BH News

Twenty-two seniors in the Byram Hills High School Authentic Science Research Program competed at the Westchester-Rockland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, with 12 winning awards.

Eight students won at the regional event and will compete at the state symposium in March. Four students won at the local level.

“We are proud of all 22 seniors as they represented the best of Byram Hills and beautifully shared our community’s appreciation for STEM,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program.

Regional winners:

First place:
Caleb Palappillil - Bioinformatics

Second place:
Alaska Fairbanks - Medicine & Health
Chloe Bernstein - Cell Biology
Ethan Cherry - Behavior

Third place:
Aliza Hammond - Neurology

Fourth place:
Max Teitelbaum - Medicine & Health

Fifth place:
Samantha Milewicz - Neurology
Ella Javorsky - Cell Biology

In March, Caleb, Alaska, Chloe and Ethan will compete as presenters at the Upstate New York Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Albany for a place at the national JSHS competition in Virginia in April. Max and Aliza will present their posters in Albany.

Regional Winners


Local winners:

First place:
Samantha Schaevitz - Medicine & Health
Remi Matza - Medicine & Health
Lindsay Miller - Behavior

Second place:
Peter Mon - Math/Computer Science


Local Winners
 

The Westchester-Rockland event was held on Jan. 28 at John Jay High School in Cross River.

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.


 

Twelve students at Byram Hills High School were honored for their creativity, winning Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Seven students were honored for art and five were recognized for writing in the region. 

Region-at-Large East Art Awards

Alyssa Chen received a Silver Key for painting
Carissa Chung received an Honorable Mention for her painting
Nicolette DiSano received a Silver Key for her photography
Samantha Milewicz received three Silver Keys and two Honorable Mentions for her photography
Kate Ratzan received an Honorable Mention for her photography
Isabella Rivalsi received a Silver Key and an Honorable Mention for her photography
Ruby Smalheiser received two Gold Keys for her photography   


Hudson-to-Housatonic Region Writing Awards

Samara Brown earned a Gold Key for “A Love Story for the Chronically Anxious.”
Shruthi Franklin earned an Honorable Mention for “Widow.”
Cynthia Han earned Honorable Mentions for “Blood of the Sun” and “Below and Under.”
Grace Lin earned an Honorable Mention for “Guide to a Positive Dance Competition Experience.”
Abby Eickelbeck earned an Honorable Mention for “Inevitable Solitude.”

Gold Key works were automatically advanced to the national level of judging in New York City. National medalists will be announced on March 22.

The awards are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, a nonprofit organization that aims to identify students with exceptional artistic and literary talent and present their work to the world. Through the awards, students gain opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication and scholarship.
 

Samantha SchaevitzByram Hills High School Samantha Schaevitz has won a 2023 Neuroscience Research Prize, recognized for her research into a potential new method for a more effective treatment for the most aggressive form of brain cancer.

The prize, from the American Academy of Neurology, comes with a $1,000 award and a trip to Boston to present her work at the academy’s annual meeting in Boston in April.

Samantha was excited to win the prize and to present her work in Boston.

“I have a personal connection to brain cancer, so the idea that this research could help even just one person beat the disease is more than I could have ever asked for,” said Samantha, whose young cousin, Ava, died of a glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

For her research, part of the Byram Hills three-year Authentic Science Research program, Samantha investigated the use of focused ultrasound with microbubbles as a method for  improving brain cancer treatment by allowing therapeutic drugs to more easily pass through the blood-brain barrier, a protective layer for the brain. 

Working in mice, she found that increasing ultrasonic pressure with the microbubbles demonstrated a noticeable increase in drug penetration deep into the cancerous tumor. With further investigation, this method of drug delivery could hold promising potential as a more effective brain cancer treatment.

Her work validated existing research into this minimally invasive method. It could transform cancer treatment by using lower doses of cancer drugs, which in turn would bring fewer unwanted side effects.

“It has tremendous promise for brain cancer treatments in the next 10 to 15 years,” Samantha said. “This could be a much more effective way to deliver drug treatment to the brain to increase the overall survival of brain cancer patients.”

Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research program, praised her hard work. “Congratulations to Samantha for this award and for her dedication to developing a more effective method for treating the deadliest form of brain cancer,” she said. 

For her research, Samantha was also recognized as a scholar in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search earlier this year, chosen as one of 300 students from nearly 2,000 applicants.

She plans to continue her research in college and hopes to become a neuro-oncologist.


 

SamanthaByram Hills High School senior Samantha Milewicz was chosen as a finalist in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search, recognized for her neuroscience research that identified a specific protein’s potential for innovation in the treatment of traumatic brain injuries.

Samantha, a member of the Byram Hills three-year Authentic Science Research Program, was one of 40 finalists announced on Jan. 24 by the Society for Science. The finalists will compete for more than $1.8 million in awards during a weeklong competition in March, with a top prize of $250,000.

“Being a finalist is validation of the hard work I have put in over the last three years,” Samantha said. “It feels special to have my work recognized at this step because of the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries.”

“I have always been interested in neuroscience and all the unknowns of the brain,” she said. “This project was an opportunity to contribute toward discovering those unknowns. The fact that my research was recognized is rewarding. This is a step toward developing a reparative treatment for traumatic brain injuries.”

For her research conducted with a mentor at UTHealth Houston, Samantha used a novel 3D model containing cultured cells to mimic damage to the blood-brain barrier, the brain’s protective layer, after a traumatic injury.

With a combination of several techniques, she demonstrated that inhibiting the production of the protein MMP-9 restored healthy barrier function after a brain injury by preventing the breakdown of another protein in the barrier’s structure.
 
Samantha’s work provides insight into the MMP-9’s potential for therapeutic innovation. The protein could also be helpful in the development of treatment for neurodegenerative diseases and substance abuse.

“In college, I hope to continue pursuing my passion for research by studying traumatic brain injuries as well as other neurodegenerative diseases,” said Samantha, 17, who plans to become a surgeon. “I hope I can continue to have a positive impact on society.” 

The Byram Hills school community applauded Samantha for the accomplishment. 

“Samantha is a true scientist, enthusiastic about her work and excited by its potential to help those suffering from traumatic brain injury,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Authentic Science Research program. “We are so proud of her dedication to science and her selection as a Regeneron finalist.”

“Along with her keen mind and clever insights into science, she is a true leader in our science research program,” Mrs. Greenwald added. “She eagerly helps others and is always sharing her enthusiasm for her fellow research students.”

Principal Christopher Walsh added: “Samantha is so well-deserving of this recognition. The entire Byram Hills community is incredibly proud of her.  We congratulate her for  this terrific achievement that represents our program and school so well.”

Samantha was one of five Byram Hills students included in the 300 scholars selected in the first round of the contest. The scholars each won $2,000 and Byram Hills received $10,000. This year, 1,949 students from 627 high schools entered the talent search by completing an original research project and an extensive application.

In the 34 years that Byram Hills has competed, the school has had 132 scholars; 22 of them, including Samantha, advanced to become finalists.

In past years, winners of the talent search have gone on to collect top science and math awards, including Nobel Prizes, Fields Medals and MacArthur Fellowships.

The talent search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors, aims to recognize and empower the nation’s most promising young scientists who are devising innovative solutions to global challenges. The contest, which began in 1942, gives students a national stage to present new ideas.

Decked out in pink, the Byram Hills Varsity Hockey Team raised more than $7,500 for breast cancer research at its 11th annual Pink the Rink event.

The team raised $7,653 through efforts including the sale of baked goods and Pink the Rink merchandise and a chuck-a-puck contest at their game against Mahopac at the Brewster Ice Arena on Jan. 20. All proceeds were donated to the American Cancer Society.

“Byram Hills is proud of the Varsity Hockey Team members for their commitment to raising money for cancer research,” said Rob Castagna, the Byram Hills director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics. “We are grateful to both school communities for supporting this important cause.”

Many players and fans dedicated the game to someone affected by breast cancer. With a large crowd and a fun and festive atmosphere, the Bobcats defeated Mahopac 13-6.

Varsity Boys Hockey with the check
 

Byram Hills High School is pleased to announce that five seniors are among the 300 top scholars in the prestigious 2023 Regeneron Science Talent Search, an honor that recognizes their meaningful and important independent scientific research.

The students, part of the three-year Authentic Science Research program at Byram Hills, are Rohini Das, Remi Matza, Samantha Milewicz, Lindsay Miller and Samantha Schaevitz. The top scholars won $2,000 each and Byram Hills will receive $10,000.

The semifinalists were chosen from 1,949 students who entered the preeminent math and science competition that dates from 1942. On Jan. 24, only 40 of the 300 students will be named finalists, who will compete for more than $1.8 million in prizes at a weeklong competition in March. The top award is $250,000.

“We are incredibly proud of these talented student scientists,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Authentic Science Research program. “This is a great day for Byram Hills. Our five top scholars are excellent representatives of our outstanding senior class. They demonstrate the dedication, intellectual curiosity and resiliency we see in all of our students in the science research program.”

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

“Congratulations to our five top scholars for this outstanding achievement,” Byram Hills High School Principal Christopher Walsh said. “Their work represents the best of Byram Hills and the continued strength of the entire Authentic Science Research program.”

The Byram Hills students conducted exemplary research in the areas of neuroscience, behavior, and medicine and health. A closer look at their work:

Rohini Das created a software application, The Brain App, to quantitatively evaluate how adults store abstract concepts they experienced while playing a card memory game. She then assessed how sleep influenced their recall of what they learned in the game, providing researchers with a simple, mobile method to investigate abstract thought.

Remi Matza critically analyzed publicly available data on age-related macular degeneration, a debilitating eye disorder, to determine how the density, location and diameter of blood vessels in the retina change in these patients. Her findings provide broader evidence that may help to better diagnose and treat this disease.

Samantha Milewicz used a novel 3D model that mimics the brain's protective layer, the blood-brain barrier, to identify a protein involved in tissue damage from traumatic brain injuries. With a combination of several techniques, she demonstrated that inhibiting the production of the protein MMP-9 restores healthy barrier function post-injury, providing insight into this protein's potential for therapeutic innovation.

Lindsay Miller utilized a newly emerging technique called pupillometry to study aspects of human behavior by observing pupil responses to light. She was the first to find that these responses follow a 24-hour circadian rhythm, meaning they are influenced by the time of day they are recorded. Her results may be essential for research regarding seasonal affective disorder as well as numerous other conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

Samantha Schaevitz investigated the use of focused ultrasound with microbubbles as a method to improve brain cancer treatment by allowing therapeutic drugs to more easily pass through the blood-brain barrier, a protective layer for the brain. She found that increasing ultrasonic pressure with microbubbles demonstrated a noticeable increase in drug penetration deep into the cancerous tumor. With further investigation, this method of drug delivery could hold promising potential as a more effective brain cancer treatment.

When the top scholars were announced on Jan. 10, cheers let out in the science research classroom and the students were overjoyed.

Samantha Schaevitz said the honor felt like a validation of her research.

“I’ve worked so hard,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling because this is why I came into the program, to hopefully help at least one person and aid in research. Being in the top 300 is amazing.”

Lindsay, who chose a research topic personal to her, said: “It’s such an awesome feeling. The fact that I was recognized for studying something that meant so much to me is such an amazing feeling.”

Rohini added: “I feel very honored. I feel a lot of gratitude for all of the people who have helped me along the way.”

The Society for Science says the contest seeks to identify, inspire and engage the nation’s most promising young scientists and empower them as they develop ideas that could solve the world’s urgent challenges. Alumni of the competition have won the Nobel Prize, Fields Medal, MacArthur Fellowships and other awards.

2023 Regeneron Science Talent Search
From left in the front row Lindsay Miller and Remi Matza, and in the back row from left, Samantha Milewicz, Rohini Das and Samantha Schaevitz.

Behold BHHS’s new “Home of the Bobcats” sign, which will be illuminated at night! The sign overlooking the patio adds terrific school spirit and was the parting gift from the seniors last year. “We are so grateful to the Class of 2022 for this gift, which lets everybody know who we are and is also a beacon to guide us home,” Principal Christopher Walsh said.

Home of the Bobcats

 

GwynOnce upon a time, they were young children who loved books and stories. The years passed by, and now they are sharing that love of reading and setting the example for younger students.

On Monday, December 19, seven Byram Hills High School students who belong to the Reading in Between the Lines book club treated students at Coman Hill Elementary School to an afternoon storytime.

The high school guest readers chose two holiday books and each visited a different classroom. The elementary school students, comfortable in PJs on pajama day, sat attentively as the girls read the wintertime stories aloud.

Gwyn Brown, a Byram Hill senior and co-founder of the book club, said she wanted to share stories with Coman Hill students to encourage reading. 

“When I was younger I always looked up to older kids and I always loved reading too, so I feel like it’s important to incentivize them to read,” said Gwyn, who visited a kindergarten class. “Reading was such an important thing to me growing up. I hope that this will get them excited about the holidays and get them excited about books and stories and reading.”

SmilesSophomore Chloe Kohl, the other club co-founder, enjoyed reading to first graders. 

“It was a really meaningful experience,” she said. “I love working with younger students. It was really nice to share my love of reading with them and encourage them to start reading books for fun because I first started to really love books at their age.”

Zoe Harris, another tenth grader, read to second graders in Jennifer Rowell’s class.

“I wanted to do this because I loved my time here at Coman Hill and I remember that some high schoolers came in to read to me and I always found it so much fun and exciting and so I wanted to share that joy with the younger kids,” Zoe said. “It was so exciting. The kids all really enjoyed it and I had so much fun doing it.”

Ms. Rowell, who was Zoe’s teacher at Coman Hill, said her former student was “poised and charming.” 

“The children waited until after she read to raise their hands and share connections, questions, and comments,” Ms. Rowell said. “Zoe listened and answered each one of them thoughtfully with patience and humor. Zoe's visit was a great experience.”
 
Sophomore Inaara Lalani said the second grade students she read to were very engaged.
 
“It was really nice to see how much they loved listening to others read,” she said. “They were very interactive with me, so it was really fun.”
 
Years after they were elementary school students reading picture books, the high schoolers have become great role models.

“It was inspiring and it was instilling a love of reading among young students,” said Letty Nardone, the Byram Hills librarian and adviser to the book club. “The younger kids look up to the older kids, and everyone had fun. Reading should always be fun.”

CH AND BH Book Reading

GwynOnce upon a time, they were young children who loved books and stories. The years passed by, and now they are sharing that love of reading and setting the example for younger students.

On Monday, December 19, seven Byram Hills High School students who belong to the Reading in Between the Lines book club treated students at Coman Hill Elementary School to an afternoon storytime.

The high school guest readers chose two holiday books and each visited a different classroom. The elementary school students, comfortable in PJs on pajama day, sat attentively as the girls read the wintertime stories aloud.

Gwyn Brown, a Byram Hill senior and co-founder of the book club, said she wanted to share stories with Coman Hill students to encourage reading. 

“When I was younger I always looked up to older kids and I always loved reading too, so I feel like it’s important to incentivize them to read,” said Gwyn, who visited a kindergarten class. “Reading was such an important thing to me growing up. I hope that this will get them excited about the holidays and get them excited about books and stories and reading.”

SmilesSophomore Chloe Kohl, the other club co-founder, enjoyed reading to first graders. 

“It was a really meaningful experience,” she said. “I love working with younger students. It was really nice to share my love of reading with them and encourage them to start reading books for fun because I first started to really love books at their age.”

Zoe Harris, another tenth grader, read to second graders in Jennifer Rowell’s class.

“I wanted to do this because I loved my time here at Coman Hill and I remember that some high schoolers came in to read to me and I always found it so much fun and exciting and so I wanted to share that joy with the younger kids,” Zoe said. “It was so exciting. The kids all really enjoyed it and I had so much fun doing it.”

Ms. Rowell, who was Zoe’s teacher at Coman Hill, said her former student was “poised and charming.” 

“The children waited until after she read to raise their hands and share connections, questions, and comments,” Ms. Rowell said. “Zoe listened and answered each one of them thoughtfully with patience and humor. Zoe's visit was a great experience.”
 
Sophomore Inaara Lalani said the second grade students she read to were very engaged.
 
“It was really nice to see how much they loved listening to others read,” she said. “They were very interactive with me, so it was really fun.”
 
Years after they were elementary school students reading picture books, the high schoolers have become great role models.

“It was inspiring and it was instilling a love of reading among young students,” said Letty Nardone, the Byram Hills librarian and adviser to the book club. “The younger kids look up to the older kids, and everyone had fun. Reading should always be fun.”

CH AND BH Book Reading

Fifth graders at Wampus Elementary School greeted students with musical cheer as they arrived at school this week, playing a selection of classic wintertime songs.

Performing in the front entryway on the mornings of December 19, 20, and 21, band members played “Jingle Bells,” “Up on the Housetop,” “The Dreidel Song,” and “Winter Wonderland.” A different group of students played each day.

“Our fifth grade band members were terrific,” said band teacher David Wolfe. “They played together and they played really well at aWampus Music high level.”

“When you play music at this time of the year, it brings everyone in the building together,” he added. “It was a nice togetherness activity.”

On Monday, December 19, many Wampus students stopped to enjoy the festive music and applauded at the end.

The band members who performed that day said they enjoyed playing for an audience.

“It was very fun to be able to perform for others and those songs are some of my favorites, the holiday collection,” said Nina Cavada, who played the flute. “It was a really good experience to be able to play in front of my classmates.”

“I’m kind of exhilarated because it was cool how everyone crowded together to hear us play,” she said. “It was like a real concert.”

Jayden LaPorta, who played percussion, was happy to be playing with other musicians.

“It was fun because we all got to play holiday songs together and we got to just be all together and play for other people,” he said. 

Max Schoenhaut, who plays the alto saxophone, said he felt excited and proud. “There were a lot of people watching and I think they liked it,” he said.

The performances not only offered wintertime cheer but also benefited the band members.

“I have found that students who have done this in past years tend to progress further or faster because they have been up in front of an audience in a small group,” Mr. Wolfe said. “It increases their confidence and motivation to do well in music.”

The performers, who signed up to participate, attended several before-school rehearsals to prepare.

Wampus Music

When you look at the cups and plates made in Amy Menasche’s Sculpture and Ceramics class at Byram Hills High School, you will see more than the beautiful pieces of sculpture themselves. That’s because each set contains a message about a food-related issue important to the artist.

For the assignment, called Food for Thought, students were asked to create a cup-and-plate set that communicated an idea about food. Students learned about artists who used plates as a vehicle for expression and researched their own topics before creating their pieces.

“The idea is for students to learn that art can communicate about an interesting, important issue that affects other areas of their life and the world around them,” Mrs. Menasche said. “Many students made connections to something they’re learning in Global Scholars or health class, and I like to encourage those connections.”

Among the topics students focused on were hunger and food insecurity, clean water, protecting the bees, nutrition and an invasive pest that threatens crops. “I like seeing the variety of ideas they’re tackling,” Mrs. Menasche said.

Students had to incorporate texture into their sculptures and used various techniques including stamping, rolling or using objects like seashells, rice and kidney beans. “Even using food as the texture was part of what some students did,” Mrs. Menasche said. “They needed to use texture to create a rich, visual surface.”

The students liked learning about an issue to create their pieces.Brody

Sophomore Brody Ceisler’s set is about sports performance and nutrition. Into his plate, he stamped the words “fatigue,” “dehydration,” “poor health,” and “sports performance,” representing conditions that could affect athletic performance.

Brody said he liked that the assignment required thinking about a topic. “Art is supposed to be free but you have to actually put in work to do this project,” he said. “You get to use your brain more for this project, which I like.”

LilaJunior Lila Raff made a set about protecting the pollinators and featured the bees’ honeycomb design. “They’re important to our food source,” she said. “When pesticides kill them, it ruins the food we eat and affects human health.”

“It’s fun to think about an issue and put it into the clay rather than do a random design,” she added.Bella

Bella Miano, another junior, fashioned her plate into an electronic benefits transfer card that included the number of people in New York State who receive public food assistance, calling attention to the problem of food insecurity.

“It affects a lot of people,” she said. “I thought it was nice to focus on this and raise awareness.” 

GavinJunior Gavin Webster incorporated two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Zero Hunger and Clean Water and Sanitation, into his project.

“I wanted to make sure that people know to help support those endeavors,” he said. “This is a fantastic way to raise awareness about some issues and express our opinions on what we think is very important. It’s also a really great creative outlet for creation and expression of one’s opinion. It’s also really fun as well.”
 
Mrs. Menasche said the cup-and-plate sets will be displayed together at the Winter Art Show  on January 11-12. “People can walk around the table,” she said, “and it will be like you’re being invited to sit down and think about the ideas our students care about."


 

CH MindfullnessBreathe in and with your hand on the base of your throat, chant “om” for as long as your breath allows.

“This vibration that you feel is sending a signal to a nerve in your body that’s telling your body to calm down,” yoga and mindfulness instructor Lisa Levine told second graders at Coman Hill Elementary School. “When you chant ‘om’ and are making this vibration, it has a calming effect. You can really chant anything.”

And they did, with students offering one-syllable words to chant, like fish and foot. “You can use any sound but hopefully it has a calming effect,” said Ms. Levine, of The Well Center in Armonk. 

She then asked students if they ever got angry and reacted in a way they would regret. Wouldn’t it be great, she asked, if our bodies had a pause button? To practice pausing, Ms. Levine led students in a game in which they were instructed to do the opposite of the direction she gave. When she said “wiggle,” students were supposed to sit down, and vice versa.

“When I say something, your body is going to want to do it, but you need to pause and  
think about what I’m really asking you to do,” she told them. “We need to practice pausing before we react so we can think, take a split second and use one of our tools or think and then we can respond in a better way.”

CH MindfullnessThe activities on December 1 were part of a mindfulness program led by Ms. Levine for all second graders this fall. The students participated in a weekly class for four weeks that included yoga, mindfulness, breathing exercises, meditation, movement, mantras and affirmations.

The goal of the program, made possible by a generous insta-grant from the Byram Hills Education Foundation, was to help increase students’ awareness of their bodies, boost self-esteem and strengthen their emotional regulation and well-being. Several sessions took place outside on the new BHEF-funded patio while the others were in the gym and classrooms.

Second grade teacher Pui Cheung, who secured the BHEF grant, said the students benefited greatly from the program.

“The kids have enjoyed the time to slow down, to focus, and to connect with their own bodies,” Ms. Cheung said. “They are learning that they can take control of their bodies and how they are feeling. The kids feel empowered.” 

When her whole class takes a mindfulness break, she said: “I can call on any of my students to name and lead a technique. Each student has a favorite one, so with a handful of student leaders, the whole class gets to practice a variety of favorite techniques.” 

The second graders have been enjoying the classes and said they are using the calming activities at school and at home with their families.CH Mindfullness

“It’s very relaxing and it helps me calm down,” Leah Seidman said. “We sometimes close our eyes and we breathe in and take a moment to think about things. It helps me get ready for the next thing that we’re doing.”

Her classmate Natalie Lerner said: “I like that it calms your body down. When you’re full of energy, it teaches you how to take a deep breath and calm down.”

Spencer Ostrov enjoyed the outdoor yoga, including learning the warrior pose. He said he’s “learning to be calm,” which is important “because if you’re not calm then you’ll be very excited and do things without thinking.” 

Charlotte Landesman said she has learned how to calm down easily and said the best part of the mindfulness program is “that it’s fun.”

Ms. Levine said the classes provided simple techniques that can be done easily in the classroom to help students change and regulate how they’re feeling in a given moment. She said the second graders did a great job.

“They blew my mind,” she said. “They were incredibly insightful and amazing.”

Principal Peggy McInerney was pleased to see the students fully engaged in the mindfulness classes.

“We’re so grateful to the BHEF for supporting this program,” Mrs. McInerney said. “I hope our children are able to carry what they learned into their day-to-day experiences.”

CH Mindfullness
 

Much AdoIt’s 1969 in Massena, New York, and soldiers are returning home from the Vietnam War at the height of the counterculture era. 

That’s where we find ourselves at the start of The Varley Players’ modernized adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing,” the beloved Shakespeare comedy set in Italy in Messina, Sicily, during the 16th century.

The fall play, performed three times on November 18 and 19 in the Byram Hills High School theater, features William Shakespeare’s original dialogue. 

But the story of love, intrigue and identity was told in a more relatable way through updated costumes, scenery, music and the way the actors delivered their lines, said director Kyle Banks, who adapted the classic play for the high school stage.

Mr. Banks, the high school choir director and theater director, chose a Shakespearean play for the fall show to provide challenging material for the students, to push them to become better performers. They all rose to the challenge.

“The show was excellent,” Mr. Banks said. “It was really impressive the way the students were able to handle the text and not only understand it, but really dig into the meaning and emotion of all the characters and portray that to an audience.”

Many students said the show was one of the hardest things they had ever done, he said, and “it was very clear that the work they put into it really paid off.”

Much AdoThe play centers around two couples and features themes of identity and subverting expectations for behavior. The late 1960s era was a great backdrop to highlight these themes, Mr. Banks said.

“The actors were all so engaged and in the moment in every scene, which really helped a lot with the comedic timing of the show,” Mr. Banks said. “They gave every audience a show that they deserved.”

Senior Indiana Ingberman, who played Signior Benedick, one of the lead characters, said he enjoyed every moment he spent working on the play.

“Stepping into my first true, full lead role was really fun to take on,” he said. “Benedick was a fun character that I got to portray on stage, a guy who thinks that everything he says is the right answer and that everything that goes on in his brain is all circled around him.” 

Mr. Banks praised the three dozen students who made up the cast and crew.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the work that was put into the show from start to finish,” he said. “From the day we auditioned until the show went up, it was really, really impressive the way our students handled such challenging material.”

Full Cast

Parade-1Supporters cheered the Byram Hills High School Girls Varsity Tennis Team at a victory parade on November 20 to celebrate their history making, back-to-back New York State team championship.

The girls and their coach rode on a decorated vehicle that announced them as state champs, and their float was preceded by emergency vehicles with celebratory flashing lights and sirens and a booming drum line. The Bobcat mascots added to the festivities.

Following an undefeated regular season, the girls won the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division II team championship on November 4 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with a 4-1 win over Cold Spring Harbor. Byram Hills also won the inaugural team event last year. 

With that, the 2022 and 2021 Girls Varsity Tennis teams were the first two girls squads to win a state title at Byram Hills since the school opened in 1966. They were also the third and fourth Byram Hills teams overall to be crowned state champs.

Like last year, this year’s team was celebrated with a parade that began at H.C. Crittenden Middle School and made its way down Main St. The route ended at the North Castle Town Hall, where the team was honored by school and town officials during a ceremony on the steps.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jen Lamia welcomed the crowd, including Board of Education members Melissa Jacobs, Lori Kanner, and Scott Levy, and the entire town of Armonk “for celebrating us and for welcoming these girls for a well-deserved victory.”

Parade-2“My immense pride in all you and what you’ve done for yourselves, your team, your families and the future history of Byram Hills is amazing, and for that I applaud you and I thank you,” she told the girls.

Coach Mike Racanelli addressed the team and said: “Thank you for trusting me and believing in me and trusting one another and working together to achieve our biggest goals. You’re an amazing group and I’ve loved every minute of the season being your coach.”

“Back-to-back state champions,” he said to applause. “It almost seems unreal.”

He noted that the team reached new heights, with a second consecutive win.

“You have single handedly rewritten girls sports here at Byram Hills, especially girls tennis,” Mr. Racanelli said to more applause.

Rob Castagna, the District’s Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics, thanked the parents for their support and congratulated the team.

“Every team sets goals at the beginning of the season,” he said. “Sometimes those goals are lofty and they seem impossible, but not for this group because they believed in each other.”

Byram Hills Principal Christopher Walsh read the names of the girls on the team, and they were each presented with a certificate. The group walked to the championship sign at the intersection of Main St. and Old Route 22 and everyone cheered as the new entry, “Girls Tennis 2022,” was unveiled.

The team roster is made up of captain Chloe Bernstein along with Lily Anchin, Elizabeth Albright, Daphne Bernstein, Jordyn Bernstein, Anika Bobra, Allie Cooper, Dahlia Flores, Rebecca Geller, Dani Goldman, Jenna Kleynerman, Justine Maresco, Lindsay Miller, Eliza Moy, Emerson Pace, Lila Raff, Romy Schweitzer, Skye Smith, Julia Soller, Allie Waxman and Ashleigh Weissman.

Parade-3

Wellness Week ImageByram Hills High School celebrated Wellness Week with a focus on good nutrition and sleep habits, finding ways to manage stress and a student-led hip hop yoga workout.

The week, held from November 14 to 18, engaged students on a different health and wellness topic each day. The event was created and planned by members of the Student Wellness Advisory Committee, or SWAC. 

“We had a great week bringing wellness to life,” said Kathleen Healy, a Byram Hills physical education teacher and SWAC adviser. “Our goal is to create awareness about taking care of yourself - mind, body and spirit - through nutrition, sleep and strategies to manage stress, all while making it fun and approachable for the students during their lunch period.”
 
On Monday, seniors Jessica Abatemarco and Samantha Gershuny, the presidents of SWAC, 
offered samples of their homemade healthy treats. Jessica made apple bread and Samantha baked banana bread that classmates enjoyed.
 
Representatives from Northern Westchester Hospital led interactive games and activities on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the cafeteria during lunch.
 
Wellness CardsTuesday focused on food diversity and how food from all cultures can be a part of good nutrition; Wednesday was about having less stress and sharing ideas to help cope with stress; and Thursday centered around sleep and featured a game of sleep Jeopardy to see if students are getting enough shut-eye.
 
Friday got students moving as Jessica led a yoga class to hip hop music in the dance studio before classes.

“Over the course of last week, I enjoyed helping out my community and contributing to wellness week by teaching a yoga class at 7:45 a.m. with a bunch of friends!” Jessica said.

SWAC worked with officials from the hospital, Samantha noted, “to promote an extremely successful wellness week at Byram Hills High School.”

“I was so excited to see many members of the school community participating in the activities we planned for our universal lunch,” she said. “I feel that our club was able to send a positive message to all students about the importance of both mental and physical well-being.” 

This was the first time that Byram Hills welcomed the hospital’s community outreach team to Wellness Week, and it was a great partnership.

“Northern Westchester Hospital’s community health team is here to support the wellness of all schools in our community and we are proud to partner with Byram Hills to support them on this initiative,” said Amy Rosenfeld, Community Outreach Program Manager for the hospital.

The week was a great way for the entire school to focus on health and wellness issues and to reflect on these important topics.

Wellness Yoga


 

Byram Hills High School is celebrating two seniors who will bring their competitive drive and passion for lacrosse to Division 1 universities next year.
 
Gavin Javorsky, who plays attack, has committed to Colgate University and Sean Siegel, a midfielder, will play for the University of Richmond.
 
“Gavin and Sean are the definition of what it means to be a Byram Hills athlete,” Assistant Athletic Director Brett Alcantara said. “They care about their studies and their sport and have dedicated themselves to becoming selfless teammates. The entire Byram Hills community congratulates them and wishes them the best of luck.”

Gavin, a leader on and off the field, raised the bar for the lacrosse team when he joined four years ago. He encouraged his teammates to improve their skills and helped bring the team to the Section finals. 
 
Sean, a very methodical player, uses his knowledge of lacrosse to improve not only his game but that of others around him. His positivity and optimism help teammates succeed on and off the field as well.
 
The student-athletes were surrounded by family members, friends and faculty members at a ceremonial signing day ceremony in the high school lecture hall on November 9.

Sean and Gavin
 

Kindergarten Registration for 2023-2024
March 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 13th, and 14th.   A child entering Kindergarten in September 2023 must be five years old on or before December 1, 2023.

Registration Packet:
Every parent/guardian will need to go online to request a registration packet.  This includes parents who already have students at Byram Hills as well as anyone involved in the CPSE process.

Please make sure to do the following:
1. Request your registration packet between the dates of November 28th-February 10th by visiting www.byramhills.org/comanhill > ”Navigation” bar > “2023-2024 Kindergarten Registration Request Form” and fill out the form.

2. Schedule a Kindergarten registration meeting between the dates of February 17th- March 3rd.  Kindergarten Registration Appointment dates are March 6th, 7th, 8th,  9th, 13th, and 14th. An email will be sent out on February 17th to schedule these appointments.

3. Complete your registration packet and have it completely filled out by your scheduled Kindergarten Registration Appointment.


If this is the first time you are registering a child in the District, you will be required to establish proof of residency at the District Office before your scheduled registration appointment.


Kindergarten...here I come!
 

After persevering through a high school career marked by many new ways of learning, 17 seniors have reached the pinnacle of academic success at Byram Hills High School.

On October 20, the students whose weighted GPA put them in the top 10% of the Class of 2023 were inducted into the Cum Laude Society, an honor society for academic achievement.

The students are Chloe Bernstein, Sydney Black, Milena Chan, Allison Cooper, Abby Eickelbeck, Alaska Fairbanks, Lily Feldman, Aliza Hammond, Callie Higgins, Casey Maryyanek, Remi Matza, Samantha Milewicz, Lindsay Miller, Caleb Palappillil, Isabelle Sampere, Max Teitelbaum and Kelsey Vaquero.

Principal Christopher Walsh welcomed families to the induction ceremony in the high school theater, thanked them for helping the students become the learners they are today and congratulated the inductees for their tremendous accomplishment.

Mr. Walsh noted that the inductees were able to find academic success even as so many changes to the educational process were thrown their way in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.  

“They have had to improvise, adapt and overcome for the overwhelming majority of their high school experience,” Mr. Walsh said. “Not only that, these 17 students managed to do it all at the highest levels. Their academic achievement really is incredible given the uniqueness of their experience.”

By tradition, the students invited teachers who made a difference in their learning to the ceremony, and those faculty members were recognized with a round of applause. “The lasting impact that these teachers have will be felt long after the content is forgotten,” Mr. Walsh said. 

Delivering the Cum Laude address, English teacher Jessica Shaw discussed the importance of failure.

“I commend you for your drive,” she said to the students. “You will go on to achieve all those things that our society needs to prosper. You are the game changers, the visionaries, the best of our future.”

But, she urged them, do not fear failing along the way to success. Don’t avoid potential embarrassment for the sake of your egos, she told them, and don’t let mistakes hold you back from your goals.

“Before, during and after you make that indelible mark on the path you set out on, you have to, well, mess up,” Ms. Shaw said. “I want to remind you just how those mistakes that you will make in your future will be just as crucial to your achievements. Failure, mistakes: they’re the greatest indicators that you have taken risks, and none of us can live a rich life without those chances that we take.”  

Ms. Shaw told the inductees that as they celebrate becoming esteemed members of Cum Laude and await their college decisions, remember that mistakes and regrets “teach you the most about yourself, and others and the world.”

“It’s those moments, the ones you want to cover your face thinking about, the ones you want to forget ever happened, it’s those times that really bring you closer to your own greatness,” Ms. Shaw said. 

She concluded by telling students that when they start college, their jobs and adulthood, to remember that on the night of their Cum Laude induction, “you also made a silent pact with Ms. Shaw to be the achiever who isn’t ever afraid to fail.”

Dr. Sandra Abt, the president of the Byram Hills chapter of the society, urged the inductees to cherish their remaining days at Byram Hills and to use the unexpected in their lives to make good choices.

“You have gotten an excellent foundation here at Byram Hills,” she said, adding: “Train your mind to think regardless of what it is thinking about. You will discover that your education, knowledge and critical mind will liberate you. Your future lies before you. Make the most of it.”

Dr. Abt also announced the new faculty inductee, Catherine Eshoo, who will deliver next year’s Cum Laude address.

“She is hard working and focused,” Dr. Abt said, calling her the “quintessential English teacher.” “She loves teaching and being with her students. She loves to learn and she imparts this value to her students each day by example.” 

The student inductees were each recognized and they crossed the stage to receive a certificate. 

The high school jazz choir began the ceremony with a beautiful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and also sang “How High the Moon” and “93 Million Miles.” Junior Valentina Marino played the piano at the start and end of the ceremony.

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.

Cum Laude 2022 Inductees
They are from left, in the front row: Lily Feldman, Caleb Palappillil, Max Teitelbaum, Isabelle Sampere; in the second row: Abby Eickelbeck, Kelsey Vaquero, Alaska Fairbanks, Milena Chan; the third row: Callie Higgins, Allison Cooper, Chloe Bernstein, Lindsay Miller, Aliza Hammond; and in the back row: Casey Maryyanek, Samantha Milewicz, Sydney Black, Remi Matza.

Seventy Byram Hills High School seniors have been inducted into the World Languages Honor Society, reflecting their dedication to the study of French, Italian or Spanish. Four students were inducted for excelling in French and Spanish. 

Students must have a final average of A or A+ in their language class for three years to become eligible for membership in the society. 

In a virtual induction ceremony that was shared on October 6, World Languages Chairperson Melissa Stahl thanked the world language faculty members for their continued excellence and congratulated the students and their families.

“We would like to thank you, the parents, for sharing your appreciation for foreign cultures and languages, and for teaching your children to explore and take risks and for showing your children the power and importance of language,” she said.

Ms. Stahl asked the four dual language inductees to discuss how speaking more than one foreign language has changed their perspective of the world, and why it’s still important, despite advances in online translators, to speak another language.

“I invite you to reflect on their comments,” Ms. Stahl said. “Listen to how they embrace the value of communication and the differences among us. Let’s see our world and our future through the lens of other languages.”

The four students spoke in French and Spanish, with English subtitles included in the induction ceremony video. Here is a sampling of their remarks:

Gemma Dean, French and Spanish: In a technological world, it is easy to understand people who speak in a different language even if you don’t speak it as well. However, there is not a computer or app that can replace the importance of learning other languages in school. It is important to learn about other cultures and be able to speak with people who do not speak English. For me, I want to go into psychiatric medicine and there is no doubt that my capacity to speak other languages will help me to succeed and help others in the minority who don’t receive sufficient medical attention currently.

Danielle Molloy, French and Spanish: Speaking more than one language can completely change your perspective of the world. Learning a language connects you to the culture, not just the language. It creates an appreciation of cultural awareness. Vocabulary and grammar in different languages tend to shape our perception of the world and way of thinking. In learning about other cultures around the world, it allows for an open mindset.

Mike Moreno II, French and Spanish: I believe it is very important to be able to speak another language despite the technological advancements of online translators. Much of our language is nuanced and complex. There are many different ways to communicate the same ideas and mean the same thing. French is a very good example of the need to be able to understand other languages. Everyday French vocabulary is greatly influenced by other cultures while also being the result of centuries of development. I don't like online translators because they don't provide the real idea of ​​what a person means. The translators only give the semantics. That means they give literal meanings. Without a consideration for pragmatics, the study of how the meanings of words change in different contexts, it makes translators seem a bit ridiculous.

Isabelle Sampere, French and Spanish: Growing up in a bilingual home where I spoke English and French gave me a more global perspective on the world of culture and politics. For example, I can turn on TV5 -- the French news channel -- and learn about the European Union’s current policies, and the realm of politics beyond America. This gives me a deeper perspective on different issues around the world, not even just ones pertaining to America or France. A love for international relations was catalyzed by being bilingual, as I am more concerned with the relationship between two different languages ​​and therefore cultures, which prevents insularity. 

Three students selected for their exemplary pronunciation skills read the honor society pledge in the language they are studying: Lindsay Miller for French, Massimo Colella-Albino for Italian and Lily Feldman for Spanish. 

The names of all inductees were read aloud.

The students inducted for French are:
Oscar Bachmann
Benjamin Berfield
Lauren Carnevale 
Ethan Cherry
Gemma Dean*
Emma Goldenberg
Callie Higgins
Tyler Lynch
Lindsay Miller
Danielle Molloy*
Mike Moreno II*
Tuda Odegi
Isabelle Sampere*
Samantha Schaevitz
Piper Siegel
Sarah Thielmann
 

The students inducted for Italian are: 
Luke Berliner
Massimo Colella-Albino
Sofia Delli Carpini
Ryleigh Francis
Amy Gagliardi
Matthew Giovannetti
Audrey Goldberg
Sophia Livanos
Ava Monaco
Carmen Parrotta
Sean Siegel
Isabella Stillman
Clara Weil

 

The students inducted for Spanish are:
Jessica Abatemarco
Gabriela Afonso
Zachary Berkowitz
Chloe Bernstein
Sydney Black
Milena Chan
Allison Cooper
Olivia Corpina
Gemma Dean
Katherine DeGeorges
Matthew Delgrosso
Joshua Donoho
Abby Eickelbeck
Alaska Fairbanks
Lily Feldman
Samantha Gershuny
Aliza Hammond
Nathan Ilany
Ella Javorsky
Gavin Javorsky
Alex Kahn
Zermina Khan
Ethan Kimmel
Samuel Kravitz
Mihir Kumar
David Laranjeira
Casey Maryyanek
Remi Matza
Alexandra Meltzer
Samantha Milewicz
Danielle Molloy
Peter Mon
Mike Moreno II
Brooke Mozarsky
Sydney Nichols
Vienna Ouyang-Christiansen
Lauren Quintiere
Isabelle Sampere
Casey Schreck
Emily Stangel
Ethan Sutton
Max Teitelbaum
Kelsey Vaquero
Aidan Weiss
Christopher You

*Second language inductees

To view the induction ceremony, click here.

Text and video credit: Byram Hills Central School District

Eight Byram Hills High School seniors have been recognized as Commended Students in the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program.

The students are Joshua Arnold, Sydney Black, Massimo Colella-Albino, Aliza Hammond, Peter Mon, Caleb Palappillil, Max Teitelbaum and Christopher You. 

“The Byram Hills community congratulates our Commended Students,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “We are proud of their hard work and commitment to academics that led to this honor.”

The eight Byram Hills seniors are among the 34,000 Commended Students across the nation who are being recognized for exceptional academic promise, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. They placed among the top 50,000 students who entered the scholarship competition by taking the Preliminary SAT.

Commended National Merit
From left to right are Sydney Black, Peter Mon, Caleb Palappillil, Massimo Colella-Albino, Joshua Arnold, Christopher You, Max Teitelbaum and Aliza Hammond.

 


 

Byram Hills High School senior Indiana Ingberman was selected as an alternate for the New York State School Music Association All-State Mixed Chorus performance.

Indiana was among thousands of students who auditioned in the spring for the NYSSMA event.

“Indiana performed excellently at the NYSSMA festival last year and really earned this honor,” chorus teacher Kyle Banks said. “It's an incredibly competitive selection process and I'm so proud he's been recognized.”

Indiana, a member of the bass section, was selected based on his solo audition. 

“I’m happy to be a part of something so amazing,” he said. “It’s great I’ve been able to advance my skills in music to achieve a higher level of All-State.”

The NYSSMA performances will be held in Rochester, New York, from December 1-4.

Indiana
 

You’ll see something new when arriving at Byram Hills High School: an electronic welcome sign.

The sign, a generous gift from the PTSA, will be used to share important information, including daily announcements along with graphics and messages that spread school spirit. So far this year, the sign has featured messages that welcomed students back to school and read “Home of the Bobcats.”

“We’re so grateful to the PTSA for this great addition to our school,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “It’s another great way for us to communicate with students and families and represent ourselves in a way that makes us even more proud of who we are.”

The PTSA is a proud supporter of many programs at all of the Byram Hills schools.

“The Byram Hills PTSA is so pleased to have participated in bringing the beautiful electronic welcome sign to Byram Hills High School,” said Liz Kaplan, the immediate past PTSA vice president for Byram Hills High School. 

“We are excited for the sign to greet students, faculty and visitors to our campus,” she added.  “The sign will be updated on a regular basis to allow all the members of our community to be aware of all the events taking place at the high school, from Fine Arts programming to sports to special events and more. We cannot think of a better way for our grant to enrich the high school community.”

You’ll see something new when arriving at Byram Hills High School: an electronic welcome sign.


 

Eight seniors at Byram Hills High School have been selected as semifinalists in the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program.

The students, Ethan Cherry, Alaska Fairbanks, Alex Kahn, Mihir Kumar, Remi Matza, Samantha Milewicz, Kelsey Vaquero and Clara Weil, can compete for 7,250 scholarships worth nearly $28 million. 

The students entered the scholarship competition by taking the Preliminary SAT last year as juniors. They were in their first year of high school when the coronavirus pandemic began and disrupted the educational process.

“Congratulations to our eight outstanding National Merit semifinalists,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “Even though they had such a unique high school experience, these dedicated and hard-working students have demonstrated great achievement and this recognition makes the entire Byram Hills community extremely proud.”

Guidance Chairperson Kristina Wilson added: “This is a remarkable accomplishment for the semifinalists, who showed tenacity and commitment to their academics during extremely challenging high school years.”

The more than 16,000 semifinalists in the 68th annual scholarship competition represent less than 1% of high school seniors in the United States, including the highest-scoring students in each state.  

To become a finalist, the semifinalists must submit a detailed application that includes information about their academic record, participation in school and community activities, leadership abilities, work, and honors and awards they received, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

About 95% of the semifinalists are expected to become finalists, and about half of the finalists will win a scholarship and the Merit Scholar title. Merit Scholars are chosen on the basis of their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

The winners will be announced between April and July.

Byram Hills High School National Merit Scholarship SemifinalistsEight seniors at Byram Hills High School have been selected as semifinalists in the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program. They are, from left, Alaska Fairbanks, Clara Weil, Ethan Cherry, Mihir Kumar, Alex Kahn, Remi Matza, Samantha Milewicz and Kelsey Vaquero.

Byram Hills High School is pleased to announce the Class of 2022 valedictorian, Julia Lucchino, and the salutatorian, Nora Lowe.

“Both of these young women have been exemplary students who have shown a strong commitment to academic excellence during their time at Byram Hills,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “They are well respected by the faculty, staff and their classmates. It is an incredible achievement, especially given the challenges over the past two years. I, along with the faculty and staff, am so proud of them for their hard work and dedication to their academics.”

Julia will attend Vanderbilt University and plans to major in mathematics.Julia

“I feel really honored to be recognized among such an incredibly talented student body,” Julia said. “It’s really nice to be validated after having worked so hard these past four years and finally being named valedictorian.”  

At Byram Hills, she was a member of the Cum Laude Society, a semifinalist in the prestigious U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, president of the mathematics honor society Mu Alpha Theta, a member of the World Languages Honor Society, a member of the Authentic Scientific Research Program, a teaching assistant in AP Computer Science A and president of the Tech Club. 

Julia was a co-leader of the Science Ambassadors Club, the senior speaker at this year’s Science Research Symposium and a member of the Girls Varsity Tennis Team, which captured the 2021 New York State team championship in the fall.

As a senior, she won the Senior English Award, the Ken Hamilton Memorial Award and 
the World Language Award for general excellence in French. As a junior, she won the Harvard Prize Book Award and an award for outstanding achievement in math.

Julia said Byram Hills has prepared her well for life after high school.

“Byram Hills did a really good job, especially in terms of academics,” she said. “I’ve become a much better thinker and I’m able to analyze things and make my own opinions, which I think is a really important thing as I go out into the world, especially in college.”

An important lesson she learned in high school: “I think that it’s OK to fail.”

“Sometimes you need to get the answer wrong to learn and grow and become a better person as a whole,” she said. 

Nora plans to continue her studies at Amherst College.Nora

On being named salutatorian, she said: “I feel extremely honored, and also really grateful to be graduating with such an amazing senior class. I think it is validating because both Julia and I have worked extremely hard, just like everybody else has this year, and to have this recognition makes it all worth it.”

At Byram Hills, Nora was a member of the Cum Laude Society, and as a senior won the 
Roger Case Memorial Scholarship, the Yearbook Award, the American Association of University Women Excellence in Writing Award and the Abe Shahim Science Research Award. As a junior, she won the Yale University Book Award and the Bausch & Lomb Award. She is a member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society and the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society.

Nora was the editor-in-chief of the yearbook, co-editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, president of the One World Club, a member of the Sustainability Club who handled public relations, a member of the Science Ambassadors Club and she studied in the Science Research Program. A tuba player, she participated in New York State School Music Association Area All-State band and orchestra festivals and participated in NYSSMA adjudications.

Outside of school, she volunteered at the Westmoreland Sanctuary in Mount Kisco on the Conservation Corps.

Nora said she has learned how to use her knowledge beyond high school. 

“At Byram Hills, they put a huge emphasis on shaping students not only to succeed in the classroom, but also to take those skills, apply them to the real world and use what we’ve learned to make a tangible difference.”

Both the valedictorian and salutatorian will speak at the Byram Hills High School Commencement. Congratulations!

With Chris Walsh
 

TeamThe Byram Hills Academic Team, coached by Martin Gilbert, ended their season with a flourish! The team entered the National Academic Championship, one of the largest quiz bowl tournaments in the country, and came out of the preliminary rounds with a 5-1 record and the 6th seed for the playoffs.

The single-elimination playoffs took place on June 11th. With victories over Greens Farms Academy (Westport, CT), Jesuit (New Orleans, LA), and Trinity (New Orleans, LA), the team advanced to the national semi-finals. In the semi-finals, Holton Arms (Bethesda, MD), the eventual National Champion, edged Byram Hills by a score of 380-315. Byram Hills finished in third place in the nation and came out with the fifth-highest scoring average out of 65 teams.

Team members pictured from left to right: Dylan Pozzuoli-Doyle, Daniel Ndocaj, John Ndocaj (captain), and Caleb Palappillil.

Byram Hills High School juniors and seniors were honored for their individual achievements at the annual awards ceremony on May 25 in the high school theater.

“We are gathered here tonight to celebrate the achievements of all of the students who are behind me on stage,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “It’s been such an incredible year, for so many reasons, for our high school community.”

This year, Byram Hills students were recognized by organizations including the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the New York State School Music Association, Regeneron, the College Board, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center, Con Edison, Section 1 Athletics, and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. 

“Countless other local, state, national and international organizations recognized Byram Hills students for their achievements,” Mr. Walsh said. “Our students were celebrated for their work in and out of the classrooms, both at school and on the road, and even remotely.” 

He thanked the students’ families for their endless support.

“None of the students would be able to be up here without all that you do for them,” Mr. Walsh said of the students seated on the stage. “Thank you for the hours and hours of support that enabled them to achieve so much.”

Ross EagleThe top honor for a graduating senior, the Hy Blatte-Jack Wollenberg Memorial Award, is given to a student with a humanitarian outlook, a willingness to extend himself for others, and an optimistic approach to life and its challenges. 

Mr. Walsh presented the award to Ross Eagle, hailing him for his leadership, involvement and willingness to help.

“This student always looks on the bright side and sees challenges as an opportunity for growth and learning,” Mr. Walsh said. “He is kind, compassionate and cares deeply for his community. This student reflects the values of Byram Hills High School.”

Along with the award, Ross received a $1,000 scholarship from the PTSA, $100 to donate to a charity of his choice, and by tradition, gave a speech during the ceremony. 

“When looking back on our time at the high school, it was nothing short of unusual, and a true test of our resilience,” Ross said, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic had shifted the mindset of students. “But it taught us an important lesson: that is, to make the most of the time we have and not to worry about the things that are out of our control.”

The PTSA Caruolo LeadershipPTSA Award, which is decided by a student vote and comes with a $1,000 scholarship, was presented by Assistant Principal Kristen Sautner to senior Irene Byrnes.

The award goes to a student who demonstrates outstanding leadership and exhibits character, dedication, loyalty and humanity. Ms. Sautner noted that Irene is described as dynamic, intelligent, fun loving, kind to all and always willing to lend a helping hand. 

“She has strength in her convictions and has shown that she can support and lift up others while also making her voice and point of view heard,” Ms. Sautner said. “This student works hard to ensure the success of those around her. She is also known for being astute and recognizing when a fellow classmate may be in need of help and demonstrates genuine care and willingness to assist others.”

The awards ceremony was filled with applause and pride as dozens of students were recognized, a wonderful way to kick off the end of the academic year.

To view the ceremony, CLICK HERE.
To view the full list of awards, CLICK HERE.
 

Edtih BachmannByram Hills High School senior Edith Bachmann won a third place award at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair for her behavioral science research project, which studied the cognitive benefits of students sharing stories with each other.

Edith compared pairs of fourth grade students who practiced storytelling, the act of retelling a story from memory while maintaining eye contact, with pairs that practiced story reading, or reading from a picture book and showing the pictures as visual aids. 

Her research found that each form of story sharing helped executive function and language skills in different ways.

Storytelling showed more improvement in reading comprehension and auditory sustained attention while story reading showed more benefits to working memory, visual sustained attention and vocabulary. The results show the need for both story reading and the less common peer-to-peer storytelling to help children’s development, Edith explained.

“I hope that both activities will be given a place in the classroom and at home, since they are both easily accessible and low-cost,” Edith said. “It is through these kinds of interventions that we will be able to help all students.”

She was gratified by her ISEF award, which came with a $1,000 prize.

“It’s such a great honor and I’m beyond excited,” said Edith, who plans to major in English at Wellesley College. “I’m very proud of the work I’ve done and I’m really grateful to all of the teachers and friends who have helped me along the way.”

She plans to conduct a new phase of her study this summer and possibly continue it next year.

“Edith’s project was just extraordinary and I’m incredibly proud of her,” said Dr. Caroline Matthew, a Byram Hills teacher in the Authentic Science Research Program. “Her research represents the importance of finding ways to improve education for our youngest children in accessible and meaningful ways. I couldn’t be more pleased that she created such a great project and found good results.”

Edith and Byram Hills seniors Jack Blackmar and Gabriella Colabello competed at Regeneron ISEF, which was held in Atlanta, Georgia, from May 7 to 13 and involved 1,750 students from 63 countries.

The three Byram Hills seniors qualified to compete at ISEF by finishing in the top 20 at the Regeneron Westchester Science and Engineering Fair in March.

The Byram Hills Central School District’s 2022-2023 budget was passed by the community on May 17 by a vote of 1,039 to 211.

The $96,939,312 budget reflects a budget-to-budget increase of 1.78% and a 1.84% increase in the tax levy, which is $560,365 below the tax levy limit.

“Thank you Byram Hills for supporting our school budget for the upcoming school year,” said Superintendent Jen Lamia. 

“This budget supports all programs that promote student success,” she added. “It maintains all academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs. It also enables the District to continue to develop new initiatives in a fiscally prudent manner that will enhance the Byram Hills student experience.”

The Byram Hills Board of Education had four open seats to fill - three for a three-year term and one for a one-year term. The three candidates with the most votes, Mia DiPietro, Jason Berland, and Melissa Jacobs, were elected to three-year terms. Lara Stangel was elected to fill the one-year term.

Board of Education trustee vote totals:

Mia DiPietro: 944
Jason Berland: 841
Melissa Jacobs: 786
Lara Stangel: 772
Scott Meyer: 499
Danielle Orellana: 442
Tiziana Didonna: 352


 

Byram Hills High School is pleased to announce Samantha Grech and Owen Kenny as this year’s recipients of the New York State Attorney General’s Triple C Award. This award has been presented since 2006 to deserving graduating seniors across New York State in recognition of three primary traits: courage, character, and commitment.

The NYS Triple C Award was established to honor seniors whose high school journey included unique circumstances and achievements. Whether overcoming personal obstacles, succeeding in academic pursuits, participating in community service, or displaying leadership skills, these students provide us with hope for a brighter future.

Samantha GrechSamantha Grech is an outstanding student, academic researcher, and athlete who is always committed to tackling the next challenge and is no stranger to grit and resilience. In November 2021, Samantha was diagnosed with cancer. Samantha has battled through chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery with remarkable courage and positivity. Her recovery has been anOwen Kenny inspiration to her family, friends, and the entire Byram Hills community. Samantha will be attending Boston College in the fall.

Owen Kenny showed exemplary self-discipline and fortitude to excel in the face of challenges. He has become a role model of academic achievement and excellence who inspires others with his dedication and generosity of spirit. Owen will seek a major in science at Siena College in the fall. 

Recognizing their outstanding musicianship, scholarship, character, leadership and service, Byram Hills High School inducted five seniors into the Tri-M Music Honor Society.

At an induction ceremony during the spring concert on April 27, the students, Edith Bachmann, Amelia Chung, Rebecca Frieden, Nora Lowe and Eleana Morse, were praised for their accomplishments in music.

“They have displayed leadership throughout their career in their high school ensembles, showing a high degree of loyalty, cooperation, leadership, compassion and of course, service,” said Aaron Lockwood, the Byram Hills Orchestra Director and Tri-M adviser. “They have been selected to and participated in honors ensembles both at the County and All-State levels, and they’ve also always been willing to lend a hand or volunteer their time to perform for students at Wampus or H.C.C.” 

He noted that the students volunteered many weekend hours to help Byram Hills host a New York State School Music Association strings festival in the early spring. “It is yet another example of how truly they understand the importance of community, and supporting and inspiring the next generation of musicians,” Mr. Lockwood said.

Kimberly Dunkin, Westchester County’s NYSSMA representative and a music teacher in the Hendrick Hudson School District, congratulated the inductees in her welcoming remarks. 

“Tonight’s induction is an incredible honor for you all,” she said. “It represents the countless hours and dedication you’ve given to your music community here at Byram, and in turn, to your own musicianship.”

With graduation approaching, she urged the inductees to keep music as part of their lives, regardless of what they do after high school.

“That might mean finding the college a cappella group or the campus band,” Ms. Dunkin said. “It might mean joining a community choir. It might even be purchasing tickets to see the New York Philharmonic.”

Musicians are your people, she told them. “Find them again, wherever you choose to go in whatever you choose to do after high school,” she said. “Find them again so you can continue to nurture your creativity, learn new things and challenge yourselves.”

Tri-M Inductees
From left to right: Eleana Morse, Nora Lowe, Rebecca Frieden, Amelia Chung, and Edith Bachmann

Byram Hills High School inducted 62 students into the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, which encourages the continued pursuit of mathematics and service to others.

Byram Hills Mathematics Chairperson Lisa Pellegrino welcomed students, families and guestsMain Address to an induction ceremony at the high school on April 26. “Congratulations to all of the students and welcome to Mu Alpha Theta,” she said.

