and all of the band students performed “Alpha Squadron,” “Duel of the Fates,” and “Let’s Go Band.”
Decked out in their Byram Hills Music T-shirts, the students enjoyed the festivals, which included a community pizza lunch. 

An eighth grader, Sean, said his favorite part of the band festival was “working with fifth graders and high schoolers to get different perspectives on how different things get played.”

Charlie, a fifth grader, remembered sitting next to students from the middle school and high school at the band festival. “They were teaching me and playing with everybody in a big group and it was really fun,” he said.

Ninth grader Darby noted the fifth graders’ joy and excitement at the chorus festival and the great amount of effort they put into their performance. “That group was very into it and really trying their best and they looked like they were having so much fun and they sounded fantastic,” she said. “It just made me really happy and I hope all ensembles can be like that.” 

Victoria, a fifth grader who attended the orchestra festival, said: “I thought it was really cool seeing how the grades that are higher than me play and how much better they are and how much more they learned. I thought the high schoolers played really gentle and really cool. I’m just imagining myself if I get to that stage and then I’m playing like that. I think that would be really cool.”

The Fine Arts Department is grateful to the PTSA for co-sponsoring the festivals.

Band Festival

Chorus Festival

String Festival

HCC Author VisitSixth graders at H.C. Crittenden Middle School are immersed in the Global Citizens project in social studies: They are thoroughly researching a country and creating a digital book full of their knowledge.

The H.C.C. project also involves students at Byram Hills High School and Wampus Elementary School as well. The sixth graders are getting editing and fact-checking help from 10th graders in the Global Scholars Program and they will present their books to third graders at Wampus who are learning about communities other than their own.

The middle school students have been working on the project since the fall. Their research includes information on their country’s culture, economy, geography, government and history.

In February, the sixth graders learned about the nonfiction writing process during a visit from nonfiction author Steve Tomecek, a science educator who has written dozens of science books. In his nonfiction writer’s workshop, he talked about writing engaging nonfiction and used examples from his work during a lively presentation in the library.

Mr. Tomecek discussed the difference between fiction and nonfiction and the various types of nonfiction books. He also noted that nonfiction can be seen as boring. 

“But the thing is, nonfiction doesn’t have to be boring,” Mr. Tomecek said, adding that a well-written book should invite the readers in. “If there’s no hook, there’s no book.”

He discussed organizing research by putting information into categories: what I know, what the reader wants to know and what I’ve learned. “These are the hooks,” he said.

Mr. Tomecek talked about the target audience and suggested the sixth graders talk to younger students, perhaps siblings, to see what they are interested in knowing about the country they are studying. 

“It’s very important that you do this exercise because thinking of this in advance, rather than just throwing a bunch of random facts in, is very, very important,” he said.

Mr. Tomecek also urged students to check the source of their research, noting there can be errors on the internet and in books. He suggested checking the date of a book or website posting, noting that information can quickly become outdated.

Graphics - photos, illustrations, maps and charts - are also important in creating an engaging nonfiction book, he said. 

Students found the visit helpful, especially the suggestion to check their sources for accuracy. 

Sixth grader Arnav Franklin said he was inspired to write a more entertaining book with fewer words and more pictures to engage the Wampus students. “I want to make them entertained while they learn something at the same time,” he said.

His classmate Grayson Piccini said she found Mr. Tomecek’s presentation “really entertaining and fun and helpful.”

“He taught us a lot of good strategies and told us things we need to know for writing the book, like how you always need to check your sources, check the dates of the sources and think about what those people would want to learn about, what that age is interested in learning about,” she said.

Sheila St. Onge, who teaches social studies, said the visit will help the students bring their facts to life in an engaging way.

“Seeing how they can pull their final product together in a creative way, with many examples of how that can be done, was good for students to see,” she said. “It’s nice for them to be inspired and learn that this is something that historians do, and scientists do, and they saw that reading and writing doesn’t only live in language arts class. These skills can be applied to other subject areas as well.”

HCC Author Visit


 

Byram Hills High School seniors in the Authentic Science Research Program competed at the two-day Upstate Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, with several winning awards and one advancing to the national competition.

