Byram Hills High School proudly announced that this year’s valedictorian is Grace Lin and the salutatorian is Daniel Ndocaj.

“Congratulations to Grace and Daniel on being named valedictorian and salutatorian of the Byram Hills High School Class of 2024,” said Principal Christopher Walsh, who announced the names of the top-ranked students to applause during graduation rehearsal on June 12.

“The achievement is a testament to their hard work, dedication, and excellence throughout their four years at BHHS,” he added. “Their perseverance and commitment have truly been remarkable.”

The students, who have the highest weighted GPAs, will each deliver a speech at graduation on June 20.

The Byram Hill 2024 Valedictorian is Grace LinGrace will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and plans to double major in mathematics and computer science.

“It’s an honor to be named valedictorian among such a talented graduating class,” Grace said. 
“My teachers at Byram Hills have been remarkably supportive and dedicated. I’d like to thank them, along with my fellow classmates, for always inspiring and motivating me.” 

Byram Hills, she said, has prepared her well for life after high school. “My teachers have taught me to constantly strive for improvement in all aspects of my life,” Grace said. “I’ve learned from the passion and dedication of everyone around me - both the teachers and the students.”

A mathlete since middle school, Grace has represented the Westchester Area Math Circle (WAMC) in many national and international competitions. In her junior year, her WAMC team won first overall at the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament, and she was captain of the WAMC team that won second overall at the Girls in Math at Yale competition.

Grace qualified for the rigorous American Invitational Mathematics Examination all four years of high school, and was invited to the Math Prize for Girls, where the top female high school scorers nationwide compete.

She also volunteers with WAMC, teaching math to middle school students and encouraging them to think in new ways when solving problems. Grace, who founded a summer math program and taught a year-round program, won the WAMC Community Service and Leadership Award. 

Grace is part of the three-year Byram Hills Authentic Science Research Program, and her award-winning work was published in the journal Environmental Challenges. Her research 
used mathematical models to quantify the recreation use value of U.S. natural lands to help guide data-driven environmental policy decisions. 

At Byram Hills, Grace is co-captain of the Math and Academic Challenge teams. She is also a member of the Cum Laude Society, which recognizes outstanding academic excellence, the World Language Honor Society for Spanish, and the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society. 

As a junior, Grace won the Harvard Prize Book Award, the Byram Hills mathematics award for outstanding junior, and the Science Research award for outstanding junior. As a senior, she won the Abe Shahim Science Research Award.

Beyond academics, Grace is a dancer. She has been training in ballet, contemporary, lyrical and jazz since age 7 and has won numerous group and solo awards in regional and national competitions.

The Byram Hills 2024 salutatorian is Daniel Ndocaj.Daniel will study materials science and engineering at Columbia University.

“I am honored to be named salutatorian,” Daniel said. “It's gratifying to see my hard work realized in this achievement. I’m very grateful for the unwavering support of my teachers, family and friends.”

Daniel said Byram Hills has “enabled me to pursue my passions and nurture my curiosity.” He added: “It’s given me a solid background in the skills necessary to thrive beyond high school.”

At Byram Hills, Daniel is vice president of the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, co-captain of the Academic Challenge team and was part of a team that reached the national semifinals his sophomore year, co-president of Science Olympiad, and a member of the World Language Honor Society for Italian. 

He is also part of the three-year Authentic Science Research Program. With his work that demonstrated an approach using nanostructures to produce brighter images that could help scientists with gene and cancer research, he was a semifinalist in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search. 

Daniel is a member of the Cum Laude Society, which recognizes outstanding academic excellence, a candidate in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program and a National Merit Scholarship finalist.

As a senior, Daniel won the Byram Hills Award for Excellence in Science and the World Language Award for general excellence in Italian. As a junior, he won the Harvard Prize Book Award and the Byram Hills Award for Potential in Science.

Just as he did with his science research journey, exploring various topics until he found what interested him, Daniel urges younger Byram Hills students to keep an open mind and pursue different areas. “High school is the time to explore and discover new passions,” he said.

Byram Hills High School proudly announced that this year’s valedictorian is Grace Lin and the salutatorian is Daniel Ndocaj.


Byram Hills High School recognized dozens of juniors and seniors during the annual Awards Ceremony, where they were celebrated by family, friends and the school community. 