Ms. Pellegrino thanked the inductees’ parents and family members.
 
“Without your support and your encouragement of the pursuit of mathematics, we would not be here today,” she said. “Please continue to support that mathematical inquiry at home and encourage your children to pursue the love and passion that they have for mathematics.”

Mu Alpha Theta, founded in 1957, is the national high school and two-year college mathematics honor society. The Byram Hills chapter is among about 1,800 across the United States and abroad.

For membership in the Byram Hills chapter, students need a 3.8 GPA in their core math classes and must perform 10 hours of community service. At least half of the hours need to be devoted to the honor society’s activities like puzzle day and helping students at H.C. Crittenden Middle School with math homework.

At the induction ceremony, Ms. Pellegrino recognized the Byram Hills chapter’s officers, Julia Lucchino, president; Arianna Tabankin, vice president; and Jake Goldman, treasurer; who spoke about the history of Mu Alpha Theta and the origins of mathematics, and the co-secretaries, Samatha Glusky, Arielle Goldman and Jane Zeltner. The senior officers also shared their experiences with math at Byram Hills.

In her sophomore year, Julia recalled that concepts weren’t coming easily to her and she thought about dropping down to a different class. She is glad she didn’t, because in 11th grade, everything began to click. 

With Ms. Pellegrino as her teacher, Julia said, it was the “first time in a math class where I was actually encouraged to try and fail, and I learned that mistakes are an important part of the learning process. This concept has helped me in all of my classes and so has math.”

Samantha expressed her appreciation for the circle, which has no start or end, and all of its uses in math and everyday life. 

Handshakes“Life would be very different without circles,” she said. “None of the planets would exist in a circular shape, there’d be no movement of wheels, cars or bicycles on the road. Clocks, coins, dishes and even pizza would look different without circles.”

She continued: “Although my time in math at Byram Hills is coming to an end, because of circles, I know I will take my knowledge, experiences in high school and in Mu Alpha Theta and continue my journey along the circle, but never let it end.” 

After the students spoke, the inductees were each recognized with a certificate and a blue and gold Mu Alpha Theta tassel.

The new members of the Byram Hills chapter of Mu Alpha Theta are: Aidan Aldea-Lustig, Ayaka Ammon, Lily Anchin, Drew Anikstein, Oscar Bachmann, Sydney Black, Connor Boekel, Gwyneth Brown, Samara Brown, Calvin Cai, Allison Cooper, Olivia Corpina, Benjamin Curley, Rohini Das, Gemma Dean, Katherine DeGeorges, Gregory Dekker, Abby Eickelbeck, Jacob Fenster, Amy Gagliardi, Samantha Gershuny, Emma Goldenberg, Zachary Goldman, Jesse Goldstein, Jack Herman, Lily Hirsch, Nathan Ilany, Charlie Jacobs, Alex Kahn, Sophia Kahn, Dale Kaiser, Adin Kersh, Zermina Khan, Ethan Kimmel, Jake Klein, Jessica Lammers, Aaron Lestz, Grace Lin, Jonathan Manowitz, Alexandra Meltzer, Brooke Mozarsky, Daniel Ndocaj, Amanda Nepo, Vienna Ouyang-Christiansen, Joseph Palackal, Gregory Parent, Jonathan Parent, Zachary Pero, Lauren Quintiere, Rick Rosenthal, Isabelle Sampere, Samantha Schaevitz, Casey Schreck, Jason Selkin, Sydni Shamus, Max Shayegani, Greg Shrayer, Wes Siege, Sarah Tillinger, Sander Versteele, Aidan Weiss and Magdalena Whelley.


 

Byram Hills High School honored its 10 student-athletes who are taking their skills to the next level in college.

“Congratulations to these talented and dedicated athletes,” said Brett Alcantara, the Byram Hills Assistant Athletic Director. “We are proud of all of their accomplishments, hard work and passion. Their commitment to their sport is commendable and we wish them all the best of luck.”

At a ceremonial signing day event in the high school gym on April 26, the students were recognized for their accomplishments on and off of the playing field. They were lauded for their leadership and academics as well as for their athleticism. 

“Each and every one of you sitting at the dais, while performing on the athletic fields and gyms and courts, have had your academic average surge,” said teacher Matt Allen, the boys varsity soccer coach who introduced the athletes and highlighted their accomplishments. “Each of you has blossomed into incredible role models here at Byram Hills.” 

“For a school the size of Byram Hills, a B school according to New York State, we have 10 athletes playing at the next level, a testament to your accomplishments throughout the last four years,” he added.

The students answered news conference style questions that touched on the leadership skills they’ll bring to their new teams, favorite moments playing for Byram Hills and their biggest challenges and goals in the future with their sport.

The students are: Irene Byrnes, city of Dublin/Trinity College, Ireland, lacrosse; Bobby Chicoine, Boston College, baseball; Jared Cohen, United States Military Academy West Point, baseball; Beth Corelli, Johns Hopkins University, basketball; Ross Eagle, Hamilton College, soccer; Justin Fortugno, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, wrestling; Nowell Gibson, The Ohio State University, fencing; Alyssa Margolin, Emory University, tennis; David Pavlenishvili, University of Notre Dame, fencing; and Bennett Rakower, Bowdoin College, lacrosse.

Here is a closer look at the Byram Hills athletes continuing their athletic careers in college:

Irene Byrnes, City of Dublin/Trinity College, Ireland, lacrosse: Irene will play for the city of Dublin and attend Trinity College. This season, Irene scored more than 30 goals, including a stunning behind-the-back goal against Nanuet. She is one of the top defenders in the league.

Bobby Chicoine, Boston College, baseball: Bobby is a right-handed pitcher who has been an integral part of the varsity program since eighth grade. His career pitching record to date is 14 wins, three losses, two saves, 128 innings pitched, 1.64 ERA, and 165 strikeouts. He is a two-time All-Section recipient and is one of the most feared pitchers in Section 1. Bobby broke the all-time school strikeout record this season.

Jared Cohen, United States Military Academy West Point, baseball: Jared is a power hitter who has been on the varsity team since eighth grade. His career stats to date are: .353 batting average, 41 hits, 44 runs, seven doubles, five home runs, 25 RBIs and 24 stolen bases. He was a 2021 All-League and All-Section recipient. 

Beth Corelli, Johns Hopkins University, basketball: Beth was an All-League player from ninth through 12th grades, and an All-Section player in 11th and 12th. She was co-MVP of the league in her junior season. During her senior season she won the distinct award of Con Edison Player of the Week and eclipsed the highly sought after 1,000-point mark, with an eventual total of 1,093 points in her career while averaging 16.5 in her junior season and 15.7 in her senior season. 

Ross Eagle, Hamilton College, soccer; In his four seasons, Ross led the team to 50 victories, and a team record of 50-10-6. He was named All-League, All-Section and All-State in his final year and was ranked as the fourth best player in Section 1. Ross, who plays left wing, is regarded as a prolific scorer and a dominant force. 

Justin Fortugno, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, wrestling: Justin is a phenomenal wrestler whose career record is 139-35. He is the all-time wins leader at Byram Hills High School. He has the highest winning percentage in the school’s history. He finished 44-3 this past season with only one loss within Section 1. He also won the Section I championship in his weight class and is a four-time All-Section wrestler.

Nowell Gibson, The Ohio State University, fencing: Nowell has been fencing since he was 7 and has competed for the U.S. team at World Cup tournaments. He was named to the 
U.S. Fencing All-American High School Team, First Team in 2019, 2021, 2022 and to the U.S. Fencing All-Academic Team, First Team in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022. He is ranked 24th in the United Stated and won third place at the Junior Olympics in February.

Alyssa Margolin, Emory University, tennis: Alyssa has been the top singles player on the varsity team for the past three seasons, and she has been named All-League and All-Section for four consecutive years. In her senior season, she won the Section I Singles Championship and finished third in singles at the New York State Public High School Championships. Alyssa and her teammates won the New York State team championships in 2021, the first state championship for any girls team in Byram Hills history.

David Pavlenishvili, University of Notre Dame, fencing: David was in the top 32 in the 2021 Cadet World Championships, in the top 16 in 2020 Junior Olympics, and he was on the All-Academic Fencing Team in 2021 and on the All-American Fencing Team in 2019 and 2021.

Bennett Rakower, Bowdoin College, lacrosse: Bennett is a midfielder who can play every position. He has 25 goals and 14 assists in lacrosse this season. Bennett, who also plays soccer and basketball, is also the only athlete to play all 12 seasons of high school.

Athletic Signing 2022

From left in the front: David Pavlenishvili, University of Notre Dame, fencing; Justin Fortugno, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, wrestling; Irene Byrnes, city of Dublin/Trinity College, Ireland, lacrosse; Beth Corelli, Johns Hopkins University, basketball; and Alyssa Margolin, Emory University, tennis. In the back row, from left, are: Nowell Gibson, The Ohio State University, fencing; Bennett Rakower, Bowdoin College, lacrosse; Bobby Chicoine, Boston College, baseball; Jared Cohen, United States Military Academy West Point, baseball; and Ross Eagle, Hamilton College, soccer.


 

JuliaByram Hills High School is proud to announce that senior Julia Lucchino has advanced to become a semifinalist in the prestigious U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

Julia is one of 620 semifinalists chosen from more than 5,000 candidates. The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, created in 1964, recognizes and honors some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.

“We are incredibly proud of Julia and everything she has accomplished at Byram Hills,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “She is a dedicated student and well-deserving of this honor. Congratulations on this terrific accomplishment.”

At Byram Hills, Julia is a member of the Cum Laude Society, which recognizes outstanding academic excellence; president of Mu Alpha Theta, a mathematics honor society, and last year she won the Harvard Prize Book Award, which honors high school juniors for excellent scholarship and character. She is also a member of the Authentic Scientific Research Program, a teaching assistant in AP Computer Science A and president of the Tech Club.

Julia was happy - and surprised - to be named a semifinalist.

“I’m very proud of it,” she said. “It’s nice to be recognized for my achievements.”

Julia plans to major in mathematics at Vanderbilt University. 

Up to 161 students are named U.S. Presidential Scholars each year. The Commission on U.S. Presidential Scholars will choose the scholars, who will be announced in mid-May by the U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona. The scholars are recognized during the National Recognition Program and awarded the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion each June.

SamanthaOn the day she turned 16 last year, Byram Hills High School junior Samantha Milewicz donated blood for the first time and then went straight to the Armonk Fire Department to drop off her application to become a volunteer.

Since then, she has undergone more than 300 hours of training to become a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician at the Armonk Fire Department. Samantha responds to emergency calls as often as she can, up to twice a day. She recently worked at her first structure fire and assists other EMTs with patients during emergency calls.

In addition, for the past two years, she has been a member of the Northern Westchester Hospital President’s Junior Leadership Council, which creates public health campaigns about issues affecting peers like vaping and loneliness, and she was chosen as one of six students to serve on the council’s Advisory Board, which works with the program’s leaders.

Byram Hills High School is proud to announce that Samantha has received the 2022 St. Vincent’s Hospital Youth Award, which honors high school students for their volunteer service.

The award is given to a sophomore, junior or senior from each participating area high school whose volunteer service exemplifies the hospital’s core values of respect, integrity, compassion and excellence. Students must have performed at least 50 hours of community service.

“Congratulations Samantha for receiving this prestigious award,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “Your selfless dedication to protecting the health and safety of others in the community is commendable and we are very proud of your volunteer service.”  

Samantha, who wants to be a surgeon, was excited to receive the award. “It’s a great recognition for the hard work I’ve put into giving back to the community and displays what passion I have,” she said.

“I’ve feel like I’ve been given a lot and I really enjoy helping people,” she said. “All of this has given me really great exposure to different fields and meeting new people, learning from new perspectives, and helping with professional skills. I’ve gained a lot from volunteering, not only for myself but I know it also helps those around me.”

Byram Hills High School celebrated its 34 new members of the National Art Honor Society, a recognition of the students’ commitment to the arts, their academics and community service in the arts. Pete Pauliks

Director of Fine Arts Pete Pauliks welcomed families to the induction ceremony on March 24 in the high school theater, and student leaders in the society led the event.

Chapter president Reese Ertel, a Byram Hills senior, noted that the society was created in 1978 by the National Art Education Association as a way to inspire and recognize student artists. 

The Byram Hills chapter was formed in 2018. “It’s dedicated to providing students with opportunities to broaden their knowledge of the arts and use their talents to serve the community at school and in the local area,” she said.

To be a member of the Byram Hills chapter, students must maintain an A average in their arts courses and a B cumulative grade point average in all other subjects. Students need to have completed Studio Art and at least two art electives to be considered for membership, making students eligible in 10th grade. 

Students in the honor society contribute to visual arts-related community service projects and participate in the chapter’s meetings, activities and fundraisers.

This year, NAHS students painted pumpkins, designed kindness rocks, created Thanksgiving cards for soldiers, and digital Valentine’s Day greetings to spread love at school.

“All of these inductees have worked hard throughout the year, completing projects, volunteering and participating monthly in the NAHS,” Reese said. “Each and every one of you helped bring the school community together through the power of art.”

Chapter treasurer Marianna Vataj, another senior, asked the inductees to recite the society’s pledge: “I will in my life, to the best of my ability through my talents in art, help to create a better world for myself, for humankind, and for all living things.”

Reese ErtelReese thanked the chapter’s faculty advisers, art teachers Jayne Karlin and Amy Menasche. “Their dedication to the society and the arts in general is inspiring and they are the backbone of NAHS,” she said.

Reese also announced that English teacher Catherine Eshoo was inducted as an honorary member. She was recognized for her commitment to the arts, especially through the course, Perspectives in Literature.

Reese congratulated the newly inducted students, who were called to the podium to receive a membership certificate as a slide of their artwork was displayed on the large screen on the stage.

The new members of the National Art Honor Society are:
Samantha Abraham
Elizabeth Albright
Brooke Altman
Ayaka Ammon
Lily Auster
Julia Barthelmes
Sophia Berland
Milena Chan
Carissa Chung
Massimo Colella-Albino
Olivia Corpina
Alana Curley
Rohini Das
Gemma Dean
Greg Dekker
Abby Eickelbeck
Alaska Fairbanks
Chloe Fang
Samantha Gershuny
Samantha Glusky
Lily Hirsch
Alex Ioffe
Ella Javorsky
Eerika Karttunen
Casey Maryyanek
Lindsay Miller
Jonathan Parent
Lila Raff
Elsa Rolfs
Piper Siegel
Avery Talbot
Max Teitelbaum
Abby Yallof
Olivia Zodda

Chapter members who were previously inducted were honored for their continued artistic and academic commitment:
Reese Ertel
Marianna Vataj
Sofia Mahairas
Ewa Miano
Samantha Milewicz

To view the ceremony, CLICK HERE.

NAHS Members

 

Grand Prize Winners

Byram Hills High School students had an impressive finish at the Regeneron Westchester Science and Engineering Fair: 36 students won awards, including three who captured the top prize and advanced to the international competition.

Byram Hills seniors Edith Bachmann, Jack Blackmar and Gabriella Colabello won the grand prize, which is awarded to the top 20 overall scoring projects. The winners can compete at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in Atlanta, Georgia, in May.

The Byram Hills students, part of the school’s Authentic Science Research Program, presented their advanced science research projects at the competition known as WESEF, which was held virtually on March 19 and 20. Students from Westchester and Putnam counties competed before judges who are experts in life science, physical science, environmental studies, psychology and engineering. The winners were announced on March 24 at Somers High School.

“We are extremely proud of all of our students who competed and showcased our program so well,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program. 

“These students have encountered extraordinary obstacles and challenges that they faced head on with determination, hard work and always a sense of humor,” she added. “Finding the joy in the struggle is something we emphasize, and having all of these students recognized for their work reflects their dedication throughout the years.”

 

Here’s a look at the Byram Hills winners:

American Meteorological Society Award
Creative scientific endeavor in atmospheric and related oceanic and hydrologic sciences (Certificate)

Derek Araki-Kurdyla - Environmental Science
Jane Zeltner - Environmental Science


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American Psychological Association 
Outstanding research in psychological science (Certificate)

Jake Goldman

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Society for In Vitro Biology Award
11th grade students with outstanding research in plant or animal in vitro biology or tissue culture (Certificate)

Samantha Milewicz - Neuroscience

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United States Air Force Award
Outstanding projects in Engineering, Mathematics, Computer Science, Life Science and/or Physical Science (Certificate)

Ella Fleischer- Behavioral & Social Science
Ilana Kersh - Behavioral & Social Science 
Hannah Rippy- Behavioral & Social Science

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Innovations in Biological Sciences Research Award
Awarded to innovative projects in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Medicine and Health, Microbiology, Computational Biology/Bioinformatics and Neuroscience ($25)
Generously donated by WESEF Alumni

Alicia Huang- Cellular & Molecular Biology
Tanya Postian - Medicine & Health

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Excellence in Medical Research Award
Top Medicine & Health, Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Microbiology, and Neuroscience Research Projects ($25)
Generously donated by the Westchester Academy of Medicine

Olivia Addeo - Medicine & Health
Jamie Kaplan - Medicine & Health

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Future of Medicine Award
Top Medicine & Health, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Microbiology and Neuroscience Research Projects ($50)
Generously donated by Westchester Academy of Medicine

David Pavlenishvili - Cell Biology

-

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

Arianna Tabankin - Cellular & Molecular Biology

-

Carl Zeiss Microscopy Award
Given to outstanding projects that incorporate the use of a microscope ($100) 
Generously donated by Carl Zeiss Microscopy LLC

Eva Shrayer - Neuroscience

-

Honorable Mention Award
Projects that exemplify mastery in research
Sponsored by WESEF Alumni ($25)

Eliza Goldman - Behavioral & Social Science
Owen Fleischer - Computer Science

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Best in Category Awards 

Fourth Place in Category Awards ($50) – sponsored by Westchester Academy of Medicine

Morgan Aronsky - Animal Science
Sydney Charron - Computational Biology & Bioinformatics
Hayden Weiss - Computer Science
Derek Araki-Kurdyla - Environmental Science

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Third Place in Category Awards ($75) – sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Cares Foundation

Emily Pizzorusso - Behavioral & Social Science
Sophia Berland - Behavioral & Social Science
Katerina Schmidt - Behavioral & Social Science
Lucy Kwittken - Cellular & Molecular Biology
Alana Foreman - Computer Science
Jane Zeltner - Environmental Science
Julia Lucchino- Medicine & Health
Dylan Haber - Medicine & Health
John Ndocaj - Medicine & Health 
Samantha Milewicz - Neuroscience

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Second Place in Category Awards ($100) – sponsored by Con Edison

Danielle Freedman - Animal Science
Rebecca Frieden- Behavioral & Social Science
Amelia Chung - Environmental Science
Sydney Levy - Medicine & Health
Elizabeth Deeks- Neuroscience
Eva Shrayer - Neuroscience

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First Place in Category Awards ($125) – sponsored by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

Edith Bachmann - Behavioral & Social Science 
Jack Blackmar - Behavioral & Social Science
Gabriella Colabello - Cellular & Molecular Biology
David Pavlenishvili - Cellular & Molecular Biology
Arianna Tabankin - Cellular & Molecular Biology
Nora Lowe - Computational Biology & Bioinformatics

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Grand Prizes 

Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)
Awarded to the top 20 overall scoring projects. 

Edith Bachmann 
Jack Blackmar 
Gabriella Colabello

The 20 grand prize winners will present their research and represent Westchester and Putnam counties at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair. There are typically more than 1,800 students from more than 75 countries at the event, and on average, $4 million in awards are given annually.

The Varley Players returned to the Byram Hills High School stage to perform the circus-Pippin 1inspired reimagining of the Broadway hit musical “Pippin.”

Some 60 students were involved in the production, which ran on March 10, 11 and 13.

“Congratulations to the Byram Hills High School company members of “Pippin” for their amazing performances,” said Pete Pauliks, the Byram Hills Director of Fine Arts. “The show was wonderful. The cast, crew, lighting and sound technicians, and musicians all did a fabulous job of bringing this story to life.”

“Pippin” is about a young prince searching for happiness in the extraordinary, but discovers that it’s the ordinary, everyday parts of life that are what’s extraordinary. The revival featured stylized movement and dancing, colorful lighting and terrific costumes.

“The show felt whimsical and circus-like,” Mr. Pauliks said. “People enjoyed the levity and humor and also the really touching moments, too. The message behind it is strong and our students really related to it.”

Pippin2The show had an ensemble cast that allowed all of the performers to shine.

“Students learned what it means to be part of a company and that while everyone has a different role, they are all equally important,” Mr. Pauliks said.

The original “Pippin” was directed by Tony Award-winning choreographer and director Bob Fosse in 1972, and his influences were felt in this show. The Byram Hills production was led by a guest director and choreographer, Karen Mitchell, a former Radio City Rockette and creative director of the Rockettes. 

There was great collaboration among Byram Hills teachers and staff involved in the musical. ByramPippin 3 Hills faculty and staff involved in the show included Liz Morris, assistant director; Kyle Banks, music director; Gabrielle Sanft, pit conductor; Danielle Brooks, scenic design/scenic foreman; and Andrew Hochler, who played trumpet in the pit.  

Students enjoyed putting on the show.

“It was a lot of hard work and long hours, but the outcome of the show was definitely worth it,” said sophomore Valentina Marino. “The students had a great time working with the production team, and we were all excited to finally be back on the stage.”

Senior Madonna Pedone added: “‘Pippin’ was very different from any show I’ve done but was an incredibly fun experience.”

The Fine Arts Department is grateful for the support of parents who helped with costumes, lighting, ticket and ad sales, concessions and providing meals for the company. “The volunteerism that was shown and the number of parents who came out to support the students was amazing,” Mr. Pauliks said. “We are grateful for their support.”


 

Seniors in the Byram Hills High School Authentic Science Research Program had an outstanding showing at the Upstate Junior Science and Humanities Symposium last week, with six students winning awards.

Twelve Byram Hills students competed virtually at the event hosted at University at Albany on March 9 and 10.

“I’m so proud of all of our students who presented at the Upstate JSHS,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Byram Hills science research program. “Congratulations to our winners. It was so rewarding for them to see their hard work recognized.”

In the speaker presentation competition, Alex Berkman finished first in the Biomedical category and will compete at the national competition next month in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

Second place winners were Hannah Rippy for Behavior and Sydney Levy for Biomedical, and third place winners were Arianna Tabankin for Biochemistry and John Ndocaj for Biomedical. 

In the poster presentation event, Nora Lowe placed first in the Bioinformatics category.

The other Byram Hills students who competed in the speaker competition were Danielle Eder, Alicia Huang and Amelia Chung, and students who competed in the poster presentation were Morgan Aronsky, Alana Foreman and Lucy Kwittken.

The Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is a STEM competition sponsored by the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force. It promotes original research by high school students and recognizes outstanding achievements.

Winners

Six Byram Hills High School seniors won awards at the Upstate Junior Science and Humanities Symposium last week. They are from left in the front row, Arianna Tabankin, Sydney Levy, Nora Lowe; and from left in the back row, John Ndocaj, Hannah Rippy, and Alex Berkman.

Chris Herren 1

Byram Hills High School students watched a powerful and heart-wrenching video on the rise of former NBA player Chris Herren and his drug addiction and downfall. Then, as the lights came up, the high school theater fell silent as Mr. Herren, sober since 2008, began to speak. 

He told students he knows the feeling of thinking that you don’t need to hear words like his about drugs.

“Just like some of you, I wanted to skip this talk,” Mr. Herren said to the juniors and seniors in the theater and the ninth and tenth graders who watched via livestream on March 8. “Just like a couple of you, I tried to convince my mother to let me sleep in and get some rest because we don’t need this talk. And just like some of you, I’ve walked into this talk with the attitude, all I do is drink and smoke, drug assemblies are a joke. It’s wild that they think I would turn into that guy.”

“That attitude comes from what I believe is the way we’ve irresponsibly talked to kids about addiction,” added the straight-talking Mr. Herren. “I think we put way too much focus and energy on the worst day and we forget the first day.”

The video traced Mr. Herren’s start as a high school basketball legend in Fall River, Massachusetts, and his turns playing for Boston College and Fresno State. He was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 1999 and traded in 2000 to the Boston Celtics, a dream come true. But he was living a secret life. Interspersed with his basketball success was drug use, being arrested and multiple stints in rehab. 

Students learned of Mr. Herren having his first taste of beer as a young teenager, using cocaine at Boston College, taking Oxycontin, shooting heroin, and the desperate need to obtain drugs, including right before game time. 

“Everybody thinks this talk is about drugs and alcohol,” he said. “I think it’s about self-worth. I think it’s about confidence, self-esteem. I think it’s about family. It’s about the people that love you.”

Mr. Herren said that he never felt confident at the end of the night after high school parties, not pretending to be so tough any more, and he tried to cover up his mistakes. His mom, he said, never believed her son, a McDonald’s All-American basketball star, would spend her money on drugs. 

Chris Herren 2“Let’s just be real,” Mr. Herren said. “I’m 16, spending my mommy’s money on drugs. I’m 16 years old, lying to everybody who loves me right now. I’m 17 years old and my family doesn’t even know me.”

“That’s the scariest thing about drug addiction,” he said at one point. “Nobody knows who has it yet.” He added: “Parents don’t ask, and kids are afraid to talk about it.”

Who in the audience, he asked, would want their adoring younger sibling doing what they are doing in high school, keeping secrets, pretending everything is great, feeling so insecure that they need to drink to have fun.

“When we can envision that, it doesn’t seem so right any more,” he said. “This is no longer my story, it’s your story. See, the goal is that you walk out of here and you think of the kid you’re becoming.”

“My goal is that one of you walk out of here and say to yourself, ‘I want to feel better. I want to talk to someone. I don’t want to pretend everything’s right.’”

Principal Christopher Walsh was hopeful that the presentation would help students and families feel supported, and he urged students in need to ask for assistance.

“Substance abuse and addiction touch every part of society and it has gotten worse for many people during the pandemic,” he said. “Many families are suffering in silence. I hope that Chris Herren's message helps people realize that they are not alone.”   

Students found Mr. Herren’s presentation moving and inspiring.Chris Herren 4

“I thought it was really impactful to hear because I think it’s definitely very normalized, drug use and drinking on the weekends,” senior Sofia Cobos said. “It was a really great talk. It definitely needed to be heard. It was a very, very eye-opening experience.”

Ninth grader Brody Ceisler said he learned that “even though somebody might not look like something on the outside, you never know what’s happening on the inside of them.”

Mr. Herren has shared his story with nearly 2 million high school students, hoping to make a difference early in their lives. He runs the nonprofit Herren Project, which empowers schools to make healthy choices while guiding families through recovery, and Herren Wellness, a residential health and wellness program that helps people live substance-free lives.

Byram Hills High School is grateful to the Armonk Community Foundation for sponsoring Mr. Herren’s presentation, which was available for parents to watch via livestream during the presentation.

 

Four Byram Hills High School seniors have advanced to become finalists in the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program.

The students, Olivia Addeo, Ryan Bernstein, John Ndocaj and Jane Zeltner, are among the more than 15,000 finalists competing for 7,500 Merit Scholarships worth nearly $30 million.

The students entered the scholarship competition by taking the Preliminary SAT. The finalists were selected from the 16,000 semifinalists announced in September. The semifinalists represent less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors, including the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

“Congratulations to all four of our semifinalists on being named finalists in the National Merit Scholarship competition,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “These students are dedicated to their academics and we are incredibly proud of their achievements and hard work.”

National Merit Semifinalists
From left: Olivia Addeo, Ryan Bernstein, John Ndocaj, and Jane Zeltner.
 

 

MoanaH.C. Crittenden Middle School students delivered a rousing performance of the musical “Moana Jr.,” an entertaining show that brought the audience to its feet. 

The show, involving 50 students in the cast and another 30 in the crew, was performed three times at the middle school last weekend. There were big dance numbers, beautiful costumes, amazing lighting and creative scenery.

It was the first live performance on the H.C. Crittenden stage in two years.

“Congratulations to the cast and crew of ‘Moana Jr.’ for putting together such a wonderful performance and giving us the gift of live theater,” said Kate Smith, a director of the show and the chorus teacher at the middle school. “It was a special gift not only for the students to participate but for the community to enjoy a live performance.” 

“The students were amazing,” she added. “They were so energized.”

Moana 2The musical is about Moana’s journey to help save the people of her island home. Along the way, she meets the demigod Maui, who helps her fulfill the ancient quest of her ancestors. The show touches on the themes of patience and perseverance as characters of various backgrounds and experiences bravely work together as members of a community, Ms. Smith said. 

The cast and crew similarly joined together to put on a terrific show. “The students embodied the themes of the musical while preparing and performing the musical,” Ms. Smith said.

Seventh grader Kendall Sorenson, who played Moana, said being in the show was a great experience.

“I got to meet so many new people and develop strong friendships while having the time of my life,” she said. “The performance was great. Everyone had so much energy and we were all having a blast up on stage, singing and dancing our hearts out!”

Pete Pauliks, the District’s Director of Fine Arts, congratulated the cast and crew for the sensational production.

“The empowering messages of bravery and selflessness shined through in this show,” he said.  “Thank you to the faculty, staff, and families for supporting our students in creating this beautiful production.”

Audience members rose as the actors took their bows. 

“They loved it,” Ms. Smith said. “Everybody was raving and really impressed."

Ensemble Cast


 

Julia LByram Hills High School senior Julia Lucchino has been selected as a candidate for the prestigious United States Presidential Scholars Program.

The program, established in 1964, honors some of the most distinguished high school seniors in the nation. Being a United States Presidential Scholar is one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.

“Congratulations to Julia on this tremendous honor,” Byram Hills High School Principal Christopher Walsh said. “Julia is incredibly dedicated to her academics and we are very proud of her for receiving this recognition.”

Julia was chosen as a candidate for the part of the program that focuses on academic achievement and exceptional scores on the SAT or ACT. 

“I was really excited when I found out I was nominated,” Julia said. “It is a tremendous honor!”

Candidates must apply for the award. A committee will evaluate candidates on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, service and leadership and an essay. Approximately 600 candidates out of more than 5,000 will be named as semifinalists.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars will review the applications of the semifinalists in April and select up to 161 as U.S. Presidential Scholars, who will be honored in June during a national recognition program and awarded the Presidential Scholars Medallion.
 

Thirty-nine seniors in the Authentic Science Research Program at Byram Hills High School competed in the virtual Westchester-Rockland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium on Saturday, with 20 students, a school record, winning awards. 

Twelve students won at the regional level and will compete next month at the state level. Students who came in first or second have the chance to advance to the national competition. Eight students won at the local level. 

This year, Byram Hills had the highest number of competitors and winners at the Westchester-Rockland event in the history of its science research program.

“We are so proud of all of our seniors who presented in this record-breaking year,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Byram Hills science research program. “Congratulations to all of our winners who represented our program so well.”

Regional winners
First Place

Danielle Eder - Behavior
Alicia Huang - Cell & Molecular Biology
Amelia Chung - Earth & Environmental Science
John Ndocaj - Medicine & Health
 
Second Place
Hannah Rippy - Behavior
Arianna Tabankin - Cell & Molecular Biology
Alex Berkman - Computational Biology/Bioinformatics
Sydney Levy - Medicine & Health
 
Third Place 
Morgan Aronsky - Biological Sciences
Lucy Kwittken - Genetics
Alana Foreman - Mathematics/Computer Science
 
Fourth Place 

Nora Lowe - Computational Biology/Bioinformatics


Local winners
First place

Ella Fleischer - Behavior
Eliza Goldman- Behavior
Ilana Kersh - Behavior
Danielle Freedman - Behavior
Gabriella Colabello - Behavior
 
Second Place 
Jake Goldman - Behavior
Eva Shrayer - Biological sciences
Dylan Haber - Medicine & Health

The annual Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is a STEM competition sponsored by the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force that promotes original research by high school students and recognizes outstanding achievement. The next competition, the Upstate New York JSHS, is to be held in March at the University at Albany, followed by the national competition in April in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


ASR JSHSByram Hills High School had a record 20 winners at Saturday’s Westchester-Rockland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, which was held online. They are, from left in the front row: Amelia Chung, Alicia Huang, Gabriella Colabello, Nora Lowe, Lucy Kwittken, Eliza Goldman, Arianna Tabankin and Sydney Levy, and from left in the back row: John Ndocaj, Alex Berkman, Dylan Haber, Jake Goldman, Hannah Rippy, Morgan Aronsky, Danielle Eder, Eva Shrayer, Ilana Kersh, Ella Fleischer, Alana Foreman and Danielle Freedman.

The artwork of two Byram Hills High School seniors has been selected for the 2022 National Art Honor Society/National Junior Art Honor Society Juried Exhibition. 

Seniors Ewa Miano and Reese Ertel were chosen as artists included in the virtual gallery, which is on the website of the National Art Education Association, arteducators.org, through April 29. 

Both students are students in Jayne Karlin’s AP Studio in Art class and members of the high school’s National Art Honor Society chapter, with Reese serving as president. 

“I’m so proud of these two talented artists,” said Ms. Karlin, one of the National Art Honor Society advisers at Byram Hills. “Their work exemplifies the talent and creativity of our members of the National Art Honor Society.”

Ewa’s work is a painting of a ballerina titled “Perfectionist.” Reese’s piece, called “Poppy,” is a portrait in colored pencil inspired by her grandfather.

This is the art association’s seventh annual juried exhibition. The association received a record 1,665 submissions for the show, and selected 199 works from 103 schools from the United States and abroad. 

The NAEA began the National Art Honor Society program in 1978 to inspire students and recognize those with an outstanding ability in art. The National Art Education Association, founded in 1947, is a professional membership organization for visual arts educators that includes more than 58,000 students who belong to the National Art Honor Society.

"Poppy" by Reese Ertel
"Poppy" by Reese Ertel

 

"Perfectionist" by Ewa Miano
"Perfectionist" by Ewa Miano

 

 

Featuring paintings, ceramics, photographs and more, the Winter Art Show celebrated the creativity of students at Byram Hills High School and H.C. Crittenden Middle School.

The show was held at Byram Hills High School on Jan. 13 and 14. Administrators, teachers, staff members, students and families turned out for a community reception to view the exhibition on Jan. 13.

“The show was fantastic,” said Pete Pauliks, the District’s Director of Fine Arts. “The space was beautifully transformed into an art gallery. The space was filled with a great variety of really interesting artwork. When you see all the different mediums our students are working in, it’s exciting.”

The art teachers attended the reception, and greeted student artists and their families to discuss the art on display. Some pieces featured sophisticated artist statements while others represented a technique learned in class. 

“The show was a great way to celebrate the students’ achievements and to interact with students and the art,” Mr. Pauliks said. “It was magical and it made everyone feel good to be there viewing the collection.”
“With such a great turnout from the community, it shows that the school community rallies around the accomplishments of our kids in the art rooms,” he added, “and that was great to see.”

Art Show Tour

 

Featuring paintings, ceramics, photographs and more, the Winter Art Show celebrated the creativity of students at Byram Hills High School and H.C. Crittenden Middle School.

The show was held at Byram Hills High School on Jan. 13 and 14. Administrators, teachers, staff members, students and families turned out for a community reception to view the exhibition on Jan. 13.

“The show was fantastic,” said Pete Pauliks, the District’s Director of Fine Arts. “The space was beautifully transformed into an art gallery. The space was filled with a great variety of really interesting artwork. When you see all the different mediums our students are working in, it’s exciting.”

The art teachers attended the reception, and greeted student artists and their families to discuss the art on display. Some pieces featured sophisticated artist statements while others represented a technique learned in class. 

“The show was a great way to celebrate the students’ achievements and to interact with students and the art,” Mr. Pauliks said. “It was magical and it made everyone feel good to be there viewing the collection.”
“With such a great turnout from the community, it shows that the school community rallies around the accomplishments of our kids in the art rooms,” he added, “and that was great to see.”

Art Show Tour


 

Derek Araki-Kurdyla, Edith Bachmann, Sydney Levy and Emily PizzorussoFour Byram Hills High School seniors have been selected as top scholars in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search, an honor that recognizes their independent research conducted in the school’s Authentic Science Research Program.

The students, Derek Araki-Kurdyla, Edith Bachmann, Sydney Levy and Emily Pizzorusso, are among the 300 top scholars chosen from about 1,800 students at 603 high schools in the United States and abroad. The students won $2,000 each and advanced to the next round of the science and math competition. Byram Hills High School will receive $8,000 for STEM-related work.

“We are so very proud of these four students,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Byram Hills science research program. “They have conducted exemplary research, overcome obstacles and produced outstanding work.”

“These students represent our 41 incredibly talented seniors who have done tremendous research that will have a great impact on our world,” she added.

The Society for Science, which has run the competition since 1942, said the scholars were chosen for “their exceptional research skills, commitment to academics, innovative thinking and promise as scientists.” The students’ original work was judged by leading experts in their fields.

Byram Hills High School Principal Christopher Walsh congratulated the students.

“I am so happy for these students and the entire Authentic Science Research Program,” he said. “These individual achievements are supported by an amazing program, department, school, district and community. It's a great day to be a Bobcat!  

On Jan. 20, 40 of the 300 scholars will be named finalists, who will compete for more than $1.8 million in prizes at a weeklong competition in March. The top award is $250,000.

The competition aims to identify, inspire and engage promising young scientists who are working to solve the world’s most urgent problems. Alumni of the program have won the most prestigious math and science honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes, 11 National Medals of Science, 22 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and two Fields Medals.

A closer look at the work of the Byram Hills scholars:

Derek Araki-Kurdyla: Through a field study, Derek explored the characteristics of the coastline soil where seagrass grows to identify the optimal environments for reducing carbon dioxide in the ocean. Identifying natural ways to reduce ocean CO2 is essential as high levels are detrimental to ocean ecosystems.

Edith Bachmann: Edith investigated working memory and the sustained attention of fourth grade students. For her study, she compared students who practiced storytelling, the act of retelling a story from memory while maintaining eye contact, and students who practiced story reading, or reading from a book and showing the pictures as visual aids. Her online experiment, which she created and conducted, provided worthwhile data confirming the need for both storytelling and story reading as part of a child's development.

Sydney Levy: Sydney studied mitral valve prolapse, a heart valve disease. Through a lab investigation and sequencing data analysis, she explored the condition’s relationship with scar tissue formation in the human heart. Her identification of an important cellular pathway could lead to therapies for preventing the scarring that results from the condition.

Emily Pizzorusso: Emily explored sex differences relating to synesthesia, a neurological condition in which the senses become intertwined, like for example, seeing colors when hearing music. Her research sheds light on this critically understudied condition.

Senator and StudentsNew York State Sen. Shelley Mayer came to Byram Hills High School on Thursday to congratulate the Girls Varsity Tennis Team on winning their history-making state title and presented each girl with a certificate of achievement. 

“This is a fantastic victory and it’s important they get validated for everything great they accomplish in school and sports,” Sen. Mayer said in Bobcat Hall.

She met the girls, asked them about their championship run and presented each girl with a certificate. She also recognized Coach Mike Racanelli and Rob Castagna, the District’s Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics, and thanked them for their leadership.

In November, the team won the inaugural New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division 2 team championship after an undefeated season. They became the first girls team to capture a state title in the school’s 55-year history.

Sen. Mayer said it was important to acknowledge their accomplishment.

“I truly believe in women’s sports,” she said. “I think sports is a way to learn about losing and getting up the next day. The ‘we’ is a big part of sports and the confidence that comes from winning and even just from playing.”

Staff and the SenatorSuperintendent Jen Lamia thanked Sen. Mayer, who is chair of the State Senate Education Committee, for coming, and told the girls how impressive it was that she took time out of her schedule to meet them.

“She is a senator who cares so deeply about schools,” Dr. Lamia said, adding to Sen. Mayer: “To have you here, it speaks volumes to what you think about our community.”

Sen. Mayer and Dr. Lamia told the girls that while they both love their jobs, they won’t be in them forever, and they urged them to get involved.

“We need new voices in the world of civic life,” Sen. Mayer said. “We need new people, and we certainly need women. This is a good moment to express yourselves.”

Team and senator
 

It is not often that a piece of middle school writing gets printed and bound into a book. But on Monday, Byram Hills students got to experience the thrill of holding the fruits of their creative storytelling in their very own hands.

A group of students who participated in the Written Out Loud program at H.C. Crittenden Middle School as eighth graders in the springTeachers handing out books were celebrated at a ceremony in the high school theater. The now-ninth graders were applauded as they were called up individually to receive their book from HCC English Language Arts teachers Melinda Fuller and Jeanine Cappello.

“Today, you are published authors,” Josh Shelov, founder and CEO of Written Out Loud, told the students.

In the spring, 53 students worked in collaborative teams over Zoom with a mentor teacher from Written Out Loud to develop their stories by talking through their ideas. Then, each student wrote or co-wrote an original story. The program was a way to offer students something special during the pandemic and their final year at the middle school.

A key principle of Written Out Loud is that students gain courage by sharing their stories aloud.

“So many kids, they get in front of a blank page and they don’t know what to write and that just defeats them,” Mr. Shelov explained afterward. “But if they’ve developed it out loud and gotten the confidence from their peers, writing is a lot easier.”

Josh ShelvMr. Shelov told students his own story about the creation of Written Out Loud. As a child, he was “a creative kid who felt deep down like I didn’t have a creative place to play.” He loved “Star Wars” and Quentin Tarantino movies but played baseball because that’s where his friends were. 

It wasn’t until he arrived at Yale University that he found other creative types, his “kindred spirits,” and decided to pursue a career in movie-making. He wrote screenplays throughout his 20s, but said: “I began to realize that my dream was not going to come true.”

Then a friend persuaded him to write one more screenplay. He was now 32, with a wife and baby, a dog, a day job, and no free time, and he got it done the only way he could. He woke up at 5 a.m., an hour earlier than usual, put the baby in a backpack, the dog on a leash, and over a three-month period, he dictated his screenplay into a tape recorder as he walked through Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

“This process of actually saying the story out loud marked the turning point in my life,” Mr. Shelov said, and that screenplay was made into the movie “Green Street Hooligans” featuring Elijah Wood. 

“Deep down, I was like, I’ve got to start telling kids when you're at the valuable, valuable age of searching for yourselves, the power of telling these stories out loud, there’s a magic in it,” he said, adding: “There is something generous, inclusive and yes, profoundly magically, about that craft of believing in your own voice to the point where you’re actually saying it out loud, live to other people.”

Mr. Shelov began creating the Written Out Loud program, and the eighth graders at H.C. Crittenden were the first class of students to participate, thanks to the generosity of the Byram Hills Education Foundation. 

Mr. Smith speaks to the studentsDuane Smith, the Byram Hills English chairperson, thanked the BHEF, the middle school ELA teachers, and the young authors.

“You took a risk last year and you joined our friends at Written Out Loud on an amazing journey,” he said. “I’m amazed by what you were able to produce and I know that this experience will be a  lasting example of what can be accomplished. Under the most trying ofA student holds her published book circumstances, you prevailed and we’re here to celebrate that.”

Mr. Smith announced that the Written Out Loud program, which was piloted in the spring with students who signed up to participate, will become part of the eighth grade curriculum this year. 

Kim Lapple, principal of H.C. Crittenden Middle School, was grateful to the BHEF for the grant. “This generous gift from the BHEF allowed our students to be creative, be connected and become more invested in something that gives them so many life opportunities.”

Students enjoyed the feeling of holding their new books.

“It feels amazing,” John Cavada said. “Last year we were going through COVID-19, we were still dealing with the effects of the virus and the pandemic and we were on Zoom the entire time while we were making this book. To see this final product in my hands today and to be at this awards ceremony, it’s something I feel really proud of.” 
 

As they rehearsed a selection for their upcoming winter concert, student musicians at Byram Hills High School and H.C. Crittenden Middle School were led by an inspiring guest conductor with unmatched credentials: the very composer who wrote the music.  

Soon Hee Newbold, a California-based symphonic composer-conductor and musician whoSoon Hee at BHHS has played all over the world, spent Dec. 2 working with Byram Hills string musicians thanks to a Byram Hills PTSA Cultural Enrichment Grant. 

Ms. Newbold rehearsed with the String Orchestra at the high school in the morning and spent the afternoon at the middle school, where she worked with the Grade 7 Orchestra and the Grade 8 Chamber Players. About 80 students in all participated.

“I enjoyed every second of it,” Ms. Newbold said at the end of the day. “It’s always rejuvenating and always really inspiring for us as writers to come and see the feedback that you get from the students and to see new talent coming up.”

Each session began with students playing her work, “Orion and the Scorpion” at the high school and “Viking” at the middle school. She worked with students, going line by line through the music and giving feedback on the different parts.

In the morning, Ms. Newbold explained her inspiration for the energetic and epic “Orion and the Scorpion,” which was partly from Greek mythology, but also from her love of space exploration and the birth of stars. “Very nice, very spacelike,” she said at one point as they rehearsed. “I feel like I’m in a cluster of stars now.”  

The high school players did a great job, she said.

“You can tell from the amount of work and from the caliber and from the preparation that they’ve done, that they’ve put a lot of thought and a lot of work into it already,” Ms. Newbold said. “That means a lot to me as a musician.”

Soon Hee signed the sheet music for this HCC student.At H.C. Crittenden Middle School, Ms. Newbold talked to students about the history of Vikings, and explained that she drew inspiration for the piece from her Swedish grandfather, who was descended from Erik the Red.

“When you think of Vikings, what do you think of?” she asked, and heard answers including “brave,” warriors” and “aggressive.” “Those are really good words. Utilize that when you’re playing.”  

Of the seventh and eighth graders, Ms. Newbold said: “What was really great about them was their energy and they just really enjoyed playing the music and they learned so fast. It’s really impressive.”

In addition to her music career, Ms. Newbold is also a filmmaker and a reserve officer with the Burbank, California, Police Department. The multitalented Ms. Newbold, who began playing piano at age 5 and also plays the violin and viola professionally, autographed the “Viking” sheet music for middle school musicians. 

Students enjoyed meeting her and learning about her life and work. 

“It was pretty cool because her vision of this piece was really different from what we imagined it would be,” said Byram Hills High School sophomore Grace Lin, who plays the violin. “Now it’s less of a battle and more about exploring the stars, so I think I approach it differently now.”

Margaret Pollack, also a sophomore who plays the violin, said: “It was nice to hear from the person directly because you can see what their intentions were. It was informative to see what she was trying to do.”

Seventh grader Stephen Lombardi, who plays the string bass, said it was “surreal” to meet the composer of “Viking,” and said practicing with Ms. Newbold will help his playing. “This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it.”

Collaborating with Ms. Newbold to learn and incorporate new ideas about her interpretation of the music will help students with their upcoming performances, said Aaron Lockwood, the high school’s Orchestra Director. “This authentic experience of working with a live composer was invaluable for our students,” he said.

The District’s Director of Fine Arts, Pete Pauliks, commended Mr. Lockwood and middle school Orchestra Director Adelle St. Onge for coordinating such a valuable experience for the students.

“Soon Hee Newbold's visit provided students with a unique opportunity to work alongside a professional composer and artist,” he said. “After learning about Ms. Newbold's background and studying her music, it is easy to see why she has become a favorite among young musicians.”

While the students were inspired by Ms. Newbold, she too gained inspiration from the students: “I definitely get inspired when I see them excited about music.”
Soon Hee at HCC

Soon Hee at HCC

Ira Schulman and Dr. Jen LamiaPraising his dedication to public education, the Byram Hills Central School District honored its longest serving Board of Education member, Ira Schulman, who is stepping down after 23 years to become the North Castle town justice.

At Tuesday night’s board meeting, Board of Education President Scott Levy and Superintendent Dr. Jen Lamia paid tribute to Mr. Schulman, who will begin his new role on Jan. 1.

Mr. Schulman, who served as board president eight times, shepherded Byram Hills through many important issues. He helped the District in the aftermath of Sept. 11, through budget challenges, changing enrollments, state mandates and most recently, the global pandemic.

“We were really blessed to have someone like Ira with so much experience and insight to help guide us along the way,” Mr. Levy said.

Dr. Lamia hailed Mr. Schulman for creating a culture of excellence at Byram Hills. 

“You’ve supported the most innovative programs, you’ve embraced community partners and other stakeholders and you continue to be a responsible and revered custodian of Byram Hills,” she said. “The Byram Hills District and your Board of Education are so proud to celebrate you today. We’re grateful to you, Ira, for your service to children and to public education.”

“We will miss your guidance, your compassion and your dedication,” she added. “Mostly, we’ll miss you, and we will not forget what you have done.”

Mr. Schulman leaves Byram Hills stronger than when he first joined the board.

“I hope that you’re an inspiration for all of our students because it’s an example of how an individual, through many years of distinguished public service, can add so much value to an institution that they love,” Mr. Levy said. “We will sincerely miss you, but wish you all the best in your new position as town judge.”

Dr. Lamia credited Mr. Schulman with helping to make sure that Byram Hills hired the very best teachers while remaining fiscally responsible, for creating expectations for a rigorous curriculum and for helping the District create an approach to cultural proficiency. She noted that he is a tremendous supporter of the Byram Hills athletics program and was honored by the Armonk Chamber of Commerce as its Citizen of the Year in 2019.

“Your level of passion 20 years ago as a board member is exactly the same as it is today,” she said. “You care about supporting public schools for the benefit of all children.”
 
Mr. Schulman, who received a standing ovation, was touched by the tributes. 

“The past 23 years have just meant the world to me,” he said. “To serve this Board of Education, this school district as a board member, eight terms as board president, has just been one of the true joys of my life.”

Mr. Schulman and his wife, Betty, have lived in the Byram Hills district for 35 years and their children graduated from the Byram Hills schools. He expressed his love of the District and said he’ll continue to cheer for Byram. 

“I do love this District, the education, the athletics, the fine arts, the music, the drama, the science research,” he said. “Everything about it, to me, is what makes not only this school district, but this country, great.”

Mr. Schulman was presented with a plaque honoring his service, and Dr. Lamia read the card from the entire District, which said: “Thank you for your selfless support of our students, staff, families and public education. Thank you for helping to make Byram Hills a place we’re all proud to be a part of. Your legacy will live in each of us.”

“Thank you so much for this honor,” Mr. Schulman said. “I hope I'm worthy of it in your eyes. That I am makes me feel all the better. Thank you so very much.”

At its January meeting, the board will discuss whether to leave the board seat vacant, fill it through an interim appointment or to hold a special election.
 

Image 1For the audience members who came to the Byram Hills High School theater, “The Man Who Came to Dinner” delivered a delicious night of fun.

The theater program, known as The Varley Players, performed the comedy from the late 1930s on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. The show tells the story of a New York radio personality who slips on the ice outside the home of a wealthy Ohio family and becomes a ridiculously demanding guest as he recovers in their home.

The show was well received, drawing lots of laughs.

“The students were fantastic,” said Kyle Banks, a vocal music teacher at the high school who was making his directorial debut. “They have so much to be proud of. I was really impressed from top to bottom, from the principal roles to backstage and the tech crew.”
 
Mr. Banks chose the comedy to spread good cheer, and said the students had a great time. 

“We’ve all been through a lot in the last close to two years and I think we could all use a little joy and happiness and a good laugh,” he said. “The students were so happy to be back on stage. It’s a privilege to perform in any year and the fact we’re able to do it now means that much more.” 

Senior Jacob Levy, who portrayed the man who came to dinner, enjoyed the experience.Image 2

“I had a great time playing Sheridan Whiteside in this production of ‘The Man Who Came to Dinner,’” he said. “The cast really came together and put on a wonderful performance, one that I will greatly miss and cherish.”

Director of Fine Arts Pete Pauliks noted that The Varley Players group provides a wide range of experiences for students.

“Whether they are working with lighting or sound, set construction and painting, stage management, running crew, or performing on stage, there is a place for everyone,” he said.   “Congratulations to the cast, crew and production staff for putting it all together and staging an outstanding production.” 

Mr. Banks said that as the director, he got to know the show inside and out. “And the students were still able to make me laugh and surprise me until the very last curtain,” he said. “Everybody did a phenomenal job.”
Enseble
 


 

YogaStudents at Byram Hills High School want to make wellness a priority for everyone in the school community.

The Student Wellness Advisory Committee, known as SWAC, created Wellness Wednesdays, new weekly meetings that take place during office hours and focus on a wellness theme that changes monthly.

Chloe Siegle, a senior and a SWAC co-president, said the Wednesday mornings help students start the day off stress-free.

“It’s a great way to get the whole school focused on wellness and to show the importance of taking a break,” she said. “A lot of times high school students just brush past the idea of thinking about doing something for themselves and are just focused on getting through the school day.”

“I think Wellness Wednesdays are going to be helpful for students to let themselves have a break,” Chloe added. “Especially at Byram Hills, it’s a very high-stress environment. When we take time to let ourselves do something for fun and reflect and give ourselves time to breathe, it makes the school day easier and lets us realize what’s important in life.”

The Wednesday gatherings are open to all students, as well as faculty and staff members.

“If we want to really prioritize student wellness, then it can’t be just one day or one week of the year,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “We really have to do a better job of embedding wellness within our culture. Wellness Wednesdays will help us achieve that goal.”

The themes for Wellness Wednesdays this year are gratitude in November, followed by sleep,Wellness 2 nutrition, relationships, exercise, stress, meditation and a reset in June.

“This time and space is dedicated to giving students and faculty the opportunity to set their morning intentions for the day,” said physical education teacher Kathleen Healy, SWAC’s faculty adviser. “By creating a comfortable and peaceful environment, students can settle in and give themselves time to plan, organize and begin their day clear-headed, fresh and focused.”

The idea is to introduce students to various wellness techniques. 

“It’s to expose them to different practices and small changes they can embrace to build long-lasting wellness habits,” Mrs. Healy said. “Everybody can pick the pieces that work for them.”

The kickoff to Wellness Wednesdays was the high school’s annual Wellness Week, which ran from Nov. 15-19. The week featured daily activities: a taste test of energy bites, hip hop yoga, journal writing, viewing a motivational video clip and discussion, and student-led meditation. 

Mr. Walsh, who attended the yoga session, is grateful for the weekly events. “We hope all students take advantage of the time to focus on their wellness,” he said.

Wellness 3
 

Byram Hills High School is celebrating senior right-handed pitcher Bobby Chicoine, who will be continuing his baseball career at Boston College next year.

Surrounded by his family during a ceremony at school on Nov. 10, Bobby signed his National Letter of Intent to play with the Division I program.

Bobby, who also plays in the infield, has been a member of the varsity team since eighth grade. He helped lead the team to two Class A section finals and a semifinal appearance his freshman year. He is a two-time All-Section player and one of the most feared pitchers in Section 1.

His high school career record to date is 11-2, with two saves. He pitched 100 innings and had a 1.88 ERA and 119 strikeouts.

“Bobby Chicoine is the epitome of relentless excellence,” said coach Scott Saunders. “He's a wonderful teammate and a fantastic young man. His hard work, determination, and grit turned him into a Division 1 baseball player. The entire Byram Hills community congratulates him and wishes him the best of luck.”

Bobby pitching.

Leaving the art room and all of its human-made supplies behind, Wampus Elementary School fifth graders went outside on a beautiful fall day to create art.

Using leaves in resplendent autumnal colors, pinecones, sticks and grass, the students created Earthworks sculptures, which are constructed on the ground and made solely from materials found in nature.

Wampus Students 1The students in art teacher Katherine Constantine’s classes worked in small groups to carefully choose and arrange their materials. They placed the colorful leaves in various designs, and some added small twigs or pinecones on top. Students created sculptures in different shapes, including a rectangle and a heart, and outlined them in sticks and pinecones. Some added height by driving bigger sticks into the ground.

The project is based on the Earthworks movement, the 1960s American style centered around creating art from nature. Before they built their own Earthworks piece, students studied the work of artists Andy Goldsworthy and Maya Lin.

“This project gives students insight into the different ways that artists create, and students discover there are many ways to engage in the artistic process,” Ms. Constantine said. “I really enjoy creating Earthworks with my students. It is so interesting to witness their problem-solving skills as they have fun creating.”

“This project also gives students the opportunity to consider the ephemeral nature of the work because it isn’t permanent like a framed painting, drawing or a sculpture in a museum or gallery space,” she added. “It exists temporarily in nature, and the only evidence of its existence is through photographic documentation.”  

When it was time for students to build their Earthworks on a warm November afternoon, Ms.Wampus Students 2 Constantine reminded them they could consider some of the same processes they would use when painting or drawing: focus on color, shape, composition, and scale. Students could choose their materials and layer them if they wanted. “It’s really going to be up to you. This is an exploration of materials,” she told them.  

The students positioned their sticks and leaves and decided what to add or remove. “We need more weight,” one student said. “We need more yellow,” another responded.

One group tried a few different designs.

“We finally came up with the idea to put a stick in and build leaves around it,” fifth grader Alex Petlyuk said. “It’s kind of like a fireplace.”

“I liked it because it’s really hard and challenging and it’s fun to do,” he said of the project. “It’s beautiful and I like spending my time doing stuff with nature.”

Students enjoyed using unconventional materials and getting to create outside.

“You can make anything you want and it’s such a pretty project,” Siena Rappaport said.

Adriana Mariani said she likes art but feels she isn’t good at drawing. She enjoyed the Earthworks project, especially because she got to see the fall colors in the natural world.

“I like decorating with nature and placing the leaves,” she said. “It’s really fun. I don’t have to use a pencil and paper. I can use my hands and see how it turns out and use my imagination.”

Ethan Berland added: “This project is good because we get to use nature and we get to make stuff that we want to make with friends out of leaves and sticks and pinecones. We get to go outside and get fresh air and use natural materials.”

Ms. Constantine told students about the ephemeral nature of the sculptures, and that they might blow away or fall down in the coming days. That’s OK, she told them. “It’s all part of the process,” she said.

When the class ended, students left their Earthworks behind to be enjoyed by all who passed by and saw what remained.

Wampus Students 3

Girls Varisty Tennis on the floatThe history-making Byram Hills High School Girls Varsity Tennis Team was celebrated on Sunday with a festive parade that honored their 2021 New York State team championship.