Ayaka Ammon, Jake Fenster and Yicheng Yang presented their work in the speaker presentation competition, and Ben Levy and Abby Cushman showed their work in the poster event. 

In the Math, Physics, and Computer Science category, Yicheng placed first in one of the five simultaneous sessions, which earned him a spot at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in May. He competed against the other first-place winners on the second day and finished fourth overall. Yicheng’s original research focused on the aerodynamics of automobiles.

Ben and Abby won second place in the poster session. Ayaka competed in the Environmental Science category and Jake competed in Biomedical Science.

“Yicheng’s achievement is an incredible accomplishment and we are proud of him and all of our students who presented their work at Upstate JSHS,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Authentic Science Research Program.


Yicheng will be the 19th Byram Hill student to attend the national JSHS contest since 2007.

The symposium was Feb. 28-29 at the University at Albany.

The Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is a STEM competition sponsored by the Defense Department that encourages students to conduct original research and recognizes them for outstanding achievement.

JSHS
Byram Hills High School seniors in the Authentic Science Research Program competed at the Upstate Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, with several winning awards and one advancing to the national competition. They are, from left, Abby Cushman, Ayaka Ammon, Ben Levy, Jake Fenster and Yicheng Yang.

Aladdin, his friends and the wish-granting Genie took the audience on a far-flung adventure as students staged a dazzling performance of “Aladdin JR.” at H.C. Crittenden Middle School.

“Congratulations to the cast and crew and everyone involved in this production,” said Dr. Douglas Coates, the director and Byram Hills High School chorus teacher. “Everybody worked their hardest and the audience members loved it.”

“They really gave it their all,” he added. “They gave the audience their hearts in a fast-paced, high-energy production.” 

The actors were amazing as they immersed themselves in the land of Agrabah.

“They not only learned their lines, but they understood their characters and the feelings that these characters were expressing, and they were able to convey that to the audience,” Dr. Coates said. 

The crew, he said, was brilliant. “They learned the set changes and executed them as well as any high school or college crew that I’ve ever worked with,” Dr. Coates added.

Seventh grader London Gallagher, who took on the role of the Genie, said the students gave the audience a good show. “I really liked how it all came together,” she said. “It was magical. We had a lot of cool special effects like fog machines and there was really cool lighting.” She also had fun. “I made a lot of new friends in different grades.”

Chris Gjelaj, who played Aladdin, agreed that the show turned out well. “I actually made my mom emotional when I sang my solo,” he said. “Everyone clapped and it was louder than a dinosaur. It made me feel good about myself.”
 
The musical was performed three times at H.C.C. on Feb. 2-3.

Aladdin

Aladdin 2

Aladdin 3


 

All six Byram Hills High School seniors selected as semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program have advanced to become finalists and will compete for scholarships worth nearly $28 million.

The finalists are Cyrus Aly, Samara Brown, Aaron Lestz, Daniel Ndocaj, Alexander Woodworth and Yicheng Yang.

”Congratulations to our National Merit finalists,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “We are extremely proud of their accomplishments and their dedication to their studies.”

More than 1.3 million high school juniors entered the scholarship competition by taking the Preliminary SAT, which serves as an initial screening. In September, more than 16,000 students were chosen as semifinalists, academically talented students who represent less than 1% of high school seniors nationwide. Of the more than 15,000 finalists announced in February, 7,140 students will win National Merit scholarships.

The scholarship winners, selected on the basis of their accomplishments, skills and potential for success in college, will be announced between April and July.

National Merit FInalists

Byram Hills High School has six National Merit Scholarship finalists. They are, from left, Cyrus Aly, Yicheng Yang, Daniel Ndocaj, Alexander Woodworth, Aaron Lestz and Samara Brown.  


 

The ceramic work of three Byram Hills High School students has been selected for the prestigious National K-12 Ceramic Exhibition, an honor that allows their work to be seen by thousands. 

The annual juried exhibit, being held from March 20-22 in Richmond, Virginia, showcases the best ceramic work made by K-12 students from around the country and is held during an annual ceramics conference. The show is made up of 150 pieces, chosen from 1,169 entries.