“We are gathered here tonight to highlight and celebrate the individual achievements and accomplishments of the students gathered here on stage,” Principal Christopher Walsh said in the high school theater at the May 29 ceremony. 

For the seniors, it was another event that signaled the end of their time in high school. “Over the last four years, they have shown the remarkable ability to improvise, adapt and overcome the challenges that have faced them,” Mr. Walsh said.

The juniors, he said, will continue their growth in leadership, academics, athletics, the arts, community service and civic engagement over the coming years. “This evening should be a reminder to them to enjoy all that high school has to offer,” he said.

The students were recognized with awards and scholarships at the department, building and District levels as well as the local, state, national and international levels and by many organizations including Section 1 Athletics, New York State Athletics, Con Edison, the New York State School Music Association, Regeneron, the College Board, National Merit, and the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

The highest honor for a senior came in the final award of the evening. The Hy Blatte-Jack Wollenberg Award is given to a student with a humanitarian outlook, a willingness to extend herself for others, and an optimistic approach to life and its challenges. The winner received a $1,000 scholarship from the PTSA, $100 to be donated to a charity of her choice and the opportunity to give a speech. 

Mr. Walsh introduced the recipient, Julia Tusiani, known for her exceptional kindness and welcoming spirit.

“She is a student who leads by example and is known for her friendliness, optimism and genuine positive outlook,” Mr. Walsh said. “I have had the privilege of witnessing her exceptional qualities, leadership and unwavering dedication to service and advocacy during her four years at Byram Hills High School.”

In her speech, Julia talked about the identities that students gained in high school, like varsity athlete or club president, as they worked toward reaching their goals. She discovered that “the essence of life isn’t solely captured by the question, ‘What are you going to do?’ It’s better framed as, ‘Who are you going to be?’”

“Labels can hold great significance, but they are not everlasting,” she said. “The crucial question emerges when these labels fade. Who are you as a person when these labels cease to exist?”

Consider people based on their intrinsic qualities and attitudes, Julia said, rather than their occupations.

“Let’s strive to see others through the lens of empathy, kindness, and appreciation,” she said. “Our worth extends far beyond what we do.” 

“In a world often preoccupied with achievements and titles, let’s choose to cherish the beauty of each individual’s soul, celebrating what makes each of us unique,” she said to loud applause. She will donate the $100 to Adopt-a-Dog Armonk.

The other top award, which came with a $1,000 scholarship, was the PTSA Caruolo Leadership Award. Assistant Principal Jennifer Spirelli announced the winner as a student on the leadership board with an exceptional character and a stellar academic record: Zachary Pero. 

Dozens of students were recognized during the ceremony, where they were applauded by classmates, relatives and the school community.

The complete list of winners: 


Given to a senior who shows exemplary commitment to helping others and dedication to public service.

Presented to a senior who demonstrates care for others and the community,
as Michael had exemplified.

Presented to a senior who has shown academic excellence and a commitment
to the North Castle community.


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.

Given to a senior for academic achievement and outstanding community service.

Given to seniors for academic achievement and outstanding community service.

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.

Awarded to a junior who combines academic excellence with participation in extracurricular activities and a commitment to community service.    

Presented to a junior in recognition of outstanding personal character and intellectual promise with diverse skills and leadership qualities.

Given to a junior with outstanding character and high academic achievement, who provides important service to school or community.

Presented to an outstanding junior who demonstrates a commitment to civic engagement, community service, political activism, social justice, or volunteer work.

Presented to a junior who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and scholarly research in a rigorous college preparatory program. 

Given to outstanding juniors who display excellence in scholarship, character and commitment to others.

Given to juniors having an academic interest in engineering, business, science or liberal arts.
Achievement Award: SEBASTIAN LASHMET
Leadership Award: AARON STEIN

Presented to an academically outstanding junior who demonstrates intellectual leadership and strong character.  This student also best exemplifies the spirit behind Princeton’s motto, “In the Nation’s Service and in the Service of Humanity.”

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.

Awarded to juniors who exhibit excellent academic achievement and who contribute to the extracurricular activities of the school.





for outstanding senior English students.

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.


Awarded to an exceptional junior who has achieved outstanding scholarship in the subject of Social Studies.

Given to a senior who has shown exceptional growth in the field of Social Studies.


Given to a senior who has excelled in American History, European History, and/or the senior electives.

Presented to a senior who is an outstanding and serious history scholar.