Cheering fans turned out to congratulate the team and enjoy the fanfare, which featured a marching band, red and blue balloons and the girls riding on a decorated truck that announced them as New York State Public High School Athletic Association state champions. 

By capturing the title on Nov. 5 with a 5-0 win, the girls became the first girls team to win a state championship in the high school’s 55-year history, and the third team overall.

The crowd lined up on Main Street.The parade stepped off from H.C. Crittenden Middle School, made its way to Main Street and concluded at the North Castle Town Hall, where the girls were congratulated by school and town officials during a ceremony on the steps.

“We are so excited to celebrate our student athletes,” Byram Hills Central School District Superintendent Jen Lamia said. “What an accomplishment, not only of their sports and academics, but also of their ability to work together as a team and take Byram Hills straight to the top.”   

Rob Castagna, the District’s Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics, congratulated the team, and thanked their parents and fans. He said the team finished the season with a remarkable 22-0 record, the best in school history. He also noted that the girls won the inaugural team state championship.

“Winning the first ever New York State tennis team championship, that’s in the record books,” he said. 

Coach Mike Racanelli said: “What a season: 22-0, state champions. I just could not be more proud of this team.”

Principal Christopher Walsh read the names of every girl on the team, and added: “What an incredible accomplishment for this to be the first girls team to bring home a state championship.”

The crowd then walked to the championship sign at the intersection of Old Route 22 and Main Street. After a countdown, a new entry reading “Girls Tennis 2021” was unveiled to great applause.

The team captains are Alyssa Margolin, Sydney Levy, Eva Shrayer and Chloe Siegle. Also on the roster: Lily Anchin, Chloe Bernstein, Daphne Bernstein, Jordyn Bernstein, Allie Cooper, Elizabeth Deeks, Rebecca Geller, Jenna Kleynerman, Kate Levy, Julia Lucchino, Justine Maresco, Lila Raff, Skye Smith, Ari Tabankin and Abby Yallof.

New Sign

Second graders at Coman Hill Elementary School have been studying the importance of community helpers, and with Veterans Day this week, students in two classes had a virtual visit with Marine Corps Maj. James Oliveto to ask him about his work. 
 
Maj. Oliveto, the brother of Coman Hill teacher Laura Borneman, served on active duty in the Marines and is now in the Marine Corps Reserve and a New York State trooper. 
 
During a meeting with Toniann Urbieta and Mrs. Borneman’s class on Tuesday, students each asked Maj. Oliveto a question. 
 
They asked personal questions about his favorite food (pizza and Italian food), favorite childhood Halloween costume (Rocky Balboa) and if he has children (four). 
 
Students asked thoughtful questions about serving in the Marines, like what he missed most during his three deployments (his family), the kind of exercise he does (running) and about being a state trooper, like when do you turn on your vehicle’s lights and sirens (only when we need people to see that we’re moving fast.)
 
When asked about his favorite part of his work, Maj. Oliveto said it was helping others. 
 
“Ultimately, it’s being involved and being able to help people,” he said. “That’s why I am both a Marine and a New York State trooper. Both jobs allow me to help as many people as I can.”

Maj. Oliveto also talked with students in Nicole Cavalieri’s class, where Mrs. Borneman is also a co-teacher.

CH Students
 

Byram Hills High School is celebrating the Girls Varsity Tennis Team for capturing the 2021 New York State team championship on Friday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, capping an unforgettable undefeated season.

The team earned a resounding 5-0 victory over Friends Academy to be crowned the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division 2 state champions. 

“We have an incredible group of players and I’m just so proud that we were able to accomplish this historic moment in Byram Hills history,” Bobcats coach Mike Racanelli said. “What a special memory for our team, our school and the entire community.”

The win gave Byram Hills its third team state championship and first girls team state title in the school’s 55-year history.

“I am so happy for all of the girls on the team,” Byram Hills Principal Christopher Walsh said. “What a great accomplishment to be known as New York State champions! Their team will forever be remembered by future athletes at Byram Hills High School. Years from now, they'll be able to look back and take pride in knowing that they were the first female team in our history to win a state championship. They are so deserving of all of the praise and recognition they are receiving.”

This was the first year the NYSPHSAA held a team championship event for tennis.

“Congratulations to our Girls Varsity Tennis Team,” said Rob Castagna, the Byram Hills Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics. “Bringing home the first girls state title for Byram Hills and winning this first event of its kind is a tremendous accomplishment and the entire school community is so incredibly proud.”

The team had a remarkable season, winning the Section 1 championship and then the regional championship to advance to the state tournament. The team finished the season with a 22-0 record.

Hard work was the key to the team’s success.

“There is no secret recipe,” Coach Racanelli said. “We had a group of players who were willing to work really hard and set high expectations for themselves. When you play with your heart and stick together, great things can happen.”

Three members of the team also fared well in the singles and doubles state championships in late October. Alyssa Margolin, the Section 1 singles champ, won third in singles and Chloe Bernstein and Jenna Kleynerman captured third in the doubles event.

As the team returned to the high school Friday evening from the tennis center in Queens, the girls were honored with an escort from the Armonk Police and Fire departments and they were greeted by about 100 cheering parents, students, coaches, faculty and staff members. 

The team captains are Alyssa Margolin, Sydney Levy, Eva Shrayer and Chloe Siegle. The roster also includes: Lily Anchin, Chloe Bernstein, Daphne Bernstein, Jordyn Bernstein, Allie Cooper, Elizabeth Deeks, Rebecca Geller, Jenna Kleynerman, Kate Levy, Julia Lucchino, Justine Maresco, Lila Raff, Skye Smith, Ari Tabankin and Abby Yallof.

The team became the third in Byram Hills history to win a state title. The others were Boys Soccer in 2007 and Boys Baseball in 2015. 

The team will be celebrated at a parade Sunday morning in Armonk that steps off from H.C. Crittenden Middle School at 10 a.m. and will proceed around Wampus Pond, then up Main Street to the North Castle Town Hall for a reception.

Girls Tennis


 

Byram Hills High School inducted 21 seniors into the Cum Laude Society, an honor that recognizes extraordinary academic excellence.

The students, inducted Thursday night, make up the top 10% of the Class of 2022, based on their weighted GPAs.

The students are Luke Abbruzzese, Olivia Addeo, Derek Araki-Kurdyla, Edith Bachmann, Alex Berkman, Ryan Bernstein, Amelia Chung, Gabriella Colabello, Jacob Geyman, Samantha Glusky, Arielle Goldman, Hallie Gordon, Dylan Haber, Owen Kirkwood, Sydney Levy, Nora Lowe, Julia Lucchino, Emily Pizzorusso, Arianna Tabankin, Olivia Tedesco, and Jane Zeltner.

Principal Christopher Walsh welcomed the inductees, their loved ones, faculty members and administrators to the ceremony, held for the first time in the high school theater. He noted that “the road to Cum Laude induction is strenuous in the best of years.” 

But for these students, members of the only class now at the high school to have had a school year uninterrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, the path has been extraordinary, as the “academic playing field changed overnight” in 2020, their sophomore year.

“They had to improvise, adapt and overcome in a way that no other class that I can remember had to do,” Mr. Walsh said. “The overwhelming majority of their high school experience was in flux. They managed to do it at the highest levels. Your academic achievement, it really is incredible given the uniqueness of your experience.”

He urged the seniors to embrace the rest of their time at Byram Hills.

“Even though we are celebrating your academic success, I want you to make memories that you don’t find in a textbook,” Mr. Walsh said. “You’ve proven that you're dedicated to your academics. Please make sure to dedicate yourself to your own wellness.”

Mr. Walsh recognized more than a dozen faculty members invited by inductees as a way to thank them for having a positive effect on their learning. The teachers received rousing applause.

“This tradition of inviting past teachers to be a part of the celebration represents the best of Byram Hills and shows that with every great achievement, there must be gratitude,” Mr. Walsh said. “The inductees may forget what you’ve all taught them, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

The Cum Laude address was delivered by social studies teacher Thomas Andriello, who offered the inductees his “copyright-pending life philosophy” for how to have a guaranteed successful college experience.

Step 1, he said, is to take a philosophy class. “This is something I wish more people would use and study,” he said. “It teaches us to think deeply, question logic in an attempt to understand human nature.”

The next step is to spend a semester off campus having a different experience. “Go do something unique,” Mr. Andriello said, like spending a semester abroad or participating in an internship.

Step 3 is to “take one class just because it sounds cool and make sure it’s not part of your major,” he said, mentioning the acting for nondrama majors class he took senior year. He draws on what he learned from that class every day.

“Take advantage of your time in college, explore, discover, take a risk,” Mr. Andriello said. “You never know how it might impact your life down the line.”

“Congratulations on this amazing accomplishment,” he added. “It's something you should be proud of, something you have earned, something that should be remembered. Now go out there and find yourself.”

The high school jazz choir opened the ceremony by performing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and later sang “Seasons of Love” and “Take Me Home.” During the swearing-in, each student was called to the center of the stage to receive a certificate.

Dr. Sandra Abt, the president of the Byram Hills chapter of the society, discussed the importance of friendships.

“I hope that as you reflect on your friendships, they have provided comfort, wisdom, stability and a break from loneliness,” she told the students. “You have gotten an excellent education and foundation here at Byram Hills. Cherish your remaining days here. Appreciate the knowledge and skills that you are learning, appreciate your teachers and friends. Strive to make a difference, do good, don’t be complacent, use the unexpected in your life and the occasional failure to make good choices. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.” 

To great applause, Dr. Abt announced this year’s faculty inductee, English teacher Jessica Shaw, who will deliver the Cum Laude address next year.

“She is hardworking and focused, she is always positive, she has a joie de vivre about her,” Dr. Abt said. “She sets high standards for herself and her students. She loves learning and she imparts this value to her students each day by example.”

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.

Cum Laude Induction Ceremony 2021-2022
Byram Hills High School inducted 21 students into the Cum Laude Society. 

They are, from left, in the front row: Edith Bachmann, Emily Pizzorusso, Olivia Tedesco, Olivia Addeo, Nora Lowe
Second row: Hallie Gordon, Samantha Glusky, Arianna Tabankin, Amelia Chung, Sydney Levy
Third row: Derek Araki-Kurdyla, Arielle Goldman, Julia Lucchino, Alex Berkman, Jane Zeltner
Back row: Luke Abbruzzese, Dylan Haber, Owen Kirkwood, Ryan Bernstein, Jacob Geyman
Not pictured: Gabriella Colabello
 

Eighty-seven Byram Hills High School seniors have been inducted into the World Language Honor Society, an achievement that reflects their hard work and dedication to the study of French, Italian or Spanish.

In a virtual ceremony Thursday night, World Languages Chairperson Melissa Stahl congratulated the students and encouraged them to continue their language studies. To become a member of the honor society, students must have an A or A+ final average for three consecutive years. 

“As language teachers and learners, we are tasked with so much more than just putting together sentences to ask a question in the target language,” she said. “We are entrusted to show students how cultural perspectives create a backbone to a language, how people from different political, racial and religious backgrounds are joined by the commonality of a language, and how accepting and appreciating these concepts can broaden our horizons and understandings of the world.”  

“The students being inducted this evening understand these ideals and we hope they continue as lifelong learners to pursue a meaningful relationship with other languages and cultures,” Ms. Stahl added.

Brandon Lutz, a 2010 Byram Hills graduate, delivered the keynote address, lauding the value of learning world languages. Mr. Lutz took AP Spanish at Byram Hills and became fluent in French, Dutch and German at The University of Texas at Austin.

He praised the inductees for this “absolutely amazing achievement.”

“Pursuing foreign language is immensely challenging and reaching this level shows not just grit, but highlights you all as ambassadors of a more globally minded world,” he said, adding: “As seniors, you’re on the cusp of an incredibly exciting time in your lives and I want to advocate that you continue to make foreign languages a part of yours in the future.”

He talked about what studying languages has taught him. He said that learning a world language is “the gift that keeps giving” because learning one Romance language may help you learn another; that studying another language opens up the world, especially during travel; and that the grit and bravery it takes to speak in another language shows you have courage.

“I believe that language speakers are some of the most courageous people in the world,” he said. “The sheer act of getting up every day, knowing you may be misunderstood, knowing that you may have an accent, knowing that you may say the wrong thing and fail, that takes grit.”

“If there’s anything to take away from foreign language, it’s that it builds your 
confidence like no other subject can,” Mr. Lutz added. “All of you here have proven that you have the courage needed to succeed in this subject, and I want you to remember this courage transcends the classroom.” 

After the address, each inductee’s name was read aloud.

The students inducted for French are:

Sydney Charron
Elizabeth Deeks
Rebecca Frieden
Jacob Geyman
Nowell Gibson
Abigail Krupa
Lucy Kwittken
Nora Lowe
Julia Lucchino
Eleana Morse
John Ndocaj
Nicolas Paslar Bunemar
Ella Pilchik
Emily Pizzorusso
Tanya Postian
Gina Schiliro
Georgia Schwartz
Arianna Tabankin
Sebastian Vasquez
Priscilla Zhang

The students inducted are Italian are:

Luke Abbruzzese
Olivia Addeo
Lily Auster
Zoe Banko
Nicolas Bisgaier
John Blackmar
Irene Byrnes
Amelia Chung
Sofia Cobos
Gabriella Colabello
Brooke Goldin
Samantha Grech
Alicia Huang
Alexandra Ioffe
Jessica Kahn
Hannah Rippy
Michael Rocco
Olivia Tedesco

The students inducted for Spanish are:

Alex Araki-Kurdyla
Derek Araki-Kurdyla
Morgan Aronsky
Lily Auster*
Edith Bachmann
Olivia Barry
Alex Berkman
Sophia Berland
Ryan Bernstein
Nicolas Bisgaier*
Evan Boekel
Joseph Brown
Elizabeth Corelli
Talia Deutsch
Ross Eagle
Danielle Eder
Reese Ertel
Chloe Fang
Danielle Freiberg
Samantha Glusky
Arielle Goldman
Benjamin Goldman
Eliza Goldman
Jake Goldman
Hallie Gordon
Sara Grgurovic
Dylan Haber
Olivia Hazan
Ariana Jones
Jamie Kaplan
Owen Kenny
Owen Kirkwood
Kate Levy
Sydney Levy
Alyssa Margolin
Matthew Marinozzi
Charly Melo
Jillian Nichols
Nicolas Paslar Bunemar*
Bennett Rakower
Max Rosh
Lucy Ross
Maximus Santos
Dylan Schimel
Brady Schlosser
Katerina Schmidt
Chloe Siegle
Arianna Tabankin*
Alexandra Weiss
Hayden Weiss
Lila Zacks
Jane Zeltner
Robert Ziff

*Second language inductees

World Languages Thumbnail
 

The Byram Hills Central School District was brimming with Bobcat spirit last week as the school community celebrated Homecoming Week.

“We had a terrific week with an abundance of school pride and community support,” said Rob Castagna, the Byram Hills Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics.

Homecoming Week, which ran from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, began early Monday morning as team captains and cheerleaders from Byram Hills High School embarked on the traveling pep rally. 

Traveling Pep Rally

The high schoolers lined the entryways at H.C. Crittenden Middle School, Wampus Elementary School and Coman Hill Elementary School to greet the younger students as they arrived at school. The athletes and cheerleaders clapped, cheered and waved, with cries of “Go Byram” and “Let’s go Byram” ringing out.
Pajama Day
It was also Spirit Week at Byram Hills High School, with students dressing up for fun theme days. There was pajama day, Hawaiian day, neon day, color day and Friday was Bobcat Pride Day. Students in the lower schools donned their blue and red on Friday as well.

The athletic program had a busy week, with varsity home games under the lights each night from Tuesday through Saturday and home games for the non-field sports as well. The community turned out with fervent support for the Bobcats. This year featured more games during homecoming, especially for the junior varsity teams. 

The high school pep rally, a beloved annual tradition, took place on the turf field Friday afternoon. Students cheered each other on as they competed by grade level against faculty members in spirited games of balloon pop, pass the hula hoop and the toilet paper mummy wrap. The concert choir sang a beautiful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” to open the event and the Hochler and BandByram Band added to the festivities with favorites like “Sweet Caroline.”

Hours after the pep rally came Friday Night Lights, as the varsity football team took to theCommunity field in front of a cheering crowd, and the band played as well.

During homecoming, the high school celebrated senior Alyssa Margolin of varsity girls tennis for winning the prestigious Con Edison Scholastic Sports Weekly Award.

“To receive this award during homecoming is extra special for Alyssa, our tennis team and for our athletic program,” Mr. Castagna said. “It is a great honor and we are proud of her accomplishments.”

Homecoming Week concluded with the Byram Hills Education Foundation’s outdoor family movie night on Sunday on the high school’s turf field. More than 200 families attended along with dozens of high school athletes who played games with the younger students from all of the schools before the movie began. The showing of the sports comedy “The Sandlot” was a fitting end to the festivities.

“We were so happy to celebrate Homecoming Week at Byram Hills,” Byram Hills High School Principal Christopher Walsh said. “I know our students enjoyed coming together as a community to show their Bobcat spirit and pride.”

Cheerleaders and the Bobcats
 

Byram Hills High School is pleased to announce that 21 students have been named Commended Students in the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program.

The seniors recognized for their scholastic talent are: Alex Araki-Kurdyla, Derek Araki-Kurdyla, Lily Auster, Edith Bachmann, Alex Berkman, Amelia Chung, Elizabeth Corelli, Jacob Geyman, Samantha Glusky, Arielle Goldman, Jake Goldman, Dylan Haber, Zachary Honig, Sydney Levy, Nora Lowe, Julia Lucchino, Matthew Marinozzi, Brady Schlosser, Arianna Tabankin, Sebastian Vasquez and Hayden Weiss.

“Congratulations to our National Merit Commended Students,” Byram Hills High School Principal Christopher Walsh said. “We are incredibly proud of them and all of their hard work and achievements that led to this recognition.”

The Commended Students are among the approximately 34,000 students nationwide being recognized for their academic promise, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. They placed among the top 50,000 students entered in the 2022 scholarship competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. 
 

Four students at Byram Hills High School have been selected as semifinalists in the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Byram Hills seniors Olivia Addeo, Ryan Bernstein, John Ndocaj and Jane Zeltner can compete for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $30 million that will be awarded in the spring.

“Our distinguished students should be commended for their pursuit of academic success,” said Kristina Wilson, the Byram Hills Guidance Chairperson.

Ms. Wilson congratulated the students on Friday. 

“It’s very impressive that you’ve been able to earn this achievement even though life threw a real curveball,” she said. “You still persevered and worked hard and achieved this amazing accolade.”

“Congratulations, this is a huge honor,” Ms. Wilson told the students.

Byram Hills High School Principal Christopher Walsh also praised the students.

“We’re always extremely proud of our students who are selected as National Merit Semifinalists,” he said. “We know they have worked extremely hard to receive this acknowledgment of their achievements and we congratulate them.” 

The students entered the scholarship competition by taking the Preliminary SAT last year. 

They are among approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The semifinalists from around the nation represent less than 1% of high school seniors in the United States, and include the highest-scoring entrants from each state.

About 95% of semifinalists are expected to become finalists, and about half of the finalists will win a scholarship and the Merit Scholar title, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Students must apply to become finalists. The application process includes writing an essay and maintaining an outstanding academic record in high school.

2021 National Merit Semifinalists at Byram Hills High School
[From left to right] Olivia Addeo, Ryan Bernstein, John Ndocaj, and Jane Zeltner.

In March, grade 8 students participated in the HCC Person of the Year project, choosing and researching someone who inspired them. They practiced their persuasive writing and public speaking skills to convince an audience that their person was the most worthy of this honor.

“Students had the option of doing a live speech or a pre-recorded video,” said Mrs. Melinda Fuller, grade 8 teacher. “Some students, who initially did not want to present in person, changed their minds as they saw their peers taking risks by delivering live speeches. The build of confidence was great to see.”

As a result of the pandemic, this year provided students with more diversity in their selection of new heroes and role models. Students watched sample speeches for motivation and researched articles, videos, and other sources to gain information about their person. There were three presentation opportunities after students completed their research, note-taking, and speech writing. Students were evaluated on the depth and accuracy of their research and how compelling they were in communicating their point of view.

“I liked this project because it gave us a solid platform to show who we looked up to and why they were important,” said student Ashley Stangel. “We got to shine a spotlight on our person and share information with our peers.” Ashley chose Kamala Harris, who she admires greatly. She expressed her excitement throughout the presentations and gained confidence while cultivating her communication skills.

Delivering her speech was the most valuable skill that student Ella Saltstein attained from this project. She worked on her pace, eye contact, and general comfort in front of a group before her official presentations. “I chose Mae Jemison, the first woman of color in space,” said Ella. “I was inspired by her drive, her medical background, and of course her space travel.”

John Cavada chose Dr. Anthony Fauci after listening to his press conferences during the pandemic about the nation’s medical state. “My favorite part of this project was presenting my speech,” John said. “Not only did I gain an understanding of medicine and the impact of Dr. Fauci, but also how to be a leader and make a difference.” John hopes to become a scientist someday and plans to model the virtues of Dr. Fauci.

“It was hard to choose one person because so many people were making an impact this year, so I chose all frontline workers instead of one individual,” said student Addison Freeman. “They are making such an impact this year even though they get such little recognition.” Addie was so pleased that others agreed with her choice that frontline workers were worthy of this honor. “I loved presenting my speech and moving to the next level. I felt so proud,” said Addie.

The grade 8 team of teachers could not have been happier with the outcome of this project. “The students’ hard work, persistence, collaboration, and rigor all reflected their thirst for knowledge,” said teacher Ms. Jeanine Cappello. “The people they selected and their enthusiasm for the project was nothing short of astounding.”

Students were steadfast in their decisions about the Person of the Year and were convincing in their arguments. They also gained valuable insight into other significant people by listening to and assessing their classmates’ projects. The benefits from this experience are immeasurable and will be utilized throughout these students’ academic and professional futures.

HCC Person of the Year

Students have flourished in unexpected ways at Wampus during the past year. “A life-long lesson from this experience was not to take anything for granted and be grateful for what you have,” said Mrs. Peggy McInerney, Wampus Principal. A life-long skill that grew from the pandemic was developing children’s organization, promoting resilience, problem-solving, and confidence. Each student became more accountable for their space and more responsible for their belongings. “For children to develop these skills at the foundational level sets them up for future success,” said Mrs. McInerney. “To be successful, you need organizational skills physically, mentally, and emotionally as well as executive functioning skills as students become more independent learners.”

Wampus students learningWith social distancing rules in place, Wampus class sizes became smaller. “Small group instruction is what our students need now,” said Ms. Jeanne Marie Key, grade 4 teacher. “Students are less distracted, and get more one-on-one time.” Wampus teachers have also been encouraged to utilize the outdoor spaces generously provided by the Byram Hills Education Foundation. Classes are taught on the spacious new deck equipped with tables, benches, and overhangs and allow for fresh air, easy social distancing, and a welcomed change from the classroom.

The social/emotional piece is a significant component of student success. “Students take encouraged risks in our group setting and feel safe and secure,” said Ms. Lisa Pena, grade 5 teacher. Students can navigate independently and have become more flexible socially and emotionally, which are essential real-life skills. They are more comfortable volunteering in class, have more confidence, and are more compassionate.

Technology has also helped Wampus students get through these unusual times. Teachers were all given ViewSonic, a technological tool to help with blended learning, as new platforms became necessary for synchronous and asynchronous work. This District-wide grant was made possible by the Byram Hills Education Foundation. “Another new digital platform was I-ready, an adaptive assessment tool to monitor student learning. It individualizes a learning path for reading, writing, and mathematics as it tailors to the strengths or needs of students,” said Ms. Kelly Moriarty, grade 4 teacher.

The entire Wampus Community is proud of their work, as seen by the happy faces around the building. Wampus students thrived on the consistency of being in school every day and came in each morning ready to learn.

Writers Workshop allows students to practice writing as a meaningful part of the daily classroom curriculum working on the fundamental skills of literary growth. Starting in Kindergarten, students begin by learning how to hold a pencil correctly, coloring within the lines, and drawing pictures that help reflect their stories. “Teachers reinforce the basics; left to right, top to bottom, letter formation, spaces between words, and more,” said Mrs. Elise Feder, Kindergarten teacher. Students then learn that one written word matches one spoken word early in the process.
Writer's workshop.
“We are developing the child’s innate ability to narrate their personal experiences because they are natural storytellers. We are encouraging and fostering that goal while teaching structure, conventions, and mechanics,” said Mrs. Jean White, Kindergarten teacher. Developing narration, story sequencing, and plot are critical steps in this growth.

Students experience their stories becoming actual writings and get excited as they discover that they can be authors. “It all starts with self-confidence and independence,” said Mrs. Linda Haracz, Kindergarten teacher. Taking small slow steps is crucial as students start with pictures and gradually move to words. Stretching out words through inventive spelling is valuable for beginners, as well as practicing sight words displayed around the classroom.

“One incredible thing about kindergarten is that teachers track the fundamentals and foundations of reading and writing. We see the pieces come together,” said Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Devin Steinberg. “It is the magic of the grade!”

“This year, while we are teaching in two classrooms, the children benefited from smaller group settings to learn the fundamentals of writing,” said Mrs. White. The kindergarten teachers learned the value of collaboration, as they modified instruction and incorporated best teaching practices.

Writers Workshop is based on the idea that students learn to write best when they frequently practice for extended periods on topics of their choosing. The Coman Hill kindergarten teachers spend a great deal of time building a solid foundation and getting students to tell their stories through their writer’s voice.

The pandemic changed the approach to almost every aspect of school for staff and students. Instruction, attendance, grading, the role of technology, and human connections were evaluated and re-evaluated. Due to the stringent return-to-school protocols and procedures, set by the District, Byram Hills was back in school at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Grades K-6 were in the buildings full-time, and students were thriving in the classroom environment. They had crates for their belongings, protective desk shields, handwashing and sanitizer stations, upgraded air filtration systems, and much more. Students and staff adjusted quickly and upheld protocols each day. Grades 7-12 experienced hybrid learning - in school two days a week, alternating Wednesdays, and remotely for two days. Hybrid learning kept the number of students at half capacity each day, allowing for social distancing, until it was increased to 70% capacity later in the year.

Every building was transformed to create socially distanced learning spaces. Schools opened movable walls between classrooms while gymnasiums, music, and art rooms were restructured as educational spaces. “Our room was the library, which was cool because our whole class could be together,” said grade 5 student Maxwell DeLuca. In addition, the Byram Hills Education Foundation generously provided ViewSonic monitors to every teacher in the District, allowing interactive lessons for remote and in-person learning. “I got used to working on my chrome book and with the Promethean board very quickly. I think it was easier to do everything through google classroom, and I liked all the new technology,” said grade 5 student Layna Delk.

A year later, the District is ready to move forward with a full-time return-to-school plan for 2021-22. The goal is for 100% in-person learning back in original classrooms. K-5 will continue to utilize crates and outdoor learning spaces while lunch and specials will head back to their original areas. Plastic barriers around students’ desks will no longer be in use, and Wednesdays will go back to full-day learning K-5. The HCC schedule will begin the day with Xpod, as it had many benefits for all students. Grades 7 and 8 will run a block schedule allowing for extended periods to delve deeper into content. There will be similar blocks of class time at the high school with their new schedule, and an extended lunch period for the entire building.

As mask and capacity rules changed near the end of the 2020-21 school year, students began to feel their school day return to normalcy. One of the biggest days for Wampus students is Field Day, and in mid-June children were able to share in this experience once again. Jacob Singer, a grade 5 student and a winner of the Field Day Sportsmanship Award said, “It was the best day of the school year. It felt so good to be together as a grade.” Leah Stein, also a fifth-grader and winner of the Field Day Sportsmanship Award said, “It felt like things were starting to be back to usual like we were all together as one fifth grade community.”

During this event, the positivity felt by students and teachers was acknowledged as a reassuring sign of things to come.
Wampus Field Day 2021

Congratulations Class of 2021!After one of the most challenging school years to date, the Class of 2021 deserved every celebration orchestrated in their honor. The celebrations began with Senior Field Day, a first-time event at Byram Hills, which offered games, a barbecue food truck, and the creation of a time capsule. Students participated in painting the Byram Hills rock, decorating their cars, and chalking the sidewalks, all senior rights of passage. That evening students enjoyed the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off under the stars on the turf field, sponsored by the Byram Hills Education Foundation.

The celebrations continued at prom night on the BHHS campus. For the first time in Byram Hills history, students were welcomed to an outdoor prom, including a livestreamed red carpet entrance, food trucks, DJ, dance floor, beautiful decorations, and lots of Bobcat spirit.

Another celebration included seniors and their families at SUNY Purchase to watch a heartfelt video tribute. The PTSA sponsored drive-in-style event included refreshments, a photo booth, and two huge viewing screens. The presentation consisted of good wishes from teachers and administrators, a diploma hand-off, andBHHS Drive-In slides representing the senior class. During the tribute, Valedictorian Olivia Canter and Salutatorian Mia Dittrich addressed their fellow students with powerful and inspiring messages. The evening was filled with emotion and was the perfect prequel for the graduation to be held the following night.

On Tuesday, June 22, 2021, Byram Hills High School held its 52nd Commencement Ceremony. “I will remember this class for its gratitude, perspective, and joy that they bring to everything they do,” said Mr. Christopher Walsh, Byram Hills Principal. Dr. Jen Lamia, Byram Hills Superintendent, spoke to the students about finding their voice while always seeking where other voices come from. “Go forward, find your own strength, and be your best self,” she said. “The world is waiting for you, and we will always be standing behind you.”

The seniors made their way across the turf field to receive their diplomas and share the last moments together as a class. Finally, they gathered on the bleachers, gazing out at their families, and triumphantly tossed their caps in the air, marking a glorious end to this chapter. Congratulations to all BHHS graduates, and GO BOBCATS!

Class of 2021!

On June 8th, 2021, six Byram Hills teachers and two administrators were recognized by the Board of Education to receive tenure. This year’s teachers include Nicole Lividini, Meredith Vasta Brieant, Tara Ryan, Lauren Congelossi, Caroline Matthew, Gregory Quirolo, and the administrators were Angelo Ancona and Kim Lapple. “These teachers and administrators have accepted a long-term commitment in Byram Hills, and that is what tenure means here,” said Byram Hills Superintendent Dr. Jen Lamia. “Each one of the tenure recipients gives back to their teams, their grade levels, and their departments in very significant ways.”

Nicole Lividini, a special education teacher at Wampus, has brought many different skills from the NYC Department of Education and is described as an instructional leader. Nicole was instrumental in adopting the current online programs for students at the elementary level.

Meredith Vasta Brieant, a special education teacher at HCC, looks to increase her students’ engagement through differentiated instruction. She ensures that her students assimilate beyond the classroom through extracurricular activities. Meredith is the field hockey coach and the assistant varsity basketball coach helping to revitalize that program.

Tara Ryan is a physical education teacher at HCC and coaches varsity basketball, softball, and swim. She is a strong and passionate athlete who modifies her classes to students’ needs which has helped her adaptive PE classes for special education students.

Lauren Congelossi, a special education teacher at BHHS, focuses on ensuring that her content and delivery will result in successful student outcomes. Lauren is also a big part of the community outside the classroom as an assistant advisor for the Social Advocacy Club working with her students on community service opportunities and charitable events.

Dr. Caroline Matthew is an excellent addition to our science research program and a valuable resource to students and colleagues. Her Ph.D. in microbiology and strong knowledge of the sciences is a tremendous asset. Caroline contributed to the design of the virtual science symposium and organized a parade to visit each 2021 senior to honor their achievements.

Gregory Quirolo is a passionate and caring BHHS school counselor and contributes significantly to his department and students. He created video tutorials and a web page for the College Clinic anticipating student needs for the college application process before the school closure in March 2020.

Angelo Ancona, Assistant Principal of HCC, has an incredible passion for his students. He was a well-respected science teacher before becoming an administrator and focuses on student emotional wellness and the strength of the middle school community. He implemented Project ME, a successful program that builds and fosters community and personal growth.

Kim Lapple, Principal of HCC, successfully guided the middle school through a global pandemic. She is a strong, caring leader who created Wellness for All and redesigned students’ end-of-year practices. Kim is tremendous for morale, culture, and climate at HCC and is responsible for the positive tone set in the building. She has helped many students reach great heights academically, socially, and emotionally and is held in high esteem by the District.


CLICK HERE to view tenured staff and administrators.

Grade 5 Moves UpOn June 18, 2021, Wampus celebrated eight Grade 5 Moving-Up Ceremonies on the outdoor deck generously donated by the Byram Hills Education Foundation. Additionally, there was a virtual ceremony held for remote students. Wampus Principal, Mrs. Peggy McInerney, welcomed the students and parents who joined the ceremony via livestream. She referred to them as completing half of their Byram Hills educational journey as they prepare to move on to middle school.

Mrs. McInerney suggested that students reflect on their time at Wampus and how naturally the pandemic would enter these thoughts. “There were times where the pandemic could be compared to an emergency. We may think of times that felt serious, unexpected, or urgent, such as the closure of our schools,” she said. “This was a serious matter, an emergency. The definition of an emergency is an unforeseen occurrence requiring immediate attention, yet the Latin origin of the word is ‘to emerge.’ I want you to think about how you will emerge from these experiences. Be confident in all that you have learned and believe in yourselves, as you have been doing. Remember, your number one job is to emerge as the best version of you every day as you head to HCC,” said Mrs. McInerny.

Ms. Kim Lapple, H.C. Crittenden Principal, offered the Grade 5 students a warm welcome and suggested they think about their goals for the middle school. Mr. David Mack, Wampus Assistant Principal, closed each ceremony by telling the students how proud the faculty and staff were of them. “You lead the school, you set examples for others, and you will be one of the few fifth-grade graduation classes in the country that came to school every day during the pandemic,” said Mr. Mack. As each class left the ceremony, the BHEF gifted students a cookie - a sweet ending to a heartwarming event.

On June 14, 2021, the Grade 8 Moving-Up Ceremony was held on the field at the high school for the first time in Byram Hills history. The storm clouds cleared to blue skies as feelings of Bobcat spirit and Byram pride swept over the crowd. “Neither the pandemic, the threat of thunderstorms, nor a bear sighting could stop the class of 2025 from filling this field tonight,” said Dr. Jen Lamia, Byram Hills Superintendent. “Carry your experiences forward with you, and know that with each ending and transition, a new beginning will be here to greet you.”

Ms. Kim Lapple, Principal of H.C. Crittenden, spoke of sacrifice, determination, and dedication, as being the cornerstone of the graduating class’ success. “You simplified your lives, maximized opportunities to learn and engage, and embraced new friendships,” said Ms. Lapple. “As normalcy returns, I challenge you to hold on to these lessons that have made our community fuller and your lives healthier.”

Mr. Christopher Walsh, Principal of Byram Hills High School, addressed the audience and proudly accepted the class of 2025. “The next four years will go by in a blink of an eye. In 78 days you will be entering our building as the 58th class at Byram Hills and my hope is that you will all take advantage of the opportunities that come your way - Get involved, take risks, and get out of your comfort zone,” said Mr. Walsh.

Students accepted their rolled tee-shirts as each name was read, and lined up on the track to walk a ceremonial lap to finish the event.

Grade 8 Moves Up!

Grade 5 Moves UpOn June 18, 2021, Wampus celebrated eight Grade 5 Moving-Up Ceremonies on the outdoor deck generously donated by the Byram Hills Education Foundation. Additionally, there was a virtual ceremony held for remote students. Wampus Principal, Mrs. Peggy McInerney, welcomed the students and parents who joined the ceremony via livestream. She referred to them as completing half of their Byram Hills educational journey as they prepare to move on to middle school.

Mrs. McInerney suggested that students reflect on their time at Wampus and how naturally the pandemic would enter these thoughts. “There were times where the pandemic could be compared to an emergency. We may think of times that felt serious, unexpected, or urgent, such as the closure of our schools,” she said. “This was a serious matter, an emergency. The definition of an emergency is an unforeseen occurrence requiring immediate attention, yet the Latin origin of the word is ‘to emerge.’ I want you to think about how you will emerge from these experiences. Be confident in all that you have learned and believe in yourselves, as you have been doing. Remember, your number one job is to emerge as the best version of you every day as you head to HCC,” said Mrs. McInerny.

Ms. Kim Lapple, H.C. Crittenden Principal, offered the Grade 5 students a warm welcome and suggested they think about their goals for the middle school. Mr. David Mack, Wampus Assistant Principal, closed each ceremony by telling the students how proud the faculty and staff were of them. “You lead the school, you set examples for others, and you will be one of the few fifth-grade graduation classes in the country that came to school every day during the pandemic,” said Mr. Mack. As each class left the ceremony, the BHEF gifted students a cookie - a sweet ending to a heartwarming event.

On June 14, 2021, the Grade 8 Moving-Up Ceremony was held on the field at the high school for the first time in Byram Hills history. The storm clouds cleared to blue skies as feelings of Bobcat spirit and Byram pride swept over the crowd. “Neither the pandemic, the threat of thunderstorms, nor a bear sighting could stop the class of 2025 from filling this field tonight,” said Dr. Jen Lamia, Byram Hills Superintendent. “Carry your experiences forward with you, and know that with each ending and transition, a new beginning will be here to greet you.”

Ms. Kim Lapple, Principal of H.C. Crittenden, spoke of sacrifice, determination, and dedication, as being the cornerstone of the graduating class’ success. “You simplified your lives, maximized opportunities to learn and engage, and embraced new friendships,” said Ms. Lapple. “As normalcy returns, I challenge you to hold on to these lessons that have made our community fuller and your lives healthier.”

Mr. Christopher Walsh, Principal of Byram Hills High School, addressed the audience and proudly accepted the class of 2025. “The next four years will go by in a blink of an eye. In 78 days you will be entering our building as the 58th class at Byram Hills and my hope is that you will all take advantage of the opportunities that come your way - Get involved, take risks, and get out of your comfort zone,” said Mr. Walsh.

Students accepted their rolled tee-shirts as each name was read, and lined up on the track to walk a ceremonial lap to finish the event.

Grade 8 Moves Up!

Screenshot of the appThe recent public health challenge offered teachers instructional opportunities to tap into students’ innate curiosity and deliver timely lessons. This situation prompted students to explore subjects further and even provided comfort during these unprecedented times. Many teachers at Byram Hills High School found ways for students to rise above the noise with unique, thoughtful assignments.

In the AP Computer Science Principles [CSP] classes, teachers Ms. Lisa Pellegrino and Ms. Carley Sarracco designed a curriculum for students to build a vaccine application. This app was for people looking to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. CSP was designed to be a programming class where students could see the impact on humanity. Students gain experience in C, Scratch, SQL, JavaScript, and Python while exploring how computing solves societal and global problems.

The app added or removed someone from the vaccination list to be utilized by doctors or patients. “We designed it from an app builder website but taught the students the fundamental skills on how to create different functions and interact with variables,” said senior Paul Lestz, a teaching assistant for the class. “On the right side, you have code, and on the left side, you have a functional app that you could click through.” In addition, students created welcome and questionnaire screens giving each of their apps a unique look. “This was an extremely pertinent assignment because when we began building the app, nobody was getting the vaccine,” said Paul. “There are many now, but to design your own that can organize such a complex system is important and impressive, and to feel like we could make an impact was incredible.”

Robert Ziff and Michael RoccoMany other students participated in pandemic-related projects this past year and gained real-world experience. Students created an action plan on a current or relevant topic during year two and year three of the Global Scholars course and found solutions through the multiple steps studied in year one. For example, sophomores Michael Rocco and Robert Ziff were passionate about the restaurant business, aware of the struggles during the pandemic, and wanted to help.“The state put many restrictions on restaurants, like indoor capacity limits, so we wanted to dive deeper,” Michael said. “We spoke to the owner of a restaurant in NYC and Armonk. With no way to make a profit, he was forced to lay off 95% of his NYC staff.”

The students developed a local fundraising campaign known as Eat Out Tuesdays. It promoted and encouraged people to dine out on Tuesdays, which was typically a slower night. Their concept included an incentive of a free drink or dessert with a meal. They were working diligently on a social media and marketing plan to disseminate the information throughout Armonk. “In this class, you learn so much the first year and get to apply what you’ve learned to real-world scenarios in years two and three,” said Michael. “I am so glad our work can continue as the restaurant business opens up.”

Both projects gave students thorough insight into the pandemic and how it affected our community. In each case, students took an idea from fruition to implementation by utilizing the skills attained from their class and their determination to make a difference.

The Teacher Recognition Award is given annually to one teacher from each school for a particular contribution beyond the scope of a teachers’ performance. Typically, this award is announced at a Board of Education meeting with family, friends, and colleagues present, but nothing was typical about this past school year. Alternatively, school principals and administrators recognized and awarded all teachers at all Byram Hills schools! “If teaching this year were an Olympic event, I’d give all of our teachers gold medals,” exclaimed Dr. Jen Lamia, Superintendent of Schools. Teachers were surprised at a faculty meeting and honored with a video that included photos of each of them.

The following are excerpts from each principal’s presentation to the teachers.

Coman Hill
“Since the start of the pandemic, the Coman Hill teachers have accomplished what many would have deemed impossible,” said Mrs. MaryBeth Crupi, Coman Hill Principal. “From restructuring classrooms to creating warm learning spaces, embracing new technologies, supporting each other and our students, the Coman Hill teachers have shined brightly.” Mrs. Crupi concluded, “We are honored to present the entire Coman Hill faculty the 2021 Teacher Recognition award.”

Wampus
“The 2020-2021 school year was like no other year in the history of Wampus, Byram Hills, or the rest of the world. The challenges that were presented to the teachers were magnificent,” said Mrs. Peggy McInernery Wampus, Principal. “How the Wampus teachers handled all of these challenges was far more magnificent than the challenges themselves. Wampus teachers’ ability to manage significant responsibilities, problem solve, adapt, teach and set the example on how to lead a school was evident this past year,” Mrs. McInernery said.

H.C. Crittenden
“When thinking about the HCC Teacher of the Year award in the past, that person committed to their students, sought improvement, reflected on their work, collaborated with colleagues, engaged in
professional development, and put students first,” said Ms. Kim Lapple, H.C. Crittenden Principal. “It seemed impossible to identify just one person in a year that was the most challenging of our teaching careers,” Ms. Lapple said.

Byram Hills High School
“As I reflected on this year, I felt that recognizing only one of our colleagues would be counter to the spirit of the award,” said Mr. Christopher Walsh, Byram Hills High School Principal. “Each of our teachers set an example of professionalism, dignity, perseverance, and excellence in the most
difficult year to teach in our school’s history. In addition, teachers found innovative ways to connect with students allowing them to feel stable during an unstable time.”

2020-2021 Teacher Recognition

 

There was an astounding 690 years of service among our faculty and staff recognized as Longevity Service Award candidates on June 21, 2021, at the Board of Education Meeting. Dr. Sandra Abt, who is ending her 50th year of service, was here when the District was just starting. Our 30 and 25-year recipients saw the shaping of Byram Hills, as the Armonk population dramatically increased. “What keeps our staff members here is not doing the same thing every year but continuously improving on their work,” said Dr. Jen Lamia, Byram Hills Superintendent. “It is about finding this work as your life work and making sure you are the best at it.” Congratulations to the following Longevity Service Award recipients.

50 Years:
Sandra Abt
30 Years:
Martin Gilbert
Sandra Levin

25 Years:
Kimberly Braverman
Jennifer Croke
Janine Guastella
Jayne Karlin
Kathryn Meaney

20 Years:
Julie Calemmo
Reginald Carter
Carole Consigliere
Roseanne DeTomaso
Liza Devaney
Angela Dukes
Maria Facciola
Dana Ferraro
Umberto Foarero
Melinda Fuller
Anneliese Galgano
Michael Hubertus
Sewcharran Jawahir
Lily Li
Alan Lounsbury
Heather Manriquez
Mohammed Minhas
Annamarie Nardi
Karen Orlando Vetter
Theodore Repa
Giovanna Roviezzo
Consolato Rizzo
Kathy Shelhart
Kristina Wilson

CLICK HERE to view awarded staff and faculty.
 

Every Spring, many juniors and seniors receive a notification letter informing them of an award nomination but are not told for which honor. The letter represents an invitation to the celebrated Byram Hills High School Awards Ceremony, a significant milestone in the school year and marks the metaphorical beginning of the end of the school year.

The 2021 Award Ceremony opened with Principal Christopher Walsh sharing his thoughts on the challenging but successful year since the start of the pandemic. “Our students have had their lives fundamentally changed since March 2020, yet they have demonstrated courage, creativity, and resilience in their time here,” said Mr. Walsh. “These awards reflect the commitment of our District and are proof of the many ways to prepare our students as productive, responsible citizens of the 21st century.”

Similar to last year, this ceremony was livestreamed, as the school community found out together who received which award. Presenters spoke about each recipient and why they were suited for each award before announcing their name. Categories covered English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, World Languages, Fine Arts, Music, Theatre, and Physical Education and were chosen by teachers, coaches, and administrators.

There was a special mention of Mr. Vincent Greco during the award named for him, as he passed away earlier this year. He was a big supporter of Byram Hills, from being a member of the Board of Education to advocating for school programs. Mr. Greco especially enjoyed Science Research, for which he had the utmost respect. He made a significant impact on the District and will be greatly missed.
David Gold
There are two awards that Byram Hills students and faculty/staff nominate. The first was the 2021 PTSA Caruolo Leadership Award given to a senior based on leadership, character, dedication, loyalty, humanity, and interest in education. This year’s award went to David Gold. David has been a mentor, musician, actor, and football player in his time at Byram Hills and is a bright and caring young man.

The second award, The Hy Blatte-Jack Wollenberg Memorial Award, was the final award of the evening and is considered the highest honor for a graduating senior. It goes to the student who has a humanitarian outlook, a willingness to extend themselves for others, and an optimistic approach to life and its challenges. “The award does not go to the student with the highest grades, best extracurriculars, or most friends,” said Mr. Walsh. “This year’s winner embodies all of these qualities and has made Byram Hills High School a better place during her time here.” The winner of this year’s award went to Olivia Picca. Olivia delivered a heartfelt speech to close the Awards Ceremony. The full ceremony is available by scanning the QR code below. Congratulations to all of the Byram Hills High School award recipients!

Olivia Picca

Science SymposiumOn June 2, 2021, 32 seniors were honored at the 32nd Annual Authentic Science Research (ASR) Symposium virtual event. These students graduated from the program after spending hundreds of hours researching in their fields of interest. Mrs. Stephanie Greenwald, Director of the ASR program, gave one of many heartfelt speeches. She said, “Seniors, you have encountered so many challenges, and you did it!  You faced a world of insurmountable hurdles, and you accomplished the unimaginable.” The symposium theme “Forging into the Unknown” seemed appropriately named based on the unique pandemic-related experiences students dealt with during their projects. A hard-working group of juniors, known as the Fab-5, ran the event that concluded with an invitation to a virtual Hall of Presentations by sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Congratulations to the following ASR graduates.

Lauren Amico
Luke Briody
Marleigh Canter
Olivia Canter
Joseph Cipriano
Alexa Cohen
Alexander Dec
Lily Deitelzweig
Lorraine DiSano
Mia Dittrich
Kristin Eickelbeck
Dylan Ertel
Skyler Goldin
Bailey Goldstein
Ali Hafez
Haley Harris
Jared Ilan
Alexa Jindal
Raquel Kanner
Anika Kumar
Lizzie Manowitz
Griffen Nenner
Elaina Piecyk
William Quinn
Gabby Ripka
Melissa Rivera
Chloe Sampere
Tessa Schwartz



Mu Alpha Theta logoOn April 27, 2021, 45 Byram Hills High School students were inducted into the Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society. Mu Alpha Theta is dedicated to encouraging the pursuit of mathematics and service to others. The principal purpose of Mu Alpha Theta is to stimulate a more profound interest in mathematics, as seen through student reflections delivered by several students during the ceremony. They offered valuable insight into their experiences with math throughout their years in Byram Hills. Congratulations to the following Mu Alpha Theta inductees.

Edith Bachmann
Zoe Banko
Zachary Berkowitz
Chloe Bernstein
Irene Byrnes
Milena Chan
Ethan Cherry
Gabrielle Cohen
Jacqueline Cohen
Gabriella Colabello
Massimo Colella-Albino
Talia Deutsch
Nicole Di Paolo
Alaska Fairbanks
Lily Feldman
Danielle Freiberg
Aliza Hammond
Olivia Hazan
Callie Higgins
Ella Javorsky
Gavin Javorsky
Brett Kaufman
Mihir Kumar
Madison Lee
Kate Levy
Tyler Lynch
Remi Matza
Samantha Milewicz
Lindsay Miller
Danielle Molloy
Peter Mon
Caleb Palappillil
Christine Parisi
Nicolas Paslar Bunemer
Olivia Picca
Jonathan Poppo
Olivia Schlossman
Jed Strober
Chloe Talbot
Max Teitelbaum
George Triebenbacher
Kelsey Vaquero
Jaden Wurm
Abigail Yallof
Christopher You

 

NAHS LogoOn March 18, 2021, 17 Byram Hills High School students were inducted into the National Art Honor Society (NAHS). This society recognizes high school students who demonstrate outstanding artistic and academic strength and commitment to service through the arts. This ceremony included student reflections on various art genres and the presentation of specific art pieces. Congratulations to the following National Art Honor Society inductees.

Lia Aldea-Lustig
Amanda Anikstein
Lilly Ceisler
Ryan Dany
Reese Ertel
Alicia Huang
Sofia Mahairas
Ewa Miano
Samantha Milewicz
Elaina Piecyk
Ruth Seo
Jordan Siegel
Drew Siskin
Leah Sokol
Emma Sullivan
Marianna Vataj
Ana Whelley

Byram Hills High School Principal, Christopher Walsh, proudly announced Olivia Canter as the Class of 2021 valedictorian and Mia Dittrich as the Class of 2021 salutatorian.

Olivia Canter, Class of 2021“I am so excited for Olivia and Mia on earning this recognition.  They have both been so committed to their academics throughout their time with us,” said Mr. Walsh. “These distinctions mean even more considering everything they had to navigate over the last year and a half.  What stands out to me about each of them is their work ethic, dedication to learning, and respect from their classmates, faculty, and staff.”

Olivia Canter is an outstanding young woman whose accomplishments are exceptional. She has engaged in a demanding curriculum and is a three-season varsity athlete. She has attended 14 debate tournaments, an editor for the school newspaper, and an event coordinator for Youth Against Cancer.  Olivia will deliver her valedictorian speech at the BHHS Graduation Tribute on Monday, June 21st, at SUNY Purchase.  Part of her message to her classmates speaks to the notion of slowing down and living in the moment.  “It’s ok to be the last one out of the house,” she said. Olivia will be attending Duke University in the fall. Mia Dittrich

Academically, Mia Dittrich’s performance has been nothing short of remarkable.  Mia came to Byram Hills from overseas and immediately became part of the Byram Hills community. She has taken ten AP classes, two world languages and was an outstanding student in the Science Research Program.  In addition, Mia was the senior editor for the Oracle, Co-President of the Science Ambassadors Club, and a chemistry teaching assistant. Mia will be attending Stanford University in the fall and will also have the opportunity to address her classmates at the BHHS Graduation Tribute on Monday, June 21st, at SUNY Purchase.

Mr. Walsh concluded, “On behalf of the faculty and staff of Byram Hills High School, we wish Olivia and Mia continued success in the next steps of their academic careers.”

Congratulations to the Byram Hills Academic Team for winning the National Academic Championship.  The Bobcats beat the Tartan High School team out of Oakdale, Minnesota, in the finals, which took place on June 13, 2021.  The championship came down to the final question and was one of the closest margins for victory in the competition’s history.   
 
The Byram Hills Academic Team’s record this year was 49-2.  The team won its first national championship in 2006.  The students who make up the Byram Hills team have diverse strengths and worked together during these challenging times to win the national championship.  “The pandemic led to a change in the rules where collaboration in a virtual setting replaced buzzers and the importance of speed in answering questions,” said Mr. Martin Gilbert, Academic Team Coach and Byram Hills Social Studies Teacher.  “I’m incredibly proud and grateful to my colleagues who have inspired the interests and passions of these fantastic young people.”
 
The National Academic Tournament is a quiz bowl/Jeopardy-style competition sponsored by Questions Unlimited that brings together the top high school teams in the United States to collaborate and answer questions.  These questions cover various topics such as geography, math, history, literature, music, science, and art.

BHHS Academic Team 2020-2021
Top left: Leon Orlov-Sullivan, John Ndocaj, Sebastian Vasquez, Ali Hafez
 Bottom left: Martin Gilbert (coach), Katherine Lin, Luke Coviello

 

The Byram Hills School District’s 2021-2022 Budget was approved by the community voters on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.

The results were:  344 YES / 70 NO.

The Byram Hills Board of Education had two open seats to fill - each for a three-year term.  Mr. Scott Levy, current Byram Hills Board of Education Trustee, was re-elected and Mr. Petrie Verma, the District’s current PTSA President, was elected to serve as a new trustee on the Board.

“Our efforts remained focused on the impact of the budget on students and our taxpayers, with a budget-to-budget increase of .75% and a 1% tax levy, resulting in a budget that is 1.57% below the permissible tax levy limit,” said Dr. Jen Lamia, Byram Hills Superintendent. Over the past five years, the District has stayed below the permissible tax cap by over 3.9M. The budget supports programs and opportunities in our schools that have brought Byram Hills much success.   Thank you to our community for your continued support.
Prideful BHHS Seniors 2021
 

Byram Hills High School will be hosting the 32nd Annual Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Symposium on June 2, 2021.  The Authentic Science Research Program is a three-year course that encourages students to pursue excellence in areas of original research.  Each year, the high school hosts a science symposium allowing students to present their research to the community. This year’s symposium will be held virtually due to the pandemic.

The event will be livestreamed and feature remarks from Authentic Science Research Program Director, Ms. Stephanie Greenwald, Byram Hills High School Principal, Mr. Christopher Walsh, and senior speaker Chloe Weissman.  The program will also include a graduation ceremony for Science Research seniors and program-wide awards. The livestream portion will conclude with a description of the symposium’s website “Virtual Presentation Hall.”  Within this hall, you will find Virtual Rooms with recorded presentations of senior, junior, and sophomore research projects. 

Byram Hills will celebrate the future generation of scientists and promote scientific literacy.  Please join the 101 dedicated Byram Hills student researchers at this spectacular event.

The event will take place on June 2, 2021, at 7:00 PM.

Please click on the link below: 
Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Symposium Website

Byram Hills Science Research Symposium - June 2, 2021

 

Byram Hills Senior Kathryn Petlyuk Wins National Merit ScholarshipCongratulations to Byram Hills senior Kathryn Petlyuk for being a recipient of the 2021 National Merit Scholarship.

Each year the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) recognizes and honors a select few academically talented students from across the United States. Students chosen for this award are high achieving, motivated, and contribute to their school and community Kathryn is an exemplary student and a brilliant young individual,'' said Byram Hills High School Counselor, Mr. Gary McCarthy.  He stated, “After three decades in school counseling, I have rarely had the privilege to work with a student as insightful, intellectually gifted, and as deeply devoted to family, friends, peers, and her community as Kathryn.  I know she will accomplish great things in the future.”

In addition to her stellar academic success, Kathryn is a competitive varsity athlete.  She is a member of the Student-Athlete Leadership Program and tutors younger peers in mathematics and Russian.  Kathryn has been accepted to several prestigious colleges and is interested in pursuing her studies in the field of engineering.

Byram Hills High School is proud to recognize Kathryn’s outstanding accomplishments and contributions to her school and community.   Scholarship recipients receive $2,500 toward their freshman year college tuition. 
 

Luke BriodyCongratulations to Byram Hills senior Luke Briody for advancing to the finals of the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars Competition.  According to the U.S. Department of Education, Luke is one of 625 semifinalists to move to the final round in this most prestigious competition. 

“Luke Briody is an accomplished, well-rounded individual and valued member of the Byram Hills community,” said Kristina Wilson, Byram Hills Guidance Chairperson. “He is looking forward to a bright future at Brown University.” 

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by Executive Order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors and their accomplishments in academic success, leadership, and service to school and community. Each year, up to 161 students are named Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

The mission of the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. If circumstances permit, all scholars will be honored for their accomplishments during the National Recognition Program, usually an in-person program held in June in Washington, D.C.

Lila ZacksCongratulations to Byram Hills junior, Lila Zacks, for receiving the 2021 St. Vincent's Hospital Youth Award. This prestigious award honors local high school students who best exemplify the hospital’s mission of charity, excellence in healthcare, and lifelong volunteering.

Lila has spent many years and countless hours volunteering at Pleasantville Cottage School, which helps children improve their lives through therapy and engagement. The school services children from seven to sixteen years of age.

During the pandemic, Lila also volunteered with a charity called 914 Cares. The organization accepts donations of clothing, diapers, and shoes for people in need.  Lila later became a member of the 914 Cares Advisory Board.

"Lila's dedication to her school and community is an inspiration.  She is a true community-builder,” said Mr. Gary McCarthy, Byram Hills High School Counselor. “Her commitment to organizations, such as the Grade Activities Board, High School Science Ambassadors, and her volunteer work at the Pleasantville Cottage School, are just a few examples of how she supports and enhances the education and well-being of her peers."

Although there will not be a traditional ceremony held in person this year, Lila’s accomplishments will be acknowledged through the U.S. Congressional Certificate of Achievement and the St.Vincent's Presidential Certificate.  The 2021 recipients will also be featured on the St.Vincent’s Youth Award website.
 

The Byram Hills Fine Arts Department is proud to present TWO virtual art shows premiering simultaneously on the Byram Hills website on May 12th at 6 pm.  
The K-12 Art Show will feature work from our youngest kindergarten students, our graduating seniors, and all students in-between.  Viewers will see the art world through the lens of children and their boundless imaginations.