The Byram Hills students whose pieces were chosen for the show are senior Carissa Chung and juniors Summer Feng and Eve Nepo.

“Congratulations to these talented student artists,” said Byram Hills art teacher Amy Menasche. “They have such meticulous attention to detail and their work is unique. I am very proud that their work is being recognized in this show and that they will have a national audience.”

The students were happy to be selected.

“Being chosen for this show is an incredible honor,” Carissa said. “It's a great opportunity to share my creativity with an audience who wants to engage with young artists and their work.” 

Carissa made her piece, called White Rabbit, in AP 3D Design class. Summer made her piece, Koi pot, and Eve created her ceramic work, Cerberus Pot, in Sculpture and Ceramics. 

“Byram Hills students are able to explore not only a breadth of arts courses but also enjoy an in-depth experience in each of those areas,” said Marc Beja, the District’s Director of Fine Arts. “The level of artistic expression and growth on display in Ms. Menasche's classroom and in the exhibits her students participate in is astounding. We are so proud of our artists and excited that audiences near and far get to see their impressive work.”

The K-12 exhibit coincides with the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts annual conference. The conference, held in a different city each year, is the preeminent ceramic event in the country and draws professionals from universities, museums, galleries and the ceramic arts world. Students are awarded scholarships and awards at the exhibition.

Chung

Feng

Feng

Kindness WeekH.C. Crittenden Middle School celebrated its 11th annual #Kindness Week, five meaningful days filled with positive energy that were aimed at reminding students to be kind to others and themselves.

Students participated in a kindness-related activity each day during the week of Jan. 22. 

The upbeat week began with a spirit day, when students and faculty members came together and wore Bobcat spirit wear on Monday. There was a fun selfie contest, with the students in each X-Pod taking a photo that represented what kindness meant to them. Members of the student government group Students Acting in Leadership, or SAIL, judged the contest and chose a winner for each grade.

Students wore green on Tuesday, following the theme of Kindness Grows at H.C.C. Across from the lunchroom was a kindness tree on the bulletin board where students could attach yellow and green “leaves” with positive messages or quotes written on them.

The paper leaves featured messages like “kindness matters,” “love urself,” and “be kind to everyone.” Kindness Week

The #Kindness Week speaker was singer-songwriter Jared Campbell, whose engaging presentation on Wednesday included positive messages and songs about the importance of kindness. Students participated in a follow-up activity in X-Pod the following day.

The week ended with a comfy day. Students were invited to wear pajamas or comfortable clothes on Friday to remind them to take care of themselves. Every student was given a calm strip, a colorful strip with a textured surface they could stick on their phones or notebooks.

“We had a fabulous, positive week where we celebrated our community,” Principal Kim Lapple said. “Our speaker, Jared Campbell, not only inspired us to be kind but also shared how we can make a positive difference with kind gestures and actions.”

The week, organized by the Counseling Department, is designed to urge students and faculty to always be kind. 

KindnessWeek“The theme of the week was encouraging kindness and celebrating the idea that kindness grows in each one of us,” school counselor Heather Graham said. “Our school is a community where we want to encourage kindness to grow.”

Two sixth grade members of SAIL said they thought the event will strengthen the school community.

“It was inspiring,” Eli Wolland said. “It taught me a lesson to be kinder and think about others around you. It made me thankful for what I have.” 

“It will make people realize they have to be kinder and think about everybody around them,” he said.

Classmate Colette Weiss said: “It felt very positive and uplifting. I can tell everybody was a bit more kind to everybody, so I think it really helped.”

Students throughout the school were engaged in all of the activities, which brought the school closer together.

“It was an incredibly positive week,” Ms. Graham said. “The students were receptive and engaged and you could feel the positive energy. We hope the students will have many takeaways from what they learned and we hope to continue the message for the rest of the year.”

H.C.C. is grateful to the Byram Hills PTSA for sponsoring Mr. Campbell’s presentation.



KindnessWeek


 

Byram Hills High School senior Daniel Ndocaj has been selected as a candidate for the prestigious U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

The federal program, created in 1964, honors distinguished graduating seniors and the recognition is one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.