Given to a student who has an interest and passion in historic research to honor North Castle’s late town historians.



for outstanding achievement in Mathematics.
Outstanding Senior: BENJAMIN CURLEY
Outstanding Junior: SARINA METSCH


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. 

for outstanding achievement in Math/Science.


Presented to a senior who can manage long-term projects from inception to conclusion and create solutions in non-traditional ways.

Awarded to an outstanding senior for excellence in science.

Presented to an outstanding junior science student.

Awarded to an outstanding junior for potential in science.



Honors the senior that has demonstrated a superior command of the language:
For general excellence in French: AYAKA AMMON
For general excellence in Italian: DANIEL NDOCAJ
For general excellence in Spanish: MARGARET POLLACK

Awarded to a senior that has demonstrated a superior command of two upper level languages, taken concurrently.

















Presented to a senior who has demonstrated resilience and has been a positive contributor to the Byram Hills High School community.

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.

This award is granted to a senior on the basis of leadership, character, dedication, loyalty, humanity, and interest in education.

This award goes to a senior who has a humanitarian outlook, a willingness to extend herself for others, and an optimistic approach to life and its challenges.

BHHS Awards Recipients


Almost, MaineThe Varley Players at Byram Hills High School charmed audiences with a heartwarming trip filled with love and loss to the imaginary place called Almost, Maine.

“Congratulations to the cast and crew of Almost, Maine,” said director Dr. Douglas Coates, the Byram Hills chorus and theater teacher. “I am exceptionally proud of our students. Their dedication was remarkable.”

The 2004 play by John Cariani is told in vignettes and set in a span of 10 minutes on a winter Friday night, capturing a snapshot of ordinary lives touched by the extraordinary. With a nod to Shakespeare’s comedies, the play has been called “A Midwinter Night’s Dream,” Dr. Coates said, with the magic of love and serendipity.

Almost, Maine, performed on May 17 and 18, portrays regular people grappling with universal themes amid the backdrop of rural America. The characters, grounded in small-town life, navigate the complexities of poverty, unemployment, addiction and the bittersweet undercurrents of hope and despair.

“In embracing the challenge of bringing their characters to life, the students demonstrated remarkable insight and empathy,” Dr. Coates said. “Stepping beyond the confines of their own experiences, they delved into the lives of others, discovering shared humanity amid diverse circumstances.”

“Their portrayal of the joys and challenges faced by the residents of ‘Almost’ reflects not only their talent but also their deep understanding of the human condition,” he added. “Through their terrific performances, they have illuminated the universality of human emotions, bridging the gap between different worlds with sensitivity and grace.”

Almost, MaineJunior Sophia Getz, who played Hope, said the casting was amazing and the show brought the cast and crew close together.

“In this production, I was able to understand my character on an extremely personal level and really bond with both cast and crew members,” she said. “In my senior year, I genuinely can’t wait to continue building the amazing environment and relationships that bloomed in Almost, Maine. I can’t believe it all went by so fast.”

Junior Paley Kirschner played Rhonda, a tough, outdoorsy girl who works at Bushey’s Lumber Mill and loves snowmobiling. Rhonda isn’t your typical romantic lead, Paley says, “she’s strong, energetic, and a bit gruff, which made her a really fun and challenging character to bring to life.” 

Almost, Maine is a play that stays with you,” Paley adds. “It reminds us that love is everywhere, even in the coldest, most unexpected places. It taught me a lot about stepping out of my comfort zone and embracing the unknown, much like Rhonda does. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a beautiful production and to share this story with our audience.”
Jackson Pravda, who played Phil, said: “This is the most beautiful show I have ever been a part of. From the Northern Lights to the beautiful sets, this show constructs a gorgeous and cohesive setting to build a story upon.”

“The design of Almost, Maine has many different scenes with many different characters where all of them are in love, falling in love, or falling out of love,” said Jackson, also a junior. “The thought process of how to portray such intense emotions was a great learning process for everybody. The dedication of the entire cast was crucial in the process of bringing it before an audience on stage.”

Almost, Maine

Byram Hills Budget PassesVoters passed the Byram Hills Central School District’s 2024-2025 budget and the use of capital reserve funds for the Lights, Learning, Action! renovation project at Byram Hills High School.

The budget passed with 1,018 yes to 161 no votes and the capital project was passed with  1,018 yes to #162 no votes in the May 21, 2024 election.