The AP Art Show features artwork by students whose coursework includes AP Photo, AP Graphic Design, AP Studio Art, and AP 3-Dimensional Design.  Each AP art student will present a total of ten pieces, with many supporting their sustained investigations, a portfolio of related work.

In tandem with the Byram Hills Media Center, all 11 District art teachers collaborated to create a virtual experience for our community to celebrate the creativity of our young artists.  Much of the artwork includes written statements from the artist allowing the viewer to understand the creative mindset behind each work of art.  Our youngest learners engaged in conversations about art with their families before selecting an original piece for the art show.  Students scripted responses to a writing prompt which tapped into their emotional reactions to art.

“I am so proud of the student artwork that has been accomplished this year,” said Mr. Pete Pauliks, Byram Hills Director of Fine Arts.  “Our students deserve to have their art showcased and recognized by the Byram Hills community and beyond. What a treat!”
To view the Byram Hills Virtual Art Show on May 12th at 6:00 pm, please visit: byramhills.org/virtualartshow.

Congratulations to the Byram Hills 2021 Mock Trial Team for winning the Westchester County Mock Trial Championship. The team worked tirelessly through virtual practices and trials to defeat the #1 seed, Scarsdale High School.

The Mock Trial program allows high school students the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of civil/criminal law and the courtroom process. Thousands of students participate each year and gain a greater understanding of the law and the legal system.

The Mock Trial Tournament is set up as a competition.  Emphasis is placed on the educational aspect which focuses on the preparation and presentation of a hypothetical courtroom trial. High school teams argue both sides of a case and assume the roles of attorneys and witnesses. Team members enhance their critical reasoning and listening skills and ability to think on their feet.  They are judged on case presentation, following courtroom procedures, and professional etiquette.

The Mock Trial enriches the high school experience for many Byram Hills students, and winning the 2021 Westchester County Championship was a remarkable accomplishment.

The Byram Hills Mock Trial Team is coached by social studies teacher Mr. Martin Gilbert and lawyer/coach Mr. Eliot Schuman.

2021 BHHS Mock Trial Team
From top to bottom, left to right:
Chloe Weissman, Jon Manowitz, Max Teitelbaum, Zach Pero
Isabella Stillman, Jordyn Bernard, Mia Dittrich, Jake Fenster,
Lili Deitelzweig, Martin Gilbert (Advisor), John D’Avanzo, Elaina Piecyk 
 Missing from photo: Drew Siskin
 

Byram Hills High School is proud to announce that senior Matthew Weiler is the winner of the Con Edison Scholar-Athlete of the Week Award.  This award honors and highlights student excellence in sports, academics, and community service.
 
Matt is a two-sport varsity athlete who made a fast adjustment from basketball to football. After completing a basketball season where he helped lead the Bobcats to a Regional Championship, he transitioned to the football field with goals of another championship in mind. With little practice, he led the Bobcats to a 26-7 victory over the Westlake Wildcats on opening day.
 
“Matt has worked hard and puts so much time and energy into his craft,” said Byram Hills Football Coach Douglas Carpenter. “I am even more impressed with Matt's leadership, as he has helped steer our program in a wonderful direction."
 
He is a four-year varsity starter and was just named to the ELITE 11 Team by the Westchester Journal News. In 2019, Matt was named All-League, All-Conference, All-County, and All-State in football and averaged 7.5 yards a carry with four touchdowns.  He was also awarded All-League and All-Conference in 2018 and named to the 2018 Westchester County Second Team.

Matt’s extra-curricular activities reveal his leadership, citizenship, and character.  He was a volunteer for Armonk Football, the Cottage School (a residential foster home for youth), and The Armonk Youth Warriors.  Matt brings the same level of dedication to sports that he does to his academics.  He remains grounded and focused when under pressure in the classroom and on the field.

In one of his recent games, he captained the Bobcats to a 21-0 victory over Hendrick Hudson High School, rushing for 152 yards with nine yards a carry.  This upcoming Saturday, the Byram Hills Bobcats play the Westlake Wildcats for the last game of the season.  Matt is hoping to lead his team to be the Class B - Section 1 Football Champions.  This victory would be a memorable way to finish a robust high school athletic career.

Matthew Weiler - Con Edison Athlete of the Week
 

Drew Siskin, Class of 2021Congratulations to Drew Siskin, Byram Hills senior, for her award-winning essay sponsored by the Ninth Judicial District Committee to Promote Gender Fairness in the Courts.  The competition was in celebration of Women’s History Month 2021 and was open to all students in accredited high schools in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, and Orange Counties.  Drew won first place in the junior/senior category. 
 
The essay topic was: Has COVID-19 had a disparate impact on the workplace based on gender, and what should be done about it?  Drew wrote eloquently about the gender gap in the workforce and how the nation should increase the availability of pink-collar jobs to create a better balance between work and home.  
 
Drew will be recognized at a virtual event held on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, where she will have the opportunity to read her award-winning essay aloud.  
 

Sydney LevyCongratulations to Byram Hills junior Sydney Levy selected to receive the 2021 St. Vincent's Hospital Youth Award. This prestigious award honors local high school students who best exemplify St. Vincent's Hospital’s mission of charity, excellence in healthcare, and lifelong volunteering.  
 
"Passionate about health care, Sydney has volunteered at Blythedale Children's Hospital and Northern Westchester Hospital in unique ways showing dedication, creativity, and a genuine orientation toward charity and serving the needs of others,” said Gregory Quirolo, Byram Hills High School Counselor.  
 
Sydney has been on the President’s Junior Leadership Council (PJLC) at Northern Westchester Hospital for many years, facilitating the connection between the hospital and the broader community on public health, safety, and well-being.  She led an effort to produce COVID-19 videos encouraging peers to find safe and fun activities during quarantine and spent her summer creating multi-media health-related education videos in a Virtual Internship.
 
Although there will not be a traditional ceremony held in person this year, Sydney’s accomplishments will be acknowledged through the U.S. Congressional Certificate of Achievement and St.Vincent's Presidential Certificate.  The 2021 winners will also be featured on the St.Vincent’s Youth Award Website.
 
Sydney hopes to pursue a career in pediatrics in the future.  She feels her hospital experience helped confirm her interest in serving others while focusing on health and medicine.  Sydney’s dedication to her broader community is outstanding and embodies the core values of respect, integrity, compassion, and excellence.
 

School psychologists are uniquely trained and qualified to socially, emotionally, and academically support students. They also consult with teachers on the best way to help with student success in the classroom. Byram Hills is fortunate to have five outstanding psychologists who, through compassion and guidance, ensure that their students’ emotional and academic issues are appropriately addressed.
Jaime Karp (CH), Yvette Thompson (WA), & Deena Harvath (HCC)At Coman Hill, Ms. Jaime Karp has been working with both students and parents for twelve years. “Many parents need assistance in the area of occupying and educating their young children while keeping everyone safe,” she shared.  “I love that every day is different and that I have the potential to impact students and their families positively.” Ms. Karp is continually called upon to help students with anxiety, behavioral, or mental health concerns.

Dr. Yvette Thompson has been the school psychologist at Wampus for 17 years.  Ms. Thompson said, “I help teachers, parents, and students understand their strengths and weaknesses. Academically, we paint a picture of what a prescription for learning might be.”  Dr. Thompson addresses COVID-19 and how it creates feelings of anxiety and discomfort among many families. Dr. Thompson said, “Wampus is doing an extraordinary job of building community and making sure that students are connected in their pods.”

At H.C. Crittenden, Ms. Deena Horvath, like her colleagues, wears many hats.  “You need to rotate what is at the top of your priority list every day,” she said.  “Being a voice for the students is important because some do not know how to share their feelings or advocate for themselves.”  It is clear how much Ms. Horvath enjoys witnessing the growth and progress of her students from grade six to grade eight.   “Hearing that your past students are independent and successful and knowing you played a role in their development is why I do this,” she shared.

Carolyn Lanfredi &  Ellen Medd (BHHS)Dr. Carolyn Lanfredi has been with Byram Hills for twelve years and helped establish the Flexible Support Program.  She works with students needing counseling support.  “If you are part of this program, the resource room is built into your schedule. My office is right there, so students can pop in any time,” said Dr. Lanfredi.  “A sense of a safe place is essential, and I offer that to my students. They know they can come to me, and there is no judgment.”

Dr. Ellen Medd worked at Wampus for 27 years before moving to Byram Hills High School two years ago. To reconnect with students from Wampus and see their growth is a unique experience. “The pandemic has brought many stressors,” Dr. Medd shared. “Testing is complicated, and conducting meetings through Zoom often misses interpersonal connections. Social isolation is challenging for high school students, as well.”  Dr. Medd is also the chairperson for the CSE & 504 Committees at the high school.

Dr. Medd collaborates with Social Worker Ms. Annie Kelly, Student Assistance Counselor Bernice Pagan, and Dr. Lanfredi in a group known as the Emotional Wellness Support Team. Their goal is to support students, families, and the larger school community and identify struggling students and ensure they receive appropriate attention and support. The team routinely collaborates with administrators, teachers, and parents to assess each situation.

The Byram Hills school psychologists work as a dedicated team that includes teachers, guidance counselors, and social workers. In addition to assisting children with special needs, they make certain that all students thrive in school and beyond. These five extraordinary and compassionate professionals are part of what makes Byram Hills a great place to learn.

Process and performance at Byram Hills CSD

Byram Hills has been working diligently across the four schools to keep music and the arts alive and robust throughout the pandemic.

“This has been an opportunity for us to reflect upon the process of music,” said Pete Pauliks, Director of Fine Arts. “We must remind ourselves what gave us goosebumps the first time we heard a performance or performed ourselves. It’s that glimmer in a student’s eye and the magic of music that we want to recreate for students.”
 
Young musicians are unguarded, uninhibited, and free from the pressure of having to do things right or perfect. They can explore, experiment, laugh, be silly, and use their imagination without boundaries.  The pressure of performance has an impact on that joyful process, as students mature and the musicianship and interpretation often diminish. Byram Hills is evaluating the musical experience, as they want to deliver authentic, hands-on participation.  “We can press pause with music education and reimagine what this could look like. Teachers are reinventing and giving students a voice to play a bigger role,” said Mr. Pauliks.  

COVID-19 has allowed for contemplation of the musical process and has removed some of the pressure associated with performances.  Teachers have more time to focus on beginning skills such as finger, hand, and arm positioning, posture, and why these skills are important.  The silver lining is that lessons have been reconstructed to teach the importance of reading, understanding, and interpreting musical notes.  “We want to excel and stay competitive, but we don’t want to lose the excitement of experiencing music from the inside out, the way we do at the primary level,” said Mr. Pauliks.  “How can we reignite that fire that we once saw in students when they were first learning?  Music is about the joy, figuring it out, the lightbulb moment, the feeling of community, trying and succeeding, and crossing the finish line, but in a different way.” 
 
Teaching incorporates exploring, discovering, and tapping into something.  Music classes include collaborating and building critical, transferable skills.  “We develop this through a process - the why and how.  We can take our time and dig deeper into the nuances of music,” said Mr. Pauliks.  Teachers at every grade level have been spending more time on basic musical concepts such as beat, rhythm, and harmony.  
 
Byram Hills talented and resourceful music teachers have created student opportunities to perform virtually.  Students and teachers are doing incredible work coordinating solo performances from home, and then editing them into ensemble pieces.  
 
Each of the school's music teachers have discovered new technologies to engage learners effectively.  The SmartMusic Accompaniment platform enables students to play along with a song that incorporates all band sections and allows students to mute their instruments to hear the band and accompany the track.  Listening to the tempo of the track changes makes performing solo less isolating.  This virtual music experience mirrors an authentic experience. 

Quaver Music is a new interactive music program for grades K-5. Teachers can choose activities, tasks, and lessons through Google Classroom. It also offers tools for basic musical knowledge and includes features such as Class Play, which allows students to practice songs. These resources supplement the music program and will continue beyond the pandemic as they allow for differentiation, skills reinforcement, and an enhanced learning environment.  

The Music Department’s fundamental elements are centered around teamwork and group experiences and provide students with a well-rounded education that builds self-esteem and prepares them for a bright future.  The Byram Hills Music Department continues to strike the right chords.

The Byram Hills community is always asking, “What will it take for its students to be productive and responsible citizens of the 21st Century?”  It has recently become more apparent that the world is more interconnected and interdependent. To continue to prepare students, the high school faculty has started to create new courses focused on interdisciplinary learning.

Teachers have collaborated to combine elements from traditional courses, such as English, Art+Design, and Social Studies. This holistic approach weaves together topics from different content areas in a way that has tangible, real-world applications. 

Multimedia Journalism focuses on writing skills, editing, web and print design, A student taking photos for yearbook senior poll layout. podcasting, storytelling, ethics, and privacy. “We wanted to give more choices in the English curriculum in addition to grade-level and advanced placement courses,” said Duane Smith, Byram Hills English Chairperson. “This course was cemented by the idea of an authentic experience for students.” The most significant responsibilities are producing the yearbook (The Arch) and providing newspaper content (The Oracle). The advisors were already in place, making it the perfect fit.  Teachers, Catherine Eshoo, English/Oracle Advisor, and Amy Menasche, Art/Arch Advisor, knew their skill sets would complement each other and spent the summer collaborating and developing the class. 
 
“I like that this class allows me to express my creative side and that there are no strict rubrics to follow,” said Matthew Quintiere, Byram Hills senior. Unlike most traditional writing or English courses, Multimedia Journalism allows students a unique opportunity to write creatively for different audiences. “Students choose their topic and article style from club profiles to sports stories and conduct interviews in person, through email, or by phone,” said Ms. Eshoo. “They are fully entrenched in the writing process and learning the value of revisions.”
 
Breaking away from the conventional educational style, and exposing students to real-world skills and challenges is among the top priorities of these courses. “Students will always need to be good communicators, well-organized, and have the courage to approach people, which will transfer to any future job,” said Ms. Menasche. 
 
Another new interdisciplinary class, Race, Class, and Culture, aims to combine English and social studies components to deepen the understanding and perspective toward other cultures. Co-taught by social studies teacher, Mr. Ruben Torres, and English teacher, Ms. Jessica Shaw, the class studies literature and history and models a college freshman humanities seminar.  “We had the opportunity to visit other schools that were offering similar classes,” said Ms. Shaw.  “Then, we spent a year creating the class to offer students an exceptional educational experience.”  There is so much content to draw from, past and present, making the class very timely.

Race, Class, & Culture hybrid discussion.
 
 “We cover things more expansively than in Regents History, and I think the students appreciate that,” said Mr. Torres. “We are not on a quest to rush through content.”  The discussion-based class begins with teaching students what respectful discourse looks like.  They work on ways to approach emotional and passionate topics, generate productive conversations and handle opposing views.  “I am thankful for how this class opened my mind and taught me that it is okay to respectfully have a different opinion than my classmates, without either of us being wrong,” said Byram Hills senior, Drew Siskin.
 
Teachers set aside time for “hot topics” where students propose current events and vote on what to discuss for critical takeaways.  Students choose an issue that compels them and then write an argumentative paper reflecting their perspective. “The teachers made this class fascinating by using current events and pop culture to spice up their lessons and keep us engaged,” said Drew Siskin.
 
Offering unique and relevant classes that students are excited and motivated about fosters a love of learning. Byram Hills has successfully introduced two interdisciplinary courses this year that teachers will tweak and expand upon in the coming years.

The essential question at H.C.Crittenden Middle School focuses on active learning, risk-taking, rigor, and wellness.  “Technology has allowed us to support the areas we think are so important,” said Ms. Kim Lapple, HCC Principal. “By incorporating technology into our curriculum, we have provided a program for all students that keeps them engaged in their learning.”  

“When we first transitioned to online instruction in the spring of 2020, I had to change my approach to teaching mathematics overnight,” said HCC math teacher, Ms. Tori Barthel. “We found that the Google extension Kami met our needs. Kami is an educational PDF and document annotation application. This technology is used as a digital pen and paper to improve productivity and collaboration by using interactive tools. Students are able to edit math documents and hands-on worksheets quickly and efficiently.  As students became comfortable with the extension, we watched the quality of work improve and witnessed the simple joys of playing with color and font,” said Ms. Barthel.  “During hybrid instruction, we have re-embraced paper and pencil for some assignments, but integrating Kami and giving students the freedom of choice continues to be a great motivator.”

Nearpod is another innovative technology that HCC students and teachers are successfully utilizing to make lessons interactive. “I am using Nearpod to engage students remotely and in-class,” said sixth grade teacher, Ms. Mary Staudt. “They can watch preselected videos, play games that reinforce content, and complete assignments.” Teachers create lessons that contain quizzes, videos, and collaborative projects accessible through a code. The teacher moves the class through the work, allowing student interaction as they proceed. Teachers can also opt for the Student-Paced mode, which controls the lesson’s flow, or the Teacher-Paced mode for full classroom activities. Ms. Staudt said, “Students respond to questions on a message board or privately and look forward to assignments taught through Nearpod.”  Students participate in activities together, as a class, which has been a positive learning experience and community builder.

In Grade 7,  social studies teachers pivoted the Revolutionary War Monologues unit to reflect pandemic restrictions.  Students used various forms of technology to create smart, educational, and entertaining presentations.  “As in the past, students choose an individual from the Revolutionary War time period to study,” said social studies teacher, Ms. Stacey Iskovitz. “Their person’s defining moment was organized through Research Padlets, a web application on a digital wall.”  These were color-coded notes with areas for facts, questions, and teacher comments. Students used a Peer Editing Padlet, another useful technology tool, to provide feedback on their monologues. 

Students videotaped their presentations at home using props, scenery, and costumes. The teachers created screencast guidelines and were given instructions via Zoom for virtual backgrounds and a teleprompter application.  “Students’ monologues were recorded on different devices, but everyone’s final performance was uploaded to Flipgrid, a video sharing interactive technology tool.  Seventh-graders and teachers had a pajama party in class to binge-watch the presentations,” said Ms. Iskovitz.  “Although we were dealing with restrictions this year, the addition of technology helped make for a rich and memorable experience.”

Teaching chorus requires creativity and reimagination during a time when singing is not permitted in schools. HCC chorus teacher, Ms. Kate Smith, said “My goal has been to preserve the sense of community and camaraderie critical to social and emotional growth and, at the same time, teaching the performance and literacy skills necessary as a member of an ensemble.”  The technology tool that most supports the choral program at HCC is Flipgrid.  “I have used it to post assignments to the class board where students submit a clip of themselves singing,” said Ms. Smith. “They create filters and emojis into their screenshots and videos, providing a fun, non-threatening way to sing.” 
 
Another program, Music Prodigy, allows students to practice and receive immediate feedback.  “It aligns with our music literacy curriculum, assigning short musical examples for students to practice and submit,” said Ms. Smith.  The program gives students feedback that is critical, but limited in the current learning environment.
 
Teachers at HCC are using the program GoGuardian to monitor student progress and communicate with students privately during classes.  GoGuardian Teacher is the chat feature that allows teachers to send messages to specific students or the entire class.  “Screen monitoring is another handy feature,” said HCC technology teacher, Ms. Dawn Selnes.  “It is difficult for teachers to see what students are doing behind their screens, and GoGuardian Teacher allows a window into their devices and can determine whether they are off-task or need help.” Students’ screens are seen in real-time enabling teachers to redirect the student, if necessary.  Teachers can close and push out tabs for students when they see they are struggling to stay focused or while searching a topic online.  “Many teachers have reported GoGuardian Teacher as a ‘game-changer’ for hybrid and remote learning,” said Ms. Selnes.
 
The essential question is alive and well in HCC and being addressed throughout the building.   “Although this has been a big learning curve, our staff has embraced technology brilliantly,” said Ms. Lapple.  “We are confident in the education we offer because of the strong partnership between students and teachers.”

Kami in action at HCC.
 

The Wampus third grade students are doing flips over the extremely hands-on technology that brings classes and cohorts together as a community. Flipgrid is a website that allows teachers to create grids to facilitate video discussions. Each grid is similar to a message board where teachers can pose questions and students can post video responses. The Flipgrid website helps amplify students’ voices and allows learners to engage and share through the power of video.
 
“In third grade, we value the classroom community, and we empower everyone to have a voice,” said Ms. Suzanne Milano.  “The pandemic somewhat hindered our opportunities to connect, so we looked for ways to help acclimate students - Flipgrid seemed like the perfect solution.”
 
In August 2020, the teachers produced a video of themselves so students and parents could meet them virtually and introduce the technology. In the next video, students participated in “Behind the Mask” where they had a chance to see each other without face covers, as the videos are created at home. “I like Flipgrid because you can see your friends, and it is fun to watch their videos,” said third grader, Jenna Kaplan. 
 
Students have the opportunity to bring their home into the school setting.  Viewers get a glimpse of siblings, their home, and even family pets.  “I like that they take time to plan, record, edit, and then present their video,” said Ms. Milano. “It is so nice for classmates to discover new things about each other in this way.”
 
October’s theme was Halloween, which allowed students to share their costumes, decorations, favorite candy, and activities. “I liked the October Flipgrid best because I told everyone about my Halloween witch that lights up,” said third grader, Joseph Lentz.

Scenes from Grade 3 Flipgrid videos.
  
“Flipgrid brought everything alive in the classroom,” said third grade teacher, Ms. Paula Arietta.  “Students love to exchange information at this age and they grasp the technology so quickly.”  The theme for December was the holidays.  Students shared decorations, gifts, family customs, and various holiday plans and received enthusiastic responses from their classmates.   “My December Flipgrid was my favorite so far,” said third grader, Colette Weiss.  “I showed my Elf on a shelf, and I loved seeing the comments people made about my video.” Other students showed Christmas trees, menorahs, holiday lights, and even homemade cookies.
 
“For my class, which is two classrooms, it brings the cohorts together,” explained Ms. Arietta.  “It ignited a spark between the two rooms and generated great discussions. Flipgrid is a definite keeper after Covid.” Through Flipgrid videos, students are confident, relaxed, and can be themselves. 
 
This type of communicative technology is a window into students’ lives that might not be seen otherwise. “When you give children a voice, it boosts their self-esteem,” said Ms. Milano. “They feel more valued because they are part of a classroom community where they feel comfortable enough to take risks academically and socially.” 

The program Wonders was adopted by Byram Hills to foster a love of reading in grades K-5 by providing a comprehensive set of connected resources.  Wonders offers instruction specifically designed to create experiences that increase student engagement, build language skills, and inspire confidence. The lessons place an emphasis on listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.  These skills improve academic and social language and accelerate student progress.

Every student has a reading/writing companion and a literature anthology book that is colorful and appealing to children. It is broken down by genre, each opening with an essential question that students think about as they study.  Genres always begin with a shared read.  It takes several days to get through an article because the class closely analyzes the text and works carefully on the vocabulary words. Listening comprehension exercises are done through read-alouds from rich, authentic stories and informational selections from award-winning authors and illustrators.

Wonders at Coman Hill Elementary School

Wonders includes the best of blended learning. Every print resource is available digitally so that it can be utilized from home or school. The program consists of thousands of books, hundreds of interactive games, videos, songs, research projects, and a myriad of optional resources to extend or create lessons and respond to students’ interests and needs. “There are many critical thinking questions and a lot of going back to the text to support the answers and to find evidence,” said Ms. Pui Cheung.  “This is new for our students and a skill that you would see in higher grades.”  The program is different from what students have had in the past, but they are adjusting well.


“During instruction, I log on to Wonders, pull up the lesson of the day on the big screen so the class can see, and model the thinking,” said Ms. Cheung.  “I can show them how to pull out a detail and write it underneath the paragraph, and then they do the same.”  The program provides all of the necessary resources and includes activities focused on word work, spelling, and phonics.  “A nice attribute that Wonders incorporates is social studies and science,” Ms. Cheung shared.  “In realistic fiction, we talk about cultures around the world, and that is great for students. It is truly integrated learning.”


There is also an assessment component to this program that monitors comprehension progress to evaluate student growth every few weeks and identify difficulties. The most vital part of the Wonders program is the online component.  “On any given day, a child may have to stay home, but they will not miss out on the instruction because they have online access,” said Ms. Cheung.  “That gives us all such a sense of peace and is the strength of this program.”

To provide the ability to pivot from in-school to remote learning at any time, and to offer students a strong educational experience in English Language Arts, an online learning program was imperative.  Wonders provides Byram Hills K-5 learners the tools they will need for academic success.

Byram Hills is proud to announce that six members of the class of 2021 were recognized as semifinalists and one as a finalist in the 80th Regeneron Science Talent Search. This talent search is the most prestigious science and math competition in the nation. Olivia Canter, Mia Dittrich, Bailey Goldstein, Ali Hafez, Jared Ilan, and Raquel Kanner were chosen from a pool of 1,760 students and received $2,000 for their school to support ongoing research.  
 
On January 21, Jared Ilan became one of 40 finalists based on his projects’ scientific rigor and potential to become a world-changing scientist and leader.  Jared has been awarded $25,000 and will participate in a week-long virtual event in March to compete for up to $250,000 in college scholarships. The winners will be announced in a live virtual awards ceremony on March 17, 2021.  
 
“These students deserve all of the recognition they are receiving,” said Chris Walsh, Byram Hills High School Principal.  “All of their projects had to be modified in some way due to the constraints of the pandemic.  Their ability to overcome those challenges speaks to their grit, resilience, and hard work.”  
 
 
Student Projects:
 
Olivia Canter: Birds of a feather age together: Telomere dynamics and social behavior predict lifespan in female Japanese quail.
 
Mia Dittrich: Epigenetic editing of Cdk5 leads to sexually dimorphic stress responses.
 
Bailey Goldstein: Investigating differences in the relaxation of non-photochemical quenching and its implications for crop photosynthetic efficiency.
 
Ali Hafez: Using artificial neural networks to accurately simulate carbon nanotube field-effect transistors.
 
Jared Ilan - Finalist: Modulus of elasticity of the ideal decellularized plant material scaffold for the production of cultured meat.
 
Raquel Kanner: How do others perceive me?  An exploration of the influence of self-disclosure statements on viewer perceptions of emerging adults who stutter.

Regeneron semifinalists and finalist

Although times are different, members of the Byram Hills High School Marketing & Media Club are developing some very inventive and informative original content.  The E-Byram Blitz is hosted and produced by a talented group of Byram Hills High School students and has been receiving great attention.  “I love how the Blitz connects and reaches the whole school.  Everybody on the Blitz team is great to work with, and I love the content we produce,” said Markian Nychka, Co-President.

Ansh Arvati, Drew Krevolin, Jesse Wild, Evan Weiss, and Brian Zhang are the program’s team members and co-hosts, and Markian Nychka and Matthew Marinozzi are the club’s co-presidents and co-producers.   "The Blitz is so great,” said Evan Weiss, Co-Host and Blitz Producer. “I love all my co-hosts, and talking about stuff we love makes it 1000 times better."  Together they collaborate on all aspects of production, including research, scripting, coordinating, conducting interviews, filming, and editing. These students do it all.

The team saw an opportunity to outline what was happening in athletics during the pandemic and provided a venue for athletes to speak candidly about their experiences.  “I am extremely proud of these students,” said Brian Melso, Byram Hills High School Marketing & Media Club Advisor. “Their dedication to the club, the Byram Hills Athletic program, and their craft is remarkable and a wonderful asset to our school community. Wrapping on an episode is always a great feeling for the team, but seeing 1,000+ views across our social platforms knocks the experience out of the park.”

Aside from producing more Blitz episodes, the team is excited to begin live streaming and commentating on winter and spring athletics. 

Please view the most recent episode:

 

Byram Hills High School is proud to announce that five seniors have been named Finalists in the 2021 Competition for National Merit Scholarship awards. The students are Jordyn Bernard, Luke Briody, Talia Dinstein, Jared Ilan, and Kathryn Petlyuk.  
 
Over 1.7 million juniors took the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Test in October of 2019, and more than 15,000 were named Finalists.   
 
“This year, five of our students earned the prestigious distinction of becoming Finalists in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship program,” said Ms. Kristina Wilson, Byram Hills Guidance Department Chairperson. “Finalists were chosen not only for their PSAT scores but also for their SAT scores and general academic performance. Congratulations to our Finalists for earning this honor.”

Beginning in March and continuing to mid-June, NMSC, National Merit Scholarship Corporation, notifies approximately 7,600 Finalists that they have been selected to receive a Merit Scholarship® award. NMSC is a not-for-profit organization established in 1955 to honor the nation’s scholastic champions and to encourage the pursuit of academic excellence.

Byram Hills National Merit Finalists

Byram Hills High School is proud to announce that senior Jennifer Mui is this month’s winner of the Con Edison Scholar-Athlete of the Week Award.  This award honors and highlights student excellence in sports, academics, and community service.

Since the seventh grade, Jennifer has been a member of the cross country and spring track teams, a two-time captain for each, and holds the school record for every cross country course in Section 1. On January 30, 2021, at the Darin Gillenwater Classic at Iona Prep, she won the 800 meters (2:33.79) and placed fourth in the 1,500 meters (5:11.42). During the cross country season, Jennifer broke the school record in the 5,000 meters in a time trial (18:59) and won both of her dual meets against John Jay/Cross River and Horace Greeley. At the Milton Invitational, she finished 7th in her division (19:44).

Jennifer finished 5th in the Regional Championships among Putnam/Northern Westchester small schools, earning All-League, All-County, and All-State Honorable Mention. She holds every school record for cross country and six school records in track for individual and relay events. Jennifer’s commitment to athletics is evident on the basketball court as well. She has played on the Byram Hills Varsity Basketball Team from grades 8 to 11. She earned All-League and All-Conference Honors twice and was the team MVP last season.

In school, Jennifer is a member of the Athletic Advisory Council, the Captain’s Council, and SALT (Student Athletic Leadership Team).  She participates on the Acting With Integrity Committee and is a member of the Science Olympiad Team. Jennifer coaches basketball at fourth-grade clinics through the Junior Bobcats program. When she is not participating in school-related events, she is a member of The Youth Group of the River Church of New Jersey. 
Jennifer is an exceptional student who has a remarkable ability to engage in learning with singular focus and devotion.  She thrives on challenges and has excelled in her coursework at Byram Hills.  Jennifer Mui embodies all of the qualities that this award stands for.  She will be attending Binghamton University in the fall, competing in Division 1 track and field and cross country. The Con Edison Scholastic Sports Award celebration will be held virtually in June.
Jen Mui Con Edison Athlete of the Week

 

Byram Hills congratulates 16 seniors who won special recognition at the 58th Annual Junior Science and Humanities Symposium on January 30, 2021. JSHS is designed to challenge and engage students (Grades 9-12) in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics by presenting their original research before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Regional presenters will participate at the 2021 Upstate New York JSHS and compete for a spot in the national symposium. Congratulations to the following Byram Hills students.


REGIONAL PRESENTERS
1st place
- Kristen Eickelbeck - Physical Science
- Olivia Canter - Biological Sciences


2nd place
- Luke Briody - Neurology/Genetics
- Mia Dittrich - Neurology/Genetics
- Ali Hafez - Engineering & Technology


3rd place
- Lily Deitelzweig - Neurology/Genetics


5th place
- Raquel Kanner - Behavior
- Lizzie Manowitz - Behavior
- Bailey Goldstein - Biological Sciences


LOCAL
1st place 
- Jared Ilan - Math, Engineering & Technology
- Chloe Weissman - Behavior
- Gabriella Ripka - Behavior
- Tessa Schwartz - Math, Engineering & Tech
- Alexa Jindal - Medicine & Health


2nd place 
- Griffen Nenner - Biological Science
- Sophie Stumacher - Behavior
 

Byram Hills High School has earned the College Board's AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for expanding young women’s access to AP Computer Science Principles. This award acknowledges 1,119 schools for their work toward equal gender representation during the 2019-20 school year.  This distinction honors the outstanding work that Byram Hills is doing to engage more female computer science students.

The College Board is celebrating schools that have either reached 50% or higher female examinee representation in one or both AP computer science courses, or whose percentage of female examinees met or exceeded the school's female population. 

“I think this award speaks to our school's continued dedication to our mission statement of preparing students with 21st Century skills, as well as the District's desire to develop leadership qualities,” said Lisa Pellegrino, Byram Hills Mathematics Chairperson.  “Technology has demonstrated, over the past five years, to play an ever-increasing role in every aspect of life, and we work to ensure all students can meet these dynamic challenges.”

Byram Hills is preparing all students by providing them the opportunity to help solve society's most challenging problems.




 

Byram Hills is proud to announce that Jared Ilan has been named one of 40 finalists in the 80th Regeneron Science Talent Search for 2021 - the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and mathematics competition for high school seniors. 
 
He was selected from 1,760 highly qualified entrants based on his projects’ scientific rigor and his potential to become a world-changing scientist and leader. 
 
Jared has been awarded $25,000 and will participate in a week-long virtual event in March to compete for up to $250,000 in college scholarships. The winners will be announced in a virtual awards ceremony on March 17, 2021.

His project involved the development of cultured meat produced from growing animal cells without slaughtering livestock. Ultimately, his results point to the development of sustainable food production. 

This achievement is remarkable any time, but especially in a year as challenging as this one. 

Byram Hills is proud to announce that six members of the class of 2021 have been recognized as top scholars in the 80th Regeneron Science Talent Search, one of the most prestigious science and math competitions in the nation.  These students were chosen from a pool of 1,760 students. To date, Byram Hills has 123 semi-finalists, of which 20 went on to become finalists.
 
Regeneron awards each semifinalist and their school $2,000 to support ongoing research. On January 21st, these students will have the opportunity to become one of 40 finalists of the Regeneron Science Talent Search. During these challenging times, their determination and resilience should serve as an inspiration to us all.

Congratulations to Olivia Canter, Mia Dittrich, Bailey Goldstein, Ali Hafez, Jared Ilan, and Raquel Kanner.


Byram Hills Regeneron Science Talent Search Semifinalists Project Titles

Olivia Canter: Birds of a feather age together: Telomere dynamics and social behavior predict lifespan in female Japanese Quail.

Mia Dittrich: Epigenetic editing of Cdk5 leads to sexually dimorphic stress responses.
Bailey Goldstein: Investigating differences in the relaxation of non-photochemical quenching and its implications for crop photosynthetic efficiency.

Ali Hafez: Using artificial neural networks to accurately simulate carbon nanotube field-effect transistors.

Jared Ilan: Modulus of elasticity of the ideal decellularized plant material scaffold for the production of cultured meat.

Raquel Kanner: How do others perceive me? An exploration of the influence of self-disclosure statements on viewer perceptions of emerging adults who stutter.

 

 

Anika Bobra, an HCC 7th grader, has been producing a podcast called “Today I am Grateful.”  She shares her gratitude with the community and interviews local leaders weekly.  Anika has conversed with physicians, teachers, journalists, and most recently, the Byram Hills Superintendent, Dr. Jen Lamia. In the episode entitled “Grateful for School Leaders,” Dr. Lamia speaks about how COVID-19 impacted her role as Superintendent and the challenges that she and her administrative team face.  Anika is insightful and talented, and we look forward to hearing more from her in the future.

CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast featuring Dr. Jen Lamia!

An example of Anika's Podcast List

Kindergarten Registration for 2021-2022
March 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 17th via a Google Meet.

A child entering Kindergarten in September 2021 must be five years old on or before December 1, 2021.

Digital Registration:
Every parent/guardian will need to go online to request a digital registration packet.  This includes parents who already have students at Byram Hills as well as anyone involved in the CPSE process.


Please make sure to do the following:

  1. Request your digital registration packet between the dates of December 4th-February 8th by CLICKING HERE.
     
  2. Call and schedule a Virtual Kindergarten registration meeting between the dates of February 22nd - March 1st. Registration dates are March 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 17th. Please call Michelle Ramirez at 914-273-4183 ext. 1910 to schedule your Google Meet.
     
  3. Complete your digital registration packet and email/submit it to Michelle Ramirez at: mramirez@byramhills.net, prior to your Virtual Registration Google Meet.
     

If this is the first time you are registering a child in the District, you will be required to establish proof of residency at the District Office before your scheduled registration appointment. 
 

While the country continues to face challenges and uncertainty, the H.C. Crittenden community is actively taking steps to provide social, academic, and emotional support for their students. “We try to seek opportunities that we believe in, build on them, and find the silver linings,” said Ms. Lapple, H.C. Crittenden Middle School Principal.

During X-period, small groups of students, known as x-pods, can discuss academic goals, successes, and areas for improvement while preparing for their day. X-Pods were initially intended to stagger students’ entry into the building but have since evolved.  “Most adults in the building mentor a group of 10-12 students either remotely, live, or a mix of both, depending on the day,” said Mr. Angelo Ancona, H.C. Crittenden Middle School Assistant Principal.  “X-pods are excellent student support, as they provide a place to review homework, go through schedules, check the portal, and they give students the consistency of one person they can connect with each day.”

Many of the larger, open spaces within HCC, including the gymnasium, cafeteria, and music rooms, needed restructuring to allow for sufficient social distancing. Several moveable walls between classrooms were opened, nearly doubling their size. “The silver lining is the caring and nurturing environment that the teachers have created,” said Ms. Lapple. “Teachers have committed to making these spaces their own -  inclusive and welcoming.”

The adoption of virtual and e-learning technologies has also become a significant focus at HCC during these times. Teachers use Google Meet and collaborate daily with students in a variety of ways.  ViewSonic has been a game-changer, thanks to the Byram Hills Education Foundation. HCC teachers can now adeptly and masterfully conduct hybrid classes. Also, students have the privilege of utilizing their cellphones in school on the District network and the ability to FaceTime friends and family during lunch. HCC students are socializing, engaging, and using technology responsibly and safely, another silver lining.

“I am so proud of the positive energy at HCC,” expressed Ms. Lapple.  “Everyone has kept their eye on the prize, making sure that our students have the opportunity to learn, grow, and be middle schoolers.  The devotion that the faculty and staff have put forward is remarkable.”

 

6th Grade Socially Distanced Classroom.


 

On Tuesday, December 1, 2020, The Varley Players of Byram Hills High School will be debuting “A Night On Broadway” in a truly unique way - Virtually. No stage. No sets. No costumes. No lighting. No cast party. But these talented students are counting on a vast audience - online.

Byram Hills did not miss a beat in keeping these students engaged during the pandemic. Sophomore Matthew Giovannetti said, “I miss the camaraderie we normally share when rehearsing a show, but it was great that we could perform songs from a wider range of musical styles and periods.” Matthew has previously appeared on the Byram Hills stage in Peter and the Starcatcher and Guys and Dolls.

“We had to do a show, both for ourselves and the community,” said Theatre Director John Lopez.  “What could be possible to produce even if we were unable to attend school for the semester?”  He told students to focus on learning to connect to a song’s text, perform it in their living room with heart, and record on a phone if needed. 

Auditions were remote, and students chose songs to fit the general theme of their journeys, remembrances, and new beginnings - the result - a highly entertaining and memorable mix of Broadway songs. A stunning musical cabaret!
   
“A virtual performance can be just as fun and exciting as a live show,” said Christine Parisi, a Byram Hills junior. “We worked so hard, practicing every day until it was time to film our songs, and it all paid off.”  Christine will be performing in four pieces for this production, including a solo of  “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music.

Students did the bulk of the work during virtual meetings and even some carefully distanced ensemble rehearsals. Each performer, wearing an earbud to hear an accompaniment track, recorded practice versions and ultimately final recordings of all the songs from a quiet location in their own homes.

“The students have made us all proud,” said Mr. Lopez. “They managed to balance their stressful lives with the demands and responsibilities of rehearsing and recording their performances and pouring passion and joy into the entire process.”

Mr. Melso and Ms. Medrano from the Byram Hills Media Center (Producer & Editors), Mr. Gulick (Assistant Director), Mrs. Pieratti (Production Assistant), Mrs. Smith (Music Director), and Mrs. Brooks (Scenic Designer) all played a significant role in this production.

byramhills.org/a-night-of-broadway

In 2016, a study group began researching new and innovative methods to teach and assess mathematics at the elementary school level. The result was a robust program adopted by Byram Hills, known as Math Investigations. “We chose Investigations because it aligned with our philosophy of how to engage students through a hands-on approach,” said Peggy McInerney, Wampus Principal.  “It is an inquiry-based model.  It allows students to acquire the skills and knowledge in mathematics that they need to build upon in the second half of their educational journey.”  

Investigations emphasizes the notion that we are surrounded by math in our daily lives.  The earlier it can be recognized and understood, the more mathematically secure students will be when they move on to middle school. This conceptual way of thinking is more comprehensive than a procedural program.  It values collaboration and exploration in problem-based learning by allowing students to make connections and draw upon prior knowledge to deepen their understanding. 

An example of math practices in Investigations is Ten Minute Math.  “This activity provides a daily routine and review that supports each unit of study,” said Jeanne Marie Key, fourth-grade teacher.  “These lessons also create a community of math learners that discuss problem-solving strategies while listening to their classmates' techniques.” Talking about math helps elementary students deepen their understanding as they process concepts differently.

“At this age, we utilize ‘learning to read’ and ‘reading to learn’ to support the language of mathematics.  Reading comprehension plays a huge part in understanding the Base Ten Number System.  As students progress through the elementary years, the importance of reading ability plays a pivotal role,” Mrs. McInerney explained. “They must learn and understand all of the components that go into the Base Ten Number System to master fluency and comprehension.”

Math Investigations prepares students for the next stage of learning. “We need our children to understand math from its different representations, from concrete to pictorial, to procedural, to linear, to abstract,” said Mrs. McInerney.  “One of our most important jobs is to help students keep an open mind about math problems.  This program allows our abstract thinkers to find flexibility in math, which is an important learning disposition in the development of strong math thinkers.”  

Investigations is accessible for all students regardless of academic aptitude. A teacher may ask how students arrived at a particular answer and request to see their work.  They may receive several yet equally viable explanations that can start a conversation about the language of math.  “This system helps students think about the meaning of the numbers,” Mrs. McInerney said.  “The benefit of Math Investigations is not to over complicate math, but to recognize that it is all around us.” 

This mathematics system corresponds with the Byram Hills School District’s initiative of producing life-long learners. “Investigations works with our goal of creating the leaders of tomorrow,” Mrs. McInerney concluded.  “Tomorrow's leaders need to learn how to think critically, solve problems, and work collaboratively while also being proficient in core skills and concepts in mathematics.”

 

 Wampus student participating in a “Ten Minute Math” exercise.  


 

Creating a supportive and nurturing environment is essential for growth and success.  At Coman Hill, teachers focus on developing a community that highlights positive learning behaviors. They call it the unwritten curriculum. “Learning how to make eye contact, listening attentively, following directions, and being responsible and respectful are essential behaviors that are necessary for success both academically and emotionally,” Coman Hill Principal, MaryBeth Crupi explained. “At Coman Hill, we believe in educating the whole child.  Life skills that can be utilized in any situation and help all children to flourish. ”  

“Once we establish learner expectations, then the foundation is set for academic learning,” said Mrs. Crupi. “These habits help students engage in our curriculum.  They discuss characters during reading, write about topics that matter to them, and explain their thinking during math lessons. When children understand how learners behave within the school setting, they know how to put their best effort forward academically.”  

Establishing learner expectations has never been more critical than during the pandemic. Coman Hill students learn to be responsible by practicing handwashing protocols and the proper way to wear face masks. Teachers have applied their creativity as social distancing is taught using hula hoops or keeping arms out while walking.  Movement breaks are now a frequent occurrence as teachers are engaging in GoNoodle activities within the classroom. Thanks to the Byram Hills Education Foundation, outdoor spaces are utilized for instruction, snacks, and mask breaks.  The children have adapted well to new protocols and are conscientious as they follow the necessary guidelines to maintain everyone’s health and safety.  

“While our environment may look different, what has not changed is our dedication and love for the children, said Mrs. Crupi. “Our remarkable teachers continue to make Coman Hill a great place to learn. They have designed a warm and nurturing community where students are learning how to be respectful, responsible, and safe.”  From health and safety protocols to how to be a friend in a socially distanced world, Coman Hill teachers have created a sense of community where kindness counts.  “We feel so fortunate to be together again as a learning community,”  Mrs. Crupi concluded.

Coman Hill Communities at work.


 

School nurses play an integral role in monitoring and maintaining the health and well-being of students. They are on the frontline for potential emergencies while providing a safe environment in case of illness or injury. Byram Hills is fortunate to have six full-time nurses and two assistants who share a passion for their profession.

From top to bottom: Betsy Gordon, Lisette Meyers, Deborah Negrin, and Julie Gallagher. 

Betsy Gordon has been at Coman Hill for over 15 years. “The students are all of our kids and I come here first as a mother and then a nurse. That gives us a perspective that makes the kids feel safe and secure,” she said. Nurse Gordon spoke of caring for her students’ injuries and discussing how they occurred with them. She finds that hurt feelings go way beyond their scratches and that all gets reconciled in her office.  Students are happy and intact both physically and emotionally when they leave her office.

During the pandemic, school nurses faced a myriad of new challenges in order to keep students safe. One of the many priorities within Byram Hills was to adapt nurse’s offices to accommodate healthy and potentially sick children simultaneously. Nurse Gordon explained, “We changed our space from a small, sweet health office to a larger area with a division between well and possibly ill students. We also needed a location by an outside door for easy access to exit students from the building, if needed.”

While safety protocols are of utmost importance, school nurses still have the responsibility of instilling safety throughout their schools. “Some people think the nurses just put on bandaids or keep track of physicals but we are much more,” said Deborah Negrin, H.C. Crittenden School Nurse of 11 years. “My role is to make sure that students are healthy and in the best place they can be to learn.”

“Being an advocate and a positive role model for students is the most important part of this job,” said Mrs. Julie Gallagher, Byram Hills High School nurse of 16 years.  “If kids have any health conditions or medical problems, it is my job to educate them on how to manage these conditions. Teaching these kids is my favorite part of the job,” Mrs. Gallagher said.  “I teach them to navigate the school on crutches, play field hockey with a diabetic pump, general wound care, the whole gamut.”

Many districts are unable to have a qualified full-time nurse in each school.  With today’s ever-changing public health landscape, that can make it extremely difficult to reopen. In districts such as those, nurses drive from school to school distributing necessary medication. “We have always required a registered nurse in every school and because of that we are well prepared,” said Mrs. Gallagher.

Byram Hills nurses bring a remarkably broad set of skills and experiences to their job and were invaluable in reopening the schools. These individuals are doing everything in their power to keep our students in class and are helping to preserve normalcy. Their constant care, efforts to manage safety protocols, and devotion to students should not go unnoticed. Please thank your school nurse and recognize the unique and daunting challenges they face daily.

Wampus nurses Theresa McGlynn (left) and Randi Wolchock (right).


 

Whether it be producing District content, posting on social media, administrating the website, or writing for publications, the Media Center at Byram Hills is strategizing how information is being communicated internally and to the community. “We like to think of ourselves as the communications hub,“ said Elise Trainor, District Communications & Production Specialist. “We feel we are creating a window into the schools so the community can share the compelling and inspiring achievements of our students.”

Dr. Jen Lamia, Byram Hills Superintendent, spearheaded the concept of integrating all communications and developing an internal Media Center. The mission is to showcase student accomplishments, District initiatives, and events through digital and social media, web content, and print publications. The District is committed to educating students, engaging volunteers, creating interpersonal communication, and sharing information with the Byram Hills community.  

In addition to bTV programming and social media, the Media Center publishes Spectrum, the District’s newsletter, and the bi-monthly BHHS digital newsletter, The Focus. The designs and user experience were updated, which provide a more interactive and aesthetic read.

bTV has an active video presence as the production arm of the Media Center. The Department hired Ms. Gabriella Medrano, Media Associate, who assists in all aspects of production and is a tremendous asset to the team. Besides producing student award ceremonies and curricular programming, the Media Center also helps the schools with more significant communication projects, such as the virtual Back-to-School Nights at BHHS/HCC and remodeling department sites.

The Media Center also offers two extracurricular clubs for students, run by Brian Melso, District Communications Strategist.  “When we officially changed from Bobcat TV to the Media Center, the HCC and BHHS clubs also changed,” Mr. Melso said. “Instead of focusing on video production, we now include digital marketing and media as they are common practices in the industry.  Website design, photography, videotaping and distribution, social media, and cross-platform digital marketing all go hand-in-hand.” 

During the first year of operation, the Media Center faced a unique set of challenges that resulted in producing all spring events virtually during the pandemic.  “At the start of remote learning in March, I came up with a technical plan to hold virtual Board of Education Meetings,” said Mr. Melso. The plan allowed all Board members to be present and for community members to ask questions. “Working with administration and staff,  we produced and live-streamed most calendared events, and made sure families had the closest representation of live in-house ceremonies. All had outstanding viewership.”  The Media Center had over 200,000 cross-platform views, 175% growth from the previous year, and helped distribute over 250 videos during the pandemic.

“The feedback has been extremely positive and gratifying from the administration, our colleagues, and community members,” said Ms. Trainor.  “The Media Center’s goal is to enhance communication by effectively reaching our community, and while our first year has been unpredictable, we are delighted about the beneficial impact we are making in the Byram Hills School District.”


 

The Global Scholars Program is a three-year interdisciplinary course that focuses on global awareness, critical thinking, and leadership skills for the 21st century. Each year centers around project-based learning with relevant topics drawn from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Students develop global competency skills and work toward understanding growth mindsets, dispositions, and design thinking skills by investigating the world and taking action through research and authentic tasks.

The requirements to enter the program are an interest in global issues, a desire to engage in authentic learning, and a willingness to take action to make a difference. Year 1 of the program focuses on an introduction to the most significant issues facing our world today including poverty, human rights, and the environment. This seminar-style class, taught by an interdisciplinary team of teachers, helps students recognize multiple perspectives on both local and global issues, and helps develop skills needed to take action.

During Year 2, students continue to expand their global understanding through group and independent projects and develop an individual learning plan to investigate a global issue of their choosing. Through the utilization of design thinking, they cultivate empathy, conduct in-depth research, and take action to address their chosen universal challenge.

The 2019-2020 school year included three projects for Year 2 students.  The first was to study Hurricane Dorian's effect on the Bahamas and was used primarily to practice empathy interviews.  “Although students could not conduct interviews themselves, they viewed interviews conducted by others. They began to understand that if you want to help people, you first must learn from the people you are looking to help,” said Ms. Jen Laden, Byram Hills Social Studies Chair.  “They researched charities and made a recommendation of an appropriate one to raise donations for.”

For their second project, students had to develop a plan to encourage Westchester residents to complete the 2020 Census. They were required to conduct research, interview stakeholders, collect data, identify problem areas, and develop a realistic action plan.

Student groups wrote emails, made calls, and scheduled appointments for interviews with various local organizations. “This was one of the best elements of the process,” said Mr. Duane Smith, Byram Hills English Chair.  “Rather than viewing their teachers as the sole purveyors of knowledge, the students used interviews to learn from various individuals in the field.”

One successful outcome of the project came from a student group that created a public service announcement video targeting an immigrant community in Mount Kisco. The five group members collaborated with the Advanced Via Individual Determination (AVID) class at Fox Lane High School to identify and reach out to trusted community members. Neighbors Link, an organization that provides services and education for the immigrant community, helped make the decision to produce the video in Spanish with English subtitles to effectively reach their intended market.

“What I got most out of this project was how impactful design thinking can be. This is a fool-proof way to be successful,” said Lindsey Noel, a Global Scholars student. “I will take these skills with me through the rest of my education and into the workforce.”

Students chose their own topics for the third project. “They started with research on their problem, conducted empathy interviews, developed action plans, and right in the middle of that great work, the pandemic hit,” Ms. Laden said.  “Students then altered their ideas and many developed social media campaigns to raise awareness about their issue.

Skylar Silverstein, Byram Hills senior, focused on the increase of current adolescent mental health issues. “The most important thing I learned was how to be flexible and professional while working virtually,” expressed Skylar. She is currently creating activities and workshops about youth mental health and socialization.

Alexa Tusiani, Byram Hills senior, chose the topic of how factory farming impacts various systems within our society and government.  “Many people are not aware that this system involves raising livestock under harsh and confining conditions or the negative stigma surrounding becoming vegan,” said Alexa. “I wanted to change that perception and demonstrate the many positive aspects of a plant-based lifestyle.”  Alexa learned the importance of researching various perspectives of an issue, and how valuable it is to listen to others.

“Seniors explore their leadership abilities and hone their skills using the leadership practices of Kouzes and Posner as a framework,” said Ms. Melissa Stahl, World Languages Chair. “Year 3 students culminate the year by synthesizing all of their learned mindsets, design thinking, and leadership skills and develop a global summit for the freshmen class.”  

The Global Scholars Program has just completed its first three-year cycle and continues to draw approximately 50 new students each year with over 100 students in the program.
 

Dr. Andrew Taylor, Director of Technology and Professional Development, introduced teachers and staff to the ViewSonic platform, a technological system established to help with synchronous and blended learning throughout the District. The technology enables teachers to develop interactive lessons with students in the room, in another room, or at home (for secondary students).

Mr. Andriello teaches his students in the classroom and at home.

Mr. Andriello teaches his students in the classroom and at home simultaneously.

“There was a need for a ‘command center’ where a teacher could reach students remotely from their homes or down the hall,” said Dr. Taylor.  “ViewSonic incorporates a document camera and a laptop to provide a productive teaching environment.”  The set-up becomes an interactive display, so students can follow along on their computer screens and listen to real-time audio. They can see everything in the classroom, hear what their teacher and classmates say, and actively participate and collaborate from different locations.

“I have found the ViewSonic to be extremely helpful with my management of the hybrid synchronous teaching model, said Steve Borneman, Byram Hills High School science teacher.  “It allows me to see my students at home and in class and simultaneously engage in a lesson.”  In chemistry classrooms, cameras can be pointed downward, directly into beakers and test tubes, providing incredibly close views of experiments. “In one class, the camera showed that when baking soda and vinegar combine, bonds are broken, and new bonds are formed,” said Mr. Borneman.  “This was apparent in the visible carbon dioxide which created a white bubbling foam that all students viewed up close, thanks to ViewSonic.” 

The Technology Department trained teachers to become proficient with this new technology tool.  It allows elementary teachers to maximize their time with students.  Teachers can facilitate art projects, read poems, and even solve math problems all from a desktop in one room, while students in a different classroom participate concurrently.

“Using a Google Meet and ViewSonic, we can observe the students in another room while manipulating the digital presentation in real-time,” said Mary Beth Devery, Coman Hill kindergarten teacher. “Through Wonders lessons, we can read interactive stories, use the drawing tools to highlight, circle, or find words, and model letter formations.”  The system can simply display their daily schedule or play a video so the integrated class can view and respond to the material together.

“ViewSonic started as an idea, and just one unit was purchased to pilot internally,” Dr. Taylor explained. “We realized that this was a unique tool but were not sure how to get it in every teacher’s hands.”  The Byram Hills Education Foundation saw the value and fully supported a grant for which the District is grateful.

“Our goal for technology is to provide teachers and students the tools they need to grasp content and support student learning,” said Andrew Taylor.  “Teachers are masters at what they do, and technology can and should support the master teachers.” Dr. Taylor continued,  “Technology and distance became an obstacle, and as a technology director, I wanted to remove those obstacles for teachers.”  ViewSonic is an excellent teaching tool in the current learning environment and will help transition to fully remote learning if that should become necessary in the future.  

Byram Hills welcomes Pete Pauliks as the Director of Fine Arts.  Mr. Pauliks began his career teaching high school music, chorus, theatre, and music technology.  He moved into a leadership role in 2008, where he led a national non-profit, building sustainable and comprehensive music education programs.  After receiving a master's degree in Educational Leadership from Fordham University, he became an assistant principal in New York City. “We teach the arts because it helps students with critical thinking and processing information,” Mr. Pauliks said.  “That sets up students for success no matter what field they enter. I am eager to collaborate with colleagues and community members in creating new experiences and opportunities for growth in Byram Hills."


 

On October 22nd, nineteen seniors were inducted into the Byram Hills Chapter of the Cum Laude Society, the high school’s academic honor society. Cum Laude was started in 1906, and today, there are over 350 chapters in the United States. 
“This ceremony allows us to recognize the students whose GPA’s are within the top ten percent of their class,” said Principal Christopher Walsh. “They arrived there through hard work, perseverance, grit, and the support of their families.” 
“I urge you to reflect on the positives these unprecedented educational experiences have given you,” said Lisa Squadron, English teacher and 2019 faculty Cum Laude inductee, said.
 
Byram Hills Superintendent and 2019 inductee, Dr. Jen Lamia shared, “Think about others, learn how to talk to people by being a better listener, take another’s perspective, stop complaining, and learn how to express yourself.”

Dr. Sandra Abt, Byram Hills Cum Laude Chapter President, said.  “If you respect perspective, you will be happier, more successful, and make better decisions.” The 2020 faculty inductee was Byram Hills High School Social Studies teacher, Mr. Thomas Andriello.



On October 8th, 71 Byram Hills High School students were inducted into the World Languages Honor Society through a virtual ceremony. These students were recognized by faculty, staff, and family members for their hard work and dedication in studying another language. 
 
Three students delivered the induction pledges in their respective languages of study: Ariel Sheinberg - French, John D’Avanzo - Italian, and Illeana Baquero - Spanish. 

“Language helped families reconnect during the pandemic,” said Ms. Stahl.  “It helped us learn, heal, and share feelings.” She concluded by saying, “Use your love of language to expand and challenge your thinking, to help others, and to make our world a better place.”


 

On November 12th, The Manhattanville College Center for Design Thinking will be hosting an online discussion to highlight how high schools use design thinking in their programs.  Two Byram Hills seniors, Lindsey Noel and Ariel Sheinberg, will be participating on the panel along with our three Global Scholars Teachers, Jennifer Laden, Byram Hills Social Studies Chairperson, Duane Smith, Byram Hills English Chairperson, and Melissa Stahl, Byram Hills World Languages Chairperson. 
 
In addition to Global Scholars, the STEAM program from Scarsdale High School will be sharing how their programs are utilizing design thinking as a process for students to research and take action on local and global issues.  Hear how they integrate design thinking to understand multiple perspectives, collaboration, problem definition, problem-solving, and leadership.