“Congratulations to Daniel on receiving this honor,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “Daniel is a highly dedicated student and we are proud of this recognition.”

Daniel’s school counselor, Gary McCarthy, added: “I am thrilled that Daniel has been recognized as a candidate for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. He is a gifted student who not only excels in all academic areas, he also possesses extraordinary aptitude for sophisticated scientific inquiry and research. I am confident that Daniel will make outstanding contributions in college and beyond.”

Daniel was among the more than 5,000 students chosen as a candidate for the part of the program that recognizes academic achievement and exceptional scores on the SAT or ACT.  

“I’m honored to receive this recognition,” Daniel said. “It means a lot to me.”

Daniel is also a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program and was chosen as one of 300 scholars in the renowned Regeneron Science Talent Search, recognized for original scientific research.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program candidates are invited to apply for the honor. A committee will review candidates on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities and an essay. Approximately 600 students will become semifinalists. 

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars will review the semifinalists’ applications and select up to 161 students as U.S. Presidential Scholars. The scholars are awarded the Presidential Scholars Medallion.

Since the program’s inception, more than 8,000 students who have demonstrated scholarship, leadership and service to their school and community have been honored as U.S. Presidential Scholars.

Daniel Byram Hills High School senior Daniel Ndocaj has been selected as a candidate for the prestigious U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

The Byram Hills High School Varsity Hockey Team raised more than $10,000 for the American Cancer Society and breast cancer research at its 12th annual Pink the Rink event.

The team raised $10,179 through efforts including selling Pink the Rink merchandise, bake sales and a chuck-a-puck contest. At the Jan. 19 Pink the Rink game at the Brewster Ice Arena, 
Byram Hills defeated the Brewster/Yorktown/Somers/North Salem combined team in a thrilling 4-3 victory.

First year head coach Patrick Busche said he was proud of the team, their families and the Athletics Department for their work on this event. While the team members got to play in a game in front of their friends and families and make lifetime memories, he said, they also understood the reason for the game. Their pink jerseys featured an “I play for” heart where the players wrote in the name of a loved one who faced cancer.

“You can see it in their faces as they look at their jerseys, each one of them has someone they are thinking about that night,” Coach Busche said. “It is those periods of self-reflection that mean the most, the individual having their loved one on their jersey and playing for them, but all of them united as one team to play for something bigger than themselves.”

“No matter how our season ends, we can deem it a success because of Pink the Rink and what it does for our student-athletes,” he added.

Pink the Rink

 


 

Twenty-seven Byram Hills High School seniors in the Authentic Science Research Program presented their original research at the Westchester-Rockland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, with 13 winning awards. 

Ten students won at the regional level and three won at the local level. Some students will advance to the state symposium in Albany, New York, next month, with three competing for a spot at the national competition.

“We are proud of our students for their important scientific research and for representing our program so well,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program. “Congratulations to our students who won awards at this prestigious event.”
 

Regional winners:

Second place:
Ayaka Ammon - Animal & Plant Science
Jacob Fenster - Biochemistry & Cellular Molecular Biology
YichengYang - Engineering & Technology

Third place:
Benjamin Levy - Math & Computer Science

Fourth place:
Abigail Cushman - Biochemistry & Cellular Molecular Biology
Calvin Cai - Medicine & Health

Fifth place:
Zachary Pero - Biochemistry & Cellular Molecular Biology
Jonathan Manowitz - Biochemistry & Cellular Molecular Biology
Benjamin Curley - Math & Computer Science
Daniel Ndocaj - Physical Science

Ayaka, Jacob and Yicheng will compete at Upstate New York JSHS in late February for a spot at the national competition in May in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Benjamin Levy, Abby, and Calvin will give poster presentations at the Albany event, and the fifth-place finishers will serve as alternates.


Local winners:

Second place:
Jack Canter - Behavior
Nicolette DiSano - Behavior
Romy Schweitzer - Behavior

The Westchester-Rockland event was held on Jan. 20 at Yorktown High School. 

The annual Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is a STEM program, sponsored by the U.S. Defense Department, that encourages high school students to conduct original research and recognizes students for outstanding achievement.