The $103,464,726 budget reflects a budget-to-budget increase of 3.75% and a 3.28% increase in the tax levy. The budget remains within the tax cap while maintaining class size guidelines, all academic programs that have supported student success, all athletic and extracurricular programs and all transportation services.

Voters also passed a proposition that allows the District to use $8 million from the Capital Reserve Fund for Lights, Learning, Action! The multiyear renovation project at the high school would create The Learning Commons, a reconstruction of the library, hallway and lecture hall; install a turf field; and add lighting on all fields and courts. 

“Thank you to our school community voters for passing the 2024-2025 school budget and for supporting the renovation project at Byram Hills High School,” Superintendent Dr. Jen Lamia said.

“The budget, which is within the tax levy limit, will allow for continued high-quality education and programs for all students,” she said. “The renovation project will create the 21st-century learning spaces that our students need and deserve. The enhancements to our athletic facilities will extend field usage and provide opportunities for exciting evening events. We are grateful for the continued support of our wonderful community.”

Incumbent trustees Scott Levy and Petrie Verma were elected to the Board of Education for three-year terms.

Board of Education vote totals:

Scott Levy - 1,003
Petri Verma - 816 
Diana Barrera Torre - 352
Write in - 15

SamaraByram Hills High School senior Samara Brown won a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship. She is one of 2,500 Merit Scholars chosen from more than 15,000 finalists in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program.

The National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners are the finalists from each state found to have the strongest mix of accomplishments, skills and potential to succeed in rigorous college studies, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

Samara will attend Wesleyan University and plans to major in English, for creative writing or literature.

“This impressive achievement does not surprise me given Samara's extraordinary motivation and intellectual curiosity,” said her school counselor, Keara Hunt. “Samara is a gifted student who excels in all academic areas while always remaining true to herself. This scholarship is a testament to her hard work, dedication, and exceptional abilities. I know that Samara will continue to make outstanding contributions in college and beyond.”

The scholarship winners were chosen by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors who reviewed the students’ academic record, scores from the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, contributions and leadership in school and community activities, an essay and a recommendation from a high school official.

Students entered the National Merit Scholarship competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test as juniors, which served as an initial screening.

At a ceremonial signing day event attended by proud family members, students and school officials, Byram Hills High School celebrated nine student-athletes who have committed to playing their sport in college next year. 

“We recognize and honor nine outstanding student-athletes taking their craft, their sport, to the next level,” Rob Castagna, the District’s director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics, said at the April 29 event. “These remarkable seniors have dedicated countless hours to training, competing and achieving excellence in their respective sports.”
The students are Dario Amicucci, High Point University, track and field; Anastasia Byrnes, American University, lacrosse; Grace Corelli, University of Rochester, basketball;
Billy Gillespie, College of the Holy Cross, soccer; Jack Quinn, Hamilton College, football; Tyson Repa, Union College, basketball; Elsa Rolfs, University of Wisconsin-Madison, rowing; Mike Torre, Merrimack College, golf; and Nikolet Vataj, Sarah Lawrence College, volleyball.

Before introducing the students and highlighting their accomplishments, Byram Hills teacher and boys soccer coach Matt Allen applauded them for investing in themselves, their sport and their community.

“You represent the best of high school athletics and now you carry the torch for us, yet wear a different jersey,” he said. “Just remember, success comes from investment. So please, enjoy your ride, but remember to invest yourself. Immerse yourself in the love and passion for the sport. In essence, be Bobcats.”

A closer look at the athletes:

Dario Amicucci, High Point University, track and field, Division I: Dario is a stellar athlete who runs with great intensity and power. He holds the Byram Hills record for the 55 meter, with a time of 6.61 during the 2024 indoor season, and the 100-meter record, with a time of 10.98.

Anastasia Byrnes, American University, lacrosse, Division I: Anastasia is a two-year varsity captain, appeared on the LoHud Girls Lacrosse watchlist for four years, a four-year All-League player, three-year All-Section player and is the Byram Hills all-time leading scorer. 

She is also a senior mentor and a peer tutor at Byram Hills, a Con Edison Scholar Athlete Award winner, and a Sylvia Rodgers Scholarship award winner; she finished first nationally in a Global Changemaker Project, competing against 200 other applicants.