Past design thinking challenges for Global Scholars students have included: increasing the participation rate in the 2020 Census in Westchester County, increasing voter turnout in the 2020 Election, fostering BHHS community during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many individual action plans related to the environment, poverty, hunger, and other social issues.

Design thinking programs develop students who can make a difference in the world.

Support our Byram Hills students and teachers, and join them in this upcoming event: 

Designing For Change
Date: Thursday November 12th, 2020
Time: 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Zoom Meeting Link: https://mville-edu.zoom.us/j/97114676494

 

On Saturday, October 17th, the Byram Hills 2007 soccer and 2015 baseball state championship teams were honored at a sign unveiling near downtown Armonk.  Alumni, community members, the Board of Education, and members of the North Castle Town Board attended.

“Our children going to school right now need role models to know what success and achievement look like," said Dr. Jen Lamia, Byram Hills Superintendent. “Every day that they drive into this town, they can see what you have done and aspire to achieve. When you come home, you can see that your town and your school district stand behind you and take intense pride in you."

Michael Schiliro, North Castle Town Supervisor, was pleased to see the students get the recognition they deserve. “This sign will be here forever to show your families that you were state champs,” said Mr. Schiliro. “We can’t wait to add more teams to the sign.”  

Ira Schulman, Byram Hills Board of Education President, addressed the crowd and said, “The most important message I’d like to convey is that we are not training athletes to be students but student-athletes.  At Byram Hills, academics will always come first.”

Rob Castagna, Byram Hills Athletic Director, thanked the parents for their trust and support and congratulated the athletes and coaches. “It is such an honor to work with Coach Allen and Coach Saunders,” Mr. Castagna said. “What they bring to the athletic program is off the charts and hard to measure.”

Before unveiling the sign, both coaches spoke. “The 2007 soccer team played 24 games and gave up nine goals,” said Byram Hills Soccer Coach Matt Allen.  “A great team’s mark is that since the state championship, no Byram Hills soccer team has lost more than three games.”  Mr. Allen paid special thanks to Michael Gulino, retired Byram Hills Athletic Director, and mentioned his joy in sharing the honor with friend, Coach Saunders.  

“Matt, you paved the way for future teams to win the state championships and showed Byram Hills that it was not a fantasy; it was a reality,” Scott Saunders, Byram Hills Baseball Coach said. “For my 2015 team, seeing the men you have become has been one of the coolest experiences of my career.”  

The two coaches tore down the paper to cheers from the crowd, revealing the sign, a joint donation from the Byram Hills School District, and the Town of North Castle.  The ceremony exhibited Bobcat pride at its finest.

To watch the full unveiling ceremony, CLICK HERE.


 

On Saturday, October 17th, the Byram Hills 2007 soccer and 2015 baseball state championship teams were honored at a sign unveiling near downtown Armonk.  Alumni, community members, the Board of Education, and members of the North Castle Town Board attended.

“Our children going to school right now need role models to know what success and achievement look like," said Dr. Jen Lamia, Byram Hills Superintendent. “Every day that they drive into this town, they can see what you have done and aspire to achieve. When you come home, you can see that your town and your school district stand behind you and take intense pride in you."

Michael Schiliro, North Castle Town Supervisor, was pleased to see the students get the recognition they deserve. “This sign will be here forever to show your families that you were state champs,” said Mr. Schiliro. “We can’t wait to add more teams to the sign.”  

Ira Schulman, Byram Hills Board of Education President, addressed the crowd and said, “The most important message I’d like to convey is that we are not training athletes to be students but student-athletes.  At Byram Hills, academics will always come first.”

Rob Castagna, Byram Hills Athletic Director, thanked the parents for their trust and support and congratulated the athletes and coaches. “It is such an honor to work with Coach Allen and Coach Saunders,” Mr. Castagna said. “What they bring to the athletic program is off the charts and hard to measure.”

Before unveiling the sign, both coaches spoke. “The 2007 soccer team played 24 games and gave up nine goals,” said Byram Hills Soccer Coach Matt Allen.  “A great team’s mark is that since the state championship, no Byram Hills soccer team has lost more than three games.”  Mr. Allen paid special thanks to Michael Gulino, retired Byram Hills Athletic Director, and mentioned his joy in sharing the honor with friend, Coach Saunders.  

“Matt, you paved the way for future teams to win the state championships and showed Byram Hills that it was not a fantasy; it was a reality,” Scott Saunders, Byram Hills Baseball Coach said. “For my 2015 team, seeing the men you have become has been one of the coolest experiences of my career.”  

The two coaches tore down the paper to cheers from the crowd, revealing the sign, a joint donation from the Byram Hills School District, and the Town of North Castle.  The ceremony exhibited Bobcat pride at its finest.

To watch the full unveiling ceremony, CLICK HERE.


 

Cum Laude Inductees 2020-2021Nineteen Byram Hills High School seniors were honored for their academic achievement as they were inducted into the Byram Hills Chapter of the Cum Laude Society during a virtual ceremony on Thursday, October 22, 2020.

“This ceremony allows us to recognize the students whose GPA’s are within the top ten percent of their class,” said Byram Hills High School Principal, Mr. Christopher Walsh. “They arrived there through hard work, perseverance, grit, and the support of their families.” 
The faculty addresses were given by high school English teacher Mrs. Lisa Squadron and Byram Hills Superintendent Dr. Jen Lamia, who were inducted into the Cum Laude Society in 2019.   
 
“I urge you to reflect on the positives these unprecedented educational experiences have given you,” said Mrs. Squadron. “Focus on what you have gained and what you might want to retain.”  
 
Dr. Lamia offered a personal prescription for how to find and develop oneself in uncertain times.  She said, “Think about other people, learn how to talk to people by being a better listener, take another’s perspective, stop complaining, and learn how to express yourself.  You have given Byram Hills your best - and should be very proud.”  Dr. Lamia continued, “Start to build your own personal prescription, so that someday you can feel good knowing you found your passion, your purpose, your people, and yourself.”

Dr. Sandra Abt, Byram Hills Cum Laude Chapter President, said, “Perspective should shape how you look at things.   If you respect perspective, you will be happier, more successful, and make better decisions.”

The 2020 faculty inductee was Byram Hills High School Social Studies teacher, Mr. Thomas Andriello. 
The students inducted into Cum Laude were: Lauren Amico, Jordyn Bernard, Zachary Binder, Luke Briody, Olivia Canter, John D’Avanzo, Talia Dinstein, Mia Dittrich, Kristin Eickelbeck, Calvin Fontaine, Paul Lestz, Elizabeth Manowitz, Noam Molloy, Kathryn Petlyuk, Tessa Schwartz, Ariel Sheinberg, Drew Siskin, Chloe Weissman, and Alison Zeng.

The Cum Laude Society is a nonprofit organization founded in 1907 to recognize scholastic achievement in secondary schools. Today it has over 350 chapters.


 

Byram Hills High School was recognized nationally as a 2020 Blue Ribbon School.  This award was based on student achievement and Byram Hills' commitment to education.  Byram Hills is one of nine public high schools in New York State to receive this award in the "Exemplary High Performing" category.

The United States Secretary of Education recognized 367 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2020.

“Congratulations to this year’s National Blue Ribbon School awardees,” said Secretary Betsy DeVos. “It’s a privilege to recognize the extraordinary work you do to meet students’ needs and prepare them for successful careers and meaningful lives."

The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. Now in its 38th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed almost 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools.

“Byram Hills High School is so successful because of the alignment between the expectations of the community, the professionalism of the faculty, and the engagement of the students,” said Byram Hills Principal Mr. Christopher Walsh.  “This is a tremendous honor.”

The 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony will be held virtually on November 12th and 13th.

Byram Hills High School named 2020 National Blue Ribbon School.

Byram Hills High School and Coman Hill Elementary School are proud to be recognized as Recognition Schools by the New York State Education Department. The honor recognizes schools that are high achieving under New York’s Every Student Succeeds Act Plan (ESSA). The designees represent 13% of New York State public schools.


“These are exemplary public schools that demonstrate that all students can achieve at high levels with the right support and resources,” Interim State Education Commissioner, Dr. Betty A. Rosa said. “Recognition Schools help to ensure equity for all children across New York State. The Regents and I are grateful to all of the teachers and administrators who, in a concerted effort with their school communities, are guiding our students toward success.”


Byram Hills High School Principal, Christopher Walsh, credits the faculty and staff along with the support from the parents and the community for this achievement.  “Our students receive so much support from our entire community.  I am glad that our faculty and staff are getting the recognition they deserve.  It is also a testament to the community for placing such a high priority on education.”


"I am so proud of the faculty and staff at Coman Hill,” said MaryBeth Crupi, Coman Hill Principal.  “They provide the youngest learners of Byram Hills with strong foundational skills so our students can have continued academic success. Their dedication to our students is so greatly appreciated!"

Each Recognition School will receive a certificate of recognition from the Commissioner.
 

Five Byram Hills High School Seniors have been named semifinalists in the 66th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program for 2021.

The students are Jordyn Bernard, Luke Briody, Talia Dinstein, Jared Ilan, and Kathryn Petlyuk.  

These students were selected among 16,000 semifinalists, nationwide, based on their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.  They will go on to compete for 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million. 

Over 1.5 million juniors from approximately 21,000 high schools entered the National Merit Scholarship Program. The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents the top 1.25% of United States high school test-takers.

Kristina Wilson, Byram Hills Guidance Department Chairperson, said, "This accomplishment represents years of both an excellent education and outstanding effort on the part of our students.”

“Our school community congratulates these five seniors for being named National Merit Semifinalists,” said Byram Hills Principal, Christopher Walsh.  “These students took the PSAT last October and so much has changed since that time.  I am very happy that they could still be recognized for this accomplishment and for having such a high achievement.”

These five students will have the chance to be considered as finalists for the National Merit Scholarships to be offered in the spring of 2021.

NMSC, National Merit Scholarship Corporation, is a not-for-profit organization established in 1955 to honor the nation’s scholastic champions and to encourage the pursuit of academic excellence.

Five Byram Hills Students Named National Merit Semifinalists 
 

On a hot day in June, bobcat spirit filled the air, as administrators, faculty, and staff stood along the front of H.C Crittenden Middle School and eighth-graders and their families drove by in a procession designed to honor the students. Cars were covered with balloons, banners, and messages of thanks for the HCC teachers.  Teachers cheered saying good-bye and good luck to the students as the line of cars drove by - a touching tribute to the class of 2024.

Later that evening, a more formal virtual Moving-Up Ceremony was held via live-stream.  It was here that Ms. Kim Lapple, Principal of H.C. Crittenden, addressed the graduates from the grade eight hallway and spoke of how this class built a community through “voice and choice.”  “We asked for honest feedback and respectful dialogue and you guys did just that. You had a genuine interest in bettering HCC and your actions have set a high bar for future classes.”

“We all know how important 20/20 vision is for the eyes to see clearly but know that this concept of 2020 vision applies to the lessons we have all learned during the 2020 school year,” said Ms. Lapple. “Never stop pursuing community building, creativity, or empathy. If you hold these life lessons close to your heart, your 2020 vision will be more clear and more powerful than ever.” 

Mr. Christopher Walsh, Byram Hills High School Principal, said “We were fortunate to have this class join us at the high school for orientation on March 10th, the last day the schools were open.  Now we have 175 days until you all become 9th graders and we can’t wait to have you with us.”  To conclude the ceremony, Mr. Walsh officially and happily accepted the class of 2024. 
 

The fifth graders and their families were invited to attend a virtual Moving Up Ceremony that opened with a message from Wampus Principal, Mrs. Peggy McInerney. She spoke of three important concepts for the students to remember.  “Trust in yourselves, stay connected, and don’t be afraid to fail. You will experience struggles that will make you stronger.”  She concluded by saying, “Always believe you are enough.  Be kinder and gentler to those around you by first being kinder and gentler to yourself.”  Mrs. McInerney’s inspiring words were followed by a poem read via zoom by the grade five teachers and a heartfelt message delivered by Tamara Leopold, the PTSA fifth grade coordinator.

Following the presentations was a slideshow featuring a Wampus memory from each student, with concluding remarks from Mr. David Mack, Wampus Assistant Principal.  He asked the students to reflect on their years at HCC. “Think about how you made Wampus a better place and the legacy you have left.  Cherish these moments. Consider your friendships, what you’ve learned, and be thankful.” 

To end the ceremony, the students heard from Ms. Lapple, Principal of H.C. Crittenden, who welcomed the Class of 2027 to HCC.  “I have been told that this class is outstanding and ready to make a difference as active learners and risk-takers. The Wampus Way has led you to HCC and we look forward to having you all join us in the fall.”

To follow the Moving Up Ceremony Wampus held a spirited procession that began with a sea of cars on parade, decorated in red and blue, to honor the fifth graders. Teachers lined Wampus Avenue holding signs of congratulations and cheering as families drove by honking, waving, and offering words of thanks to their Wampus teachers.  The energy and emotion could be felt by everyone.

Ms. Kim Sapone has been appointed to the position of Assistant Director of Special Services. She was a seventh grade Special Educator at Crittenden Middle School for 25 years before becoming the Chairperson of Special Education, K-8 for the past three years.  “I have enjoyed watching our students learn and grow, working with the staff at Coman Hill, Wampus, and HCC, and supporting our students and community of parents,” said Ms. Sapone. 

Ms. Kristina Wilson has been appointed to the position of Byram Hills Guidance Chairperson, 6-12.  She has just finished her 19th year in the District as a school counselor and most recently as Guidance Liaison.  “I am looking forward to creating programs, experiences, and opportunities for students to expand their knowledge, develop social-emotional skills, and create plans for their future,” Ms. Wilson said. Ms. Wilson has over 25 years of experience in education and has two Byram Hills graduates of her own from the classes of 2016 and 2018.

On June 9th four Byram Hills teachers and two administrators received tenure.  This year’s teachers included Andrew Benowich, Kim Gewitz, Deena Horvath, John Van Alstyne, and the administrators were Kristen Sautner and Christopher Walsh.

“Our tenure candidates have made a commitment to the Byram Hills community and that commitment is to remain lifelong learners,” said Dr. Jen Lamia, Byram Hills Superintendent. “That means reinventing yourselves as educators and leaders to make sure you are meeting the needs of our children.”

Andrew Benowich goes beyond his role as a special educator and embraces content area and District initiatives.  Examples of his work can be seen in the seventh-grade Monologues and the Legislative Process Project.

Kim Gewitz has many years of experience as a special educator and a social studies teacher.  She brings perspectives on instructional approaches and strategies to work with all types of learners. 

Deena Horvath, a school psychologist at HCC, was hired because of her vast knowledge in her field. She embraces the clinical model of teamwork, maximizes a positive support system, and manages many difficult issues.

John Van Alstyne, a special education teacher at HCC, values academic success and emotional wellness. He cares about developmental readiness but keeps his standards high.

Kristen Sautner, BHHS Assistant Principal, has helped evolve the organization.  She is currently studying for her doctorate degree at Manhattanville College and routinely applies her understanding of organizational theory to Byram Hills High School.  

Christopher Walsh, BHHS Principal, is a leader whose direction starts with a vision to maintain rigor while focusing on the health and wellness of our students.  Mr. Walsh finds the problem, looks for solutions, and gets results.  From Challenge Success, to studying the Master Schedule, to integrating new high school courses, and more, Christopher is simply exemplary.

CLICK HERE to view all of the tenured teachers and administration.


Four Byram Hills educators, one from each school, were honored for receiving the 2019-20 Teacher Recognition Award during the June 22nd virtual Board of Education meeting.  “Byram Hills has been presenting this award since 1981, and has maintained the tradition, now totaling 139 teacher recipients,” said Dr. Jen Lamia, Byram Hills Superintendent.  “This recognition is for a particular contribution or service that is beyond the scope and bounds of a teachers’ performance.”  The following remarks are excerpts from each of the principal nomination letters to the Superintendent.

Coman Hill, Ms. Lily Li
“An outstanding teacher is someone who has passion, compassion, and courage,” said Ms. MaryBeth Crupi, Principal of Coman Hill.  “Ms. Li has all of these characteristics, times ten, which makes her such a notable educator. Ms. Li has perfected what it means to have high standards while also having compassion for her students. Her compassion comes in the form of teaching the skills necessary to have perseverance with academic pursuits, as well as navigating the social terrain in second grade. Ms. Li teaches problem-solving skills, so her students are successful in all aspects of life.  She is an outstanding educator -  passionate, compassionate, and demonstrates courage regularly. We are so fortunate to have Ms. Li at Coman Hill.”

Wampus, Ms. Katie Constantine
“Katie’s care and compassion for children matched with her passion for the arts, create a dynamic learning experience for all children in the Creative Art Space,” said Mrs. Peggy McInerney, Principal of Wampus. “Her level of care for every child is awe-inspiring. She was part of the vision for The Creative Art Space built during the 2019-2020 school year and worked collaboratively with all stakeholders to allow the space to be shaped and molded into what it is today. Katie has modeled the core values that are part of the fabric of Byram Hills. She is part of a collaborative problem-solving team, and she is dedicated to continuous improvement. Katie is always there to lend a hand, greet you with a smile, step up, and help a friend, she is a true asset to our school, our District, and our community.”

H. C. Crittenden, Mrs. Melinda Fuller
“Mrs. Fuller’s students and colleagues have been her priority since she started
at H.C. Crittenden. This has been exemplified in the lessons and units she has developed through extensive collaboration and commitment to professional development,” said Ms. Kim Lapple, Principal of H.C. Crittenden. “The 2019-2020 school year has proven to be unique but this has not deterred Mrs. Fuller from keeping student-centered learning the driving force in her work. Mrs. Fuller has engineered an environment that fosters student reflection and embraces the concept of student growth.  As E-Learning took place at H.C. Crittenden, Mrs. Fuller’s care for her students was exhibited in her pursuit to provide rich, robust learning experiences. Mrs. Fuller’s students have learned to question, analyze, and realize that they each have an important perspective to contribute.”

Byram Hills High School, Mr. Peter Lichten
“At the beginning of this year, it would be difficult to predict the impact that Peter’s work would have on our school,” said Mr. Christopher Walsh, Principal of Byram Hills High School. “A few years ago, he dedicated himself to learning and mastering robotics. Peter saw how it sparked interest and the ability to reach students through different pathways. Peter is a teacher who knows when to support students and when to let them figure things out on their own. In a world that too often asks for perfection, Peter’s classroom is a refreshing mix of failures, trials, errors, and successes. He helps students see those failures for what they are; opportunities.  When the building shifted to remote learning, Peter was a tremendous source of support for students, faculty, and staff through technology needs and by offering countless professional development sessions. Peter is a true professional, lifelong learner, and exemplifies the best ideals of our District.”

The Model Congress Unit included the entire seventh grade at H.C.Crittenden and incorporated one of the District’s goals of integrating project-based learning into the curriculum. “We saw a great opportunity for students to take more ownership of their learning as they developed their own laws,” said Mr. Andrew Benowich, H.C. Crittenden Special Education teacher.  

The unique hands-on learning experience involved every seventh-grader, as well as high school seniors enrolled in the AP Government class.  At the beginning of the unit, students were tasked with creating bills and going through the process of ushering the bills into law.

The students took on current issues in American culture and politics, such as equal rights, animal testing, veteran rights, and the environment. They researched the problems and offered solutions in the form of proposed legislation. 

49 high school seniors served as mentors, traveling to HCC several times during the project, helping students research, produce, and shepherd their bills through committees.

While the seventh graders’ study government, law, and politics, this was the first year in which students from Mr. Andriello’s high school AP Government class were in their roles as mentors.

“It was nice to go back to the middle school and guide the students in a way that would make a difference,” said Sophia Giamartino, a Byram Hills senior.

Owen Jacobs, a seventh-grader, said, “I loved working with the high school students because they influenced me to think more in-depth and put more detail into my bill.” 

Students evaluated the bills as lobbyists and advocated for or against a variety of issues ranging from the environment and climate change to gun control.  The high school students researched, prepared, and presented testimony.
Mr. Andriello added, “It was interesting to empower the seniors to be leaders. The seniors worked well with the seventh graders answering questions, guiding internet searches, keeping them on task, and completely engaged for the limited time they shared.”

According to Mrs. Iskovitz, seventh-graders learned how to work together, compromise, hear other opinions, and respond to people who might be against their idea.  “These are real-world skills.” 

In the end, eight bills made it to the House of Representatives for a vote. In a formal session of Congress, there was a live vote, and students heard the results in real-time.

Student, Owen Jacobs, introduced a law that would institute armed security guards at main school entrances. Owen said, “Out of 52 bills, mine was one out of four that passed into law, it felt great!”

The students’ excitement when they saw which bills passed, regardless if they wrote it, showed how much they were invested in the project.
 

India Edwards, a Wampus fifth-grader, is racing around the library with her class trying to solve the puzzle that will open a series of locks. If they can open them all, they will discover what is in their “breakout box.” They participated in an immersive educational game called Breakout EDU. This interactive activity was made possible by a grant from the Byram Hills Education Foundation (BHEF) and brings the challenges of “escape the room” learning to the classroom.

In the last few years, there has been a worldwide growth in educational “escape the room” formats and many educators are adapting the concept to fit the needs of their classes.  Students develop social skills while integrating creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking, often referred to as the four C’s of 21st Century learning. Breakout EDU serves as the culminating activity to the Wampus Library’s unit on Genrefication, defined as “the process or idea of classifying literature into specific genres or categories.”  Genrefication is often considered an addition to, an alternative to, or an adaptation of the traditional Dewey Decimal System.

“One of the goals in this project has been to facilitate greater student ownership or investment in the library,’’ said Mrs. Jessica Murti, Wampus Librarian.  “The idea was to get students more involved with how the books were organized, broaden their interest in different categories, and to support and nourish their love of reading.” For the Breakout EDU’s, the librarians set up four padlocked boxes, each with a set of puzzles to be solved in order to open the boxes. Teams of four or five students worked together using clues to locate genre-related answers from different sections in the library.  To solve these challenges, students were instructed to use everything they had learned about genre, as well as their knowledge of how the library is managed. 

India Edwards said, “This was a mystery inside a mystery.  In our group, we decided to divide and conquer the tasks, and each focused on one thing.”  India later admitted that it took the entire group working together to finally open the breakout box. The problem-solving component is a challenge but forces students to think deeper. This activity is about how to navigate and communicate in a group.  They practiced time management, working under pressure, and respect for their group members, which are all significant life skills.  

Mrs. Murti said, “The Breakout EDU genre assignment connects the curriculum in an authentic way and aligns perfectly with the District goals of 21st Century learning.”

In March, Byram Hills shared its last day together as a District before orders required schools to close their doors for the remainder of the school year. Since then, the District has been working fervently to create, implement, and sustain a smart e-learning environment to suit the needs of students at every level. 

Here is a snapshot of Byram Hills e-learning. 


Elementary School

What We Know: Younger students are dependent upon their teachers for learning; therefore, parent and caregiver participation is crucial. Young students work towards independence but need guidance as they complete their work.  Independent work allows students in grades K-5 to begin taking ownership of their learning, which is key to development.  

What We Did: Teachers in every grade utilized Google Classroom, an e-learning management system that allows teachers to communicate directly with students, as well as post video recordings of themselves teaching the entire class or small groups.  In grades K-5, live sessions were flexible and tailored to the students’ learning plan, purpose, and need.

How It Worked: E-learning allowed students to complete assignments in unique ways.  Mathew Torre, a fourth-grader said, “I will always remember wearing my pajamas while I work and doing classwork while sitting in a tree one day.”

“My favorite part about e-learning has been working on my Seashore research project,” said Jack Vataj, a second-grader.  “I like using the e-resources to find cool books and videos about my favorite sea animal, the great white shark.”  


Middle School

What We Know: In grades six through eight, students are becoming more independent learners.  This holds true whether in the classroom environment or learning virtually.

What We Did: H.C. Crittenden implemented a schedule that allowed time for the different content areas, as well as individual student-teacher meetings. The schedule was differentiated by grade level and by team and incorporated the methods of blended learning. Parents and students accessed a portal to check on the status of students’ schoolwork, monitor quality, and view teachers’ feedback. In addition to keeping everyone updated, the portal assisted the students with organization and executive functioning. 

How It Worked:  At H.C. Crittenden students in Mrs. Smith’s science class conducted experiments and recorded their results on Flipgrid, a program allowing students to post videos that facilitate discussions about their work.  For example, Frank Cangelosi, a sixth-grader, recorded an experiment with an egg in salt water and another in tap water and demonstrated the reason why one floated and the other sank.  Frank said, “I liked doing the experiment at home because I could do it on my own time and the other kids could just watch my Flipgrid.”


High School 

What We Know: High school students work better with structure. With many traditional measures such as standardized tests canceled, they also needed grading procedures that accurately reflected their performance and showed them in their best light.

What We Did: At the high school level, expectations were still high. Teachers followed a structured schedule for launching their weekly assignments, and throughout the week they provided live classes, office hours, help sessions, and other ways for students to interact with them directly. Teachers and staff helped juniors and seniors complete college applications in new, creative ways that highlight their achievements and successes. 

How It Worked:  Without the pressure of standardized tests, there has been more time for project-based learning opportunities. Students in Mr. Lockwood’s Studio Music Production & Composition class were given an e-learning assignment to compose a song, analyze it, and then explain why it worked through a video presentation. The task was based on the popular YouTube series “What Makes This Song Great.”  “I enjoyed this assignment because it was different from anything we normally do,’’ said senior, Emery Cohen.  “We got to integrate technology in a fun and positive way.”


In Conclusion 

During this historical educational shift, students of different ages have adjusted to e-learning with different timelines and with different hurdles.  Students thrive in the live classroom setting and have experienced a separation from their school environment in significant ways. 

As second grade teacher, Mrs. Rowell concludes, “I think the greatest strength my students have shown during this strange time is flexibility and positivity.”  We look to a brighter future where we can go back to our traditional way of classroom learning, stronger and together.


From left to right: Joshua Rios, Annielese Calvao, Noa Benerofe, Luke Berliner.

According to the United Nations, school closures in thirteen countries disrupted the education of 290 million students globally in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.  This left millions of teachers, administrators, and students navigating online learning.

In a matter of days, Byram Hills and schools worldwide shifted from classroom learning to e-learning.  This created numerous challenges.  E-learning became the educational catchphrase of 2020. 

As of March 16, by NYS Governor’s Executive Order, schools closed statewide and Byram Hills moved into emergency management mode. This was the first of four phases of the District’s implementation of e-learning.  

Phase One included making sure every student in the Byram Hills community had a computer to participate in their schoolwork and that all families had internet access.  On March 16 and 17, the District deployed over 600 Chromebooks and 40 wifi units to Byram Hills students.

Phase One also included the implementation of professional learning for faculty and staff.  This was essential in teaching new technologies and integrating tools with on-line curriculum. The District assembled over 300 workshops to expose staff to new platforms and strategies for learning.  

According to Dr. Tim Kalteneker, Deputy Superintendent, the immediate concern was “the what and how” in the e-learning process.  “We had to identify and prioritize the essential content for what was expected of students through e-learning,” said Dr. Kalteneker.  “How do we deliver instruction now that students are not in the classroom and what online methods will we use to accomplish this?”  

The second phase of the District learning went deeper into subsistence learning. Teachers had to readjust their expectations for student learning while exploring new ways to present information. Student wellness, an important aspect during each phase, became a large focus during Phase Two.  Teachers needed to assess how the student body was dealing emotionally with the new learning.

A crucial component of e-learning, implemented during Phases Two and Three was to create a ‘blended’ learning environment. This type of learning environment is a combination of synchronous learning, which is instruction that takes place in real-time; asynchronous learning, which incorporates recorded videos, and independent work; and interdependent learning, which is the interaction between the student and the teacher. 

Also, during Phase Two, the District provided parents and students with seminars offering useful tips on transitioning from the classroom to e-learning. Byram Hills acquired consultant Dr. Nancy Sulla, to assist with the transition so that students would be successful in e-learning. Dr. Sulla introduced the community to eight essential elements of home-based learning: Creating structure, finding special projects, providing resources, allowing downtime, facilitating constructive conversations, creating balance, celebrating educational successes, and meaningful reflection on one’s effort.

“I have found that keeping a similar structure throughout the days is extremely helpful to me,” said high school junior, Sophie Stumacher.  She shared that in her home designated times have been set aside for homework, exercising, meals, and family time.

Mrs. Jennifer Rowell, a second-grade teacher, shared that on the first day of e-learning, a parent emailed her that her son had set up a classroom at home just like his classroom at Coman Hill.  The parent added, “He has a schedule, a calendar, and a warm-up to start his day.”
 
During Phase Three, teachers worked to refine the new learning environment, finding a balance between synchronous and asynchronous instruction, independent learning, and providing relevant feedback to students. The teachers designed instruction for learning new content and created more structured time for synchronous sessions.  During Phase Three, portal feedback became available in the secondary schools, which helped keep students on task and parents aware of their progress.

By adapting the curriculum, learning new instructional strategies, and mastering new technologies, Byram Hills teachers have been working on e-learning. This process has shown everyone how important the student/teacher relationship can be.

“I’d say the biggest challenge for me is not seeing my students each day, said Ms. Leisa Palmer, a fourth-grade teacher. “They know that I’ll always be there for them.” 

Students miss the day-to-day connection with their teachers. “My English teacher, Mr. Horn, holds Google Meets to just see how we are,” said high school junior, Alexa Tusiani.  “This reassurance that our teachers are there for us has been incredible.”  

“My favorite part of e-learning is Google Meets because I can actually see my teacher and my friends,” said Juliette Rosner, a fourth-grade student.  “I miss them and even if it is through a computer, it helps me feel connected.”

“One ‘silver lining’ has been the relationship between students and teachers,” said Sydney Levy, a high school sophomore.  “I am getting to know my teachers more because everyone is going through this together and I think we help each other.”

In Phase Four, the District implemented some new and different end of year rituals to honor students and are planning for the fall of 2020. 

The District is reflecting on how this experience has changed the look of education.  Byram Hills is a strong community with the collaboration of teachers, administrators, parents, and students.
 

On June 23rd the Class of 2020 was honored drive-in movie style. This picture-perfect evening, albeit far from traditional, brought together 193 seniors and their families to the west parking lot of SUNY Purchase for a celebration to remember. All eyes were on two 40 foot screens as participants tuned in to the simulcast on their car radios. The presentation contained words of wisdom, pride, and messages about resilience and strength as this class faced a unique set of challenges leading up to graduation.

The audience heard from Salutatorian, Elena Lowe who said, “We can only hope this will be a year of change for the better and we should not be afraid of it.”

Alison Lehman, the Valedictorian, addressed her peers and stated,  “When we look back at this time, remember all that it gave us.  Our sadness, frustration, and anger highlight what we value most and will change our lives for the better.”  

Mr. Walsh referred to the Class of 2020 as the 52nd graduating class from Byram Hills but quite different from all the others.  “You are the only class who had a car procession in your honor, a video tribute on movie screens, and graduation on the turf field,” Mr. Walsh said.  “I will always remember this grade for leading the way into an unknown world.”
 
Dr. Jen Lamia addressed the seniors by speaking about how much has changed during their journey on the path to graduation.  “Change helps us develop into our true selves.  A part of each of us is developed by the way we think, we act, we relate, we dream, and we exist during change,” said Dr. Lamia.

The eighty-minute program incorporated moving messages from Board of Education President, Mr. Scott Levy, high school teachers, tribute slides from parents and students, a clever diploma hand-off, and a montage of photos and videos starting from when the seniors were in elementary school.  This was truly a magical night filled with well-deserved recognition, great joy, and much hope for the Class of 2020.

The formal Commencement Ceremony will take place on August 4th on the high school campus.

Congratulations to our 20 seniors honored at this year’s 31st Authentic Science Research Virtual Symposium held on June 3rd.  These students graduated virtually from the program after spending hundreds of hours on their individual research projects in their field of interest.  Projects by sophomores and juniors could also be seen by entering virtual classrooms and hearing their presentations.  ‘Forces of Nature’, as the event was called, filled the evening with scientific facts, heartfelt speeches, and a huge effort on the part of all the science research students.  It was completely student-run by the Fab 5, a group of juniors who were selected to organize this event. They deserve special recognition for dealing with a historical set of unusual circumstances this year with poise and grace.  Congratulations to everyone involved on a wonderful event.


2019/2020 Authentic Science Research Graduates:
Benjamin Hammond
Samuel Aberman
Oliver Brocata
Allison Stillman
Seth Morrison
Meagan Eickelbeck
Alexa McGrath
Ariana Dan
Sydney Glassman
Thomas Gomez
Meredith Mayers
Taleen Postian
Sarah Ilany
Daryn Kaplan
Adam Zeng
Ariana Iashkanian
Carolina Pedraza
Spencer Karp
Amanda Mackey
Owen Skriloff

Byram Hills honored 21 members of the faculty and staff with the Longevity Service Award at the virtual June 22nd Board of Education Meeting.  “There are 490 years of combined service from our Longevity recipients,” said Dr. Jen Lamia, Byram Hills Superintendent.  “This is what it means to be dedicated to your craft.”

50 Years:
Christine Pecora 

35 Years:
Cheryl Beck 

25 Years:
Elizabeth Eininger 
Elana Levy
Albert Lovelace 
John Naughton
Nancy Sarro

20 Years: 
Paula Arietta
Melanie Berkson 
Josephine Calvaruso 
Carmella DeCarlo 
Mary Jane Fazio 
Susan Fucale 
Chrystie Johnson 
Dr. Timothy Kaltenecker 
Mary Kelly 
Patricia McElroy 
Christina Motta 
Robin Drake Sahinovic 
Kirsten Russell Stacey 
Steve Thompson

To view all of the Longevity Service Award recipients, CLICK HERE.
 

The Tri-M® Music Honor Society is the international music honor society for high school students. It is designed to recognize students for their academic and musical achievements, reward them for their accomplishments and service activities, and inspire other students to excel at music and leadership. Congratulations to the following students who are being inducted this year:

Edith Bachmann
Nathaniel Bergman
Grace Byrd
Amelia Chung
Emery cohen
Ryan Dany 
Alexander Dempsey
Mark Fakler
Rebecca Frieden
Paul Lestz
Thomas Lombardo
Nora Lowe
Eleni Morse 
Melissa Rivera
Oliver Rivera
Nicholas Skiera
Alison Zeng
Priscilla Zhang
 

The National Art Honor Society (NAHS) recognizes high school students who demonstrate outstanding artistic and academic strength and have a commitment to service through the arts. Congratulations to the following students who are being inducted to the society this year:

Amanda Anikstein
Lilly Ceisler
Ryan Dany
Nina Dekker
Reese Ertel
Daryn Kaplan
Amanda Mackey
Emily Ragals
Jordan Seigel
Leah Sokol
Ana Welley
 

Mu Alpha Theta is dedicated to encouraging the continued pursuit of mathematics and service to others. The principal purpose
of Mu Alpha Theta is to stimulate a deeper interest in mathematics.

Luke Abbruzzese                                                    
Olivia Addeo
Alex Araki-kurdyla
Derek Araki-kurdyla
Lily Auster
Aidan Berkman 
Alex Berkman 
Sophia Berland
Ryan Bernstein
Nicolas Bisgaier 
John Blackmar
Evan Boekel
Kaity Chen
Matthew Deluca
Sydney Dooley
Ross Eagle
Danielle Eder
Reese Ertel
Chloe Fang 
Ella Fleischer 
Owen Fleischer 
Danielle Freedman 
Rebecca Frieden 
Hayden Fruhling
Gabriella Gentile
Rachael Getreu
Jacob Geyman
Nowell Gibson
Alexia Giordano
Samantha Glusky
Arielle Goldman
Eliza Goldman
Jake Goldman
Hallie Gordon 
Samantha Grech
Dylan Green 
Dylan Haber
Haley Harris 
Brinton Higgins
Emily Hollander
Alexa Jindal
Jessica Kahn
Jamie Kaplan
Sarah Karoff 
Owen Kirkwood
Lucy Kwittken
Megan Lee 
Samantha Leff
Sydney Levy
Nora Lowe
Julia Lucchino 
Alyssa Margolin 
Matthew Marinozzi 
Blake Massoni 
Jolie Miller
Lola Minutillo
Noam Molloy 
Jacob Mozarsky
John Ndocaj 
Lindsey Noel 
Emily Pizzorusso 
Tanya Postian
Matthew Quintiere
Bennett Rakower
Nicole Ramirez
Hannah Rippy
Michael Rocco
Olivia Scaglione 
Brady Schlosser 
Ariel Sheinberg 
Chloe Siegle
Alyssa Singer
Nicholas Skiera
Mia Spadafino
Emma Sullivan 
Arianna Tabankin 
Jake Teitelbaum
Alexa Tusiani 
Sebastian Vasquez 
Hayden Weiss 
Emma Zdanoff 
Jane Zeltner 
Brian Zhang
Robert Ziff


 


 

Every spring a number of juniors and seniors are notified via mail that they have been nominated for an award but are not told in what category or for which honor.

“This has been an incredible year for our students on many different levels,” said Mr. Christopher Walsh, Byram Hills High School Principal.  “Many of the students were celebrated, not only locally, but on the state and national levels. Their accomplishments were recognized by organizations such as National Merit, Section One Athletics, NY State Athletics, Con Edison, Regeneron, College Board, NYSSMA, and countless others.”

This year’s award ceremony reflected the unique challenges of the year.  It was viewed virtually, as students and parents found out together what award each student had won.  Presenters spoke about each recipient and the specific award being given. Categories covered English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, World Languages, Fine Arts, Music and Theatre, and Physical Education.  The awards were chosen by teachers, coaches, and administrators.

There are traditionally two awards that are student and faculty/staff nominated.  They are the PTSA Caruolo Leadership Award and the Hy Blatte-Jack Wollenberg Memorial Award.  Both awards are only granted to seniors who display certain characteristics that are recognized by  their classmates and the faculty.

The PTSA Caruolo Leadership Award is given to a student on the basis of leadership, character, dedication, loyalty, humanity, and an interest in education. This year’s award went to Alyson Kaplan.

The Hy-Blatte-Jack Wollenberg Memorial Award is the final award presented each year and is considered the highest honor for a Byram Hills High School senior. It is awarded to a student who has a humanitarian outlook, a willingness to extend themselves to others, and an optimistic approach to life and its challenges.  “It does not go to the student with the highest grades, best extracurriculars, or most friends,” said Mr. Walsh.  “It is intended to go to a senior who is most respected and trusted or the one that classmates can count on in a time of need or trouble.”  This year’s award went to Dominic Picca.  Nick presented a heartfelt, virtual speech to close the Awards Show. 

Congratulations to all Byram Hills High School award recipients!  To view all of the award recipients, CLICK HERE

First-year students from the Byram Hills Global Scholars program made a shift from last year’s in-school art installation on Yemen human rights, to a virtual art show on the conflict and abuse in Myanmar.

The tenth-grade students studied the injustices taking place in Myanmar as part of the quarter-long unit on human rights. “One objective of this assignment was to teach students about getting the word out and taking action. Art is one way to do that,” said Kim Gewitz, Social Studies/Global Scholars teacher.

“We have worked on other ways to demonstrate support including podcasts, editorials, and volunteering, but agreed on art as the form for students to express themselves for this project,” said Lisa Squadron, English/Global Scholars teacher.  “We discussed famous paintings, photos, music, videos, short stories, and poems related to human rights so students would think about how to use their own creativity and talents to defend or promote human rights.

As a result, students presented powerful art projects ranging from drawings, graphic design pieces, an original piano composition, and even a project that was baked in an oven.

The culmination of the unit was a virtual art show edited to an impactful music track with the message to support and celebrate human rights in the country of Myanmar.

Myanmar Digital Art Show

Byram Hills High School is pleased to announce Farran Horowitz and Alexander Behar as this year’s recipients of the New York State Attorney General’s Triple C Award.

The award has been presented since 2006 to deserving graduating seniors across New York State in recognition of three primary traits: Courage, Character, and Commitment.  The NYS Triple C Award was established to honor seniors whose high school journey included unique circumstances and achievement.  Whether overcoming personal obstacles, succeeding in academic pursuits, participating in community service, or displaying leadership skills, these students provide us with hope for a brighter future. 

Farran Horowitz defied all odds in the summer of 2018 after suffering a near-fatal accident.  Her recovery and resilience remain an inspiration to the Byram Hills community.  Farran hopes to pursue a career in education or physical therapy after college.  She intends to continue her love of fine arts and will attend Bard College in the fall.

Alex Behar underwent brain surgery during the summer of 2018 to address an underlying illness which was causing great discomfort. Alex handled his illness and recovery with grace and dignity and demonstrated tremendous patience as he worked to return to full capacity as a student and an athlete. He returned to wrestling and continued to stand out on the team as a competitor and a leader to other wrestlers. He will be attending NYU next fall where he will further pursue wrestling.

Jordyn Jacobson, 12th grade, and Arielle Goldman, 10th grade, participated in the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center's High School Living History Program this year.  This was a new opportunity for students to participate in an intergenerational program connecting Holocaust Survivors and teenagers. Each student met with a survivor numerous times throughout the year to document and share their stories.  The High School Living History Project not only impacted the individual students, but also the community as students documented survivors’ stories so they will live on, for generations to come, and never be lost. 
Jordyn Jacobson
Arielle retold the story of Holocaust Survivor, Judith Altman, and published it on a webpage.  She also created artwork, inspired by Judith. Judith Altman: Her Story

After meeting with Holocaust survivor, Betty Knoop, Jordyn will tell her story through a series of diary entries from her perspective, beginning with her 6th birthday and going all the way to her life after the war in the United States. This project will be posted on the HHREC’s website soon.

In a time when many of us feel helpless or isolated, the second graders at Coman Hill Elementary School found a heartwarming way to stay unified and positive.  Messages of thanks were sent with love to the healthcare workers in the Byram Hills School community.

Teachers and students created a slide-show presentation of thank-you messages and sent it to the local medical community through email and social media platforms.

The project was accomplished through remote learning and was a great example of how students, working apart, could complete a cohesive and impactful task from separate locations. “They used our current situation as a way to teach writing for a purpose,” said Mrs. MaryBeth Crupi, Coman Hill Principal.

Students drew colorful, cheerful notes expressing their gratitude which were then compiled into a five-minute slide-show. 

Teachers and parents of the second graders sent the tribute to their personal doctors and other local healthcare professionals, in hopes that the message would extend deep into the community.

Joseph Lentz, a second-grader, said “I feel thankful that so many people are helping other people. I am happy that I have a chance to tell them that.”

Amisha Thakral added, “It made me feel like I was helping those that are helping others to smile.” 

“We felt the assignment started a conversation between the students and their parents about the role of healthcare workers in our community and why they are working so hard to help keep us all safe,” said Ms. Lily Li, Coman Hill second-grade teacher.

Principal MaryBeth Crupi said, “I am so proud of our teachers and how they have utilized our school closure to create a wonderful opportunity for student instruction and how it seamlessly integrated into our e-learning.

Two Byram Hills High School seniors in the Authentic Science Research Program participated in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS).  The competition was originally scheduled to take place on March 25-26th at SUNY Albany. The organizers of the event altered the format of the competition so that students could present their work virtually.  Owen Skriloff (Physical & Computational Science) and Sam Aberman (Biochemistry) were awarded first place in their respective “rooms” during the initial round of the program.

Their initial success enabled them to present to a panel of experts who judged their work against other students from across the state.  Owen Skriloff placed second in the state and Sam Aberman placed fifth.  Owen’s performance has landed him a $1500 scholarship from the US Army, Navy and Air Force.  Owen and Sam will now move on to compete at the national level.

Stephanie Greenwald, Director of the Authentic Science Research Program said, “It is times like this that should make us feel confident that our future is in capable hands.” Sam’s work on CAR t-cell therapy could lead the way to innovative cancer treatments; while Owen’s work brings us closer to an implant that would treat osteoporosis, as well as aid in healing broken bones through the piezoelectric properties inherent in all human bodies.  

In a separate competition, three seniors have been selected to participate in the International Youth Research Conference this fall at Harvard University. This conference provides an avenue for aspiring high school scientists to present their research within a wider community including eminent teachers, scholars and industry professionals.

Congratulations to Meagan Eickelbeck for her work on dog allergens, Taleen Postian for her work on emotional intelligence and political opinion, and Ariana Dan who studied sustainable fashion.

The Dr. Pavlica Authentic Science Research course enables students to perform authentic, original scientific research in an independent manner throughout a three-year program.

Mrs. Rekha Singh, Building Technology Coordinator at Coman Hill Elementary School (K-2) and Mr. Duane Smith, English Chair (Grades 6-12) in the Byram Hills Central School District win TELL (Transforming Education through Leadership & Learning) Awards. This award is presented to a teacher or administrator who is a positive influence in moving innovation and effective technology forward in their classroom or school.

Mrs. Singh was recognized for her strategic approach to technology integration. The Coman Hill students are now coders, problem solvers, Chromebook users, robotics experts, and makers.

"When Mrs. Singh is working with students, the engagement level is exceptional.  The children come into the classroom buzzing with excitement about what they are going to learn next," said Coman Hill Principal, MaryBeth Crupi.

Mr. Smith communicates a clear vision for what literacy means in the 21st Century and why it benefits our students today. He has built a shared understanding of this vision by modeling innovative technology tools in his own classroom.

He has been utilizing Wakelet, a visual content platform used to curate information from the web, gather research and help students create digital portfolios. In addition, Mr. Smith has learned Anchor, a mobile podcasting application and has begun to incorporate podcasts into his curriculum.   

Dr. Tim Kalteneker, Deputy Superintendent said,  “Mr. Smith’s innovative use of technology does not focus on “tech as toys” but instead “tech as a tool” to learn and to represent learning in new ways.”

The Lower Hudson Regional Information Center, LHRIC will be presenting Mrs. Singh and Mr. Smith with their TELL Award on March 27, 2020, during the Celebration of Teaching and Learning at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff, NY.

In recent years we have seen a surge in the importance of emotional well-being in society, especially in schools.  Through research, we continue to expand our knowledge of the developmental phases of adolescence and how to better support our students as they encounter complex pressures in their lives.  As middle schoolers, students typically seek to be the manager of their own academic and social growth. “As they are striving to be independent thinkers and achievers, H.C.Crittenden must find a balance to honor each student’s autonomy while providing the support and ‘safety net’ to ensure their emotional wellness,” explains Ms. Kim Lapple, H.C.Crittenden Principal.

Keeping that in mind, HCC has integrated relevant and thoughtful new initiatives to assist in the overall wellness of students.  These initiatives utilize the team approach that drives the work in middle school and they also capitalize on the strong sense of community.

This work began during the 2017-18 school year through a survey conducted in partnership with Stanford University’s Challenge Success program.  “Challenge Success was a critical impetus for our work with wellness,” said Ms. Lapple.   “The data provided to us served as a launching point for our work and a lens into our students’ perspectives about their lives.”  The H.C.Crittenden Wellness Steering Committee, comprised of school stakeholders, analyzed and processed the data to identify areas to support student wellness in their learning community.

Since then, the work has grown tremendously and many programs have been put into effect based on the new learning.

 An immediate result was the implementation of team emotional wellness goals.  Each grade level and discipline team developed a goal that would focus on student wellness.  The special education team supports the goal of helping students build an awareness of their current and future educational programs through a better understanding of “self.”  “Team Wellness goals are one of our secret supports in helping our students,” said Ms. Lapple. “Teachers don’t necessarily formally announce how they are collaborating to ensure students’ wellness, but it is happening every day.  It’s part of our daily conversations as professionals.”

Another purposeful change at HCC was to incorporate a wellness theme.  The school used a conference day to implement ‘student choice’ activities. “Students could select workshops which had a focus on wellness,” said H.C.Crittenden Assistant Principal, Angelo Ancona.  “The workshops allowed students to explore their talents with faculty and guests.” They were designed to let students be uninhibited in a non-competitive environment and included groups such as, Ambidextrous Art in which students drew with both hands at the same time, creating symmetrical designs, Inside the Music, Inside Yourself, in which students channeled their emotions into art, and Yoga which challenged students to try different poses and games that promote physical fitness, strength, flexibility, and balance.

This past January, H.C. Crittenden continued the important work of encouraging kindness in its community.  This was the seventh year of #Kindness, created and inspired by the Guidance Department. “#Kindness is a week-long celebration that challenges the HCC student body to grow together based on respect and kindness towards one another,” said Heather Graham, H.C. Crittenden GuidanceCounselor.  “The dedicated full week began with a keynote speaker, Mr. John Halligan who lost his son to suicide in 2013.  His presentation, "Ryan's Story" covered how to deal with bullying, cyberbullying and teen depression. He spoke about how to reach out for help when needed and the significance of being kind to others.”  Another kindness related event included "Be the I in KIND" photo board, where students could take a positive picture to post on social media.

Finally, a new initiative for this school year is a student-based year-long project called Project Me, where self-reflection is paramount.  Project Me has strong connections to Challenge Success and wellness. “It was driven by the idea that we want our students to value self-growth over grades earned,”  said Ms. Lapple. “Student choice is important in determining their personal goals to support active learning.”  

This year-long reflection will lead to a presentation and celebration at the end of their journey. As a result, students will be more present in their own learning, make their own decisions and then reflect upon those decisions.

By definition, wellness is an active process of striving towards a healthy and fulfilling life.  Based on the collaborative efforts between Challenge Success and HCC, steps are continuously being taken to help students feel comfortable and confident in and out of the classroom while promoting and maintaining wellness.

Byram Hills High School is proud to announce that six members of the class of 2020 have been recognized as semifinalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search.  These students, Sam Aberman, Spencer Karp, Meredeth Mayers, Alexa McGrath, Carolina Pedraza, and Owen Skriloff were chosen from a pool of 1,993 students from 659 high schools, across 49 states, and 8 countries.  This is one of the most prestigious science and math competitions in the nation and Byram Hills High School led Westchester County with six scholars.

Byram Hills High School Regeneron Science Talent Search SemifinalistsTitles of the six Byram Hills semifinalists Regeneron Science Talent Research Projects are:

Sam Aberman: “Facilitation of an orthogonal IL-2 system for CAR T cell therapy through the novel knockout of  the human IL-2 gene.”

Spencer Karp: “A step towards energy-efficient infrastructure: A weekly supervised approach to energy signal labeling in commercial buildings.”

Meredeth Mayers: “An evaluation of network-informed disease transmission parameters for the California puma population.”

Alexa McGrath: “An investigation of the medicinal value of the baboon diet: A comparative study across five species and six study sites.”

Carolina Pedraza: “Heightened anxiety in children and adolescents with tic disorders.”

Owen Skriloff: “An in vitro evaluation of the relationship between stress and mineralization through the use of a piezoelectric barium titanate composite.”

The Regeneron Science Talent Search was founded in 1942 and is considered the oldest contest of its kind.  It provides high school students an opportunity to present original research on scientific topics of their choice.  This competition focuses on engaging motivated and promising young scientists who are looking to help solve societal and global issues.  Regeneron awards each semifinalist and their school $2,000 to support ongoing research.

In a traditional fine arts education, you may recall singing in a choir or drawing in an art class. At Byram Hills, students are digging deeper and connecting their learning to the world outside. “The Byram Hills Fine Arts Department is focusing on teaching students how to connect and respond through the arts'' said Deepak Marwah, Director of Fine Arts. “We want students to engage with all four of the creative processes outlined in both the New York State Learning Standards in the Arts and the National Core Arts Standards. These standards encourage students to ‘create’, ‘perform/present’, ‘respond’, and ‘connect’ in order to gain more of an understanding of how the arts play an important role in their daily lives and how they can use the arts as a tool to communicate with the larger community.”

At Coman Hill, art and music play a large role in a student’s creative development.

In kindergarten, students learn and practice cutting basic shapes with safety scissors.  The hand/eye coordination and working on their fine motor skills open new doors to exploration, learning, and creative expression and are significant for our youngest learners.  Under the careful watch of Judy DeJarlar, Coman Hill art teacher, the children practice their skills to cut out circles, ovals and other shapes to create a variety of animals. “We combine shapes because making a dog is overwhelming but making a circle is not,” said Ms. DeJarlar.  “Breaking things down into smaller components is easier for the students to comprehend and not as scary.” Ms. DeJarlar continued, “It’s important that students investigate and understand each element separately, and then put them together. That way there is a connection to where the shapes start, end, and what you can do with them.”

On March 18th, Coman Hill will be hosting its first evening Student Art Show. Students will be displaying their artwork and this will allow them to feel successful and proud while sharing their work with the Byram Hills community.  On exhibit will be collaborative projects by grade and individual pieces of art. There will also be a way for those in attendance to leave feedback for students. The Art Show will take place March 18th-20th.

“This art show will establish a dialogue about what art is, what it means to create art, and give the students more motivation and enthusiasm because people are taking an interest,” said Ms. DeJarlar.  “Sharing their process, thoughts and ideas about art will make it more meaningful to them. Hopefully, the students will enjoy art as they grow older and can participate in some way, understanding its importance and meaning in society.”

In addition to cultivating their skills in visual arts, Coman Hill students also take part in an exciting music program. Music is an extremely important subject for all children leading to better brain development, increased human connections, and self-expression.

Studies show that listening to music can benefit one’s overall well-being, help regulate emotions, and create happiness and relaxation in everyday life.  In some cases, it can even reduce anxiety, improve memory, provide comfort, and promote a positive mood.

At Coman Hill, the students are constantly learning and evolving. Emily Capalbo, Coman Hill music teacher said, “Our culminating performance at the end of the year is an opportunity for these young musicians to apply the content they have learned, synthesizing their knowledge in an authentic and tangible way.”

Music is meant to be shared. Ms. Capalbo’s students feel the ripple of that concept both in the classroom and in performance. They are immersed and engaged, finding connections to other disciplines such as language arts, history, math, and other cultures as they learn musical concepts.  “The students begin to recognize what a special opportunity it is and seek ways to be successful. To support that motivation, I provide online practice materials,” said Ms. Capalbo. “I give them tips, helping them find success in autonomy. As performers, we are responsible for communicating the meaning of EVERY song. Sometimes that may mean checking opinions at the door and doing what’s best for the team.”

An important part of every Coman Hill performance is that each student has a special job, such as announcing a song or playing an instrument. “It is a role that they are exclusively responsible for,”  said Ms. Capalbo. “Children feel empowered by having a featured moment. It gives them something to connect to.”

On the day of the performance, the excitement throughout the building is palpable.  When students collaborate and successfully achieve a common goal, it builds confidence, supports student bonding, and allows students to celebrate their accomplishments.

“At Coman Hill, we are delighted that our fine arts curriculum enables our students to find ways to creatively express themselves and connect with each other,” said Principal MaryBeth Crupi. “The children thoroughly enjoy integrating the arts into their everyday lives.”

 

In Byram Hills, the robotics and coding program has become an indispensable part of the curriculum at every grade level.  The goal for grades K-8 is to develop student interest by exposing them to robotics, coding, 3D modeling, and electronics, while the objective in the high school is to provide higher-level elective options that allow students to go deeper into the content. No matter what college major or career option a student decides to pursue, robotics and coding may play a role.

Coman Hill

At Coman Hill, Mrs. Rekha Singh, Building Technology Coordinator, said “Coding and Students at Coman Hill Code for a Dart Dash.robotics are examples of critical thinking which helps students develop resilience, problem-solving abilities, and persistence.”

Coding and robotics are introduced in kindergarten and there are several advantages to engaging students at the elementary school level. Learning to program empowers children. It puts the students in control and through experimentation builds mastery in sequencing skills, counting, and logical thinking.

“Students love making things work,” said Mrs. Singh.  “In first grade, students feel challenged and excited about programming the BeeBot robots to move on a board that simulates the town of Armonk.  In second grade, students work with a partner to solve a problem that an Animal Adventure Island is facing with pollution, global warming, and too much trash. The students use ‘Dash and Dot’ robots and write codes to help rescue the animals in their habitats.” 

These are real-world, authentic learning experiences that introduce students to digital literacy.  The lessons are scaffolded and each year builds upon the year before. Robotics and coding at Coman Hill provide excellent opportunities for students to work at their own pace and to their highest level of ability.

Wampus

At Wampus, the technology curriculum has changed dramatically since the new STEAM Lab, Hub 21, was created in 2016.  Thanks to the generosity of the Byram Hills Education Foundation, the open space boasts four interactive Nureva span walls, Ozobots, LittleBits, 3D printers, and Google Expeditions.

Wampus students are presented with several exercises on Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy as an essential part of the curriculum.Wampus students working on Codey Rockies.

“We have Google Slides and Google Suite for Education.  We don’t have to teach students how to use it because they instinctively know and teach each other,” said Mr. Al Lovelace, Wampus Building Technology Coordinator. “Now we are facilitating experiences in STEAM, robotics, and coding and in Hub 21 and we are doing it all through student choice."

Wampus Robotics builds from Coman Hill’s ‘Dash and Dot’ program. These robots help students learn the basics. Next, the students are introduced to ‘Ozobots,’ which are smaller, individual robots, programmed with colored markers to follow lines.  Mr. Lovelace said, “From there we move to digitally coding on iPads.”

In the 5th grade, students are introduced to ‘Jimu’ robots. These robots are more complicated, need to be built, and have many pieces. “There are multiple challenging robotics and coding opportunities when students come into Hub 21,” said Mr. Lovelace.

H.C. Crittenden Middle School

“Robotics and coding force students to use computational thinking,” said Ms. Dawn Selnes, H.C. Crittenden Building Technology Coordinator. “It is in the HCC BoT Spot when students start to apply their knowledge from elementary school into task-based commands.”  Solving problems with technology to improve the lives of others, Empathy Based Design is an essential part of the HCC curriculum.

Ms. Selnes offers video tutorials that give students hands-on knowledge of how to program a robot but does not tell them how to conquer every obstacle.  “Students have to think about how to take the information they are given and use it towards the challenge they are being tasked with,” Ms. Selnes said. “To direct their robot with precise instruction the students apply proportional reasoning and math to figure out how to get their robot to go an exact distance.”H.C. Crittenden students coding.