Byram Hills High School JSHS


 

Art ShowThere were still life paintings of doughnuts, larger-than-life pop art sculptures, drawings, photographs and more at the Byram Hills Winter Art Show, a celebration of art created by students at H.C. Crittenden Middle School and Byram Hills High School.

Also on display were graphite pencil drawings, landscape paintings, graphic designs, metalsmithing and jewelry, ceramics, portraits and scratch art, reflecting many artistic mediums.

The show, featuring the talent and creativity of students in grades six through 12, was held in a gallery-like space in Bobcat Hall at the high school on Jan. 10 and 11, with a community reception on the evening of Jan. 10. 

A new addition this year was ceramic butterflies, part of Byram Hills’ participation in the Butterfly Project, a worldwide effort to remember the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust. The butterflies are among the pieces that will be permanently installed in an outdoor courtyard at Byram Hills High School in the spring.

“The Byram Hills art teachers and their students did an incredible job showing off the depth and breadth of our art program,” said Marc Beja, the District’s Director of Fine Arts. “The show was visually stunning and many students shared written statements on their process and the meaning behind their work.”

“At the community reception, our student artists and their families were excited to see not only their own pieces but the wide variety of course offerings and other opportunities available to them in our District,” he said. “I hope that excitement will spur continued artistic growth for years to come.”Art Show 2

The annual art show brings the Byram Hills community together, allowing students to see what their peers have been working on.

Byram Hills art teacher David McMichael brought his AP Graphic Design students to Bobcat Hall to look for inspiration for future pieces.

“It is great to see students looking at live student artwork and getting ideas for their own artwork,” he said. “They’re inspiring each other. That’s what I really love about this show.”

His students were finding ideas at the show.

“I like how it’s diverse,” junior Bryce Baskind said. “There’s a lot of different types of art here. There’s always inspiration everywhere I go and I feel like there’s definitely some new color schemes and images I think I can use in my next artworks.”

His classmate Jaden Pinsky, also a junior, found the show inspirational as well.

“I love it,” she said. “I think it’s very creative this year. There’s a lot of different kinds of artwork and each section has a lot of different variety within it, so that’s really cool because you’re not looking at different versions of the same thing.” 

Joanna Bergelson, an art teacher at H.C.C., said the show is an amazing opportunity for middle school students to have their artwork displayed in a gallery setting.

“There is something very powerful and almost palpable about being surrounded by the work of so many young artists, each with their own artistic voice,” she said. “When H.C.C. students visit the show, they can see so much to inspire them in their future art endeavors."

Art Show 3


 

Art ShowThere were still life paintings of doughnuts, larger-than-life pop art sculptures, drawings, photographs and more at the Byram Hills Winter Art Show, a celebration of art created by students at H.C. Crittenden Middle School and Byram Hills High School.

Also on display were graphite pencil drawings, landscape paintings, graphic designs, metalsmithing and jewelry, ceramics, portraits and scratch art, reflecting many artistic mediums.

The show, featuring the talent and creativity of students in grades six through 12, was held in a gallery-like space in Bobcat Hall at the high school on Jan. 10 and 11, with a community reception on the evening of Jan. 10. 

A new addition this year was ceramic butterflies, part of Byram Hills’ participation in the Butterfly Project, a worldwide effort to remember the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust. The butterflies are among the pieces that will be permanently installed in an outdoor courtyard at Byram Hills High School in the spring.

“The Byram Hills art teachers and their students did an incredible job showing off the depth and breadth of our art program,” said Marc Beja, the District’s Director of Fine Arts. “The show was visually stunning and many students shared written statements on their process and the meaning behind their work.”

“At the community reception, our student artists and their families were excited to see not only their own pieces but the wide variety of course offerings and other opportunities available to them in our District,” he said. “I hope that excitement will spur continued artistic growth for years to come.”Art Show 2

The annual art show brings the Byram Hills community together, allowing students to see what their peers have been working on.

Byram Hills art teacher David McMichael brought his AP Graphic Design students to Bobcat Hall to look for inspiration for future pieces.

“It is great to see students looking at live student artwork and getting ideas for their own artwork,” he said. “They’re inspiring each other. That’s what I really love about this show.”