Grace Corelli, University of Rochester, basketball: Grace was a four-year All-League player, reaching the regional championship game in ninth grade alongside her older sister, Beth. In 10th grade, she was All-Conference and league co-MVP, in 11th grade, she was All-Conference, All-Section and league MVP, and in her senior year, she was All-Conference, All-Section and a 1,000-point scorer. She also was a four-year varsity soccer player, and served as captain.

At Byram Hills, she is a high school science ambassador, a chemistry teaching assistant, a member of FAST, a peer tutor, and a religion teacher at St. Anthony’s.

Billy Gillespie, College of the Holy Cross, soccer, Division I: Billy played for Byram Hills for his senior season, giving it his all. He finished with 17 goals, made incredible plays to lead the team to a state final and was named Bobcat of the Season in the fall. A highlight came when he made a no-look pass in overtime to seal the win that advanced Byram to the state final.

Jack Quinn, Hamilton College, football: Jack has been an invaluable team member since sophomore year, starting on offense and defense. He is fast, strong and talented, with a unique, tactical approach. He was All-Section, All-League, won the Golden Dozen Award, was team MVP, and had 92 solo tackles in eight games. He also played lacrosse and is the Byram Hills all-time saves leader.

Tyson Repa, Union College, basketball: This past season, Tyson guided the Bobcats to a sectional title, with an average of 18.8 points a game, six rebounds and five assists. While he finished his high school career with 1,070 points and was a well-rounded player, he was known for getting his teammates involved. This year, he was first team All-Section, league MVP, All-State and named one of the top players in Westchester County. He is the first player in Byram Hills history to win All-State first team honors.

Elsa Rolfs, University of Wisconsin-Madison, rowing, Division I: Elsa is an outstanding lightweight rower who trained with RowAmerica Rye. She has competed in four national championships and finished in the top 250 in the World ERG Challenge. 

Mike Torre, Merrimack College, golf, Division I: Mike is a phenomenal golfer and has excelled as a player, improving every year. He finished 12th in the sectional finals last year. He shot a career low 65 as well, making his score among the top in Westchester County. 

Nikolet Vataj, Sarah Lawrence College, volleyball: The team’s great success this year was due in large part to Nikolet’s performance, leadership and passion. This past season, she was the Conference Player of the Year and named to the All-State first team, with 299 kills, 79 aces, 230 digs. In the playoffs, she had 19 aces and 122 kills.

At a ceremonial signing day event attended by proud family members, students and school officials, Byram Hills High School celebrated nine student-athletes who have committed to playing their sport in college next year. 

At a ceremonial signing day event attended by proud family members, students and school officials, Byram Hills High School celebrated nine student-athletes who have committed to playing their sport in college next year. 

Byram Hills High School inducted 56 students into the Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society, celebrating their hard work, achievements and commitment to math-related service activities including the much-loved puzzle day event.

“It is a pleasure to be here tonight to celebrate the mathematical accomplishments of each and every student standing up here,” math teacher and Mu Alpha Theta adviser Elyse Cohen said at the April 25 induction ceremony. “These students have worked hard to be in the seats they are in today.”

For membership, students need an A average in at least two levels of high school math and must perform 10 hours of community service. At least half of the hours must be devoted to Mu Alpha Theta activities like puzzle day and tutoring students at the high school and H.C. Crittenden Middle School.

At the ceremony, the honor society officers discussed the history of mathematics and shared their reflections on the Byram Hills math program.

Daniel Ndocaj, the vice president, noted that math is different than other subjects. When preparing for a math test, he’s often heard the general advice that “all you need to know is everything you’ve ever learned in math.” 

“When I look back on my math journey at Byram Hills, the moments that especially stick out are those times when a previously learned concept is applied to solve new problems, especially when we would have never thought to do so,” he said. “Math encourages not just pattern recognition, but also curiosity to understand what can be applied where, and how it all fits together.”

Noting that he plans to major in engineering in college, he said, “I feel well prepared and confident that I can thrive, not necessarily because of the math I learned, but more importantly, the skills and mindsets I developed to be an effective learner and problem solver. Through years in math at Byram Hills, I’m sure that the candidates today can say the same thing in a few years.”
Jonathan Manowitz, the co-secretary, said what stood out for him was how “inclusive and supportive” he found the Byram Hills math community to be.