In Grade 7, students are introduced to ‘Sphero Bolts’, which are little round robots that roll on the floor and are highly programmable.  There is also Misty II, a humanoid type of robot that can be programmed in several ways.

Students learn to write code by sampling a variety of methods as they get exposed to different ‘languages.’  They start with block coding through a variety of platforms including Scratch and then move on to Code Avengers where they can choose to focus on different languages like Python, C++, and JavaScript.

“If you can problem-solve, debug, and know how to code, even a little, it makes you so much more marketable today,” said Ms. Selnes.  “I try to let students come up with ways to solve their issues independently by using the 5 C’s. They must think creatively and critically, communicate, collaborate, and work as a community.”  When students complete a challenge, they are so proud of themselves.  

 

Byram Hills High School

“The first thing I ask of students in a Robotics 1 class is to take apart a robot,” said Mr. Peter Lichten, Byram Hills High School Building Technology Coordinator.  “I keep robots from prior years so students can dismantle them. This helps with manual dexterity to manipulate the different parts and gives students a sense of where the motors and gears are located."

“Many students are worried that they don’t know how to code,” Mr. Lichten said.  “But within a short time, everyone grasps the key concepts. They begin to see the sequential nature of coding and the step by step process.”

Students are then given a little robot chassis, which is sometimes referred to as the robot’s frame and allows mobility.  “I give students all of the parts they need, including a motor, battery, gear, and a shaft and explain the goal,” said Mr. Lichten.  “For example, drive your robot and park it in a space within the arena.” Mr. Lichten’s three Robotic electives are structured in the same way.  Students are given a problem and the opportunity to solve it.

Byram Hills High School students manipulating a cube stacking robot.Mr. Lichten said, “The robots are a means to an end.  We’re using them to develop problem-solving skills. It is taking something that’s intrinsic, that allows you to conquer one big objective and solve a million smaller problems within it yourself.”

Robot Master is the third class available in Robotics which allows students to build robots for a VEX competition.  In the VEX Robotics Competition, student teams are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against other schools in a game-based engineering challenge. This is the third year Byram Hills has participated in the competition.

“Robotics technology is challenging and it helps students see things in the real world and not just on a screen because it draws upon their powers of observation,” said Mr. Lichten.  “It’s tangible, 3- Dimensional, and students love seeing that they caused something to happen.”

Today’s students will live and work in a dynamic, technology-driven world.  “Computer Science, robotics, and engineering all help students understand how technology works, increases ability to code practical applications, develops creativity, fosters innovative/critical thinking, encourages collaboration, and promotes inclusivity,” said Dr. Andrew Taylor, Byram Hills Director of Technology.  “Byram Hills is preparing our students for the future.”

The master schedule is considered by some to be the most important component in a school. It reflects the values, beliefs, and attitudes of the community.  The master schedule is the heartbeat of the school and the foundation for how students are educated in the building. The master schedule is developed around student needs and District goals with a focus on helping students achieve the mission of the District.

“At the beginning of this year, we decided to dedicate the majority of our professional development to investigating alternative master schedules,” said Mr. Christopher Walsh, Byram Hills High School Principal.

Prior to that decision, faculty, staff, students, and some volunteer community members had been engaged in unpacking the Byram Hills High School master schedule for over two years.  What triggered that exploration was the collaboration with Challenge Success and ‘The Stanford Survey of Adolescent School Experiences’ they administered with the student body. “The data showed that there were opportunities for us to support our students to be less anxious and stressed out, and more engaged in their learning,” said Mr. Walsh.

Challenge Success looked at seven different categories that make up the overall student experience.  Those categories were workload, sleep, academic engagement, teacher care, parent expectations, extracurricular activities, and academic integrity.  In most categories, Byram Hills students seemed to be on the extreme end. For example, the survey showed that Byram Hills students were getting an average of six hours of sleep a night instead of the recommended nine hours by the American Medical Association.

“In partnering with Challenge Success, we identified that two areas we could control were the master schedule and students’ use of time,” said Mr. Walsh. “We wanted to see if we could make a positive impact on our students and get some of the issues reported by the kids going in a different direction.”

In addition to the work with Challenge Success, Byram Hills also sent faculty members to college campuses to study student schedules and use of time on campus. The visits helped the faculty recognize areas to better prepare students for the college experience including ways to promote self-advocacy, project-based learning, and building strategies for improved executive functioning.

“From senior internships, we know that employers are looking for different things,” Mr. Walsh said.  “That led us to the question: Is our current master schedule able to meet the needs of our students in terms of social and emotional skills, academic skills, 21st-century skills, soft skills, and future career skills?

At the end of the last school year, Mr. Walsh organized a Master Schedule Steering Committee to plan the process for implementing a new schedule.  Administrators and teachers made up the initial committee with students and parents becoming involved this school year.

To establish a focus, the committee reviewed the master schedule by asking the essential question, “What does Byram Hills value?”  The committee invited various stakeholders from the community to participate in a series of interviews that helped the faculty gain a broader understanding of the community’s values.  The faculty had the opportunity to interview parents, college professors, employers, graduates, district administrators, psychologists and psychiatrists, and listen to what the community values.

After the stakeholder meetings, the faculty ranked the values discussed during the interviews.  A number of areas were identified as being critical to the master schedule, such as project-based learning, college and career readiness, student wellness, curiosity, student-centered instruction, global competence, and collaboration.

“The current master schedule has been in place since the 1990’s and at the time it served a number of important purposes,” said Mr. Walsh. “Our building and community are at a different place now and the needs are different than they were back in the ’90s.  The next master schedule will be a reflection of those needs.”

The trend in education across the country is moving towards scheduling that allows for longer class periods that meet fewer times each day and each week, or variations of that.  “We think a modified version aligns with many values we would like to support,” Mr. Walsh said.  “However, there are new types of flexible schedules that may also be suitable for our school.”

The Master Schedule Steering Committee will continue its work, whether it be a total revamp or a tweak or a hybrid of other schedules until a recommendation is made,”  Mr. Walsh said. “I feel confident that with our process in place, the master schedule we recommend will be the right one for Byram Hills.” The earliest implementation of a new master schedule would be for the 2021-2022 school year.

A solid and successful master schedule is fundamentally important and appropriate for the growth of all students.  It is a function of the school’s philosophy, a reflection of its vision, and a blueprint for its resource allocation.

In September of 2018, the master schedule at Wampus went through a major overhaul.

Prior to Mrs. McInerney’s arrival as principal in September 2018, she held individual conferences with faculty, staff, parents, and administration to understand what practices would be beneficial to continue.  The overall objective was to build a structured schedule that all children could follow, foster calmness, and be developmentally appropriate for grades 3-5. This concept goes hand-in-hand with the Wampus community goals.

“At this stage of development, children are working hard on executive functioning so they can be auditorily, receptively, and visually organized,” said Wampus Principal, Mrs. Peggy McInerney.  “Students need an efficient yet simple school schedule so they know and understand what each day looks like and how they can be responsible for making it their own.” This schedule allows ownership for students to learn how to organize and manage their responsibilities.

The next layer was making the master schedule a good fit for the teachers.  “In the elementary school world, teachers are with students the entire day delivering academic, social, emotional, and behavioral instruction. The master schedule has to be organized, simple, and calm so teachers are able to create a learning environment that works best for them and their students,” said Mrs. McInerney.

“The master schedule needed to ensure the emotional well-being of all students and teachers and this was non-negotiable,”  Mrs. McInerney said.

A Wampus program that has benefited from the master schedule change was recess intramurals. The three physical education staff members, Chrissy Motta, Doreen Cohen, and Gina Whalen rebuilt and transformed intramurals into an all-inclusive plan that is flourishing. “This program was able to be revitalized because we maximized children’s time and were able to provide more freedom in their schedule,” said Mrs. McInerney.  The students look forward to participating in organized athletics during recess. Intramurals incorporates all of the attitudes and beliefs that are part of Wampus’ values including grit, perseverance, growth mindset, friendly competition, sportsmanship, respect, ability to play with students from other classes, and general engagement.

There is a universal feeling of safety and trust at Wampus that is part of the culture.  Students need structure to help with development and a well-constructed master schedule delivers the right building blocks essential for success.

Dr. H. Evan Powderly, former principal of H.C. Crittenden Middle School for 24 years, passed away on Friday, February 7th. Dr. Powderly played a key role in shaping the curriculum and structure of the Byram Hills School District that many of our children continue to benefit from to this day. Dr. Powderly was a man of character, integrity, and kindness. We will always remember his words each morning at HCC. “Make it a great day, or not, the choice is yours.”  

Thank you, Dr. Powderly.

 

Nora Lowe, Byram Hills High School sophomore, has been selected as a national semifinalist for the Mars 2020 “Name the Rover” contest and is now eligible to enter into the next round of competition.

NASA's Mars 2020 rover is one step closer to having its own name after 155 students across the U.S. were chosen as semifinalists. Just one student will be selected to win the grand prize - the honor of naming the rover and an invitation to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The currently unnamed rover is a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds (1,000 kilograms). It will search for signs of past microbial life on Mars, characterize the planet's climate and geology, collect samples and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

"This rover is the first leg of a round-trip mission to Mars that will advance understanding in key science fields like astrobiology," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division. "This contest is a cool way to engage the next generation and encourage careers in all STEM fields. The chosen name will help define this rover's unique personality among our fleet of Martian spacecraft."

Nora’s entry was selected as New York’s winner in the high school category. The suggested name, Ambition Tardigrada, and Nora’s essay can be viewed here.

Two Byram Hills students were selected to receive Certificates of Excellence for their submissions to StART 2020:14th Annual Regional High Schools Student Art Exhibition at the OSilas Gallery of Concordia College in Bronxville.

Just Another Day

Senior David Schwimmer received an Award of Excellence for his painting entitled Just Another Day and Senior Veronica Zawojek received an Award of Excellence for her work entitled Exoskeleton Wings.

Senior A.J. Plousadis had his work entitled Another Day at the Office on display at the gallery and was one of three students chosen by Byram Hills art teachers to represent the best of the school. Byram Hills was the only school to have more than one winner.

Student artwork was juried by a panel of art professionals who selected seven students to receive an Award of Excellence.  On display were art pieces from 90 talented artists representing 31 high schools from the Hudson Valley, the Bronx, and Southern Connecticut.

For the past 14 years, OSilas Gallery has organized its annual StART exhibition to encourage and support high school artists by giving them the opportunity to showcase their work in a professional gallery and build their credentials and portfolios for college.

Byram Hills High School is proud to announce that six members of the class of 2020 have been recognized as semifinalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search.  These students were chosen from a pool of 1,993 students, from 659 high schools, across 49 states, and 8 countries.  This is one of the most prestigious science and math competitions in the nation. Byram Hills High School led all of Westchester County with six semifinalists.

Regeneron awards each semifinalist and their school $2,000 to support ongoing research.  In January, Sam Aberman, Spencer Karp, Merideth Mayers, Alexa McGrath, Carolina Pedraza, and Owen Skriloff will have the opportunity to become one of 40 finalists of the Regeneron Science Talent Search.

Titles of the six Byram Hills semifinalists Regeneron Science Talent Research Projects are:

BHHS 2020 Regeneron SemiFinalistsSam Aberman: “Facilitation of an orthogonal IL-2 system for CAR T cell  therapy through the novel knockout of the human IL-2 gene.”

Spencer Karp: “A step towards energy-efficient infrastructure: A weekly supervised approach to energy signal labeling in commercial buildings.”

Merideth Mayers: “An evaluation of network-informed disease transmission parameters for the California puma population.”

Alexa McGrath: “An investigation of the medicinal value of the baboon diet: A comparative study across five species and six study sites.

Carolina Pedraza: “Heightened anxiety in children and adolescents with tic disorders.

Owen Skriloff: “An in vitro evaluation of the relationship between stress and mineralization through the use of a piezoelectric barium titanate composite.”

The Regeneron Science Talent Search was founded in 1942 and is considered the oldest contest of its kind.  It provides high school students an opportunity to present original research on scientific topics of their choice.  This competition focuses on engaging motivated and promising young scientists who are looking to help solve societal and global issues.

The Department of Fine Arts is proud to announce 13 BHHS Orchestra, Band, and Choir students who have been selected to perform in the Westchester County Area All-State program. The selection process in Westchester is very competitive, as applicants are ranked and chosen based on their New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) scores from the previous year. Students selected spend two evenings rehearsing with other student musicians from all over the County. The festival culminates with a day-long rehearsal and a final performance at the SUNY Performing Arts Center.

BHHS Music Area All-Staters
 
BHHS Area All-State Performers: 
Amelia Chung – Violin
Emery Cohen – Bass
Mark Fakler – Tenor Sax
Christina Ferrari – Violin
Rebecca Frieden – Soprano
Cyrille Jousse – Trombone
Caroline Kelly – Flute
Tom Lombardo – Alto Sax
Elena Lowe – Oboe
Nora Lowe – Tuba
Seth Morrison – Trumpet
Jake Wild – Tenor
Alison Zeng – Flute
 

Research often shows that learning does not begin and end in the classroom. Parent involvement is extremely important to early literacy and future academic achievement. 

“PARP stands for Parents As Reading Partners,” said Raina Silver, Chairperson of PARP.  At Coman Hill, the entire school read the same book that was chosen by the PTSA in collaboration with Principal, Mrs. MaryBeth Crupi.  Parent volunteers visited each classroom to read the book, facilitated a guided discussion, and conducted activities planned around the theme of the book. “The goal was to choose a book that aligned with age-appropriate, school-wide objectives,” Mrs. Silver said.

Parents reading to Coman Hill students.This year the book was The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill.  “It tackled the issue of bullying and friendship while providing a positive lesson of choosing kindness.  This book helped our students learn about regulating emotions and the basic act of being kind to one another,” Mrs. Crupi said.  It also reinforced Coman Hill initiatives like Kelso’s Choice, The Buddy Bench, and the District-wide goal for emotional wellness.

Students listened intently as PTSA parent volunteers from each class read the book in their child’s classroom.  During discussion time, every grade had something to offer and students participated eagerly in all of the activities. For example, kindergarten students were asked to draw their favorite character from the story by using their imagination.

“This year’s topic focused on friendship and how to be a good friend. I think PARP was a good way for parents to have that dialogue with their children,” said Mrs. Silver.

The students were buzzing with enthusiasm as they spoke of the book and its important themes.  “The children absolutely loved PARP,” said Mrs. Crupi.  “This is just one example of how the PTSA helps support us academically, emotionally, and socially.  We are so grateful for their assistance in creating the home/school relationship for the betterment of our children.”
 

Twenty Byram Hills High School seniors were honored for their academic achievement as they were inducted into the Cum Laude Society during a ceremony on Thursday, October 24, 2019.

Byram Hills High School Principal, Mr. Christopher Walsh, pointed out the importance of the event for three main reasons.  He said, “First, it allows us to focus on and celebrate these students whose GPA are within the top 10% of their class.  Next, we get to honor faculty members who are being inducted into Cum Laude and gain inspiration from their remarks. Finally, inductees have invited teachers who have had a positive impact on their learning and this tradition represents the best of Byram Hills.”

Mr. Walsh continued by sharing that the class of 2020 was special to him because they were incoming freshmen the year he started as Byram Hills High School principal.  The first time he met with them that year, he asked them to write down on index cards something special about themselves.  Mr. Walsh salvaged the inductees’ index cards and read their responses to the audience.  Along with their academic growth over the years, the cards demonstrated tremendous growth in the inductees’ character, personalities, and identities.  
The faculty addresses were given by high school math teacher, Mr. Chris Lewick and Social Studies Chairperson, Ms. Jen Laden, who were inducted into the Cum Laude Society during last year’s ceremony.

Mr. Lewick delivered his address in the form of an audience participation song with an impactful message - Create your own opportunities, never set limits and enlist all the people you can in your life.

Ms. Laden offered the following advice, “My wish for the honorees is that you can experience learning opportunities that help you to develop empathy and that you never lose the desire to engage with others.”

Dr. Sandra Abt, Chapter President of the Byram Hills Cum Laude Society, said, “Perspective will help you become happier, more successful and more self-fulfilled. Try new things and don’t judge in advance.”  Dr. Abt closed by saying, “Your future lies before you - make the most of it.”

The two 2019 staff inductees were English teacher, Ms. Lisa Squadron and Byram Hills Superintendent, Dr. Jen Lamia.

The students inducted into Cum Laude were: Samuel Aberman, Christina Ferrari, Victoria Ganeles, Benjamin Hammond, Madison Higgins, Kallie Hoffman, Sarah Ilany, Spencer Karp, Caroline Kelly, Alison Lehman, Elena Lowe, Ella Manners, Meredith Mayers, Isabelle Nelson, Dominic Picca, Arielle Ragals, Bryan Roden, Allison Stillman, Reese Tateo and Michael Vaquero.

Cum Laude Inductees

The Cum Laude Society is a nonprofit organization founded in 1907 to recognize scholastic achievement in secondary schools. Today it has over 350 chapters.
 

PROJECT ME

“Project ME grew out of the idea that we wanted to celebrate the accomplishments and growth of all students at the end of the school year,” said H.C. Crittenden Middle School Principal, Ms. Kim Lapple.  “We were striving to acknowledge students’ individual growth in addition to the traditional achievement-based model.”

This plan was centered on the collaboration with Challenge Success, an organization that works to help foster learners who are healthy, motivated, and better prepared for adult life.  Ms. Lapple and her staff knew they aspired to integrate the concept of ‘growth over grades’ and honor all students.  

The year-long search of how to define student success was set in motion.  There were many discussions with the HCC faculty who looked at various prototypes before determining the most beneficial one for their student community.  Project ME  transpired after thoughtful research and consideration from stakeholders.  The project’s goal is to build and foster a community where personal growth and self-reflection are foundational values.

“Project ME benefited from a vision that came from professional development that some of our HCC teachers were engaged in,” said Ms. Lapple.  “Members of our faculty participated in a year-long workshop experience that centered on the work learned at High Tech High (HTH).  The HTH concept began in a single high school in California and has grown to include a network of schools where students pursue their passions through project-based learning.”  

As teachers were developing their own units, they were inspired by the impact of HTH and wanted their students to have an empowering middle school experience.  Their vision propelled Project ME to be an innovative way to culminate the year.  They felt the components of this project would go hand in hand with their mission while complimenting the District initiative of emotional wellness.

Project ME focuses on the idea of becoming an active learner.  The goal is to allow students to explore what active learning means to them. As a result, students will be more present in their own learning, make their own decisions and then reflect upon their decisions. 

The process will begin with each student identifying a behavior, disposition or mindset that they feel is necessary to become a more active learner.  To aid in this work, there will be monthly meetings where students will be placed in squads, consisting of small student groups of mixed grade levels, and a faculty facilitator who will share and support each other through their work.

“Last year, in our Voice Circles, students expressed a desire for more opportunities to interact with other grades.  Project ME honors this feedback, said ” Mr. Angelo Ancona, H.C.Crittenden Middle School’s Assistant Principal.

Students will track their personal progress throughout the year and document their advancements in a digital portfolio.   They will also collect and retain artifacts as evidence during the process.  “At the end of the year, Project ME will be shared through the student’s digital portfolio and the ‘Presentation of Learning’ about their growth through time,” Ms. Lapple said.  Students will present to their squad and other audience members which helps to build confidence and strong communication skills.

“Students will reflect on their successes and struggles and celebrate their hard work and accomplishments.  They will also be asked to consider other ways they can grow into the next school year,” said Ms. Lapple. Through the exploration of Project ME, HCC students will have a better understanding of themselves both personally and academically.  This is a very positive way to end the school year.
 

On Thursday, October 17th,  Byram Hills High School held its first Community Book Read.  In an effort to make the student experience more positive, the District has worked closely with Challenge Success, an organization that collaborates with schools with an emphasis on student wellness and engagement.  During a spring workshop, other districts mentioned the success of holding community book clubs.  A popular read at other schools was, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be - An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni.  The Challenge Success Steering Committee thought that it would be the perfect book for the Byram Hills community.     

“The book choice dovetailed nicely with several of our district-wide initiatives,” said Greg Quirolo, Byram Hills High School Guidance Counselor.  “Our work with Challenge Success supports activities that allow our students, parents, and staff to reflect on how we engage our students in the most comprehensive and healthy college exploration experience.”  

The Community Book Read panel.The format of a book club discussion was new for many participants. “This is the first book club that I have had time to attend,” said Byram Hills High School Principal, Mr. Christopher Walsh.  “I liked reading this book knowing we would be discussing it and debating back and forth.”  Some members of The Challenge Success Steering Committee, an organized group of parents, teachers, administrators and students, helped guide the discussion by choosing relevant quotes from the book to explore.  The attendees were responsive, engaged and enthusiastic as they shared stories and asked pertinent questions.

“This is an important topic in our community,” Mr. Walsh continued.  “It is not a one size fits all in the college admissions process.  This book expands the realm of possibilities for our students and makes the process transparent.”

The theme of the book ties into the work of Challenge Success quite closely. When collaborating with BHHS, Challenge Success hit on three relevant areas that could improve the overall student experience.  The first opportunity lies in examining the community expectations around the college admissions process.  The raised awareness and conjecture about colleges is embedded in a student’s DNA from an early age.  The second opportunity aims at tackling the pressures caused by curricula that the faculty do not control, such as advanced placement classes and Regents exams.  The third opportunity addresses the dynamics related to the new pressures students face due to social media and changes to communication.  Although the book focuses only on the college admissions process the other two points are closely connected in the Byram Hills community.

Debra Goldman, member of the Challenge Success Steering Committee and parent in the community said, “The book was an important reminder of what is truly important about the college search and application process - helping parents and students realize how flawed the system is and reminding us that what is most important about a healthy and successful college experience, goes so much beyond the name of the school they choose.”

The evening was filled with lively conversation and many different points of view. Mr. Quirolo said,  “My biggest takeaway was a greater appreciation for the diversity of opinion that exists among different stakeholder groups in our community.  In addition, the book and follow-up discussion affirmed my opinion that student-centeredness drives our District's mission.”

There were many highlights of the book and the evening but as Mr. Walsh reminded the group, “There is no set formula and no equation for 100% certainty that students will get into the school of their choice.”  

Maybe students need to look at their approach differently?  The Guidance Department is introducing a new idea this year by presenting a different school once a month to expose students to colleges and universities they may not be familiar with but could potentially fit their needs.  This might help expand the often narrow list of schools that Byram Hills students apply to. 

The audience was left with a great deal to think about after an evening of enlightening dialogue.  “It was such a pleasure to have an open and thoughtful book discussion with other parents and with our BHHS faculty and administration.  Such a rare opportunity to hear so many different perspectives in one room,” Mrs. Goldman said.  “We all shared our collective frustration with this process, but most importantly, it is clear how each stakeholder shares the same goal - the happiness and well-being of our kids!”

The intent is to continue book clubs in the future and to choose challenging, thought-provoking books that generate curiosity and conversation.  “I am always interested to find out what people are reading and learning about books that help us as a community,” Mr. Walsh said.  

Please join the next Community Book Read on January 23rd at 6:00 pm in the Byram Hills High School Library.  The book is Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.  
 

The entire Byram Hills community came together in early October to celebrate the 2019 Homecoming. Bobcat pride was on full display in the hallways, bleachers, and athletic fields throughout the week.   

Traveling Pep Rallies stop at Coman Hill.To kick things off, traveling pep-rallies visited H.C.Crittenden, Wampus, and Coman Hill to get the younger students into the spirit of Homecoming.  High school athletes, cheerleaders, and our own Bobcat mascot greeted students with energy and enthusiasm.  

Kallie Hoffman, a Byram Hills senior said, “The school spirit was outstanding this year.  There was such an energy seen and heard throughout the hallways, and fan participation was higher than ever.”

High school students celebrated the week with different daily spirited themes. Spirit Week culminated with the high school’s annual in-school Pep Rally.  The Pep Rally featured a stunning routine from the varsity cheerleaders, contests between grade levels, stirring performances from the band, the introduction of the Homecoming Court and the Homecoming Dance announcement. 

 “The pep rally was bittersweet for me, as I finally sat in the corner of the gym solely reserved for seniors, said Kallie Hoffman. On the bright side, I lost my voice screaming the chants, participated in the silly games with my friends, and lead the girls soccer team cheer when the team was invited to the floor to celebrate our season.” 

An image from Homecoming 2019 at BHHSThe event was run by seniors Amanda Nivasch and Jack Eagle who kept the crowd hyped. “The best part about being an MC for our pep rally was interacting with every part of the school. I had never been able to work with each grade, the teachers, and the administration all for a single purpose,” said Jack Eagle, Byram Hills senior.  “The whole process demonstrated to me how the entire Byram Hills community could come together in one group and have such a great event.”

For the second year in a row, night games were played under the lights.  Large, enthusiastic crowds filled the bleachers long after sunset each night during the week.  The Bobcat Boosters organized a number of food trucks during the games for the spectators.  Even the youth soccer teams got in on the action, adding to the already notable sense of community.  

The BHHS Pep Band, under the direction of Mr. Alan Lounsbury, punctuated highlights of the game with upbeat music that kept the crowds chanting while Byram Hills High School art students contributed to the festivities through their creative, Bobcat chalk artwork.
 
Homecoming was also the official opening for the new Byram Hills turf field.  The turf was crisp, visually stunning and included impressive upgrades for multiple sports. “The facility upgrades created such a positive buzz and I believe the athletes all felt it,” said Rob Castagna, Byram Hills Athletic Director.  “The improvements reinforce how much the Byram Hills community supports our students.” 

Homecoming was a great way to bring students, faculty, and the community together to celebrate school spirit. Mr. Castagna said, “What I see and hear are happy athletes and successful teams.”

“I am incredibly thankful to the District, Board of Education, and school community for supporting our students with this necessary renovation,” said Christopher Walsh, Byram Hills High School Principal.  “So many of our students’ lasting memories of high school will be connected to their athletic participation.  It makes me happy to know they will make those memories on such a beautiful track and field.” 

“Homecoming 2019 was definitely the best in all of my high school years at Byram Hills,” said Kallie Hoffman.  “I am honored to have been able to participate in the events and represent my school.”
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Kindergarten Registration for 2020 is taking place March 9th, 10th, 11th and March 18th  and 19th.  Please note that a child entering Kindergarten in September 2020 must be five years old on or before December 1, 2020.

Registration packets will be mailed on February 21, 2020.

To receive a Kindergarten Registration packet, please visit www.byramhills.org, and under “District News” click on “2020 Kindergarten Registration

Every parent/guardian will need to go online to request a registration packet.  This includes parents who already have students at Byram Hills as well as anyone involved in the CPSE process.  Please submit your online information as soon as possible but no later than February 10, 2020. 

*** If this is the first time you are registering a child in the District, you will be required to establish proof of residency at the District Office before your scheduled registration appointment.

Keynote Speaker Carlos Toribio

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

Click HERE to see a full list of the inductees.

 

“The Wampus climate is carefully tended to on a daily basis so that when anybody comes into our building it feels warm, safe, happy and loving,” said Wampus Principal, Peggy McInerney.  “Climate permeates everywhere and is part of everything we do.”  

This summer, Wampus embarked upon a major reshuffle of classrooms with the intent to support community and culture in the school.  

Wampus 5th graders walking independently to class.

“The concept of building a school community this way seemed simple, but was a herculean task in which we moved over 70% of the school around,” Mrs. McInerney said.  “The move was daunting and felt like a giant puzzle. Logistics included childhood development research, infrastructure investigation, manpower hours, technology in each classroom, moving art and music rooms and more,” continued Mrs. McInerney.  The physical work started in June and was completed in August, just in time for the arrival of teachers and students.  

Grouping students of the same grade in their own hub within the building helps in several ways.  It creates a general feeling of safety and togetherness for our children which are hallmarks of building a community. It also keeps teachers organized, as they can better share resources and have common planning times.

A tremendous amount of research, historical data, and understanding of childhood development went into these decisions.  Mrs. McInerney explained, “7 and 8-year-olds are far different developmentally than 10 and 11-year-olds and require different elements to foster the type of sub-communities needed at each stage of their growth.”  She wanted to ensure that the building felt like an elementary school setting while allowing students to spread their wings. 

There was the desire to promote independence for the 5th graders by giving them a space of their own.  The new layout provides them the opportunity to travel to their special classes independently.

“In collaboration with teachers and other stakeholders, independent spaces were created for students because that helps foster emotional wellness and stability for each grade unique to their needs,” Mrs. McInerney said.  “It is a delicate dance to carefully plan so that we have every child in their appropriate zone of development.”

There was a conscious effort to create structures that provided the opportunity for students to see their peers as role models.  Decisions on the placement of classrooms and specific times for grade overlap were considered. The 3rd and 4th-grade classrooms were planned close to each other so that  4th graders would act as role models throughout the day for the younger students. Also, the 4th and 5th graders are together for morning arrival, so that 5th graders have an opportunity to be leaders and set good examples for 4th graders.

Mrs. McInerney has set high expectations in a caring and sensible way.  The Wampus Community is thriving and continues to grow and flourish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colleen O’Connor joins the District as an Assistant Principal at Byram Hills High School. She was a former assistant principal and special education teacher at East Brooklyn Community High School and most recently, assistant principal at Horace Greeley High School in the Chappaqua School District.

“From my first interview at Byram Hills, I knew this was a place I wanted to work. Their collaborative approach to providing students the best education possible is aligned to my own beliefs about education,” Colleen said.

GenineMarie C. DiFalco joins the District as an Assistant Principal at Coman Hill Elementary. She was a teacher at Chatsworth Elementary School in the Mamaroneck School District for 14 years, and prior to that she was a teacher at P.S. 180 in Brooklyn.

“I look forward to being a part of the Byram Hills School District and Coman Hill family where professionalism, commitment to social emotional learning, collaboration, and educating the whole child are paramount,” GenineMarie said.

Colleen O’Connor (left) and GenineMarie C. DiFalco (right).Colleen O’Connor (left) and GenineMarie C. DiFalco (right).

Students pose in front of the Step and Repeat for a photo op.For the first time in 25 years, the Byram Hills High School prom was held on land and for the first time in school history, the community was invited to attend the pre-prom event with all of the high school students.  Students and parents chatted, mingled, took photos and were grateful to share in the occasion. Thanks to the PTSA and Grade Activity Board, students arrived to a balloon arch, a red carpet, a step and repeat, snacks and great music.

The school administration, the Senior Grade Activity Board and the PTSA began their plan to update the prom over a year ago to make the experience more inclusive for students, safer, and with more community involvement.

Hundreds of fashionable couples walked the red carpet and were photographed, both inside and out of the high school they have called home for the past four years. For the students and their families, this was a most special and memorable evening.

Four Byram Hills educators were honored at the June Board of Education meeting with the Teacher Recognition Award for their outstanding commitment to education. “The purpose of this award is to really highlight special service and special commitment to our schools,” Superintendent Dr. Jen Lamia said. “We are identifying a particularly distinguished contribution that a teacher has made.” “These teachers collaborate with others in a very special way to bring new insights into Byram Hills that can really help us grow and learn.”

Recipients of the annual award traditionally address the faculty at the start of the next school year and receive $1,000 for professional development or classroom materials.

The honorees were nominated by their principal.


Coman Hill Elementary School

“Leslie Goldfarb is an outstanding teacher and a remarkable individual. As math specialist, Mrs. Goldfarb models continuous reflection on her practice,” Coman Hill Principal MaryBeth Crupi said. “She uses student work samples, assessments, and her own observations to contemplate the best strategies to introduce new math concepts,” she said. “No teaching decision is taken lightly as Leslie carefully deliberates how to reach each and every student so they can achieve at their highest potential.”

Mrs. Goldfarb also collaborates with her colleagues at Coman Hill, and she was instrumental in the successful implementation of the new math program, Investigations.

Simply put, Mrs. Goldfarb is an amazing person.

“She is so humble that she never takes credit for all the work she does behind the scenes to help everyone succeed,” Ms. Crupi said. “Leslie has helped the students, teachers, and administration succeed in so many aspects of our daily lives. From Investigations math lessons to revising IST practices to having someone listen to you and ponder next steps, Leslie is the kind of friend and colleague that everyone dreams to have at least once during their lifetime.”

 

Wampus Elementary School

Cathleen Oliveto is deeply devoted to Wampus and the Byram Hills District. “Throughout the years, Mrs. Oliveto has always put the care of children at the forefront of her work,” Principal Peggy McInerney said. “Mrs. Oliveto is known as a teacher who will go the extra mile for her students inside and outside the walls of her classroom. Mrs. Oliveto has celebrated wonderful events in her students’ lives, and she has been a steadfast rock for her students and their families during difficult times.”

Mrs. Oliveto is dedicated to her colleagues and has taken the lead in beautifying the school.

“Most recently, she created a display of handmade butterflies along the library/cafeteria corridor,” Ms. McInerney said. “She invited all members of Wampus to add colorful flowers to these walls. Mrs. Oliveto understands how to build a community of care, compassion and kindness.”

“Mrs. Oliveto exemplifies the District’s goal of building communities of care and compassion where service to others and kindness prevail,” Ms. McInerney said.

 

H. C. Crittenden Middle School

Barbara Barthelmes, the school’s library media specialist, embodies HCC’s mission of creating an active learning community where everyone is empowered to take risks and embrace rigor while maintaining a healthy mindset.

Last summer, she was instrumental in the transformation of the school library into a state-of-the-art media center, thanks to the support of the Byram Hills Education Foundation. This is a space that fosters curiosity, creativity and collaboration for students and staff alike. 

“Mrs. Barthelmes dedicated long hours, sifting through books and resources to ensure that this renovation not only changed the physical appearance of the library, but also the manner in which students could utilize the resources within the space,” Ms. Lapple said. “Through these actions, she modeled risk-taking by moving beyond print materials and introducing new avenues for the H.C. Crittenden community to access information electronically.”

She has integrated her own professional learning into the fabric of the new media center. She has refined her practice with Makerspace activities and has brought the Green Screen technology to HCC. Finally, she never forgets the importance of bringing literature to life and finding organic connections to grade level curriculums.

 

Byram Hills High School

English teacher David Hubbs is a leader who is dedicated to the principles of continuous improvement and student engagement.

“What truly distinguishes David’s teaching is his knowledge of students as individuals,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. As a mentor teacher, Mr. Hubbs plays a key role in introducing freshmen to the Byram Hills culture. 

“A student-centered educator, David’s communication with students and parents alike involve all parties in the discussion of the whole child,” Mr. Walsh said. “Well before the District formally partnered with Challenge Success, David was working to help students manage anxiety. I can think of countless hours and emails sent by David that get to the heart of what we care about in Byram-providing students with a supportive learning environment.”

Outside of the classroom, Mr. Hubbs has been stockpiling used formal wear for years as part of the Operation Prom clothing drive. This year, he supported students in the Youth Against Cancer Club by serving as one of the advisers.

 

The 2018-2019 Teacher Recognition Recipients

The 2018-2019 recipients are Leslie Goldfarb, a math specialist at Coman Hill Elementary School; Cathleen Oliveto, a fourth grade teacher at Wampus Elementary School; Barbara Barthelmes, a library media specialist at HCC Middle School; and David Hubbs, an English teacher at Byram Hills High School.

The HCC Moving Up Ceremony brought excitement to students and their families on June 24th, 2019.  Students received their diplomas and kind words from H.C. Crittenden Principal, Ms. Kim Lapple.

“As a grade, you’ve excelled both as individuals and as a collective group,” said Ms. Lapple.  “This class has become such a positive force.” She then proudly handed the grade over to Mr. Christopher Walsh, Principal of Byram Hills High School.

“Your class will be the 55th in our school’s history and I look forward to seeing the distinct identity that you create,” said Mr. Walsh. 

"September 3rd is in 71 days and we can’t wait to have you all at the high school. Congratulations to the class of 2023.”

H. C. Crittenden eighth graders shine on stage during their Moving Up Ceremony.

Byram Hills honored 17 members of the faculty and staff with the Longevity Service Award for their many years of service to the District. “These dedicated employees have worked in Byram Hills for a combined 390 years,” Superintendent Dr. Jen Lamia said during a June 25 Board of Education meeting.

Recipients pictured: (in back row from left) Matthew Allen, Nicole Cavalieri, Theresa Hanrahan, Susan Tyrrell, Angelo Ancona, Joanna Nash, Chris Rasquin, Elise Feder (in front row from left) Jean White, John McNamara, Susan Liebman and Judy DeJarlar. 

Missing from photo: Jill Berner, Kim Costello, Richard Peterman, Alison Rosenfeld and Brenda Toohey.

Sounds of patriotism filled the Coman Hill halls in June as kindergarteners prepared for their Flag Day performance. The repertoire included well-known traditional songs of our country, as well as exuberant dances set to the music of popular American songs and marches.

The kindergarten performance theme remains consistent each year, focused on patriotism and the Flag Day holiday. “The students are so motivated that they rise to the vocal challenges and complicated language found in many of these songs,” says Emily Capalbo, Coman Hill music teacher.

This theme also provides a natural at-home connection. “I think there’s unspeakable value in sharing their learning and excitement in discovering that family members know the songs. It only perpetuates their enthusiasm,” Ms. Capalbo says.

She involves a lot of cross-curricular exploration; students read books about songs, discuss them in a historical context, use visual prompts as a way to support vocabulary, and they also explore geography. “We use maps a great deal,” says Ms. Capalbo. “There’s new meaning in This Land is Your Land when we locate California and New York on the map, understanding how far Woody Guthrie traveled and learning that this trip inspired him to write his famous song.”

The Kindergarten Flag Day performances precede the school’s Flag Day Celebration, when all of the teachers and students gather outside around the flagpole singing patriotic songs after a ceremonial flag raising. Ms. Capalbo continued, “The singalong is special because it brings everyone in Coman Hill together, commemorating the end of school in a moment of community, song and celebration.”

Flag Day at Coman Hill

On a crisp May morning Wampus students, staff and faculty came prepared with their colored tee shirts and smiles to the opening ceremonies of Field Day, 2019. This has been a tradition for over 45 years and is the most anticipated event in school.

Beyond all of the games and festivities, there are some important objectives the school looks to accomplish. “The overall goal has always been to bring the Wampus and Byram Hills School community together,” said Christina Motta, Wampus physical education teacher, “and to provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their character and sportsmanship in a fun-filled way.”

“Students challenge themselves, support others, work together and participate in some good ol’ fashioned fun,” said Doreen Cohen, Wampus physical education teacher.  Events like hula hooping, the egg relay and potato sack races are just a few of the ways students compete.

This year there were 24 stations packed with amusement. “There were individual competition stations like the broad jump or 50 yard dash, cooperative team stations, where homerooms worked together to accomplish a goal, and ‘just for fun’ stations,” said Gina Whalen, Wampus physical education teacher. 

What helps to create this Byram Hills classic is the participation of our high school juniors. This year, approximately 65 students joined in the excitement by organizing and running the various stations. One student, Jamie Weiss, said “This was an experience I loved as a kid and now I get to come back with my friends to partake.”

As students dashed around the fields covered from head to toe in red, white and blue there was a true sense of school spirit in the air. While not the official last day of school, Field Day always helps usher in the end of school. With warm temperatures and blue skies, this year’s celebration led us right into summer.

Wampus Elementary students give Field Day two thumbs up.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Valedictorian Alan Chang addresses the crowd and his class.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A sweet tradition has begun at Byram Hills High School: the Senior Walk.

The Class of 2019 set off on the first Senior Walk after graduation rehearsal on June 12, as the seniors promenaded through the hallways where they once walked as middle school and elementary school students.

As they moved through H.C. Crittenden Middle School, Wampus Elementary School and Coman Hill Elementary School, they glimpsed their past just days before graduation and the start of their next chapter. So many memories. Such small lockers, and even smaller students.

The event gave the seniors a way to come together as a class and say goodbye to the District while inspiring younger students. The grade school students and their teachers applauded and waved to the big kids and many seniors stooped down to high-five the younger children who sat on the floor outside their classrooms.

Spontaneous reunions broke out in each school between teachers and their former students, with many hearty hugs and handshakes and proud words of congratulations.

The seniors loved the fun, nostalgia-filled walk down memory lane and seeing teachers they had not seen for years, said Zach Cogan, a senior who helped organize the event.

“It’s a nice way to end everything and say goodbye to our school,” he said. “I liked being part of this group.”

“The senior class leaves behind this legacy of unity of our school and a good way to say goodbye to Byram Hills,” he added.

Byram Hills High School Principal Christopher Walsh was thrilled that the Class of 2019 was excited to take the first-ever Senior Walk.

“I love the way it ties together the mission of the District,” he said. “Our graduating seniors really do fulfill that mission. It’s important for everybody in the community to really understand that they play an important role in helping them achieve that mission.”

Senior Walk #4

Senior Walk #4


“It’s also important for all of our graduating seniors to acknowledge and show gratitude to all of those people who helped them get to this point,” he added. “That includes all of their former teachers, staff members, custodians, secretaries. It really does take a village to get them there.”

At Coman Hill, Elise Feder, a kindergarten teacher who has worked in Byram Hills for 30 years, loved seeing the halls filled with students who “take up much more vertical space than our little ones.”

“I saw faces that had changed and yet were the same,” she said. “We could watch recognition and joy spread across the high schoolers’ faces as memories came rushing back.”

Susan Tyrrell, a first grade teacher who has worked in the District for 25 years, said she could feel the students’ joy and excitement as they came past her in the hall.

“It was a good feeling to see the seniors tour the school where their lives in Byram Hills begin,” she said. “I appreciated the seniors who sought me out in the hallway, letting me know my classroom was once home to them.”

Senior Ellen Amico said the event was a great way for students to reflect on their time at Byram Hills.

“Seeing some of my old teachers for likely the last time and all the students that are there now was so fun!” she said. “I think it’ll be a cherished tradition in the future.”

The Byram Hills Board of Education has granted tenure to two educators at Byram Hills High School, special education teacher Ally Dellacioppa and Jonas Kalish, who teaches math.

2019 Tenure Candidates: Jonas Kalish and Ally Dellacioppa

2019 Tenure Candidates: Jonas Kalish and Ally Dellacioppa

The tenure appointments, approved by the Board on June 11, take effect in late August.

Superintendent Dr. Jen Lamia noted that being awarded tenure is not the time for teachers to rest on their laurels.

“It’s the point where you have made a serious commitment to be a part of something that is going to grow and expand over time and reach people in different ways that you didn’t know that you could,” Dr. Jen Lamia said. “I think that our two tenure candidates really exemplify that.” 

Mr. Kalish, who came to the District with experience at Stuyvesant High School and Blind Brook High School, was drawn to Byram Hills for its cutting edge professional development, Dr. Lamia said. He is eager for feedback, collaborates with colleagues and asks to observe their classes. Mr. Kalish supports strategies to minimize students’anxiety and has a warm and calm demeanor that puts everyone at ease.

Ms. Dellacioppa’s level of engagement with her students after school matches her strong commitment to her students in her classroom during the school day.

As an educator who has taught Resource Room for grades 10-12 and Regents English, Ms. Dellacioppa is also a part of the Skills/Learning Center and the Flexible Support Program.

“At any given day, you can go to Ally’s classroom after school, and if kids are coming, Ally is there,” Dr. Lamia said. “Any opportunity that kids have to see her outside of school, they are doing it. She is providing math instruction, and providing support to kids in every one of their content areas in the high school.”

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

Principal Walsh with Valedictorian and Salutatorian

Principal Walsh with Valedictorian Alan Chang and Salutatorian Emma Lucchino


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emma was excited to learn she had been named salutatorian.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 If you are looking for an engaging summer read, consider picking up Frank Bruni’s “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania.”

Where You Go is Not Who You'll Be Book Jacket

The book is the subject of the first Byram Hills Community Book Read, and will be discussed at the Byram Hills High School library on October 17 at 6 p.m. The event is open to the entire Byram Hills school community, including parents, students, teachers and community members.

The book talk, led by the Byram Hills Challenge Success Steering Committee, will engage the community in a productive and respectful discussion about the college application process.

“We hope to broaden the community’s understanding of the college application process and the stress our students are often under,” Principal Christopher Walsh said.

The book appears on the independent reading list for Byram Hills students. “We are hoping many of them will read it, especially our incoming 11th graders as they really start to ramp up the college admissions process,” Mr. Walsh said.

Byram Hills High School has been working with the nonprofit Challenge Success to help redefine what it means to be a successful student and to help bring more balance to the college admissions process.

In addition to the October book read, future discussions are planned for January and April.

The individual accomplishments of dozens of Byram Hills High School juniors and seniors were celebrated at the annual Awards Ceremony on May 22, a night filled with handshakes and hugs and rounds of proud applause.

Many of the upperclassmen were recognized during the school year at the local, state and national level by organizations including the National Merit Scholarship Corp., Section 1 and New York State athletics, Con Edison, Regeneron, The College Board, the New York State School Music Association and many more.

Byram Hills 2019 Award Recipients

Byram Hills 2019 Award Recipients


“It’s been an incredible year for our students on so many different levels,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “They were celebrated for their work in and out of the classrooms.”

Mr. Walsh thanked parents and other relatives in the packed audience, saying their hours of support helped the students succeed. “None of the students would have been able to make it through to this point without you,” he said.

The top honor for a graduating senior, the Hy Blatte-Jack Wollenberg Memorial Award sponsored by the Byram Hills Parent Teacher Student Association, went to Robert Waxman. Robert, whose award comes with a $1,000 scholarship, thanked his family, coaches, classmates and friends and the PTSA. He also thanked the administrators, faculty and staff.

Robert Waxman speaking at Byram Awards Ceremony

Robert Waxman speaking at Byram Awards Ceremony


“Thank you for making Byram Hills a home away from home for each and every one of us,” he said in accepting the award. “Thank you for making it a place where we all feel safe to take risks, to explore and to learn and grow at our own pace.”

The PTSA Caruolo Leadership Award, which is voted on by students, was presented to Lindsey Grotta. It also comes with a $1,000 scholarship.

Lindsay Grotta receiving PTSA Caruolo Leadership Award

Lindsay Grotta receiving PTSA Caruolo Leadership Award


A new award, the Michele Delamonico Memorial Scholarship Award, celebrates the memory of the beloved math teacher who passed away last year and comes with a $1,000 scholarship from the Byram Hills teachers and administrators associations. After a heartfelt tribute by Math Chairperson Lisa Pellegrino, the honor was presented to Jack Kenny.

Jack Kenny receiving Michele Delamonico Memorial Scholarship Award

Jack Kenny receiving Michele Delamonico Memorial Scholarship Award


The complete list of winners:

JAMIE TESTA ONWARD AND UPWARD SCHOLARSHIP: Given to a senior who shows exemplary commitment to helping others and dedication to public service.

ANIELLA POPPO

ARMONK LIONS CLUB SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS: Awarded to seniors for their outstanding, active, public and/or community service during their high school years.

EVIA MASCARO & SPENCER WEINHOFF

NORTH CASTLE POLICE BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION SCHOLARSHIP: Presented to a senior who has shown academic excellence and a commitment to the North Castle community.

MARGARET WALSH

ARMONK CHAMBER OF COMMERCE EXCELLENCE IN BUSINESS AWARD: Awarded to a senior who has demonstrated impressive business acumen, responsibility and dedication either as an employee of a local business establishment or as an entrepreneur.

GREGORY SKRILOFF

JOHN A. LOMBARDI SCHOLARSHIP: Awarded to a senior who has demonstrated outstanding civic service and achievement.

SAMANTHA EFOBI


THE NYS COMPTROLLER’S 2019 STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Given to seniors for academic achievement and outstanding community service.

SAMANTHA KREVOLIN & DAVID MCDANIELS

WELLESLEY COLLEGE BOOK AWARD: Awarded to a junior outstanding in her academic performance, character, and contributions to school and/or community life.

ISABELLE LEVY

MOUNT HOLYOKE COLLEGE BOOK AWARD: Awarded to a junior who has earned an excellent academic record and who has exhibited qualities of leadership and service in the school community.

ALLISON STILLMAN

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Presented to an academically- outstanding junior who demonstrates intellectual leadership and strong character.

ARIELLE RAGALS

BRANDEIS BOOK AWARD: Presented to a junior who demonstrates commitment to academics and service to his/her community.

SARAH ILANY

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA BOOK AWARD: Given to a junior with outstanding character and high academic achievement, who provides important service to school or community.

REESE TATEO

YALE UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Presented to a junior in recognition of outstanding character and intellectual promise with diverse skills and leadership qualities.

ALISON LEHMAN


UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO BOOK AWARD: Presented to a junior who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and scholarly research in a rigorous college preparatory program.

MADISON HIGGINS

DARTMOUTH COLLEGE BOOK AWARDS: Awarded to juniors who exhibit excellent academic achievement and who contribute to the extracurricular activities of the school.

SPENCER KARP & ELLA MANNERS

CORNELL UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Awarded to a junior who has demonstrated academic excellence, as well as outstanding dedication to extracurricular activities and meaningful participation in community service.

KALLIE HOFFMAN

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY WOMEN – Outstanding Student Award:

SOFIA GIAMARTINO

HARVARD PRIZE BOOK AWARDS: Given to outstanding juniors who display excellence in scholarship and high character.

SAMUEL ABERMAN & ELENA LOWE

TULANE UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Awarded to a junior who embodies Tulane’s motto “Not for one’s self, but for one’s own” and is a true servant leader.

ANDREW MILLER

GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Presented to a junior who demonstrates excellence in civic engagement and a commitment to independent and creative thought.

BENJAMIN HAMMOND

CLARKSON UNIVERSITY ACHIEVEMENT AND LEADERSHIP AWARDS: Given to juniors having an academic interest in engineering, business, science or liberal arts.

ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: ISABELLE NELSON
LEADERSHIP AWARD: DOMINIC PICCA

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA JEFFERSON BOOK AWARD: Presented to a junior who embraces creativity and innovation, and embodies the spirit of discovery, much like the University’s founder, Thomas Jefferson. The student is a demonstrated citizen leader who works to improve their community locally or globally.

SETH MORRISON

SMITH COLLEGE BOOK AWARD: Awarded to a junior who combines academic excellence with participation in extracurricular activities and a commitment to community service.

MEREDITH MAYERS

ENGLISH AWARDS

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY WOMEN – Excellence in Writing Award:

HAYLEY SIEGLE

SENIOR ENGLISH AWARDS: for outstanding senior English students:

EMMA LUCCHINO & LINDSEY PERLMAN

ED WALZER WRITING AWARD: This award was established by the family of Ed Walzer, a graduate of Byram Hills who went on to have a career as a writer. The family has asked that the English department present the award to dedicated writers in the hope that they will pursue their passion for writing.

EMMA FREUND


SOCIAL STUDIES AWARDS

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Awarded to an exceptional junior who has achieved outstanding scholarship in the subject of Social Studies.

ALISON LEHMAN

SOCIAL SCIENCES AWARD: Given to a senior who has shown exceptional growth in the field of Social Studies.

LEONARDO GAGLIARDI

NORTH CASTLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AWARD: Given to a senior who has excelled in American History, European History, and/or the senior electives.

SAMANTHA ABBRUZZESE

HISTORY AND SOCIAL STUDIES DEPARTMENT AWARD: Presented to a senior who is an outstanding and serious history scholar.

PIETRO PEREZ

THE NORTH CASTLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY HISTORICAL RESEARCH AWARD IN HONOR OF RICHARD LANDER AND DORIS FINCH WATSON: Given to a student who has an interest and passion in historic research to honor North Castle’s late town historians.

SARAH FAKLER

MATHEMATICS AWARDS

STUDENT RECOGNITION PROGRAM for outstanding achievement in Mathematics:

Outstanding Senior: ALAN CHANG Outstanding Junior: SPENCER KARP


THE KEN HAMILTON MEMORIAL AWARD: Given to a senior who has displayed exceptional skills in software design, programming, systems analysis and hardware configuration; and who demonstrates excellent understanding and appreciation of computer science.

DANIEL VATAJ

RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE AWARD for outstanding achievement in Math/Science:

ANA VATAJ

SCIENCE AWARDS

THE FARADAY AWARD: Presented to a senior who can manage long-term projects from inception to conclusion and create solutions in non-traditional ways.

OREN MOLLOY

BYRAM HILLS AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN SCIENCE: Awarded to an outstanding senior for excellence in science:

BRENT PERLMAN

BAUSCH & LOMB AWARD: Presented to an outstanding junior science student:

ELENA LOWE

BYRAM HILLS AWARD FOR POTENTIAL IN SCIENCE: Awarded to an outstanding junior for potential in science:

ALLISON STILLMAN

WORLD LANGUAGE AWARDS: honors the senior that has demonstrated a superior command of the language:

For general excellence in Italian: SAMANTHA ABBRUZZESE

For general excellence in Spanish: JONAH SCHWAM

For general excellence in French: EMMA LUCCHINO

THE DUAL LANGUAGE AWARD: awarded to a senior that has demonstrated a superior command of two upper level languages, taken concurrently.

LUKE GORDON

FINE ARTS AWARDS

PTSA ARTS SCHOLARSHIP:

STEFAN DINKEL

BYRAM HILLS HIGH SCHOOL ART AWARD:

DANIELLE CRONIN

SENIOR AWARD: COMMITMENT TO THE ARTS:

DHRUV FRANKLIN

MUSIC AND THEATRE AWARDS

THE JOHN PHILIP SOUSA NATIONAL BAND AWARDS: In recognition of outstanding achievement and interest in instrumental music, for singular merit in loyalty and cooperation, outstanding performance and dedication to participation in band work.

BRENT PERLMAN

THE LOUIS ARMSTRONG JAZZ AWARD:

STEFAN DINKEL

THE NATIONAL CHORAL AWARD:

SHEA GORDON & ISABELLE ILAN


OUTSTANDING CAREER CONTRIBUTION TO THE THEATRE PROGRAM:

SHEA GORDON, HANNAH HOLDEN, SYDNEY NEPO & NICOLE TISSOT

PHYSICAL EDUCATION AWARDS

SEZ (Southeastern Zone) AWARD:

Male: JEFFREY FERNANDES MAXWELL PIERCE
Female: TALENE BASIL NINA BROWN

BHHS SPORTSPERSONS OF THE YEAR:

Male: MICHAEL KALIAN
Female: LINDSEY GROTTA

LYNN ROSENTHAL MEMORIAL AWARD: Female Scholar/Athlete of the year:

KATHERINE LEV

WILLIAM A. McCOY, JR. MEMORIAL AWARD: Male Scholar/Athlete of the year:

PIETRO PEREZ

VINCENT GRECO AWARD: Presented to a senior who has demonstrated resiliency and has been a positive contributor to the Byram Hills High School community.

BRIAN MUCKER

MICHELE DELAMONICO MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP AWARD: This award celebrates the memory of a beloved teacher, colleague, mentor, and club advisor at Byram Hills High School. The BHTA and the BHAA honor a senior student who exhibits the qualities that Michele was known for; resilience, love of learning, collaboration, service to others, sense of humor, and academic engagement. Michele gave back to our community in many ways. She left behind a legacy of care, commitment, and community building. The award will be given to a student who personifies those ideals.

JACK KENNY

PTSA CARUOLO LEADERSHIP AWARD: This award is granted to a senior on the basis of leadership, character, dedication, loyalty, humanity, and interest in education.

LINDSEY GROTTA

HY BLATTE-JACK WOLLENBERG MEMORIAL AWARD: This award goes to a senior who has a humanitarian outlook, a willingness to extend himself for others, and an optimistic approach to life and its challenges.

ROBERT WAXMAN

Principal Walsh and Robert Waxman

Principal Walsh and Robert Waxman

 

Byram Hills High School is rolling out the red carpet for the Class of 2019, throwing a new festive prom send-off for the seniors.

The entire Byram Hills school community is invited to the inaugural prom reception at the high school on June 13 at 5 p.m. The event will feature a balloon arch in Byram Hills colors, a DJ, a step and repeat where students can strike a pose and students will walk the red carpet in style.

“We hope that as the kids arrive back at school dressed to the nines, the community, as well as parents, siblings and friends can all join in the excitement of this monumental event,” Principal Christopher Walsh said.

“We want all the students to experience the thrill of this event together,” he said. “We want to make the night as special as possible for them and we want to make sure the event is connected to the school.”

After the hour-long reception, students will board luxury buses and head to the Glen Island Harbour Club in New Rochelle, where the prom will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. Afterward, the students will be transported back to the high school.

The prom reception, the new venue and the requirement that students get to and from the prom on the luxury buses all combine to improve the prom experience for the seniors.

“This new prom should offer a much safer experience for all of our students,” Mr. Walsh said, adding that students and a parent had to attend a prom safety meeting.

“We hope all of our students have an amazing time at this milestone event.”

If you could solve one problem in the world, what would it be?


That thought-provoking question was posed to seventh and eighth graders at H.C. Crittenden Middle School recently, and the answers came quickly: Cancer. Racism. Gun violence. Overpopulation. World hunger. Poverty.


Students identified these important issues on May 7 during the keynote address that led off the 14th annual Power of One Day, the schoolwide event aimed at inspiring students to make a difference in the world and showing them that they themselves have the power to do so.


“The Power of One Day brings to life our H.C. Crittenden message of upstandership - that we all have the ability to help others and make a difference,” HCC Principal Kim Lapple said. “Students’ participation in the day reinforces and brings to light the power of the individual as a member of a community. It’s an inspiring event for our entire school community.”


The keynote address, featuring speakers Brianna Williams and Gabrielle Caddell of WE Schools, focused on the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and on students becoming leaders for change.


Ms. Williams and Ms. Caddell, who also spoke to the sixth graders, cited various problems around the world, including the dire consequences of unsafe drinking water and the challenges of global hunger. These issues, they noted, may seem scary or overwhelming, especially because they are happening today, not 100 or 200 years in the future.


“There are so many issues going on in our world that demand our attention, but also demand our action,” Ms. Williams said.


“The good thing is that all of you still have the ability to create change and reverse some of these negative consequences that are happening today,” she added.