His students were finding ideas at the show.

“I like how it’s diverse,” junior Bryce Baskind said. “There’s a lot of different types of art here. There’s always inspiration everywhere I go and I feel like there’s definitely some new color schemes and images I think I can use in my next artworks.”

His classmate Jaden Pinsky, also a junior, found the show inspirational as well.

“I love it,” she said. “I think it’s very creative this year. There’s a lot of different kinds of artwork and each section has a lot of different variety within it, so that’s really cool because you’re not looking at different versions of the same thing.” 

Joanna Bergelson, an art teacher at H.C.C., said the show is an amazing opportunity for middle school students to have their artwork displayed in a gallery setting.

“There is something very powerful and almost palpable about being surrounded by the work of so many young artists, each with their own artistic voice,” she said. “When H.C.C. students visit the show, they can see so much to inspire them in their future art endeavors."

Art Show 3


 

Four Byram Hills High School students were chosen as scholars, or semifinalists, in the renowned Regeneron Science Talent Search, recognized for their original research conducted in the school’s three-year Authentic Science Research Program.

The students, Lily Anchin, Benjamin Levy, Jonathan Manowitz, and Daniel Ndocaj, are among the top 300 scholars selected in the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. The scholars won $2,000 each and Byram Hills will receive $8,000.

The scholars were chosen from the 2,162 students who entered the competition, the highest number of entrants since 1969. On Jan. 24, 40 of the 300 scholars will be named finalists, who will compete for more than $1.8 million in awards during a week-long competition in Washington, D.C., in March. The top prize is $250,000.

“Congratulations to our incredibly talented and hard-working student-scientists who are striving to make a difference in the world through scientific discovery,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Byram Hills science research program. “Our students are passionate, dedicated, and resilient. They have produced exemplary work and we are extremely proud of this accomplishment.”

The Society for Science, which runs the competition, said scholars were chosen for their outstanding research, leadership skills, community involvement, commitment to academics, creativity and exceptional promise as STEM leaders.

“We are so proud of our four top scholars for this terrific achievement,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “They have worked on their research for three years and I am so happy that their hard work and dedication are being recognized at such a high level. I want to thank all of the faculty and staff who have guided these students over the years as well as our community for supporting our Authentic Science Research Program.”

The Byram Hills scholars conducted advanced research in the areas of medicine and health, computer science, cellular and molecular biology, and material science. A closer look at their work:

Lily Anchin: Lily explored the viability of a specific treatment for a type of leukemia called T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a pediatric cancer with high rates of mortality. She explored CAR-T cell therapy, which works by targeting proteins that are found on cancer cells. Lily analyzed differences in these proteins among patients with varying clinical and sociodemographic characteristics, paving the way for future precision medicine.

Benjamin Levy: Benjamin utilized machine learning techniques to analyze how different genders disclose information about their mental health in online posts on Reddit. Overall, he found that men and women spoke about different issues related to their mental health. Specifically, men tended to disclose loneliness in objective ways; whereas women often discussed abuse emotionally. With future research, Benjamin's findings can be leveraged to create gender- and identity-aware approaches to mental health care, which may be able to enhance outcomes among those with mental health struggles.

Jon Manowitz: Current meat production practices are considered unsustainable, due to substantial water and land usage, as well as high greenhouse gas emissions. In response, lab-grown meat can be cultivated from small samples of live animal cells without sacrificing donor animals. Structured cell-based meat products like steaks rely on scaffolds for essential structural support. Recent studies demonstrated the potential for spinach to serve as a viable scaffold; however growing spinach specifically for this purpose adds to unsustainable environmental practices. As a unique alternative, Jon suggested the use of romaine lettuce and romaine hearts as potential scaffolds, offering an added environmental benefit as a large portion of this lettuce variety is discarded as waste. Jon's novel study uniquely investigated decellularized romaine lettuce as a lab-based meat scaffold to optimize the sustainability of lab-based meat production. His results were highly successful, paving the way for a potential new ecologically-sound method for growing lab-based meat.