“Even though we are assessed individually, the Byram Hills math experience is still defined by extraordinary collaboration and mutual support,” he said. “I've found that students work to succeed together alongside their peers rather than against their peers. This sense of community makes our math classes much more than just lessons. They’re collaborative experiences in which we are all encouraged to explore, ask questions and support each other. It’s this environment that has truly defined my experience with math at Byram Hills.”

Joseph Palackal, co-secretary, said while his math knowledge had expanded exponentially at Byram Hills, “in all honesty, my greatest takeaway from my four years here was not the math itself, it was the other skills that came with it.”

“As the concepts became increasingly challenging, and classes started to move at a quicker pace, the most effective way for me to learn was in collaboration with friends and classmates,” he said. 

Each inductee was recognized and received a blue and gold Mu Alpha Theta tassel.

The new members are: Sage Auster, Beatrice Bachmann, Spencer Berkowitz, Zachary Berman, Daphne Bernstein, Anika Bobra, Laila Byles, Sophie Cai, Sienna Cavada, Max Charney, Lauren Chase, Sloane Dany, Noah Drazner, Ari Dreilinger, Kimberly Eagle, Keira Eckhardt, Dahlia Flores, Alexandros Gaillas, Alexandra Gann, Jillian Gendal, Alexa Goldberg, Joshua Goldman, Ariana Reese Guido, Zoe Harris, Miguel Heredia, Anna Higgins, Mason Jacob, Chase Keller, Tyler Kravitz, Sophia Kulik, Inaara Lalani, Sebastian Lashmet, Lincoln Lentini, Alexander Lewis, Selina Li, Ethan Lipton, Molly Malter, Claire Mauney, Evan McCauley, Kayleigh McLaughlin, Maya Molloy, Maxwell Moy, Eve Nepo, Angelina Nie, Mykola Nychka, Amanda Olego, Maeve Padley, Addison Rappaport, Harli Rappaport, Abigael Rondeau, Ella Saltstein, Ava Schoenhaut, Avni Sundaram, Jordan Tolchin, Allison Tsay and Logan Verma.

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.

CLICK HERE to view the full ceremony.

Mu Alpha

Byram Hills High School celebrated the artistic talents of 20 students, inducting them into the National Art Honor Society.

Director of Fine Arts Marc Beja opened the April 17 induction ceremony, which recognized the students for their commitment to community service in the arts and their visual arts courses.

“In my short time at Byram Hills, I’ve been really fortunate to see the District’s commitment to the arts, from our students’ first days in kindergarten at Coman Hill, all the way through the offerings here at the high school,” he said.

The National Art Education Association started the National Art Honor Society in 1978 to recognize students for outstanding ability and interest in art. The Byram Hills chapter was formed in 2018 and is dedicated to providing students with opportunities to broaden their knowledge of the arts and serve their community. 

For induction, Byram Hills students must maintain an A average in their arts courses and a B cumulative GPA in all other subjects. Students are eligible for membership in 10th grade after completing Studio Art and two art electives.

During the induction ceremony, the honor society officers, Avery Talbot, president; Lila Raff and Elizabeth Albright, co-vice presidents; and Jessica Freiberg, secretary/treasurer;
discussed their journeys through the Byram Hills art program and with the honor society.

Lila talked about her fascination with the interplay of light and shadow and her work focusing on daylight and the passage of time. 

“As a leader in the National Art Honor Society, I’ve been privileged to explore avenues for artistic outreach and community engagement,” she said. “This experience underscored the myriad ways in which art can enrich lives and foster connections with the Byram Hills community and beyond.”

Avery discussed her work reflecting on her childhood memories and thoughts and emotions about getting older. “I am thankful for the invaluable lessons I have learned at Byram Hills,” she said. “I extend my appreciation to the National Art Honor Society for the opportunity to lead and to the dedicated art teachers that have guided me over the past four years.” 

At Byram Hills, Elizabeth said she has been able to experiment with all kinds of media, “which pushed me to go out of my comfort zone and get creative.”

“I’m so lucky to have such amazing and supportive art teachers who want nothing but the best for the students and their creative minds.”

Jessica described her photographs of New York City and collage work.

“Being part of the National Art Honor Society has allowed me to expand my skills and passion for art,” she said.  “As I move on to college, I will take with me everything my teachers have taught me and will use them as a guide and whenever and wherever I may use my artistic abilities.” 

The officers also highlighted projects and activities that NAHS members participated in during the year.