They explained that the first six Sustainable Development Goals deal with eradicating poverty, the next six are related to industry and the economy, three more deal with the environment and the final two are on peace and justice and strong institutions, and partnerships.


The speakers discussed different leadership styles, like being a rebel, a helper, an organizer or a designer. They encouraged students to focus on one of the goals that inspires them and to take action using one of the leadership styles to create change.


“The biggest thing that we want you to take away from our talk this morning is to pay attention to these SDGs, but also continue doing the work that it is going to take to reverse some of the negative consequences that we’re seeing,” Ms. Williams said.


Ms. Caddell concluded their talk with this message: “You all are the ones who are going to lead for change.”


After the keynote addresses, sixth graders attended workshops that focused on various ways of making a difference. There were 14 workshops, including sessions on recycling and Eco-bags, adopting a dog, a composting workshop led by North Castle Town Supervisor Michael Schiliro, and sessions on the Midnight Run relief missions, making care packages for overseas troops and Islamophobia in America.


A mix of students from all grades attended a workshop with the keynote speakers to work on leadership skills and they helped organize a Walk for Water to raise money for charities that support clean water in a developing nation. The walk, held a few days later, was a success and  brought students and faculty together while raising funds and awareness.


A sneaker keychain sale and bake sale on the Power of One Day will provide new sneakers to homeless children who live in the Coachman Family Center shelter in White Plains.


HCC sixth grade literature teacher Mary Staudt, who organized the Power of One Day, said the event is aimed at inspiring students to act, either today or in the future.


“It’s teaching kids to become solutionary to tackle world problems and to use their passions and talents to create positive change,” Ms. Staudt said. “I hope they’re inspired to find something they really care about and to try to be a positive agent for change.”


Noting that some of the workshops were led by Byram Hills High School seniors, Ms. Staudt said that the Power of One Day is a day that many students remember. Even if the message to make a difference doesn’t take hold immediately, it may one day.


“Sometimes you’re just planting a seed,” she said. “They’re 11, but maybe in high school or later on, it will come to fruition. Kids remember this day. It’s something we hope will last and will stick with them.”

During H.C. Crittenden’s Power of One Day, students organized a Walk for Water, which was held a few days later and raised funds for charities that support clean water in a developing nation.

The Power of One Day organizer, HCC literature teacher Mary Staudt, center, with the keynote speakers from WE Schools, Gabrielle Caddell, at left, and Brianna Williams.

During H.C. Crittenden’s Power of One Day on May 7, students attended workshops that focused on different ways of making a difference.

 

 

There’s more great news from the Authentic Science Research Program at Byram Hills High School, this time as our student scientists competed on an international stage.

Three Byram Hills High School students, Samantha Abbruzzese, Renner Kwittken and Brent Perlman, qualified to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona, last week. Renner finished with a third place award, Brent with a fourth place honor. Here, from left, are Samantha Abbruzzese, Brent Perlman, Authentic Science Research teacher Dr. Caroline Matthew and Renner Kwittken.


Three seniors, Samantha Abbruzzese, Renner Kwittken and Brent Perlman, qualified to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona, last week.

Renner won a third place award in the category of Translational Medical Science. His research is titled “Priming the Tumor Microenvironment with Cyclophosphamide to Enhance Nanoparticle Delivery: An Imaging Study.”

Brent won a fourth place honor in the Microbiology category. His study is called “Human Photosynthesis: Functional Chloroplast Sequestration in Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells.”

“Congratulations to our three students for their outstanding scientific research and on earning a spot to compete at this prestigious event,” said Dr. Caroline Matthew, a teacher in the Authentic Science Research Program.

“Congratulations to Renner and Brent for their excellent showing,” she added. “We are so proud of their crowning achievement.”

The competition, a program of the Society for Science & the Public, bills itself as the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. The event featured over 1,800 young scientists from more than 80 countries, regions and territories.

Dr. Matthew said she was “inspired by the students’ passion and dedication to science, as well as the focus on connection and collaboration. ISEF was an impressive and memorable milestone in their lives.”

 Recognizing their tremendous accomplishments and their hard work and devotion, Byram Hills High School is celebrating its student-athletes who have committed to playing their sport in college next year, including several headed to Division I programs.

“We wholeheartedly congratulate these fine athletes for their commitment, dedication and passion for their sport, and are extremely proud of all of their achievements,” said Rob Castagna, Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics for Byram Hills. “We wish them the best of luck as they continue playing their sport at the collegiate level.”

At a ceremonial signing day in the high school gym in late April, Byram Hills honored eight students taking their talents to the next level.

Byram Hills HS Athletic Signing Day - Spring 2019

Byram Hills Signing Day 2019: Byram Hills High School is celebrating its student-athletes who have committed to playing their sport in college next year, including several headed to Division I programs. Eight were recognized at a signing day celebration last month.

They were Mike Caporale, Union College, basketball; Ciara Dalton, Manhattan College, swimming; Eva Duffy, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, soccer; Carson Frye, Georgetown, baseball; Ben Leff, New York University, basketball; Brett Perlmutter, Middlebury College, swimming; Willy Samsen, Union College, basketball; and Daniel Vataj, Williams College, football.

“We’re here to celebrate the accomplishments and to recognize our student-athletes who have worked very hard at their craft,” Mr. Castagna told the crowd of parents, coaches, teammates and school administrators.

Several other Byram Hills students have committed to playing next year in college as well. Sam Alvis is headed to Eastern Connecticut State University to play soccer, Tyler Harp will play soccer at Carnegie Mellon University, Griffen Rakower is headed to Princeton for lacrosse and Lauren Selkin will run track at Mount Holyoke College.

Here’s a closer look at the Byram Hills athletes continuing their athletic careers in college:

Sam Alvis is a soccer goalie who will play at Eastern Connecticut State University. He is deeply committed to his sport and has become an incredible goalie with great hands and a vocal leader as well. He spent his final high school season training within the GPS International Soccer Program in Spain. Although he was unable to complete his career at Byram Hills, his international experience will serve him well at the college level.

Mike Caporale is a 6-foot-6-inch power forward headed to the Union College basketball program. At Byram Hills, he averaged 11 points per game and made 57% of his shots, and had eight rebounds a game and close to two blocks a game.

Ciara Dalton will swim for the Division I program at Manhattan College. She was a four-year All-League and three-year All-Section swimmer, and for three years, she advanced to the state level to compete in the 100-butterfly and the 200-individual medley. She holds the school records in the 200-individual medley, 200-freestyle, 100-butterfly, 100-breaststroke, and this year, she broke the 500-freestyle record.

This season, she placed first in the 100-fly and 200-IM at the divisional meet, placed in the top eight in both events at sectionals, and in the top 30 at states.

Eva Duffy is headed to John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she will play soccer and hopes to be a walk-on for basketball. A midfielder, she played for the Byram Hills soccer program for four years, and made a big contribution to the team on and off the field.

Carson Frye is a right-handed pitcher headed to the Division I baseball team at Georgetown. He throws a 90 mph-plus fastball and recently won the prestigious Con Edison Scholar-Athlete of the Week award. He is regarded as one of the best pitchers in Westchester County.

Carson finished last season with a 4-1 record in five starts. He led the team with 0.73 ERA with 58 strikeouts in only 38 innings pitched. A major highlight came when he pitched a no-hitter against the Rye Garnets as he struck out eight batters.

Tyler Harp, one of the strongest soccer midfielders to have worn the Byram Hills jersey, will take the field for Carnegie Mellon University. An All-Section selection, he was regarded as a fierce competitor who controlled the central area of the field.

Ben Leff, a 6-foot-8-inch power forward, is headed to play basketball at New York University. He’s regarded as one of the most skilled big men in Byram Hills history. He had 729 career points on over 50% from the floor, with nearly 10 rebounds per game and over a block per game. He demanded a double team in almost every game during his junior and senior seasons.

Brett Perlmutter, who swims freestyle, is headed to Middlebury College. Brett started at Byram Hills as a junior. This season, he was named All-League and All-Section, and represented Section 1 at states in two events. Brett broke the Byram Hills record in the 50-yard freestyle this season by completing the event in 22.14 seconds. He was also a member of the relay teams that hold Byram Hills school records for the 200-yard medley relay, 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard freestyle relay.

Griffen Rakower is a lacrosse goalie headed to Division I Princeton. As a junior, he 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 last year, after being an All-League player in his sophomore year.

Willy Samsen, a 6-foot-4-inch shooting guard, is heading to Union College to play basketball. He is a four-year varsity player at Byram Hills, has 661 career points and 115 3-pointers. With the Bobcats, his career record was 74-20 with four league titles, a Gold Ball and a state final four berth.

Lauren Selkin will run track for Mount Holyoke College. She was new to the Byram Hills Track and Field team. She only began competing this past winter, and won a League Championship title in the 3,000 meters. In the spring season, Lauren placed second at the League meet in the 1,500 meters with a time of 5:06.11 and in the 3,000 meters with a time of 11:01.36.

Daniel Vataj, a lineman, will play football at Williams College. He was a four-year starter on the offensive line, and a three-year starter playing offense and defense.

 

 

Coman Hill students inhaled deeply through their noses before pretending they were blowing on a hot pizza to cool it down. They learned that when you get upset, your fists, your face, and even your jaw gets tight, and your shoulders begin to rise, and they practiced being in the moment.

The lessons came during workshops conducted by artist-educator Robert Rivest in late March during Coman Cares Week, the annual celebration of everyone’s unique identity and the entire school community.

Mr. Rivest led classroom workshops to help students understand their emotions and help them move through the harder ones. There was movement, mime and mindfulness, and lots of smiles and laughter.

In a workshop with kindergartners, students learned and practiced many different breathing exercises, like cooling the pizza or pretending to blow out birthday candles and bubbles so they could learn how to calm down if they get angry or upset. They did meditation and explored emotions through mime.

Mr. Rivest shared an important saying. “Before I start my exercises to help me feel more energy and yet feel relaxed, I usually say, ‘I am here now,’” he told Mary- Ann Shkreli’s kindergartners, who repeated the phrase. Why does he say this? It’s because usually when we’re thinking, he said, we’re often focusing on the past or the future, and not what’s going on right now. “Mindfulness helps us think I am here now and you’re aware of what you’re doing while you’re doing it,” he said.

The workshops throughout the week were intended to give students tools to handle their feelings.

“I’m teaching them mindfulness, different ways they can use breathing and moving, even smiling and laughing, to help change their mood and to help them notice when they’re starting to get upset and how to change that with their breathing,” he explained after the workshop.

The different techniques are to “help them feel their feelings so that others don’t have to” and to handle situations more thoughtfully.

“Part of it is preventative, to help them be in a calmer state to start off with, and then to help them through the situation and then to recover or bounce back, so it deals with resiliency,” he added.

Principal MaryBeth Crupi was thrilled that Coman Hill was able to invite Mr. Rivest as part of Coman Cares Week, thanks to the generosity of the Byram Hills Education Foundation.

“Robert conducted classroom lessons to help our students manage their emotions and to provide them with strategies to reduce stress and anxiety,” she said. “The breathing techniques can be practiced by all of our students at anytime and within any situation. We are thankful to have had Robert with us to help nurture our students’ emotional wellness.”

As Mr. Rivest visited classrooms during the week of March 25, students enjoyed the rest of the Coman Cares Week activities. The event shines a spotlight on every student’s unique abilities and focuses on acceptance and inclusion to encourage students to appreciate each other.

On Monday, the schoolwide assembly that featured faculty and staff members performing humorous skits was a smashing success. The Coman Hill performers, including Ms. Crupi, acted out school scenarios like sitting on the Buddy Bench or playing tag to remind students to always be respectful, responsible and safe.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Byram Hills PTSA parent volunteers read books on self-acceptance to our youngest students. The kindergartners heard “Spork,” the first graders enjoyed “I’m Gonna Like Me,” and “Small Saul” was read to the second graders.

After listening to their story, students finished the prompt “I am … ” with a word and a picture on an oversized sticky note. The students described themselves in many ways, including happy, athletic, nice, adventurous and curious. The colorful projects will be displayed around the school.

The week, which concluded with a rousing dance party, was a hit with students.

“They really love it,” Ms. Crupi said. “They truly enjoy getting to celebrate who they are. The week is about promoting acceptance and individuality while also working to foster their  emotional health and wellness. Coman Cares Week is a terrific and uplifting event for the entire Coman Hill community.”

Artist-educator Robert Rivest leads a workshop on emotions with kindergartners during Coman Cares Week at Coman Hill Elementary School.

Kindergartners at Coman Hill practiced mime during a workshop with artist-educator Robert Rivest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Byram Hills School District is proudly celebrating a pair of honors from the Armonk Chamber of Commerce.

With a focus on education, the Chamber named Byram Hills Board of Education member Ira Schulman as its 2019 Citizen of the Year and the Byram Hills Education Foundation as its 2019 Organization of the Year.

The Chamber noted that Mr. Schulman, who has lived in Armonk since 1987, has been a longtime leader and volunteer in various organizations. He is the longest serving member of the Byram Hills Board of Education, with 20 years of consecutive service and seven of those years as Board President.

Armonk Chamber of Commerce Award Winner  Ira Schulman

Armonk Chamber of Commerce Award Winner - Ira Schulman

“Ira Schulman exemplifies the strength of our community as a Board of Education member for the past 20 years,” Superintendent Dr. Jen Lamia said. “He has selflessly given our District and greater community his time, care, and expertise, and we are all appreciative. He is commended and revered for his service to this community.”

The Chamber noted that the Byram Hills Education Foundation has provided $4.6 million in grants to the District over the past quarter century that have funded creative programs and equipment that go beyond the District’s annual budget. The Foundation has awarded more than 300 grants that have benefited thousands of students. The projects funded by this not-for-profit organization, the Chamber said, have helped the District maintain its academic excellence.

Armonk Chamber of Commerce - BHEF Board

Armonk Chamber of Commerce Award Winnrer - BHEF Board

Dr. Lamia saluted the Foundation and its Board of Directors, which consists of parents in the community who dedicate their efforts to developing innovative grants.

“Our 1:1 Chromebook rollout, 21st century library renovations, a K-12 Wellness Initiative, and robust Insta-Grants are among the initiatives that have helped to create a distinctive Byram Hills education for all children,” she said.

The Chamber of Commerce will celebrate the 2019 Citizens of the Year with a golf outing and dinner at the Whippoorwill Club on May 14.

The Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program is having an incredibly successful year, highlighted by senior Brent Perlman’s seventh-place win at the highly renowned Regeneron Science Talent Search.

Brent Perlman

Brent, whose biological engineering research involved inducing photosynthesis in human stem cells, won a $70,000 prize at the competition’s annual gala in Washington on March 12. He was one of 10 students to win top awards in the highly prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.

Brent’s research involved designing a process to induce photosynthesis in human cells for the first time, which could have applications in the treatment of heart attack, stroke and cancer. He achieved this accomplishment by isolating chloroplasts, the photosynthetic components of plant cells, from baby spinach leaves, and culturing them with human cells.

Brent said he was honored to receive the award, and said he planned to put his prize money toward his biological education and research. “With this award, my dream of one day creating impactful chloroplast therapies comes one step closer to reality,” he said.

In the three decades that Byram Hills has competed in the Science Talent Search, the only other student to finish in the top 10 was Jayne Wolfson, who won sixth place in 2004. In the same time span, Byram Hills has had 20 finalists, including Brent

“He is a daring, determined scientist who has been an inspiration to everyone in the program and a constant reminder of the power of combining creativity with curiosity,” said Stephanie Greenwald, Director of the Authentic Science Research Program. “His success is shared by the entire program and the whole school community.”

Shortly after the Regeneron competition, the science research students were off to the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair at Sleepy Hollow High School, where they won a record-breaking number of awards on March 16.

Those successes, along with other honors won by science research students, have combined to make this year a great one for the 27 seniors in the research program.

The three-year program, in which students conduct original, high-level research, has an open-enrollment policy, which means students do not have to be taking honors science classes to participate. Students of all academic backgrounds have found success during this year’s science competitions, making the season highly rewarding.

“It has been a banner year for the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program,” Mrs. Greenwald said.

2019 Authentic Science Research Class

The seniors in the Authentic Science Research Program this year.

“Our senior class this year represents a wide range of students from across the school community, each having taken a unique path to reach their goals,” she said. “Their successes continue to demonstrate that perseverance and curiosity can lead to meaningful work that receives widespread recognition.”

Twenty-three seniors won 32 awards at the Westchester science fair known as WESEF.

Renner Kwitten

The seniors in the Authentic Science Research Program this year.

Brent, Samantha Abbruzzese and Renner Kwittken were among the students who had the top 12 overall individual scoring projects at the fair. With this distinction, they secured spots at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona in May.

The three will spend a week there competing against top student science researchers from around the world at the event known as ISEF. “We are very proud of our ISEF finalists,” Mrs. Greenwald said.

Joshua Freedman

Joshua Freedman

On March 27 and 28, seven seniors presented their research at the Upstate New York Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Albany, with Joshua Freedman winning first place and a $2,000 scholarship and Renner Kwittken coming in fourth in the speaker presentations. Emma Lucchino won third place as a poster presenter. Joshua and Renner advanced to compete in the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in late April. The seniors in the Authentic

 

Students twisted wire with pliers, used a jeweler’s saw to cut designs from sheets of copper and brass, pounded metal with hammers to add texture and learned to solder two pieces of metal together with a torch.

This was Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design, a fine arts elective that debuted at Byram Hills High School in the fall and will continue next year.

The introductory course taught students the principles of design using metal as they learned to create small-scale sculpture and jewelry. Students learned how to smooth the rough edges of the metal with files and sandpaper, how to rivet and use a drill to create cold connections and decorative holes, and to polish their pieces to a high shine.

With assignments that called upon students to make a piece with movement and to create a modern interpretation of a historical artwork, the inaugural class made all sorts of objects. There were round boxes, picture frames, earrings, necklaces and rings, wall hangings and key chains.

Art teacher Jayne Karlin, an experienced jewelry maker who taught the class, was impressed with the strength of the students’ work, especially since they had to learn to use the equipment and the techniques before they could start creating.

“I was really, really pleased,” she said. “I had great students who were very serious and wanted to learn.”

The class offers students a new way to express themselves artistically in a medium that can be two or three dimensional and helps teach them patience. Working with metal is very time consuming and it is hard to manipulate.

“This teaches them there are steps and procedures and there is something positive in taking your time and thinking through a problem,” she said. “It can’t be done quickly.”

Learning to use the hand tools can also help students later in life.

“If you’re a homeowner, you need to know these things,” Ms. Karlin said. “These are real-world skills that have to do with everyday life. If you have to fix something, what kind of hammer or plier are you going to use?”

Senior Sofia Garcia called Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design one of her favorite classes and she enjoyed the freedom students had to make what they wanted.

“Now I do consider myself to be a little more creative because we had a lot of leeway in the projects,” she said.

Working with metal was both relaxing and a good way to relieve stress, she said, and required focus.

“It’s kind of a way to get out your anger,” she said. “We’re hitting metal the entire class and also you have to be focused. You can’t be spacing out. You have to get your work done. It’s engaging.”

Finishing a project was the sweetest reward.

“Completing a piece is the best thing because of the fact that it’s so much hard work and you have to be so focused,” said Sofia, who often wears the jewelry she made.

Proudly taking home a project to show her family “made me feel great,” she said.

Principal Christopher Walsh says the course is the perfect example of the ‘A’ in STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics education.

“Students are using so many design skills and their products are true assessments of their learning,” he said. “I wish we could offer more classes like it. We are extremely lucky to have a teacher like Jayne Karlin who is always looking to expand our offerings and bring them in line with real-world applications.”

Sofia learned the real-world lesson of just how difficult it can be to make something by hand.

“You don’t realize how hard jewelry making really is until you do it,” she said. “It’s so easy to buy jewelry at the store. Making it is so different. It’s a great feeling having a completed piece done.”

To be a high school student at Byram Hills these days often means obsessing over a GPA that is through the roof, earning sky-high scores on college admissions exams, building a well-rounded resume and feeling pressure that there is always something more to do.

With that intensity comes an average of nearly three hours of nightly homework, hours at extracurricular activities and too little shuteye as students strive to gain admission to the nation’s top colleges.

“Our students feel a tremendous amount of pressure to get accepted into highly selective colleges and universities,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “They lose sight of being a kid. Many of our students wind up mortgaging their high school years for something they don’t have a lot of control over.”

To help counter this stressful burden, Byram Hills is hoping to inject more humanity and balance into the college admissions process by urging students to focus more on engagement, or what they will do at a university, and less on feeling that the right school for them is automatically the most selective one that accepts them.

As part of the Byram Hills work with Challenge Success, a nonprofit that promotes engagement and well-being, the group’s co-founder Dr. Denise Pope of Stanford University came to Byram Hills in February. She spoke to 10th and 11th graders about the importance of finding a college that is the best fit for them, and gave a similar talk to several hundred parents at an evening presentation.

“It’s what you do in college, not where you go that matters,” Dr. Pope told sophomores and juniors during an assembly on February 4.

Dr. Denise Pope

Dr. Denise Pope of Challenge Success spoke to Byram Hills students and parents in February.

Dr. Pope referenced the Challenge Success report, “A ‘Fit’ Over Rankings: Why College Engagement Matters More Than Selectivity,” which reviewed key research and encourages students and families to look beyond the rankings.

She asked the Byram Hills students to rank attributes they would want in a college, and compare their responses to factors used in published college rankings to define high-ranking, highly selective schools. Those factors included name recognition, the alumni giving rate, having highly competitive admissions and small-class sizes.

“How many of you had other things listed as essential besides the ones I just named?” Dr. Pope asked students, and most raised their hands.

“Be really aware that the measures that they’re using are really subjective,” she said. “They want easy data to collect and some of these measures ignore a wide range of other things that matter.”

She asked students to consider if the level of college selectivity matters when it comes to learning, and future income, job satisfaction and well-being.

“The people who learn the most are the people who work hard and study the most at any college,” said Dr. Pope, who cited the Gallup-Purdue Index in the findings. “You could be a total slacker at Harvard and working your butt off at SUNY Purchase and this person working hard at SUNY Purchase is going to learn more than the slacker at Harvard. Going to a selective school is not going to lead to more learning. It’s not going to lead to more job satisfaction or well-being.”

The only small exception, she said, is for income when it comes to students in a traditionally underserved minority group or if they were the  first generation in their family to go to college.

“Overall for most of you in this auditorium, if you go to one of the top 300 colleges in the United States, income is not going to make a difference,” she said. “For everyone in the auditorium, in terms of learning, job satisfaction and well-being, it doesn’t make a difference at all.”

What does matter when it comes to the future?

Many hands went up when Dr. Pope asked students if extracurricular activities at college were important to them, and she agreed they are essential.

Another factor she cited is the availability of professional internships. “That’s a way to apply what you learn and that does make a difference,” she said, also mentioning project-based, hands-on curriculum, the quality of teaching and the academic program, and research opportunities.

Other things students should seek in a college: Can you have a mentor, work on a multi-semester project or be part of a lab, can you become part of an extracurricular community, are there professors who care about you and who make learning exciting?

“This is what you want to be looking for in a college,” Dr. Pope said. “In the research, this is the thing that actually makes a difference to those long-term outcomes.”

And this is what she means by finding the right fit college.

“Fit is basically this engagement picture,” she told students. “Where will you thrive and engage? That’s the place that you want to go to. There are lots and lots of fits for every student. There’s not just one college out there for you.”

Mr. Walsh said Dr. Pope highlighted many of the issues that can arise when students focus on getting into college only as an end goal.

“She really tried to get our community to think about college rankings and how they are comprised and what the current rankings are missing,” he said. “Hopefully, she gave students and parents some additional confidence to push back on the current mindset around the college application process.”

During her visit, Dr. Pope also spoke with building administrators about the high school master schedule, students’ limited free time, project-based learning and authentic assessments.

The work with Challenge Success, made possible through the generous support of the Byram Hills Education Foundation, will continue, Mr. Walsh said, “with the goal of promoting a new vision of success that promotes balance and engagement.”

Alan Chang, a senior at Byram Hills High School, has been named a semifinalist in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

The program, now in its 55th year, is one of the most selective honors presented to graduating seniors. Scholars are selected based on superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership, strong character and community and school involvement.

Alan is one of 621 semifinalists chosen from nearly 5,300 students.

“It is such a humbling honor to be recognized as a U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalist,” said Alan, 18. “I would like to thank all of the Byram Hills faculty and my family for supporting me through all of high school. I would not have received this honor without them.”



Alan has earned many academic accolades and is deeply involved in his school and community.

His achievements include being named a semifinalist in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search, a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship competition, a National AP Scholar and he was inducted into the Byram Hills chapter of the Cum Laude Society.

He is co-president of the Interact Club, a community service group; co-captain of the Math Team; co-president of Science Olympiad; co-president of Mock Trial; secretary of eNable, a community service club; and he was co-captain of the swim team junior and senior years.

"Congratulations to Alan Chang,” Byram Hills High School Principal Christopher Walsh said. “We are incredibly proud of all that he has done during his time at Byram Hills. He is so deserving of this recognition."

Alan plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall.

The U.S. Education Department plans to announce the 161 finalists in May. The Presidential Scholars will be invited to Washington to receive the Presidential Scholar medallion at a recognition ceremony in June.

Armonk, New York -- Wearing colorful, cozy pajamas, more than 100 Wampus Elementary School students poured into the cafeteria after school during Spirit Week last week on Tuesday and sprawled out on blankets and backpacks and got reading.

The 120 third, fourth and fifth graders were participating in a Read-a-Thon to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a fundraiser organized by the Interact Club at Byram Hills High School. The effort raised $790.

“It’s very inspiring to see the kids at the Byram Hills High School spending their time organizing the event for the younger kids, to help them stay involved and understand what it means to have service for others,” Wampus Assistant Principal David Mack said. “The kids coming in and reading for a great cause is just a good thing to see.”

The Interact Club is a community service group, and co-president Alan Chang, a senior, and club member Priscilla Zhang, a freshman, were on hand for the fundraiser.

The club has a personal connection to leukemia. Co-president Robert Waxman never got to meet his grandmother, who died of the disease before he was born, Alan said.

“Entering this year, we knew we wanted to raise awareness and come to the aid of a cause close to our club, thus agreeing to raise money for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,” Alan said.

“To raise money, we wanted to not only reach out to the community, but specifically the Byram Hills School District,” he said. “Instead of just simply asking for donations, we wanted to promote Wampus educational endeavors and fun hobbies, thus coming up with the idea of the Read-a-Thon. This idea began last year, and we plan to continue it in the future and perfect it with each coming year.”


Students at Wampus Elementary School raised $790 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by participating in a Read-a-Thon, a fundraiser organized by the Interact Club at Byram Hills High School.

Students at Wampus Elementary School participating in a Read-a-Thon.

Students at Wampus Elementary School participating in a Read-a-Thon.

Students at Wampus Elementary School participating in a Read-a-Thon.

Students at Wampus Elementary School participating in a Read-a-Thon.

Students at Wampus Elementary School participating in a Read-a-Thon.

Students at Wampus Elementary School participating in a Read-a-Thon.

Byram Hills High School has won an AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award, an honor from the College Board that recognizes schools that are closing the gender gap and engaging more girls in computer science.

Byram Hills won the new award for having high female representation in the AP Computer Science Principles course during the last school year, the first time the class was offered at the high school.

Students Win Award Celebrating Female Representation in Computer Science

Byram Hills High School has won an AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award, an honor from the College Board that recognizes schools that are closing the gender gap and engaging more girls in computer science. The school won the award for 2018, when 65 percent of students who took the AP exam for the class were female. This year, 60 percent of the class is female. This year’s female students in the class are, in front from left: Alexa Schimel, Ellie DeGeorges, Katie Colella, Joely Coviello, Megan Hwang, and in the back from left: Stella Recht, Hailey Jacobs, Jordyn Green, Dylan Starker, Vivien Flokas, Maggie Walsh, and Olivia Conte. Missing from photo: Jordan Dorfman.



“I am thrilled that Byram Hills has been given this honor,” said Lisa Pellegrino, the Byram Hills mathematics chairperson. “This is a testament to the District encouraging students to take risks and become 21st-century leaders.”

The award is given to schools that have either 50 percent or more female representation in one of two AP computer sciences courses or a percentage of girls who took the AP exam for the course that is greater than the school’s female population. Byram Hills met both criteria, with female students representing 65 percent of test takers, according to the College Board.

Out of the more than 18,000 schools that offer AP classes, Byram Hills was one of 490 schools that earned the award for the AP Computer Science Principles class.

This year, 60 percent of students in the class are female.

The course provides an introduction to computer science, with an aim of making the field more accessible. Byram Hills offers a more rigorous version of the course.

“Because of this we are really giving students the knowledge to be successful, should they choose computer science as a major, a minor, or if they just want to take one class in college,” Ms. Pellegrino said.

Students do not need a computer science background to take the course.

“We have artists and business-minded students and scientists who are recognizing the impact and relevance of computer science to their particular field of study,” Ms. Pellegrino said.

“We have students who are just now being exposed to programming but have grabbed onto it and have been able to think at a level I had not achieved until my sophomore year as a computer science major,” she added. “That is what is great about computer science - you can learn so much in such a short period of time.”

The course is already having an effect. Two female students who took the class last year as seniors are now majoring in computer science in college, Ms. Pellegrino said.

“In some respects, they are more successful than their traditional counterparts who have more programming experience because they learned the elements of iterative design and proper debugging of their programs through the AP Computer Science Principles course,” Ms. Pellegrino said. “They also understand more than just one particular programming language.”

“They have been exposed to a variety of different languages and programming environments, and also have an understanding of how those languages fit in with the rest of computer science,” she said.

“The best part of the AP CSP class is that it prepares students not just to study computer science, but provides skills that any student can immediately list on their resume,” Ms. Pellegrino said. “It also provides students with a way of thinking that is applicable to any profession.”

Byram Hills High School’s Joshua Freedman won the top prize and a $2,000 scholarship and Renner Kwittken finished fourth at the Upstate New York Junior Science and Humanities Symposium last week.

Joshua Freedman

The strong finish allows both seniors in the high school’s three-year Authentic Science Research Program to advance to the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico, later this month.

At the regional competition held on March 27 and 28 at the University at Albany, Joshua and Renner were among the six finalists who competed by giving 12-minute presentations on their research. Joshua competed in the biomedical science category; Renner’s work was in the biochemistry category.

Renner Kwitten

“I am very proud of them both,” said Stephanie Greenwald, Director of the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program. “They worked extremely hard at articulating complex scientific research so the public can understand the work they’re passionate about. It’s always nice to see more students in the science research program being recognized for their outstanding work.”

Joshua’s research focused on targeting nanoparticles for cancer diagnosis and treatment. His project involved creating a novel targeted anti-cancer nanoparticle that binds to a receptor only expressed in cancer. He found that his nanoparticle specifically bound to cancer cells in vitro. In the future, this could allow doctors to create sharper and more accurate images of tumors.

Renner’s work also involved nanoparticles. The goal of his research was to enhance the delivery of nanoparticles, small medicines that are less than the width of a strand of hair. He synthesized three novel nanoparticles and improved their delivery using a standard FDA-approved chemotherapy drug, cyclophosphamide. His results were found in mice models and could potentially work in clinical trials, moving nanoparticles into the forefront of anti-cancer therapy.

In New Mexico, Joshua will compete with an oral presentation. Renner will be a poster presenter.

Emma Lucchino

Also in Albany, Byram Hills senior Emma Lucchino won third place as a poster presenter. She analyzed the relationship between the bacteria living in our gut and in our immune system
 

Byram Hills High School proudly announces that senior Brent Perlman has won seventh place and a $70,000 award in the renowned Regeneron Science Talent Search for his biological engineering research that involved inducing photosynthesis in human stem cells.

Brent, 17, won the honor Tuesday night at the annual awards gala in Washington, and was one of 10 students to win top prizes. The competition, run by the Society for Science & the Public, bills itself as the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.

BHHS senior Brent Perlman won seventh place in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search

Byram Hills High School senior Brent Perlman won seventh place in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search at the event’s annual awards gala on Tuesday night.
Chris Ayers Photography/Society for Science & the Public

For his research, Brent designed a process to induce photosynthesis in human cells for the first time, which could have applications in the treatment of heart attack, stroke and cancer. He achieved this accomplishment by isolating chloroplasts, the photosynthetic components of plant cells, from baby spinach leaves, and culturing them with human cells.

“I am so honored and excited to have won seventh place in the Regeneron Science Talent Search and cannot thank the Society for Science & the Public and Regeneron enough for this award,” Brent said.

“I plan on putting my $70,000 toward my biological education and research, and am inspired to continue my work with chloroplasts and human photosynthesis,” he added. “With this award, my dream of one day creating impactful chloroplast therapies comes one step closer to reality.”

Deb Cayea, chairperson of the Byram Hills science department, called Brent an extraordinary person and a leader.

“His contributions to the scientific community, as a young scholar, are really, really exceptional,” she said. “I’m so happy his work has been recognized nationally. The universe will benefit from Brent’s talents. He is truly a special person and I’m sure that his passion for science research will continue to manifest in great things.”

Brent’s research involved photosynthesis, the process plants use to produce oxygen and sugar from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. The ability of human cells to photosynthesize allows them to generate oxygen, which they are normally unable to produce. The oxygen produced by these photosynthetic cells promotes healthy tissue and organ development and growth, and can help treat different diseases.

Brent's research also has applications in the engineering of functional organs in a lab, the delivery of biopharmaceuticals to affected human cells in the body and even space travel. Brent, a student in the Byram Hills three-year Authentic Science Research Program, has a patent pending for his work.

“We are all so proud of Brent's accomplishments,” said Stephanie Greenwald, the program’s director. “He is a daring, determined scientist who has been an inspiration to everyone in the program and a constant reminder of the power of combining creativity with curiosity. His success is shared by the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program and the whole school community.”

Brent thanked those who helped make his success possible, including his high school teachers and his mentors at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

“I am so grateful for my Byram Hills High School Authentic Science Research teachers Mrs. Stephanie Greenwald, Dr. Caroline Matthew, and Mrs. Megan Salomone, for their amazing support and advice over the past three years,” he said. “Without their help, I would never be the researcher that I am today. My mentors, Dr. Glenn Gaudette and Dr. Joshua Gershlak, and my parents also supported me every step of the way.”

In the fall, Brent plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he will study in the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management.

If you lived in an alligator-infested swamp and had to send your children to school way up in the trees, what features would you look for in such a tree school to make sure it was structurally stable and safe from the gators below?

Would you want the school to have a bridge or a ladder or maybe a helicopter to deliver the children and teachers to the classrooms? Would it have support beams or security doors? How about an alligator slapper?

What would students do for fun? Would their tree school have a pool, a marshmallow maker, a pet room or an indoor playground?

These are among the creative solutions that second graders at Coman Hill Elementary School came up with as part of the Tree School Project, which called upon them to work together to design a tree school of their own.

Working in groups of three or four in the Technology Library Center over an eight-week period, students used engineering design steps to brainstorm, plan and conceive a tree school. They learned about architects and studied how treehouses are built.

This enrichment project, new this year at Coman Hill, highlights the use of problem-based learning, an approach that involves students studying a subject and working together to solve a real problem.

As they devised a school and drew their plans on paper with a cutaway view to reveal what was inside, students were practicing the important 21st-century skills and ideas of collaboration, communication, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovation, and community. They also had fun while they designed their school in the sky.

“This project is engaging the students in their learning and making them excited about what they’re learning,” Principal MaryBeth Crupi said. “They are able to problem-solve and work collaboratively with one another. It really empowers our students.”

“Problem-based learning is important because it incorporates the 21st-century learning skills, which are so critical for student success throughout Coman Hill and all of their Byram Hills learning experiences and beyond,” she added. “We’re trying to develop those 21st-century learning skills that are so important throughout life.”

The skills on display during the project also transfer to the rest of students’ lives - in the classroom, at recess and at home with family, Ms. Crupi said. The project, which also incorporated the new Next Generation Science Standards, was conceived and taught by Rekha Singh, the building technology coordinator, and library media specialist, Jane del Villar, who guided the students through the background work and planning.

“What was great about this project was seeing the collaboration,” Mrs. Singh said. “And the creativity of the students was amazing as they worked together to come up with stable and safe ways for students and teachers to get to school.”

At the conclusion of the project, students presented their designs to their classmates, who left feedback by writing on virtual sticky notes on an interactive digital board that displayed the drawings of the schools. The students were asked to pick a school they would send their children to and leave a comment explaining their choice.

“Leaving this kind of feedback is a great way to get students to reflect on their work,” Mrs. del Villar said. Students had fun and learned about teamwork.

Sam Milim said the most important lesson he learned was that “you can’t do all the work yourself.” Caroline Waxman expressed a similar feeling, saying that “you can’t just come up with all the things yourself. You have to talk about it with your group.” She learned how to solve a problem, and when she was finished, she was “proud of myself.”

The project generated excitement for learning. “The whole process was enjoyable and engaging,” Ms. Crupi said. “We want students, especially at this young age, to enjoy learning. We’re setting the tone for all of their years at Byram Hills.”

One group of second graders presents the details of their tree school to classmates in the TLC.

A student leaves feedback on a tree school designed by classmates by writing a virtual sticky note on an interactive digital board in the TLC.

 

     Seven seniors at Byram Hills High School were named scholars in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search, an honor that recognizes the high-level, independent research they conducted in the high school’s three-year Authentic Science Research Program.
     The students who earned the distinction were Samantha Abbruzzese, Alan Chang, Rachel Chernoff, Alessandra Colella, Ethan Jacobs, Brent Perlman and Jonah Schwam.

The Byram Hills High School seniors named scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search

The Byram Hills High School seniors named scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, are, from left in the back, Alessandra Colella, Alan Chang, Ethan Jacobs, Jonah Schwam; in front from left, Samantha Abbruzzese, Rachel Chernoff and Brent Perlman

     The students were overjoyed when they learned the news on January 9, hugging and cheering along with their proud teachers. They were among the 300 students selected as scholars from nearly 2,000 entrants. Each scholar was awarded $2,000 and the high school received $14,000 for STEAM education.
     Two weeks later, Byram Hills celebrated again when Brent was named one of 40 finalists who will compete for the top honors in Washington, D.C.

Brent Perlman

Brent Perlman

     This year, Byram Hills had the highest number of scholars in Westchester County and the third highest in the state. In the 30 years the school has competed in the Science Talent Search, Byram Hills has had 111 scholars; 20 of them have gone on to become finalists.
     The strong showing reflects the school’s commitment to fostering curiosity and creating new knowledge, Principal Christopher Walsh said.
     “We are incredibly proud of all of our seniors who submitted projects to the Regeneron Science Talent Search,” Mr. Walsh said. “This has been an incredible journey for them and one that cannot be duplicated in many traditional high school courses. These students have all added to the collective knowledge of humanity, which can never be taken away from them. I am so happy for the seven seniors who were named scholars by Regeneron.”
     In March, Brent will travel to the nation’s capital, where he will display his work and undergo a rigorous judging process. The finalists will compete for $1.8 million in awards, with a top prize of $250,000.
     In his biological engineering research, Brent induced photosynthesis in human cells for the first time by isolating chloroplasts, the photosynthetic components of plant cells, from baby spinach leaves. He cultured the chloroplasts with human cells and conducted photosynthesis.
     The ability of human cells to photosynthesize allows them to generate oxygen, which they are normally unable to produce. The oxygen promotes healthy tissue and organ development and growth.
     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.
     “Brent is a true scientist,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Byram Hills Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program. “From the moment I met him he asked thoughtful questions, took enormous risks with his work and did all of this with great kindness and appreciation for those around him. We are all so proud of his accomplishment.”
     Brent is excited to compete as a finalist.
     “It’s thrilling to be recognized by such a prestigious competition, and I am thankful for the opportunity to share my research with such a large audience,” he said. “I’m eager for my work to be displayed in Washington as this recognition increases the chances that its applications could one day help improve the lives of people suffering from a variety of debilitating diseases.”
     Mr. Walsh noted Brent’s dedication to his research, adding: “His work has the potential to have such a huge impact on society and yet he is still as humble as ever. Congratulations to the entire Authentic Science Research Program.”
     The talent search, which is run by Society for Science & the Public, calls itself the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. Winners have gone on to win top science and math honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 13 National Medals of Science.

Here’s a look at our other 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.

Rachel Chernoff: Rachel's novel study used ischemic preconditioning, a research technique that protects the brain from further deterioration during a future stroke by depriving the brain of its blood supply in small amounts for brief periods. She also 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.

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.

     The theater plays a vital part of school life at Byram Hills High School.
     It’s a space where music and theater students thrive, a place that for many becomes a safe haven.
     It’s also a venue that all high school students come to know well. Early on, freshmen participate in grade-level activities in the theater, and as seniors, students enter the space one last time as a class to practice for graduation.
     During the years in between, students regularly fill the centrally located auditorium for music and theater performances, special events with guest speakers and panel discussions, and important school assemblies. More than 60 evening events are held there each year.
     Now, for the first time since the school opened in 1966, the theater has undergone a renovation that boasts state-of-the- art upgrades, improvements that benefit performers, theater tech students and audience members.

Members of the jazz choir cut the ribbon during the reopening ceremony.

Members of the jazz choir cut the ribbon during the ceremony marking the grand reopening of the theater in December.

     “It looks spectacular,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “This has been over 52 years in the making. Our kids deserve to have a space that is up to 21stcentury speed.”
     The modernization project began in late June and was completed in the fall, just in time for the November production of “Twelfth Night.” A grand reopening ceremony was held in December with a ribbon cutting and a performance by the jazz choir before the annual “Byram’s Got Talent” event.
     The renovation brought improvements to the seating, sound quality, lighting and equipment.
     “We are so excited that the students of Byram Hills High School now have a state-of-the-art theater where they can display all of the learning that takes place in the arts classrooms,” said Deepak Marwah, the district’s director of fine arts.
     The upgrades largely involved the audience portion of the theater, which previously lacked a center aisle.
     With a new seating configuration that features two inner aisles, the theater complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it is easier to get in and out of the seats. The theater received all new, more comfortable seats, and the aisles are lined with floor lighting for safety.
     There is a beautiful slat wood ceiling, and the overhead house lighting now uses long-lasting LED bulbs. Gone is the much-maligned carpet that covered the theater’s side walls; today they feature accent lights that can display any color to envelop the audience in the mood of the show.
     A vibrant red curtain now graces the stage, replacing an older blue one. The front row, which used to be too close for comfort, has been moved back, and space for wheelchairs has been made at the front of the theater.
     There is a new sound and lighting control area at the rear of the theater, bringing students out of the old booth and closer to the action.
     The sound quality has been much improved with the addition of acoustic panels built into the theater’s rear and side walls and into the flooring, and the theater doors have been soundproofed.

The concert choir rehearses in Byram Hills High School’s newly renovated theater

The concert choir rehearses in Byram Hills High School’s newly renovated theater, which now features two inner aisles with floor lighting for safety, new comfortable seats and a vibrant red curtain.


     “Music students now have a performance hall where they can better hear both themselves and each other to create a blend that is even more pleasing to audience members,” Mr. Marwah said. “Theater tech students now have the opportunity to work with updated equipment and call each show from a modernized lighting and sound booth.”
     The events held in the theater enrich the education of all students, and the renovations enhance their experiences in this prominent space.
     “Between the time students get here and the time they leave Byram Hills, there are so many opportunities for them to utilize that great space,” Mr. Walsh said.
     “It’s very important to us to have the theater,” he said. “It allows us to achieve the district’s mission of making sure our kids are productive and responsible citizens as they leave our district.”

     Math students at Byram Hills High School left pen and paper behind and went outside to draw graphs on the pavement in chalk, adding their own bodies to create the third dimension and bringing their algebra, trigonometry and calculus studies to life.
     Under a sunny sky, precalculus students stood on the football field and used ribbons to represent vectors as they worked to determine the distance between their position and a point in the stands.

Math students at Byram Hills High School drew graphs on the pavement in chalk

Math students at Byram Hills High School drew graphs on the pavement in chalk and used their own bodies to create the third dimension in one place-based math lesson.


     In another instance, they ran and crouched in a bear crawl across a field to simulate swimming as they used calculus to figure an optimal path between two points by putting each form of movement to its most efficient use.
     These lessons came as the high school began piloting the use of place-based learning in several units of math instruction in spring 2018 through a partnership with the University of Michigan School of Education. It’s the start of a gradual shift at the high school toward more student-centered instruction and standards-based assessments — an approach that emphasizes authentic learning over traditional testing.
     Place-based education is a teaching method that draws upon questions and issues that arise in the students’ own local, national and global communities and natural environment, their sense of place. It seeks to incorporate students’ life experiences into the classroom and bring topics that students are naturally curious about into their learning.
     By focusing on real-world problems that students feel connected to, giving students a greater sense of independence in their learning and inviting them to be more active participants in their learning, place-based instruction aims to increase student engagement and motivation. These factors, University of Michigan experts believe, can help prevent the academic stress that has become too common in high school life.
     Dr. Elizabeth Moje, dean of the School of Education, said she was grateful for the partnership with “the talented teachers and leaders at Byram Hills High School on this innovative placebased learning project that strives to create a more supportive environment for addressing students’ personal and academic needs.”
     “The instructional strategies, lessons, and research developed through this program will serve as a compelling model for mathematics educators to equip children and youth with the skills, motivation, and self-efficacy necessary to engage deeply in learning opportunities that are inquiry-based and meaningful,” she said. “As a result, young adults will develop a foundation for future academic and career success while also understanding how to connect what they learn to the world and their communities.”
     Principal Christopher Walsh, who says the place-based math units have helped the mathematics “jump out of the textbook,” believes that this type of instruction will enrich the learning and the lives of all students.
     “It is more real world and it offers students the opportunity to discover math rather than being given math. It involves more critical thinking, it is more open-ended and it is moving away from the idea that there is only one correct answer in mathematics,” Mr. Walsh said. “It is more aligned with the real type of work that our students will be doing in college and after in their jobs.”
     “The primary goal is to offer ways of delivering math that are not traditional, with the hope that it will lead to a reduction in stress and anxiety over the long haul, and lead to greater learning,” he added. “We’re very excited to have a partnership with such a great place like the University of Michigan. We know we’re getting the best and the most current information.”

Math teacher Christopher Lewick and precalculus students participate in a lab in December

Math teacher Christopher Lewick and precalculus students participate in a lab in December that focused on the flow rate of water as they tried to determine why areas near the high school are prone to flooding during heavy rain.

     Before teachers began the place-based units, the mathematics chairperson, Lisa Pellegrino, and three precalculus teachers, William LaRue, Christopher Lewick and Stephen Skonieczny, traveled to Eleuthera in the Bahamas during spring recess last year for professional development with University of Michigan researchers. A generous grant made the trip and the place-based math instruction at Byram Hills possible.
     The teachers spent time at the Island School, which has a place-based curriculum, and participated in place-based learning of their own.
     For one activity, the teachers stood on a sandbar and had to calculate the distance to the horizon. On another day, they were on an uninhabited island and were asked to determine their location in terms of longitude and latitude. They used a sextant, a navigational instrument, and math to pinpoint their location.
     The trip gave the teachers a new perspective. Even before their flight home, they were brainstorming ways they could begin sharing this learning style with students.
     “There was an excitement and emotion and a passion in math that was reinvigorated as part of that trip,” Ms. Pellegrino said. “The shift was immediate. The next day, teachers were already doing things differently.”
     The biggest place-based math effort to date came in December, when about 120 precalculus students participated in a lab that tried to answer a question about why areas near the school are prone to flooding, focusing on the flow rate of water. Researchers from Michigan, who are studying how educators can make incremental change in their teaching approach, were on hand to observe.
     Dr. Amanda Milewski, the School of Education’s project investigator for the partnership, said place-based instruction is a good fit for Byram Hills because it may aid students who are intensely worried about their future. 
     “Place-based learning can help prevent stress and anxiety in high schoolers by helping students to focus on engaging productively with problems that are bigger than themselves,” she said. “It is in vogue around the country now as educators try to make subject matter more relevant and increase engagement and motivation.”
     The lessons have been well received by Byram Hills students and teachers, Ms. Pellegrino said.
     “It is great to see how much autonomy these types of activities provide our students,” she said. “These activities have enabled students to develop a deeper, more emotional connection to the content. As a result, they are less focused on academic stressors and instead are focused on engaging with the material.”
     More place-based math units are being developed, and Mr. Walsh hopes to expand the use of the teaching method to all content areas. The best learning happens, he says, when it is student- centered, focused on real-world experiences and involves more authentic assessments.
     “Place-based learning very much aligns with the values of our learning community and the mission of our district,” he said.

With generous hearts and a drive to help others, the Wampus community came together in December to donate and wrap a mountain of holiday gifts for children at the Pleasantville Cottage School.

Meeting after school on December 11, student and parent volunteers got busy wrapping the presents, a combination of cold-weather necessities like hats and gloves and gifts of makeup sets and sporting equipment.

By the time the last piece of tape was affixed to a colorful package, the gifts were piled high at the annual “Gift of Giving” event, organized by the Byram Hills PTSA’s Wampus Community Service Committee.

After the wrapping party, organizers brought about 20 large bags full of gifts to the Pleasantville Cottage School, a residential treatment center for children and young adults.

“We are thrilled we were able to make the holiday season bright for other kids in the community outside of Wampus,” said committee co-chairwoman Lyndie Fasold. “It really personified what the holiday season should be about - just giving back. This is the hallmark of what we’re trying to achieve through the Wampus Community Service Committee.”

This year, there were more people involved in the wrapping event, including Wampus students in the VIP Jr. community service club and Girl Scout and Brownie troops.

“The event was a huge success,” Mrs. Fasold said. “The involvement far surpassed what we had in previous years.”

Students who donated and wrapped gifts were happy to be helping others.

“It feels very good and it makes you really proud to know that you’re doing something very good,” said fifth grader Sophia Deeks, a member of VIP Jr.

Logan Verma, another fifth grader in VIP Jr., said: “It feels nice to help the community. It’s important during the holidays to give people joy and happiness.”

Third grader Riley Condon, who wrapped gifts with her Brownie troop, said the wrapping was fun and “it felt good to give stuff to people that don’t have many things.”

The gifts were donated to the Pleasantville Cottage School, where 215 children and young adults reside. Most of them are ages 13 to 17, and approximately half were on campus Christmas morning to receive a donated gift, said Sandi Rosenthal, director of volunteers at JCCA, the nonprofit organization that runs the school.

“They were amazing,” Ms. Rosenthal said of the gifts donated from Wampus. “All of the children who woke up here Christmas morning had gifts under the tree because of the Wampus ‘Gift of Giving.’”

The Wampus volunteers labeled the gifts, and staff members at the Pleasantville Cottage School chose a gift suitable for each resident.

“Because of the children at Wampus, our children had the joy of waking up Christmas morning and opening a present picked especially for them,” Ms. Rosenthal said.

“It makes them feel loved and cared for,” she said.  “It tells them there are people out there who do care about them.”

Wampus students wrapping holiday gifts that were donated to the Pleasantville Cottage School.

Wampus students wrapping holiday gifts that were donated to the Pleasantville Cottage School.
 

Wampus students wrapping holiday gifts that were donated to the Pleasantville Cottage School.

Wampus students wrapping holiday gifts that were donated to the Pleasantville Cottage School.

By the end of the afternoon, Wampus students and families had wrapped a mountain of donated gifts.

By the end of the afternoon, Wampus students and families had wrapped a mountain of donated gifts.
 

 

 Four Byram Hills High School seniors have been named finalists in this year’s National Merit Scholarship competition.

The students are Alan Chang, Elyse Kanner, David McDaniels and Nicole Tissot.

2018 BHHS National Merit Scholarship Finalists

Four Byram Hills High School seniors have been named finalists in this year’s National Merit Scholarship competition. They are, from left, Nicole Tissot, David McDaniels, Alan Chang and Elyse Kanner.



Principal Christopher Walsh offered his congratulations to the finalists.

“We are very proud of their accomplishment and they are terrific representatives of the Byram Hills community,” he said.

The Byram Hills students are among more than 15,000 finalists who are competing for approximately 7,500 scholarships worth more than $31 million.

The finalists, who are recognized for very high academic achievement, were chosen from more than 1.6 million high school students in 22,000 schools across the nation who took the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. They represent less than 1 percent of all high school seniors in the country.

 

Since the start of the school year, the newly renovated library at H.C. Crittenden Middle School has become an extremely popular spot among students and teachers alike.

Over the summer, the library was transformed into a fresh, modern space that offers the flexibility for students to pursue independent or group study, and to participate in various learning activities that go beyond the simple joy of getting lost in a good book.

The new furniture is creative, comfortable and welcoming as well.

“Our new library is one of the shining jewels of H.C. Crittenden,” Principal Kim Lapple said. “When you walk in, you want to engage, explore and pursue your interests. The library creates an environment and space that invites everyone in the HCC community to be curious and involved in learning.”

By knocking down a wall to enlarge and open the space and removing unneeded bookshelves and outdated books, the revamped library can now accommodate more people, and it has new distinct spaces to meet the diverse needs of students working there simultaneously.

The Cafe area has a mix of high and low tables for small group meetings; the Creative Corner features a makerspace for hands-on activities like building and crafts and an enclosed room for audio and video recording; a reading area has soft chairs with high backs that offer a bit of privacy; the Main Stage features rectangular tables and chairs plus soft, modular couches and a Promethean Board; and the Huddle is where a larger group can gather in a semicircle for presentations or lessons.

In this modern-day library, gone are the heavy wooden tables and clunky chairs that were hard to move. The new tables and contoured chairs are light and on wheels, making it easier for students to collaborate and for the furniture to be rearranged as needed. The soft furniture options often fill up first; the students love them.

The library also got a fresh coat of paint and new carpeting, flooring, LED lighting and blinds.

When students arrive, either with their class, at lunch or after school, they gravitate toward the area that best suits their needs.

“Our HCC library is a place for all students where they can pursue all of their interests - whether they want to collaborate, create and investigate, think or read quietly,” Ms. Lapple said.

“Each area is very welcoming. A welcoming learning space enhances and maximizes each student's ability to learn - both collaboratively or as an individual.”

While one goal of the upgrade was to offer spaces for collaborative and individual work, another was to have enough space for more than one class to use the library at once, said Barbara Barthelmes, the library media specialist at HCC.

“Now it’s so much easier when we put the teams together to have everybody here at one time,” Mrs. Barthelmes said.

With the renovation, the layout of the library changed as well. Bookshelves were moved and the fiction section was reorganized so books are now grouped by genre, rather than by the author’s last name, which makes it easier for students to browse by topic.

“It’s a nice, fresh selection of books,” Mrs. Barthelmes said. “It’s very appealing and easy to browse for the kids.”

The library has seen an increase in foot traffic since the beginning of the school year, and Mrs. Barthelmes says it’s being enjoyed by students and faculty members.

“It’s a really beautiful space and it’s spacious enough to accommodate large groups but still give people privacy,” she said. “It’s fresh and new and bright and has a lot of different, interesting places to gather and work together.”

Just as public libraries around the country have done in recent years, the HCC library has adapted to the needs of its young patrons.

“It fits that idea of a modern library being a place where people meet and connect and learn from each other and share, and not just a place where they go and check out a book and leave,” Mrs. Barthelmes said. “It’s meant to be a place where you stay and make connections.”

The District and HCC are grateful to the Byram Hills Education Foundation for this generous grant.

Students working at a high table in the Cafe area of the newly renovated library at H.C. Crittenden Middle School.

Students gather in the Huddle in the renovated library at HCC.

 Rachel Chernoff, a senior at Byram Hills High School, has won a 2019 Neuroscience Research Prize from the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society.
 

Rachel Chernoff, has won a 2019 Neuroscience Research Prize

Byram Hills High School senior Rachel Chernoff has won a 2019 Neuroscience Research Prize from the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society.

A student in the Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program, Rachel won $1,000 and was invited to present her research at the 71st annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Philadelphia in May. She is one of four winners.

Stephanie Greenwald, director of the three-year science research program, said Rachel is truly deserving of the honor.

“She has worked hard developing her research and perfecting her presenting skills,” she said. “Now she will attend this national conference, walk amongst professional neurologists and talk about her work colleague to colleague. I know this is something she always dreamed of. She truly represents the notion that perseverance and dedication are rewarded in the end. We are so proud of her.”

Rachel was recognized for her novel study that involved ischemic preconditioning, a research technique that protects the brain from future stroke damage by depriving its blood supply in short episodes.

Using this technique, she investigated the source of a specific type of brain cell that helps with immunity and clearing cellular debris. As part of her work, Rachel noticed behavioral differences after ischemic preconditioning between male and female mice, which may point to a hormonal difference in their reactions to neural trauma.

Together, her results lay the groundwork for the use of ischemic preconditioning as a potential preventative technique to reduce the damage from strokes.

The Neuroscience Research Prize, which has been awarded since 1993, honors students whose skill and talent show potential for scientific contributions in the field of neuroscience.

Byram Hills High School senior Brent Perlman has been named a finalist in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search, honored for his biological engineering research with photosynthesis that could lead to therapeutic treatments for heart attacks, strokes and cancer or the creation of organs in a lab. 
 

Brent Perlman - Regeneron Finalist

Byram Hills High School senior Brent Perlman was named a finalist in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search.

Brent, a student in the school’s three-year science research program, was one of 40 finalists announced today by Regeneron and the Society for Science & the Public. The students move on to the final round in Washington, where they will compete for $1.8 million in awards in March.

“I’m beyond excited about being named a finalist,” Brent said. “It’s thrilling to be recognized by such a prestigious competition, and I am thankful for the opportunity to share my research with such a large audience. I’m eager for my work to be displayed in Washington D.C., as this recognition increases the chances that its applications could one day help to improve the lives of people suffering from a variety of debilitating diseases.” 

“I would have never been able to complete my research or receive this honor without the help of my mentors at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Dr. Glenn Gaudette and Dr. Joshua Gershlak, or my science research teacher Stephanie Greenwald. I’m so grateful for all of their guidance and support throughout the past three years.” 