Daniel Ndocaj: In medical research, scientists are limited in what they can see by the boundaries of the naked eye, as well as existing technology. This can manifest in failure to diagnose diseases or make essential discoveries due to unclear and dim images from microscopes and other diagnostic tools. Daniel demonstrated a method to enhance glowing dyes typically used in laboratory settings. Through the use of a nanomaterial that manipulates light, he demonstrated an alluring approach to produce much brighter images that has the potential to empower scientists, bringing them a step closer to viewing images that were once difficult or impossible to decipher. The implications of this novel setup include gene and cancer research.

When the top scholars were announced on Jan. 10, cheers let out at Byram Hills and students were overjoyed as they congratulated each other. The scholars said they felt gratified that their research was honored.

“It feels good to be recognized for the hard work I’ve done,” Jon said. “I’m grateful to be able to contribute to the preservation of our environment through sustainable technologies.”

Daniel said being a top scholar was rewarding. “I put a lot of effort into this work and this is the culmination of my effort,” he said. “It feels exciting.”

Noting that his work would aid medical researchers in detecting disease more effectively, he said, “I’m hopeful for the future of the field.”

Benjamin, whose research was aimed at improving mental health care, said: “This culminates all of my hard work over the past three years to help others. It’s extremely rewarding for me to be able to see my work be recognized to build a better future for everyone and better mental health care.”

Lily said: “I am so excited to be named a top scholar. Science research has been such an important part of my high school experience, and I am grateful to see all of my hard work pay off. I am honored to have my work recognized on this stage.” 

The Science Talent Search, which dates to 1942, recognizes the nation’s most promising young scientists who are working to solve global challenges through rigorous research and discoveries. Alumni of the competition have won the Nobel Prize, Fields Medal, MacArthur Fellowships and other awards.


Byram Hills High School Regeneron Finalists Four Byram Hills High School seniors have been named top scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the prestigious science and math competition. They are, from left, Jon Manowitz, Lily Anchin, Daniel Ndocaj and Benjamin Levy.

BHHS Dec Art GalleryA pair of shoes slung over a utility line in Paris. Ice skaters in New York’s Central Park. A glacier surrounded by mountains in Alaska. A lone black crow atop an Armonk supermarket. A single, beautiful orchid in the kitchen. 

These scenes and others, photographed in locales near and very far away, made up “Captured Adventures: A Journey in Photographs,” the first exhibit in Byram Hills High School’s new student-run art gallery, Art Works.

The travel photography show, featuring 26 pieces, celebrated memories from meaningful places and the stories behind them. With classical music playing, students, families, teachers and administrators surveyed the art and engaged in lively conversation at an opening reception on the evening of Dec. 4. 

“This wonderful event brought our community together in a very real and organic way,” said art teacher Michael Chuney, the adviser to the Art Works club. “It was really nice to see how supportive the artists were to each other, talking about their work, and watching everyone engage in conversations about the art and asking questions. Art truly brings people together.”

The gallery, located in a transformed, freshly painted area in the back of the high school library, was created as a dedicated space to display art created by Byram Hills students, teachers and staff members, giving an artistic outlet to the entire school.

“The gallery serves as a creative hub, fostering ideas and celebrating artistic expression,” Mr. Chuney said. “It provides a venue not only for students but also for people outside of art classes to showcase their artistic side. The gallery also opens up possibilities for those who may have never recognized their artistic voice.”

Through the club, students learn how to put together a thematic art show and run a gallery. For the first show, the students solicited travel photography, curated the artwork, helped prepare the gallery space for the inaugural show, and hung the photographs.

Senior Rebekah Aroca, whose photograph features the ice skaters, said she felt accomplished to have her art displayed in a gallery for the first time. BHHS Art Gallery

“It looks super-professional,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for artists all around the school to showcase their art and their passion.”   

Ninth grader Chloe Ferreira Szilagyi, the club’s website designer, was glad to “be part of a historic moment in the school” and said she learned many life skills in starting the gallery from scratch.

She had a photograph in the show, but what was more meaningful, she said, was seeing the unused corner in the library “turned into this beautiful gallery.”

“It’s a really good opportunity to display the talent of the school,” she said. 