Principal Christopher Walsh offered his congratulations.

“We are so proud of Brent for this accomplishment,” he said. “He has dedicated so much of himself to this work and it is great to see it acknowledged on such a large scale. His work has the potential to have such a huge impact on society and yet he is still as humble as ever.”

The 40 finalists will undergo a rigorous judging process, interact with leading scientists, show their research to the public and meet members of Congress during their time in Washington from March 7 to 13. Each will receive at least $25,000 for participating in the week; those who finish in the top 10 receive prizes that range from $40,000 to $250,000. The top awards will be announced on March 12.

Brent’s research involved photosynthesis, the process plants use to produce oxygen and sugar from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. He induced photosynthesis in human cells for the first time by isolating chloroplasts, the photosynthetic components of plant cells, from baby spinach leaves. He then cultured these isolated chloroplasts with human cells, which incorporated the chloroplasts, and subsequently conducted photosynthesis. 

The ability of human cells to photosynthesize allows them to generate oxygen, which they are normally unable to produce. The oxygen produced by these photosynthetic cells promotes healthy tissue and organ development and growth, and can help treat different diseases.

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. 

“Brent is a true scientist,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the Byram Hills Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program. “From the moment I met him he asked thoughtful questions, took enormous risks with his work and did all of this with great kindness and appreciation for those around him. We are all so proud of his accomplishment.”

Brent has a pending patent for his process of creating photosynthetic human cells, and plans to continue his research in the fall at the University of Pennsylvania, where he will study in the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management. 

“My dream is to one day create my own biotech start-up based on my research into human photosynthesis. Maybe we will all be green with chloroplasts in the next 20 years!” Brent said.

Brent, 17, was one of seven Byram Hills seniors named as scholars in the first round of the talent search, which bills itself as the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. Nearly 2,000 students entered the competition. 

In the 30 years the school has competed in the Science Talent Search, Byram Hills has had 111 scholars; 20 of them, including Brent, have gone on to become finalists.

Winners of the talent search have gone on to win top science and math honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 13 National Medals of Science.
 

     The Byram Hills Athletic Department is thankful 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 in January.
     The fundraising effort included the sale of baked goods and “Pink the Rink” merchandise at school, a chuck-a-puck contest and the game at the Brewster Ice Arena against John Jay High School of Cross River on January 11.
     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.”
     “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."

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."

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.

 

The gym at H.C. Crittenden Middle School stood nearly silent, the quiet broken by the sounds of footsteps moving back and forth across the floor, sneakers squeaking along the way.

Students, faculty and staff stood in two lines facing each other, and were invited to take three steps forward each time a statement read aloud was true for them. With nearly three dozen statements that touched on race, ancestry, family makeup and feelings, participants were in steady motion, stepping out when they felt comfortable recognizing a part of their identity without having to say a word.

“Please step forward if you believe your teachers and principal see you as a respectful person,” facilitator Trent Day Hall read aloud. Participants were also invited to step forward if they or anyone they knew had ever been teased, made fun of or called a bad name.

Some statements drew just a few participants, others attracted many, including the penultimate statement in one session, which touched on a priority at Crittenden: “Please step forward if you ever wished that people would just be more kind at school.”

The activity, called an inclusion line, was part of the Student Voice Circles workshop that all middle schoolers attended in October in groups of 70.

Broken into smaller groups that were seated around a circle, the students and adults took turns sharing parts of their identity as they got to know each other better. They participated in the inclusion line and returned to their circles to reflect on the experience. They concluded the 2 ó-hour workshop by writing down recommendations and commitments for improving the school.

The goal, Mr. Hall explained, was for participants to get to know each other in a fundamental way, to humanize each other, and ultimately, to work together to discover ways of improving the school environment. He encouraged students to stretch themselves, to keep an open mind and to take a risk, noting that growth was possible even in a short amount of time.

The social-emotional learning workshop was aimed at “teaching people about themselves so they can then understand the complexities of another person,” Mr. Hall explained.

“If everyone in the school is honoring every other person, then there’s no reason why people should ever find themselves being bullied or made fun of because we all understand the inherent dignity in everyone,” he said.

Principal Kim Lapple said the Student Voice Circles workshop exceeded expectations for fostering a greater sense of community at HCC.

“It was phenomenal,” she said. “The Voice Circles have far surpassed all that we were hoping for in terms of setting a climate of inclusion and student empowerment. The students, administrators and faculty left feeling invigorated and energized in our work together. It has set us on an incredibly focused path.”

Now that the student body has learned how to share their thoughts through Voice Circles, HCC will continue to use the model.

“We’re going to give students a leadership opportunity to become Voice Circle ambassadors,” Ms. Lapple said. “We will train those students HCC Students and Faculty Open Up in Student Voice Circles and they will be able to identify topics we feel will be helpful to explore with our students.”

Voice Circles will be utilized to promote social interactions within the HCC community and to also learn more about student perspectives about their experiences at H.C. Crittenden. Topics that Ms. Lapple plans to look at through Voice Circles include promoting kindness, and examining when kids feel connected to the school community and when they do not.

“We want to continue this work where students can participate and have their voice heard in the school community in a way that we can hear them, and then figure out the next steps to better our community,” she said.

Several students said the workshop shined a light on the personal, often hidden, experiences of fellow students.

“This has changed me by showing me that I’m not alone when it comes to feeling scared or insecure or alone,” seventh grader Matthew Mackohe said. “It really did open my eyes.”

He learned that he has more in common with some students than he realized, and felt that using Voice Circles at HCC could help bridge the gap between friend groups.

“I think it could help by helping open up people,” he said. “I think it can be good if everyone gives it a chance.”

Another seventh grader, Javier Benerofe, called the workshop productive.

“It opened a lot of people’s eyes to what other people are experiencing, and that in some ways, I’m not alone in this thing and there are other people experiencing the same thing,” he said, adding that he hadn’t known so many students had felt bullied or alone.

The best part was writing the recommendations and commitments, he said, “because I think it’s important for the students to have a say in how their school is run and to be able to really recommend things to their administration to make change for the better.”

Ms. Lapple says she hopes that Voice Circles will help create a school community where students are empowered to be involved and make a difference. And a more engaged 

student body will lead to academic growth.

“In the end, this work will help HCC become more connected and more empowered,” she said. “When students feel their voices matter, they are seven times more likely to be engaged and academically motivated.”

HCC is grateful to the Byram Hills Education Foundation for supporting this important workshop.

 

  1. Trent Day Hall was the facilitator for the Voice Circles workshops that H.C. Crittenden Middle School students, faculty and staff attended in October.
     

     

  2. Students and faculty met in small groups during the Voice Circles workshops that took place at H.C. Crittenden in October. In their circles, they shared parts of the identity and reflected on ways to help improve the school culture.
     

     

  3. Toward the end of the Voice Circles workshops, participants returned to their circles to write down recommendations and commitments.

     

  4. Students wrote down their recommendations and commitments.

 

The new leaders at Wampus Elementary School have created an important event for students and faculty: the community meeting.

Starting the first week of school, Principal Peggy McInerney and Assistant Principal David Mack began holding weekly meetings aimed at building a strong Wampus community, one that is a safe and trusting learning environment where students are always kind to one another.

“The meetings help foster a sense of community for our children,” Ms. McInerney says. “We slow everything down and bring the children together. They learn that they need to be there for one another and that as a community, we’re here to bring each other up.”

During the assemblies, Ms. McInerney may read a story or show video clips infused with a meaningful lesson, and present a conversation starter for teachers to continue in the classroom and for students to discuss at home.

The meetings are a great way for teachers, students and staff to get to know everyone in the building while bonding around a common purpose.

“The building stops for those 20 minutes and we are all together focusing on our community,” Ms. McInerney said. “A strong school community feels warm, welcoming, safe, calm, happy – that’s my goal.”

Every week, the leaders meet with a single grade on Thursday morning, and on the fourth week of the month, they hold a schoolwide assembly in the cafeteria on Friday afternoon. The meetings are always focused on “the high expectations for how we treat one another,” Ms. McInerney said.

The grade-level meetings will share a theme each month, and will be tailored to each set of students depending on the feedback Ms. McInerney and Mr. Mack have received regarding that grade.

In September Ms. McInerney read “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” a book about kindness. During the schoolwide meeting in early October, she read “We’re All Wonders” and showed two video clips from the hit movie “Wonder” that drew applause from the students.

The clips from “Wonder” were a treat for the students, Ms. McInerney told them, “because you have been so wonderful the last month. You keep getting better.”
Mr. Mack says the gatherings have been a good way for him to get to know the students and teachers while focusing on the importance of creating a kind school community.

“I’ve found that the community meetings have been a great opportunity to all come together and discuss real-life topics such as kindness, learning from our mistakes and how to contribute to the wonderful educational community at Wampus,” he said.

The meetings allow school leaders to praise excellent behavior, instilling confidence in students for their hard work and effort. The format provides opportunities for social and emotional learning.

“The community meetings are just one aspect of how we focus on educating the whole child, which includes social, emotional and academic growth,” Ms. McInerney says.

“These meetings are designed to foster interpersonal relationships that are grounded in safety, trust and responsiveness to one another,” she added. “They allow us to work together to understand the challenges we experience, and to develop problem-solving mechanisms. These meetings provide positive emotional expectations for everyone, and they help us see how our differences shape our culture.”

“Our goal is to ensure that our children leave Wampus with more confidence than when they entered, and gain a stronger sense of how important it is to be kind so that our community is a great place for everyone.”

Fourth grader Arun Das said he finds the meetings educational, and he appreciates that the principals are taking time to meet with the students.
“That’s really nice that they can do these schoolwide meetings, and I think that they should keep doing it because it kind of brings us more together,” Arun said. “I learn more about how to be better in school and what not to do and what more to do. Also, it feels good to get more compliments” like when “Ms. McInerney or Mr. Mack says good things about classes, grades or our school.”

Another fourth grader, Sofia Malinas, has been learning through the assemblies as well. “The meetings are helping me be a good learner and to follow the rules to make sure you’re safe, responsible and respectful,” she said.

Wampus Elementary School Principal Peggy McInerney reads “We’re all Wonders” to students and faculty during the schoolwide community meeting in October.

Wampus Elementary School Principal Peggy McInerney reads “We’re all Wonders” to students and faculty during the schoolwide community meeting in October.


 

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.”

 

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.

 

The large, open room on the lower level of Coman Hill Elementary School comes alive when students arrive and peel off in every direction, and the space quickly fills with the unmistakable sounds of happy children at play.

They’re off and running with their classmates into the huge new educational play space, climbing, jumping, hanging and spinning. They scamper up to a higher level, crawl under rollers, sit in a swing or swish down a slide, only to run back in again, laughing all the while as they catch up to their friends.

Or, they’re outside the massive structure, skipping through hula hoops and hopscotch, shooting baskets and knocking down bowling pins. There are quiet activities like drawing, reading and building in the area as well.

It’s clear that the power of educational play is a priority at Coman Hill for the students in kindergarten through second grade.

“Play is an essential part of the development of young minds and the human spirit,” says Principal MaryBeth Crupi. “We firmly believe in the importance of play. It’s always in the forefront at Coman Hill.”

Since the arrival this fall of the educational play space - a giant play structure purchased through a grant from the Byram Hills Education Foundation - students have had even more ways to play. The colorful, two-story playscape is surrounded by other activities students can enjoy to exercise their bodies and minds.

“There are many opportunities for kids to choose what their bodies need at that particular time and space,” Ms. Crupi says. “We are so grateful to the BHEF for providing us with such a wonderful opportunity to increase our students’ learning through the educational play space.”

It’s through educational play with classmates that students learn and practice essential skills like problem-solving, communication and collaboration.

“They’re learning so much through play,” Ms. Crupi says. “There’s a plethora of skills they’re working on in their most natural environment, which is comfortable and conducive to learning.”

The lower-level room is used for indoor recess, it’s a place where teachers can take students for a movement break or a reward and to help meet Ms. Crupi’s challenge to find 10 extra minutes a day for play.

Since the start of the school year, teacher Jennifer Rowell has been bringing her second graders to the play area every Friday morning for 15 minutes.

“It’s important for them to be able to stretch and move and be social,” Ms. Rowell said. “It’s a time for them also to practice their social skills, like communicating and problem-solving and using Kelso.” Her students enjoy the experience. “It’s a treat,” she said. “They look forward to it.”

One of her second graders, Jo-Anne Schilling, says she loves using the playscape, going down the slides, over or under the “rolly things” and playing with her friends. “It’s amazing because it’s so much fun,” Jo-Anne said. “Because people are always bumping into each other, you learn from your mistakes.”

Her classmate Benny Kemler also loves the play space, and enjoys the break from classroom learning. “It’s very fun and relaxing,” he said. “It’s nice to just be in different spots, not just sitting in a chair.”

While the structured classroom is the place for academics, the time spent in the play area gives young students a chance to explore their social-emotional selves as they work together.

“The best part is that they get to be connected in a way that’s not so structured,” Ms. Rowell said. “In the classroom I tell them who their partner is, what kind of group work they’re doing, but when they’re downstairs they get to pick and float and get to know each other a little better in that informal play setting. The free time is important for them to grow their whole selves.”

Ms. Crupi encourages teachers to find those extra 10 minutes for daily play to give academics a boost. “Research has said that when we are able to get kids a little bit physically active, they can come back to their studies and be more engaged and more attentive to learning,” she said. “A couple of teachers are saying, ‘I notice a difference. They seem to be far more focused.’”

No other neighboring district has a massive indoor educational play space like the one at Coman Hill, Ms. Crupi notes, adding that her students appreciate their unique opportunity. “Lots of kids have commented that we are very lucky to have this play space,” she said.

Another benefit? When bad weather cancels outdoor recess, Ms. Crupi no longer hears the groans. “Now when I have to announce indoor recess, I hear squeals of delight,” she said. “They absolutely look forward to using the play space.”

Whenever the stillness of the huge room is broken as students enter to have fun with their friends, without even realizing it, they are working on important life skills that will transfer into the classroom and stay with them through a lifetime of learning.

“These are life skills that are going to make our students successful as they travel to Wampus, to HCC, to the high school and beyond,” Ms. Crupi said. “These are skills that are essential for success.” “Play is such an essential component for early elementary education,” Ms. Crupi adds. “This play space just radiates our belief system.”

Educational play is a priority at Coman Hill, where students now have many more ways to play with the new educational play space. Located in a large room on the lower level of the elementary school, the play space is surrounded by all kinds of activities including hula hoops and basketball and reading, drawing and building.

With slides, swings and plenty of space to move around, there are many ways to play in the new educational play space at Coman Hill.

Two Byram Hills High School seniors were selected as finalists for the Neuroscience Research Prize given by the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society.

Seniors Samantha Abbruzzese and Rachel Chernoff, both students in the high school’s Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program, are among the 12 finalists chosen from a field of 74 high school students around the country.

Two Byram Hills High School seniors, Rachel Chernoff, at left, and Samantha Abbruzzese, were chosen as two of 12 finalists for the Neuroscience Research Prize given by the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society. They were selected out of 74 students nationwide. Four winners will be announced in February.



The 12, notified of their finalist status this week, advance to the next round, which culminates with four winners being announced in February.

“We are very proud of these two accomplished women who are passionate about neuroscience and have the highest standards for the work they produce,” said Stephanie Greenwald, director of the three-year science research program.

Rachel's novel study used ischemic preconditioning, a research technique that protects the brain from future stroke damage by depriving its blood supply in short episodes. Using this technique, she investigated the source of a specific type of brain cell that helps with immunity and clearing cellular debris.

As part of her work, Rachel noticed behavioral differences after ischemic preconditioning between male and female mice, which may point to a hormonal difference in their reactions to neural trauma. Together, her results lay the groundwork for the use of ischemic preconditioning as a potential preventative technique to reduce the damage from strokes.

Samantha investigated the development of neurons in a mouse model of Huntington’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder. She determined the impact that different gene-regulating proteins have on these neurons. Her findings could be used to develop a therapeutic approach for people with Huntington's disease.

The Neuroscience Research Prize, which has been awarded since 1993, honors students whose skill and talent show potential for scientific contributions in the field of neuroscience.

The four winners will receive $1,000 each. Three of those winners and their teachers will be invited to present their work at the academy’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, and the fourth winner and a teacher will have the opportunity to present to the society’s annual meeting.
 

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.”

Twenty-two Byram Hills High School seniors were honored for their academic achievement as they were inducted into the Cum Laude Society during a ceremony Thursday evening.

In congratulating the newest members of Cum Laude, Principal Christopher Walsh noted that the requirement for being inducted into the Byram Hills chapter is straightforward: It’s the students who comprise the top 10 percent of the class, based on their weighted GPAs.

“Fairly simple mathematics, but their paths are anything but simple,” he said. “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.”

“This induction is just a small acknowledgment of all of your hard work, dedication and sacrifice,” he said.

The students inducted into Cum Laude are: 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.

Twenty-two Byram Hills High School seniors were inducted into the Cum Laude Society during a ceremony Thursday night. 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.


Dr. Sandra Abt, president of the Byram Hills chapter, urged the students to “respect perspective,” continue their educations and train their minds to think.

“You have gotten an excellent foundation here at Byram Hills,” she told them. “Cherish your remaining days here, appreciate the knowledge and the skills that you are learning, appreciate your teachers and friends, and strive to make a difference and do good. Don’t be complacent, use the unexpected in your life, and the occasional failure, to make good choices.”

The Cum Laude address was delivered by Joy Reynolds, a special education teacher, and the faculty inductees 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.

Byram Hills High School senior Ellen Amico was honored by the Child Mind Institute and the City University of New York with a 2018 Rising Scientist Award.

Byram Hills High School senior Ellen Amico

Byram Hills High School senior Ellen Amico was one of five New York-area students to win a Rising Scientist Award.


Ellen was one of five high school students in the New York metro area to win the award, which is presented to students who “demonstrated extraordinary promise in research in the fields of child and adolescent mental health or pediatric neuroscience.”

“Each recipient of the Rising Scientist Award shows drive, commitment and vision for the future of mental health and neuroscience,” said Dr. Harold Koplewicz, president of the institute. “At such a young age, these impressive students already have the motivation and the promise to make strides towards changing the way we look at and treat mental health disorders.”

Ellen received the award and a $2,000 scholarship on Thursday at the On the Shoulders of Giants Scientific Symposium, the institute’s annual celebration of scientific achievement in child and adolescent psychiatry, psychology and developmental neuroscience.

Through the Byram Hills Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program, Ellen conducted research aimed at improving the ability of people with autism spectrum disorder to recognize emotions. She tested whether computerized avatars are an effective teaching tool in emotion recognition.

“It felt good to be recognized for my work,” Ellen said. “Working with people with autism was a great experience, and I loved it.”
As part of her research, Ellen worked with a mentor at Vanderbilt University, studying teenagers with and without autism. The subjects viewed videos of human faces and computerized avatars.

“Avatars are used a lot in research and treatment for people with autism spectrum disorder, but no one so far has tested to see if avatars are similar enough to humans,” she said.

The research found that “they are similar to humans and they’re a useful tool in simulating real-world interactions for people with autism spectrum disorder,” she said. “A real-world interaction can be a source of anxiety, but replacing it on the computer in a virtual way, it’s less anxiety-inducing, and they can practice.”

“Hopefully other researchers can use my study to back up or support their use of avatars in treatments they may create for people with autism spectrum disorder,” she said.

In addition to recognizing the winners for their scientific contributions, the award also honors students for their leadership and extracurricular involvement. The award is given by the institute and the Advanced Science Research Center at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Byram Hills High School is pleased to announce that this year’s homecoming celebration will feature four varsity night games, the first time in school history the Bobcats will play at home under the lights.

“We hope the entire community can come out to cheer on all of our athletic teams during homecoming week,” Byram Hills Principal Christopher Walsh said. “We think it’s a great way to build community spirit and Bobcat pride.”

The varsity homecoming games begin with field hockey on Sept. 26, followed by girls soccer on Sept. 27, football on Sept. 28 and boys soccer on Sept. 29. All games are at Byram Hills High School at 7 p.m.

The Byram Hills School District is renting lights to illuminate the games and add to this year's homecoming festivities. “Thank you to the Board of Education and Superintendent Jen Lamia for supporting us with this event,” Mr. Walsh said.

This year marks 50 years since the first class graduated from Byram Hills High School. Alumni from the class of 1968 will return to Byram Hills to speak to the ninth graders on Sept. 28 and will tour the high school the following day ahead of their 50th reunion that night.

“As the first graduating class of Byram Hills High School, they are responsible for many of the great traditions and symbols that we still have today,” Mr. Walsh said. “Their class came up with the Bobcat as a mascot and they also chose our school colors. They still speak about this school with such pride and I hope that 50 years from now, our current students feel the same way.”

Seven seniors at Byram Hills High School have been named semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program.

The students are Alan Chang, Joshua Freedman, Elyse Kanner, Emma Lucchino, David McDaniels, Jonah Schwam and Nicole Tissot.

“We are very proud of these students for this accomplishment,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “It’s always great to have our students highlighted on a national level, and to have seven of our students ranked nationally speaks to the tremendous quality of education and support that we have here at Byram Hills.”

The Byram Hills students are among approximately 16,000 semifinalists, academically talented students who represent less than 1 percent of all high school seniors in the country and include the highest-scoring entrants from each state, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation said in a release.

They were chosen from more than 1.6 million high school juniors in about 22,000 schools across the country who took the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

More than 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to earn finalist standing, and about half of those will win a scholarship and the Merit Scholar title. The students are competing for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million, awards that will be announced in the spring and summer.

“We’re all very proud of you,” Dr. Michael McGrath, chairperson of the Guidance Department, told the Byram Hills semifinalists. “It’s a phenomenal honor.”
 

2018 National Merit Semi-FInalists

 

Seven Byram Hills High School seniors have been named National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists. Pictured here are, in front from left: Nicole Tissot, Emma Lucchino and Elyse Kanner, and in back from left: Alan Chang, Jonah Schwam, David McDaniels and Joshua Freedman

 

 

Six Byram Hills High School students have been selected as participants or alternates in the 2018 New York State School Music Association All-State conference, the highest statewide honor for high school musicians.

The Byram Hills students were among thousands who auditioned in the spring at solo and ensemble festivals throughout New York. They are among nearly 900 students accepted into All-State ensembles that will perform later this year at NYSSMA’s winter conference.

The students chosen for the Mixed Chorus ensemble were soprano Charlie Cohen, alto Megan Hwang and tenor Jake Wild. Trombonist Brent Perlman was selected for the Symphonic Orchestra. Soprano Isabelle Ilan and bass Shea Gordon were selected as alternates.

“The Music Department is supremely proud of these accomplishments,” said Deepak Marwah, the Byram Hills Director of Fine Arts. “We’re sending students who have worked really hard in their ensembles and in preparing their solos. They’re going to represent Byram Hills among so many other excellent musicians in their age group. They’re leaders in our music program.”

The students will attend the NYSSMA winter conference in Rochester, New York in November and early December, and will perform at the Kodak Hall at the Eastman School of Music.

“Congratulations to all of our music educators throughout the entire district for helping to prepare our students for this great honor,” Mr. Marwah said.

2018 NYSSMA Musicians

Six student-musicians at Byram Hills High School were selected as participants or alternates in the 2018 New York State School Music Association All-State conference in Rochester, New York. From left, they are: Megan Hwang, Charlie Cohen, Brent Perlman, Shea Gordon, Jake Wild and Isabelle Ilan.

 

You’re a 14-year-old fleeing your country and you’re given less than a minute to pick the sole item you’ll take from your home into a new land. Or, you must read a passage, but with flashing lights, clapping hands and stomping feet all around, you can’t comprehend the words on the page.

These powerful, eye-opening simulations of what it can be like to be a refugee or a person with autism came to Byram Hills High School as part of the second annual Vox Summit, which introduced students to a variety of societal issues at home and abroad. The special event for freshmen was aimed at promoting increased engagement by students and encouraging them to speak up for positive change in the world.

The May 2 event began with a panel of students discussing their service-learning trips, followed by breakout sessions where students met with members of organizations that help others. The day wrapped up with a World Cafe, where students reflected on what they heard and learned.

“By exposing them to different service projects around the world, different groups that handle different human experiences around the world, or even in our own backyard, we want to expose our students to people who are different than they are and highlight the importance of bringing dignity to everybody’s experience,” Principal Christopher Walsh said.

“The focus is letting them know that they do have a voice and they do have the power to change the world,” he added. “We want them to start thinking outside of our small community and to start thinking globally.”

The summit was based on the Asia Society’s four tenets of global competency, which are to investigate the world, recognize perspectives, take action and communicate ideas, according to summit organizer, Melissa Stahl, Chairperson of the World Languages Department.

“The summit was a chance for freshmen to see that opportunities exist in the local, national and international realm for them to make a positive change for something or someone else in the world and society,” Ms. Stahl said.

Students presenting at the VOX summit

Instead of a single keynote speaker, a panel discussion was held featuring Byram Hills students, including one freshman, discussing service-learning trips they had taken to countries including India and Tanzania. The moderator, social studies teacher Thomas Andriello, led the conversation about their experiences and asked students about the leadership qualities they developed through these projects.

From there, students attended breakout sessions. The sessions featured the work of eight organizations: SHARE the Project, a community service group; Bridges to Community, an international nonprofit group that helps people living in impoverished communities in developing nations; Extraordinary Ventures, which supports people with autism and other developmental disabilities; IRIS, which helps refugees and immigrants; Amigos International, which offers volunteering programs in Central and South America; KEEP: Girls in School, which helps keep at-risk girls in school in Kenya; Neighbors Link, which tries to strengthen the community through the healthy integration of immigrants; and Pleasantville Cottage School, a residential treatment program for boys and girls ages 7 to 16. Another session was led by a teacher and focused on the five key practices of leadership from “The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations.”

Breakout session during the VOX summit

During the World Cafe sessions in the cafeteria, students sat in small groups at tables, where each had a student facilitator who was either a Global Scholars Program student or a member of the Student Leadership Board. “We had a lot of students involved in being leaders and showing the freshmen how it is possible for them to become leaders in one capacity or another,” Ms. Stahl said.

“We hope the kids are inspired to want to engage in making positive change and feel competent they can,” she added. “Small changes can lead to big change, and we want students to know that they can use their voice and have an influence. You’re never too young to start making positive change.”

Mr. Walsh called the summit a success.

“We thought the students were really engaged and the different organizations did a great job of discussing their benefits to society,” he said. “Overall, it was a great day for our freshmen.”

2018 Tenure Awards

The five Byram Hills educators who received tenure in 2017-2018 were honored by the Board of Education in June. They are: (from left in the back row) Robert Castagna, director of health education, physical education and athletics; Jessica Shaw, English language arts teacher at Byram Hills High School; Jill Boynton, director of special services; (from left in the front row) Mary Brady, special education teacher at Wampus Elementary School; and Deepak Marwah, director of fine arts. “Tenure means a commitment,” Superintendent Jen Lamia said. “Through extensive observations and extensive collaborations, the District feels confident not only in what you’ve done, but what we think you will continue to do for the children of Byram Hills. Each one of you has exemplified, for me, how collaboration with colleagues supports our kids.”

Twenty-five members of the Byram Hills faculty and staff were recognized for their many years of service during a Board of Education meeting in June. Together, they have devoted a collective 585 years to Byram Hills. The Longevity Service Award recipients are (from left in the front row): Jennifer Rowell, Barbara Boemio, Susan Ornstein, Ellen Medd, Duane Smith. (From left in middle row): Sara Fischer, Linda Haracz, Florence Behr. (From left in back row): Jared Christian, Jacqueline White, Antoinette Addonizio LaPeruta, Phil Peterson, Doreen Cohen, David Bruskewicz, Anne Kaplan, David McMichael, Melissa Stahl, Robert DiMartino.

Not pictured: David Eisermann, Kathleen Guglielmo, Alexandra Davies, Isabelle Del Vecchio,Brian Ettinger, Mariann Neale, Anne-Marie Pasquale.

The Byram Hills School District celebrated the four recipients of this year’s Teacher Recognition Award in June, honoring them for their commitment to education that goes above and beyond the duties of a classroom teacher.

The 2017-2018 award winners are Nicole Cavalieri, a secondgrade teacher at Coman Hill Elementary School; Lindsey McHale, a special education teacher at Wampus Elementary School; Jared Christian, a health and physical education teacher at H.C. Crittenden Middle School; and Amy Menasche, a fine arts teacher at Byram Hills High School.

Teacher Recognition Award Recipients

The winners receive $1,000 to be used during the next school year for items such as classroom materials or professional development, and they traditionally address the faculty in the fall. “To be there on that day and find out what was it in their lives that inspired them to be this person for children is sustaining and enriching for all of us,” Superintendent Jen Lamia said.

Coman Hill

Nicole Cavalieri regularly goes beyond her obligations as a classroom teacher.

“To put it simply, Nicole teaches each and every one of us — children and adults — what it means to demonstrate kindness and compassion while always focusing on building skills that will foster success,” Principal MaryBeth Crupi said.

Mrs. Cavalieri really gets to know her students and infuses that knowledge into her lessons to make them more exciting, Ms. Crupi said. She also empowers her students to understand the impact of their social decisions.

“There is not a day that goes by where Nicole is not modeling and teaching kindness,” Ms. Crupi said. “From posting random acts of kindness on her bulletin board to acting in the Coman Cares assembly, Nicole truly teaches us that we can brighten someone else's day just by being kind and promoting good cheer.”

She sets high expectations and encourages students to challenge themselves.

“It is not uncommon to walk into Nicole's classroom and to hear a child exclaim, ‘I did it!’ or ‘I'm learning how to get better at this!’” Ms. Crupi said. “Perseverance and pride are in abundance in Nicole's classroom.”

Wampus Elementary School

The level of care and support that Lindsey McHale has for her students is extraordinary.

Mrs. McHale has made her classroom “a visible and integral part of the Wampus community,” said Debra Cagliostro, who just retired as principal at Wampus.

“Her students are greeted by everyone and the peer mentor program has exploded with students interested in buddying with her class,” Mrs. Cagliostro said. “Her expectations are high but her level of support and encouragement has allowed the children to flourish.”

In anticipation of a performance at school of “Addy & Uno,” a musical about a child with autism, Mrs. McHale provided an opportunity for Wampus students to ask questions and learn about students who experience the world in a different way, Mrs. Cagliostro said.

“Her energy, creativity, and passion are exemplars of a teacher who is not coming to her ‘job’ but coming to her calling,” Mrs. Cagliostro said. “We can teach teachers skills and pedagogy but we can't teach them to have love and commitment. Thankfully for all of us, Lindsey has it all.”

H.C. Crittenden Middle School

Jared Christian has taught in Byram Hills for 20 years, and every year, his priorities are his students and their growth as he helps them learn about the benefits of physical activity and a healthy mindset.

“Through his work and dedication in the classroom, in the gymnasium, outside on the ropes course or on the field, Mr. Christian provides students with the tools to make good decisions regarding their diet, their exercise and their lifestyle,” Principal Kim Lapple said.

She lauded Mr. Christian as a quiet leader, saying that “his actions are a constant reminder of why we teach.”

“Through his positive inner voice, he motivates others around him to reach their goals,” Ms. Lapple said. “He pursues self-improvement, utilizes self-reflection and embraces his role as a consummate team player. Most importantly, he seeks to engage students as partners in their learning.”

She applauded his respect for students as individuals and said that he “makes everyone around him better.”

Byram Hills High School

Fine arts teacher Amy Menasche continually demonstrates the ideals of lifelong learning.

She has found many avenues for her students to be evaluated by professional artists and helps them prepare their submissions to outside art competitions, said Principal Christopher Walsh, who called her a “tremendous promoter of art as a career to her students and the community.”

“Amy consistently challenges her students to become better artists by encouraging them to submit their work to various competitions throughout the country,” he said. “In one instance this year, Amy drove round trip to Pittsburgh with one of her student's sculptures that was being submitted into the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts competition so that it wouldn't get damaged in transit. The student wound up winning a scholarship and a prize for his work.”

Next year, Mrs. Menasche will teach a new class, yearbook production, which Mr. Walsh said promotes the District’s vision of authentic learning through multiple content areas.

“She is always looking for new ideas to make her classroom more authentic and cutting edge,” he said.

Class of 2018 Group Picture

The 205 members of the Byram Hills High School Class of 2018 hugged and cheered their classmates, listened to inspiring speeches full of reminiscences and well wishes, and finally, crossed the stage and received their well-deserved diplomas.

The commencement ceremony, held June 19 at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, began as the graduates filed onto the stage in royal blue caps and gowns to the traditional sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance” performed by the high school band.

After a welcome from Principal Christopher Walsh, the salutatorian, Stella Li, and valedictorian, Jackson Deitelzweig, addressed their classmates with a mix of nostalgia and inspiration.

Ms. Li expressed her gratitude to all who helped the class reach the moment of graduation — parents, teachers, administrators, janitors, substitute teachers, interns and even the barista at the Byram Bean.

Stella Li speaking at Graduation

“Everyone in this community came together to make this incredible and vital educational experience possible,” she said. “Here’s to the 13 years that have passed, and to all the years that are yet to come. Graduating seniors, go out there and change the world.”

Mr. Deitelzweig highlighted the lifelong friendships that have been made at Byram Hills, and offered his own interpretation of the Dr. Seuss classic “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.”

“We all have different interests, different hopes and different dreams, but we all aspire to do something truly great,” he said. “What’s important to realize is that we all can and we all will.”

Jackson Deitelzweig speaking at Graduation

In the principal’s address, Mr. Walsh noted that the audience included members from at least five generations, and he recalled their contributions and challenges in an ever-changing world. He told the graduates that although their futures are unknown, they have already proven they’re unafraid to use their collective voice and that the one constant in their lives has been change.

“No generation has ever been better prepared to deal with the unknown than they are,” Mr. Walsh said. “Take what is the best from every generation that has helped to form you. Fifty years from now, some adult in a funny robe will be giving a speech about the graduates of this generation and how they changed the world.”

Giving her first commencement address as superintendent, Jen Lamia urged the graduates to continue the good work they’ve done at Byram Hills, to use their “strong, commanding voices” and to take “full possession of your strength and your conviction.” She also reminded them to take risks and to begin their next chapter with wide-open hearts and minds.

“You are thoughtful, curious, determined, energetic and, most importantly, compassionate human beings,” Ms. Lamia said. “We need you now more than ever to continue to build our beautiful world.”

Other highlights included the presentation of a class gift of a waterfall for the new wellness center in the high school library, the concert choir performing a moving rendition of “Home,” and of course, the cap toss. As Assistant Principal Kristen Sautner presented the Class of 2018, the blue caps went flying high, a striking sight against the bright red backdrop.

Students at Graduation taking selfie Students at graduation

 

In the fall, 99 percent of the graduates are headed to college, and 77 percent of the class was accepted by a Tier 1 or 2 college or university. Six percent of the class will attend an Ivy League institution.

As a grade-school student in the Byram Hills School District, Bonnie Gleicher delighted the crowds as she starred in “Peter Pan” and “The Wizard of Oz.” In the springtime, this distinguished 2006 graduate of Byram Hills High School returned with another special musical treat.

Ms. Gleicher, the composer and lyricist of the off-Broadway production “Addy & Uno,” brought the show to Wampus Elementary School in May. With five main characters who have adisability, the show bills itself as the first family musical about disability. Friendship and kindness also play starring roles.

The musical tells the story of Uno, a boy who has autism and loves math, and his four friends, who each have a different disability. Together, they support Uno all the way to the math competition, facing bullies along the way.

Ms. Gleicher, a 29-year-old singer-songwriter, said she instantly fell in love with the story and the characters after being recommended for “Addy & Uno.”

“These are characters that face so many obstacles every day and yet they face them with so much humor and fun and true friendship,” she said. “I was so inspired by them, so much that I wrote the first song the next day.”

She was thrilled to have the show on stage at Wampus, where it was enjoyed by third and fourth graders.

“They’ll learn about being kind to people and not bullying people and understanding what people are going through without even realizing it,” Ms. Gleicher said. “I’m so excited to help that next generation to get there.”

She is hopeful that it will inspire Wampus students.

“I hope they feel like when they see someone, that they’re more understanding of what they’re going through when someone is different from them, that they feel empowered to be friends with them, instead of fearful of them,” she said.

Judy Brewster, who directed Ms. Gleicher in school musicals and just retired as the Wampus assistant principal, remembers her as a talented performer. Ms. Gleicher was Peter in “Peter Pan” in third grade; she played Dorothy in her fourth-grade production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

“As a third grader, she was amazing,” Ms. Brewster said. “She had this huge voice. When she auditioned, the whole room became silent because her voice was a Broadway voice. I knew as soon as she opened her mouth in third grade that she’d be famous someday. That’s how talented she was, and still is.”

To help prepare Wampus students for the show, special education teacher Lindsey McHale designed a presentation for third and fourth graders about students with disabilities.

Mrs. McHale told administrators: “The anticipation of the show provided the perfect opportunity to talk with our students about differences and to answer their many questions.

I believe children are mostly accepting of differences once they are given the knowledge to

understand them."

After the performance, Evan Latainer, the director of Westchester County’s Office for People with Disabilities, and Anna Masupost, CEO of the agency, presented Ms. Gleicher with a proclamation that recognized her commitment to musical theater and honored her as an outstanding citizen.

With thanks to the Byram Hills Parent Teacher Student Association, which funded this production.

Coman Hill students sang their hearts out this past spring.

In May, the first and second graders sang, danced and played instruments such as cowbells, maracas, xylophones and metallophones in their “Music is Always in Season” performance.

“It’s so impressive to see them grow from music students to performers,” said music teacher Emily Capalbo. “From reading music to developing singing technique to understanding song selection and even practicing at home, the performance really helps elevate their overall musicality.”

To prepare, students worked on vocal technique, posture and performance skills. Also, students were each given a job, which highlighted them as part of a small group while also strengthening their feelings of ownership and pride in the performance.

The following month, the kindergarten students performed, “A Flag Day Celebration!” They sang patriotic songs and performed folk dances to instrumental music, including marches composed by Sousa. The program included terrific renditions of “This Land is Your Land,” “America, the Beautiful,” and of course, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Our youngest students also learned how to be performers by knowing how to stand “performance ready,” how to walk on the risers, and how to take a bow.

“The excitement and pride kindergartners have in preparing for their performance is incredibly motivating,” Ms. Capalbo said. “They are so enthusiastic and eager to do an amazing job, and it shows in the success they achieve with challenging repertoire.”

The culmination of the year was on June 14 when teachers and students gathered outside around the flagpole for the “Flag Day Singalong.” After a ceremonial flag raising, teachers and students sang the songs of the country as classes proudly waved paper flags they had made.

“The singalong is special because it gathers everyone in Coman Hill together in an authentic and timeless way,” Ms. Capalbo said. “It commemorates the conclusion of the school year in an unburdened moment of community, song and celebration.”

At H.C. Crittenden Middle School, the fitness center is being transformed into a place where students can focus on their physical and emotional wellness.

The center is being renovated and will include new exercise equipment and a new wellness space, giving students in grades six through eight a chance to relax on mats and beanbags and practice yoga or mindfulness.

“It will be a place where students can get in an extra workout, decompress, take a cognitive break and reflect,” said Principal Kim Lapple. “It reinforces the idea of caring about both our bodies and minds. We know how important it is for both of those to be developed in adolescents.”

In the wellness area, students can carry out the social and emotional wellness strategies they’ve learned at school, including mindfulness, having a greater awareness of their thoughts and feelings and focusing on emotions through the Mood Meter.

“We’re providing a place where they can practice using some or all of these tools,” Ms. Lapple said. “Adolescent brains are engaged for so many hours in the day that we need to give our students time to take those cognitive breaks.”

Taking those breaks and getting in touch with their feelings helps students prepare to be successful in the classroom, Ms. Lapple said. “As a community, we want to ensure that students have opportunities to understand themselves better so they can be more available to learn and grow.”

Along with the fitness center renovation, the middle school students also participated in the Stanford University Challenge Success Student Survey that asked about sleep, academic engagement, homework and other topics. Preliminary results show that students find HCC to be educational, fun and supportive.

“Challenge Success provides us with a unique opportunity to support our middle school students,” Ms. Lapple said. “It gives us a lens into their lives, when they are in school and when they are away from school. As our students move through middle school, we need to continue to find ways to allow for their emotional growth and to help them manage stress and anxiety. The data will really help us do that. For example, it showed us that we all need to consider how to provide our kids with unscheduled free time. The good news is that the new fitness center can provide some of that time.”

As students progress through the middle school, their academic demands increase and their social lives become more complex. The survey results will help HCC find ways to further support students at such a critical time in their lives, thanks to the generosity of the BHEF.

The center will have new flooring, mirrored walls, a multimedia sound system and a smart board for instructional use. It may be used by physical education classes, the guidance department for small group instruction and support, and by students during their lunch periods.

Additionally, after-school clubs and teams may be able to use the center as well.

Once the renovation is complete, students will have a hand in determining the name of the new space and will give input on how they think it should be best used. “If we want them to utilize the space, we should give them ownership in what the name is and how we’re using it,” the principal said.

High-fives, big smiles and cheers filled the auditorium at H.C. Crittenden Middle School, as motivational speaker Angie Erdley brought her high-energy positivity to encourage students to seize the extracurricular opportunities at school and enjoy the benefits that come through participation.

In a session with the seventh grade girls in late February, Mrs. Erdley asked the students to imagine the auditorium was filled with presents. “You pick one up and you open it up,” she said. “That’s an opportunity. It’s a gift.”

She encouraged students to discover the gift that’s awaiting them, whether it’s playing a sport, competing on an academic team or joining the band. “Be involved, take any opportunity that you have and make the most of it,” she urged.

Mrs. Erdley, who held similar presentations with sixth and eighth grade girls, came to the District as part of a two-day effort to raise awareness of the Byram Hills athletic program.

The middle school boys met with Rod Mergardt, a former Athletic Director at Byram Hills who is also a motivational speaker. He stressed the importance of teamwork, encouraging each other through tough times and knowing that it’s OK for them to branch out, try something new and not be locked into a single sport or activity.

The athletics-focused assemblies at HCC came as participation in several girls sports has fallen at the middle school and high school levels in recent years.

“We wanted to create some energy around athletics, but also encourage the students to be involved in their school community in some way, even if it’s not through athletics,” said Rob Castagna, the District’s Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics. “It was to encourage the students to use their talents and to take a chance. We want students to really believe in themselves and have the self-confidence to know that it’s OK to come out and try something new, and it’s OK to fail.”

Mrs. Erdley discussed her student years, when she played basketball and volleyball, sang in the chorus, performed in musicals and was her freshman class president.

She stressed the great relationships she made decades ago that are still strong today, and urged students to participate “because of the relationships, because of the amazing things you can gain from it - all the good times, all the friendship, all the support. It’s an amazing thing.”

But sometimes, she told the girls, we get in our own way. She asked the girls to imagine a stunning room decorated with a gorgeous chandelier, beautiful wall tapestries, a giant-screen TV and a suede couch. Sitting on the couch, though, is an ugly pillow.

“This is very synonymous with our flaws, with our mistakes,” Mrs. Erdley said. How often do we look at something, like a huge zit, she asked them, “and it’s the only thing you can think about - the mistakes, flaws and failure,” rather than focusing on our accomplishments.

“Just like this ugly pillow, you forget the beauty of the room and you forget to see how awesome everything else is,” she added.

In later presentations, she stressed the need for students to make mistakes and get comfortable with failure in order to succeed.

“We’re all supposed to fail, often, all the time,” Mrs. Erdley said later in the day. “If you don’t, if you don’t take any chances, you stay here at this level. You’ve got to shoot for something that’s a little uncomfortable, and for yourself, is a little out of reach, because then you can achieve greatness.”

Mrs. Erdley introduced six female Byram Hills coaches, who spoke about how they got involved in athletics and the role that sport has played in their lives.

“Through sports, I made new friends, I learned how to be a leader and I learned how to manage my time,” said Julianne Marinaro, the varsity girls head soccer coach and a special education teacher at Byram Hills High School. “I learned about health and wellness, but most of all, I learned how to be a teammate and how to work with others.”

“Playing a sport gives you so much more than just running around the field,” she told the seventh grade girls. “It doesn’t matter if you are the best player or the worst player. It’s being part of a community and empowering yourself as the next leaders of our generation.”

During Mrs. Erdley’s presentation, the girls were asked to dance to “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang, they watched inspirational videos including one saluting the female American athletes from the 2016 Summer Olympics and conducted a high spirited team-building exercise.

Mrs. Erdley asked half of the girls to leave the auditorium and to re-enter and give high-fives to all of the remaining girls. They reversed roles and repeated the fun. “That’s what it feels like to be part of a team, to be cheered and to be celebrated,” she told them.

“My thrust is self-confidence,” she explained afterward. “Giving them exercises to do that, the dancing, the high-fiving, it’s so they can feel like part of a community and something that’s bigger than themselves.”

She concluded her presentation to the seventh grade girls with inspiring words: “You’re all meant to be extraordinary. It’s up to you how you decide to utilize those opportunities.”

A big high-five goes to the Byram Hills Education Foundation, the Bobcat Boosters and the Byram Hills Parent Teacher Student Association for funding these events.

Motivational speaker Angie Erdley high-fives seventh graders at H.C. Crittenden Middle School during a high-energy team-building exercise.

At Byram Hills High School, empty stretches of cold, bare cinder block wall have become the oversized canvas for colorful, creative and richly woven paintings celebrating subjects like literature, history and chemistry.

The murals of Byram Hills, created every other springtime, are the brainchild of visual arts teacher John Anthony Lopez, who works with another teacher to devise a concept that transforms the curriculum from classroom ideas to carefully crafted artwork. It’s the start of an 18-month process that culminates with a final four weeks of painting.

The interdisciplinary murals are painted by Mr. Lopez’s advanced drawing and painting students, with students from the subject area classes playing various roles like research and image input. The results are arresting, collaborative pieces of hallway art that spark conversation, and maybe even some inspiration as well.

Physics Mural Left Side

“The goal is, first of all, to create a lasting testament to the students and the curriculum, but also to give students an experience in creating public art,” Mr. Lopez said. “It’s something they can come back to in years, and even decades to come.”

Each mural features two to three dozen historical figures or sites, or works of art and literature that relate to the curriculum. The murals are painted near the classrooms where the subject is taught, sometimes enlivening several stretches of wall.

“They’re an expression of the importance that our faculty sees in their curriculum, and in different ways of expressing it and showing it to their students,” Mr. Lopez said. “And it shows a love of the material.”

The sixth mural, the most ambitious one to date, was created this spring. It’s called “The Evolution of Physics,” a nod to Albert Einstein’s book of the same name. The mural covers two 30-foot walls that face each other, and together they feature nearly three dozen physicists from the classical and modern eras.

Physics Mural Right Side

For the first time, this mural features 3D elements by way of a solar system and golden spheres traveling downhill that represent acceleration. It will have an interactive component, with a QR code next to each historical figure and diagram that can be scanned for more information.

Built into this mural are hidden meanings and metaphors left for visitors to uncover. Why is Johannes Kepler dropping the apple onto Isaac Newton’s head? Why is Einstein looking toward Newton across the hall? In this mural, placement of the figures is all relative; the law of gravity is upheld.

“It’s that surprise factor,” said physics teacher Paul Beeken, who spearheaded the mural with Mr. Lopez. “We’re hoping this will be the hook to keep students interested. By design, this wall involves dozens of different themes all running concurrently. That’s the whole point. We want them to come back to the wall four and five times, and each time see something different. It’s complicated on purpose.”

His students have been writing the biographies of the physicists and working on an accompanying website, a project that will continue into the next school year.

The first mural came about in 2008 after a recent expansion to the 1960s-era high school building.

Mr. Lopez was talking with Aaron Lockwood and Marna Weiss of the Music Department, looking for a way to make the band and orchestra space feel less industrial and more warm and student-centered, in a way that incorporated the curriculum. The result was the two-part band and orchestra mural that features the likenesses of Duke Ellington and Ray Charles on the band mural, Mozart and Tchaikovsky looking out from the orchestral mural.

Music Mural

Next came the World Languages mural, which features a cafe and bookshop filled with famous names, landmarks, artwork and books from cultures in the curriculum.

The chemistry mural was painted in 2012 as a view into the lab, featuring the periodic table and scientists as diverse as Marie Curie and Beaker and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew from “The Muppets.”

The World History panorama followed in 2014, depicting Mahatma Gandhi, the Colosseum and the classic wonders of the world among other towering figures. And in 2016 came the literature mural, in which characters and literary figures including Beowulf, William Shakespeare and Harry Potter travel along a winding road following literature from the past to the present.

Even with the rush to class, the murals — filled with images both iconic and sometimes more obscure — get people talking, students, faculty and visitors alike.

“The best part is the conversations that emerge when a couple of people are standing in front of it,” World Languages Chairperson Melissa Stahl said. “The artwork is so well done that the images are extremely accurate, and students can immediately identify the elements.”

Mr. Lockwood, the high school orchestra director, is the only teacher whose mural is inside a classroom. Even a decade later, he still refers to it.

“I find it especially inspiring when I can point to a face on the mural, and make a connection to the composer and/or the style of music being played in class,” he said. “Recently, to generate a conversation about the Mozart piece that we were learning in class, I pointed to the wall and said, ‘Mozart is watching. If he were to comment on your articulation, what would he say?’”

Dr. Beeken, whose passion for this project seems a close second to his love of physics, hopes the mural will generate student excitement around the sciences.

“I’m not trying to turn them into scientists per se, but I do want them to appreciate its importance in their lives,” he said. “I’m shameless in trying to get kids hooked on the idea of learning how science serves them and the framework for understanding our world.”

Artwork on display at the Coman Hill Elementary School art show.

 

Picasso and Van Gogh inspired self-portraits. Papier-mache masks based on the classical elements of nature. A mural of paper animals. These were just some of the colorful and creative projects on display at the Coman Hill and Wampus art shows in March.

At Wampus Elementary School, the art show had a gallery feel, with piano concertos playing in the background, a mix of high and low displays so visitors could see more of the art at once and seating cubes where people could reflect on the students’ artwork.

“The whole show is an exhibition of every child’s art project, either finished or not finished, that shows the potential and the talents of all of our children,” said Elizabeth Castrataro-Capua, who teaches art at Wampus along with Katie Constantine.

The third graders drew self-portraits that had a focus on cubism and were inspired by the work of Pablo Picasso. After two portrait lessons, the students were each given a mirror and began drawing their likeness. They used a crayon resist technique with oil pastels and sponge-painted with watercolors.

The fourth graders constructed papier-mache masks that were based on the classical elements, fire, water, air and earth. Students studied masks from different time periods and cultures, exploring the cultural specificity of the masks, while simultaneously discovering the underlying universal theme of transformation, Ms. Constantine explained.

The students had to reference one of the elements in their mask, and afterward, they wrote myths and creative stories that explained the aspect of nature that their mask embodied.

“I am always so intrigued by the way in which the students translate this project into their own unique works of art,” Ms. Constantine said. “Their interpretations of the classical elements are so varied, vibrant, creative, and at times unexpected.”

The fifth graders in Ms. Constantine’s classes studied the Earthworks movement from the late 1960s that focused on creating art in nature, beyond the confines of traditional gallery and museum spaces. Then, the students went outside and created their own earthworks from sticks, acorns, rocks and leaves. They later created charcoal drawings of these natural materials.

Ms. Castrataro-Capua’s fifth graders worked on a line and landscape project inspired by artists Emily Carr and Vincent Van Gogh. Focusing on line pattern and design, the students used pastels to draw landscapes based on photographs they found online.

At Coman Hill, the students created various projects with art teacher Judy DeJarlar that were displayed at the art show. The students learned about the art elements, line, shape, pattern, Wampus, Coman Hill Art Shows Feature a Mix of Colorful and Creative Artwork texture, color, along with space and form.

“A lot of the work is broadening their understanding of these concepts, and learning how to use their materials, practice their skills and learning about the artists,” Ms. DeJarlar said.

“I am impressed by the wonderful job the students do,” she added. “They are always enthusiastic and committed to producing something of quality, and they have a lot of perseverance.”

The kindergartners learned about connecting shapes to make something new and practiced their cutting skills to create a paper animal. All of their hard work was displayed together on a mural.

“They learned that with combinations of shapes, you can make almost anything you can think of,” Ms. DeJarlar said.

The first grade students began their work with self-portraits by looking at the art of Van Gogh. They learned that a self portrait is a picture you make of yourself, with the face being the biggest and most important part. The students identified the parts of the face that are the same for everybody and they used mirrors to identify all the ways their face is different from the faces of their classmates.

“Following this discussion, the first graders started their self-portraits focusing on combining shapes to make the face,” Ms. DeJarlar said. “Then crayons and oil crayons were used to color the skin, eyes, hair and the remainder of the picture.”

The first graders also mixed paint in the primary colors of red, blue and yellow, along with white, to make new colors they used to paint Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired flowers.

Second graders studied the works of Native American artists and made pinch and coil clay pots. They pinched the bottom of the pot and added coils, or ropes of clay around the pot and added color through glazing.

They also studied pop artist Jim Dine and made three-dimensional, pop-art heart squares that were displayed together in the style of a quilt.

“Hearts are an image that almost all children can relate to, they all make them,” Ms. DeJarlar said. “The second graders were excited to learn how to make a 3D heart.”

Students at Coman Hill Elementary School are getting a massive, indoor educational play space.

The skills that students gain by using the play space will carry over into the classroom.

Coman Hill Elementary School is taking educational play to the next level in a big, bright and very fun way, thanks to the Byram Hills Education Foundation.

The new Educational Play Space due to arrive at Coman Hill this fall is a brightly-colored, two-level, commercial-grade indoor playscape with plenty of room for kids to crawl, slide and climb. In the educational play space, students in kindergarten through second grade will be exercising their bodies as well as their minds.

“I am over the moon for this new educational play space,” Principal Mary Beth Crupi said. “It’s a fabulous opportunity for our students to grow and learn, both socially as well as educationally, while having fun.”

“We know that social and emotional health, coupled with educational curiosity, is paramount to a child's success,” she added. “Our indoor educational play space is the perfect venue to merge a child's natural desire to play while making learning fun.”

Educational play is play that encourages socialization and problem-solving. It’s important because it helps students build friendships, strengthens their vocabulary and communication skills and pushes them to persevere through challenges.

“Socially, using the play space is going to assist our students with communication and emotional health and intelligence, but educationally, it’s also going to carry over into the classroom as children learn problem-solving, persistence and working together,” Ms. Crupi said. “Having these skills transferred into the learning environment helps us build the leaders of the next generation.”

The play space will be located in a newly constructed area of the school’s lower level. The massive structure will feature various pieces of equipment that provide sensory input and give children multiple ways to build vital relationship skills like taking turns and sharing.

The structure will feature elements such as a kid conveyor, in which students climb over or under rotating rollers, obstacle course components like hover rings and sky wheels that are suspended from the ceiling and sit and spin equipment. There will be a fun forest with suspended soft rollers that kids can run through. While at play here, students also will be practicing their balance and coordination.

Without students even realizing it, the skills they develop and strengthen in the play space can be used in the classroom as well, Ms. Crupi says. “If a student is having difficulty solving a math problem, the teacher can bring the experience from the play space back into the classroom,” she said.

For example, Ms. Crupi said, a teacher might say: “Remember you had a difficult time going through the hover ring, but you persisted and kept trying to alter your body? Remember how good that made you feel when you got it? It’s the same thing here in math. I don’t want you to give up on this problem. Try it another way, just like you tried the hover ring another way.”

Teachers will have the chance to bring students to the play space for movement breaks or as a reward for great work, and it can also be used for indoor recess, giving students another chance to be active during bad weather. “This area can be used in multiple ways,” Ms. Crupi said.

“Coman Hill is extremely unique in that our students will have this opportunity, which is not offered in other nearby schools in Westchester County,” Ms. Crupi said. “The generosity of the Byram Hills Education Foundation is truly overwhelming. We are fortunate beyond belief to have a foundation that supports us to this magnitude.”

With everything that high schoolers are facing today, like challenging academic course loads, a slew of extracurricular activities and pressure to gain acceptance to a top university, it may be hard to imagine students finding a relaxing and tranquil haven at school.

But that’s just what’s coming to Byram Hills High School by way of a Wellness Den. With comfortable seating, calming, pale green walls and serene artwork, this separate space being constructed in the library this spring gives students a quiet place to just be, free from the rest of hectic high school life and the world at large.

There are no desks or computers here, and cellphones can be safely stored before entering. This is a place designed for purposeful lounging and unplugging from technology. It’s a spot just for students where they can recharge their bodies, re-center their minds and practice mindfulness, the art of being aware of the present moment and calmly accepting and observing one’s thoughts and feelings.

“It’s not for hanging out or chatting with friends or doing homework or schoolwork,” Principal Christopher Walsh said. “This space is specifically designed for our students who want to incorporate mindfulness techniques into their day. Research shows that practicing mindfulness for as little as three minutes a day can reduce stress and anxiety. If students are operating with a high level of stress and anxiety, we know that will have a negative impact on their learning.”

The den arrives as part of the wellness wave sweeping the nation, and the separate, quiet spaces that have been created in workplaces, universities and some schools as well. “We’re one of the first high schools in our area to have a space specifically designed for mindfulness,” Mr. Walsh said.

It also comes as our students, like many nationwide, are feeling stress and competitive pressure. Earlier this year, Byram Hills High School students participated in Stanford University’s Challenge Success Student Survey, an anonymous online survey that asked students about things like homework, academic engagement, extracurricular activities and sleep.

Preliminary results indicate that Byram Hills students would greatly benefit from more sleep, greater balance and more purposeful engagement, according to Mr. Walsh. The den is a step in helping students find balance.

“The survey has given us the opportunity to see life at Byram Hills from our students' perspective,” Mr. Walsh said. “What we are seeing is that they need a place like the Wellness Den to utilize different strategies to ‘get back to neutral.’”

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