Junior Sophia Getz said she is glad Byram Hills has an art gallery, especially because it allows students to choose their own subjects. She noted that she’s been involved in photography recently. 

“I really wanted someplace to showcase my work, so this was a good opportunity,” said Sophia, who enjoyed the opening reception with her father, a professional photographer. “It feels really nice.”

As the gallery’s submission coordinator, Sophia helped choose the pieces for the exhibit. 

“I really enjoyed looking at people’s artwork,” she said, noting that each artist could submit up to five photographs for consideration. “I didn’t realize all the teachers were really good at taking photos.”

That is another benefit of having a gallery for the whole school. Principal Christopher Walsh noted that it allows everyone to see another side of a student, teacher or staff member. “The gallery truly strengthens our school community,” he said.

The photography exhibit will run for six to eight weeks, and two other school-wide exhibitions are planned for this year. The space may also be used for students who want to stage a solo show.

BHHS Art Gallery

Two Byram Hills High School seniors performed at the New York State School Music Association’s prestigious All-State Winter Conference, joining students from throughout the state in highly selective ensembles.

Alto Morgan Hecht sang with the All-State Mixed Chorus and trombonist Aaron Lestz played with the All-State Symphonic Band on Dec. 3 at the historic Eastman Theatre at the University of Rochester. The concerts came after three days of rehearsals with notable guest conductors.

“It was amazing to see Morgan and Aaron making music at a high level in a world-class performance space,” Byram Hills band director Andrew Hill said. “We are immensely proud of their hard work and dedication to the arts and for representing the Byram Hills community so well.”

Morgan and Aaron were chosen to perform after receiving All-State honors from NYSSMA based on their high-scoring solo performances at adjudicated music festivals in the spring. 

Morgan said performing at the conference “was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

“It was three days of extremely hard work but it was definitely worth it when we stepped on the stage at the Eastman Theatre,” she said. “The people there were so dedicated and talented and it was by far the best choir I have ever sung in. I feel so honored to have been selected to be a part of it and, I know that because of it, I will be a better singer in the future.” 

Playing at the All-State conference was “an incredible experience,” Aaron said.

“With so many talented musicians around, we really were able to make music that evokes significant emotion and play some difficult, but therefore also very rewarding, pieces of music,” he said. “I hope that anyone who's considering trying NYSSMA goes for it, as the feeling of the concert, especially amplified by the scope of the stage and the whole theater, is something that is so amazingly rare and beautiful.”

Morgan Hecht and Aaron Lestz


 

Louisa May Alcott’s timeless tale of the March sisters growing up, finding love and finding themselves came to Byram Hills High School as The Varley Players performed “Little Women.”

The play, presented in three shows on Nov. 17-18, told the story of sisters Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March living in Massachusetts in the 1860s.

The story spans several years and includes trips to New York, Washington, D.C., and Nice, France. As the characters found and lost love and experienced sickness, death and marriage, a range of emotions and feelings was brought to the stage by the talented cast.

The students delivered a strong performance of the period piece, paying close attention to the diction and nuances of the era. The play was dialogue-heavy with many monologues, and the actors, in their suits and sweeping skirts, rose to the challenge.

“The students did such a deep dive into their characters and really understood them, were passionate about them and fell in love with them,” director Meg Waxman said. “I’m incredibly proud of all of the cast and crew members who worked so hard and were so committed to the play.”  

The production was staged by students in all four grades, with 22 in the cast and another 20 in the crew. Students enjoyed the experience and worked together like a family, showing care for each other and the production.

“The best part of the show was the community of the cast and the crew,” said Samara Brown, a senior who played Jo. “Being able to put on the show with some of my closest friends, and also being able to meet new people, was a really special experience.”

“The show is about a family and it felt like we were creating our own family alongside the family of the show,” she added.

Senior Isabella Rivalsi, who held the role of Meg, said the students all worked well together.

“Everyone cared,” she said. “Everyone cared a lot and knew what their character was doing and knew how their character’s relationships with another one’s worked.”

“I’m very happy it was my senior show,” she said, adding that she enjoyed being able to mentor her younger castmates. “I was very proud of it. Everyone did amazing.”

Little Women 1

Little Women 2

Little Women 3