  • Students’ work was included at the Armonk Outdoor Art Show, a juried fine art and design show.
  • Students painted pumpkins inspired by the artists Keith Haring, Tim Burton and Yayoi Kusama, as well as Halloween designs. In the days before Halloween, the creative pumpkins could be seen in many classrooms.  
  • Students launched the Butterfly Project at Byram Hills. The project is an effort to remember the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust through the beauty of ceramic butterflies, which will eventually become part of a permanent installation.
  • Students created Valentine-O-Grams, electronic Valentine’s Day cards that were sent with personalized messages. They received 275 orders. 
  • To lift spirits, students painted kind words on rocks and spread them throughout school.
  • In a new project this year, students crocheted adorable little animals for patients at a children’s hospital. They also made cards for people in the hospital, featuring uplifting messages and colorful illustrations.
  • Two students made the New York City finals of the global sustainable fashion contest Junk Kouture.
  • Through the Memory Project, students received photographs of orphaned children in India who may have few personal possessions. The students made portraits of the children to honor their unique identities that will be mailed to India for them to have as keepsakes.

The honor society advisers, art teachers Jayne Karlin and Amy Menasche, called each inductee to receive a membership certificate as their artwork was displayed on a large screen on the stage.

The students inducted were: Lilly Alonzo, Sarah Bogart, Charlotte Brodbeck, Laila Byles, Sophie Cai, Rylie Casler, Riley Conigliaro, Amelia Deeks, Ari Dreilinger, Sophia Getz, Sonia Kulik, Isabella Lamberti, Thomas Levy, Thomas Lin, Savannah Mathis, Angelina Nie, Giada Rocco, Kaylee Shinar, Ruby Smalheiser and Ashley Stangel.

Past inductees were also recognized at the ceremony for their continued work with NAHS.



AidanWith an engaging 10-minute address on free speech, Byram Hills High School senior Aidan Aldea-Lustig became the back-to-back state champion in the Original Oratory Speech event at the New York State Forensic League Championships.

Aidan, president of the Byram Hills Speech and Debate Team, won the title on April 14 at The Bronx High School of Science, where he bested 33 other students from across the state. 

In the Original Oratory Speech event, often called the Ted Talk competition, students research, write, memorize and deliver an original speech on a pressing social issue and try to persuade the judges that their topic is meaningful. 

“Adian’s repeat win in Original Oratory solidifies him as one of the best competitors in the history of the competition,” said Thomas Andriello, director of the Byram Hills Speech and Debate Team. “His speech ‘Giving Voice to Freedom’ on the role free speech plays in our society was timely and engaging. His dedication to competitive speech has allowed him to earn back-to-back championships, while also establishing Byram Hills as one of the stronger speech teams in New York State.”

Mr. Andriello noted that the category is unique because it combines the skills of writing a research paper with the performance skills required to keep someone’s attention for 10 minutes.

“What makes Aidan a champion is that he is excellent at both aspects,” he said. “His writing and research are superb. His speech was funny and serious, provided well-sourced data to support his argument and was structured to maximize engagement. He is also a natural speaker in front of groups. That combination is rare and is why he has risen to the top over the past two years.”

Aidan, a four-year member of the Byram Hills team who has competed in various individual public speaking events, called Original Oratory Speech his favorite.

“Winning States two years in a row is a tremendous honor,” he said. “I’m so grateful to have even had the opportunity to qualify to compete at this tournament alongside some of the most talented and extraordinary students in New York.”

“Speech and Debate has not only made me a better speaker, but a better person, and I am profoundly grateful to my coaches, teammates, volunteer judges, and all the other competitors for this extraordinary experience,” he added.

Students qualified to compete at the state championships based on their results throughout the school year. The other Byram Hills students who received awards at the state championships were:

- Alyssa Chen and Lindsay Coady, both sophomores, competed in Public Forum Debate and finished 20th out of 61 teams in their division.
- Vedanshi Ravi, a ninth grader, finished sixth out of 58 in Declamation Speech. 
- Emi Nagura, a sophomore, finished fifth out of 58 in Declamation Speech.
- Allegra Jooss-Mangerini, a senior, finished fourth out of 23 in Oral Interpretation.
- Valentina Marino, a senior, finished fourth out of 19 in Dramatic Interpretation.

Speech and Debate

Byram Hills High School inducted 14 members of the band, choir and orchestra into the Tri-M Music Honor Society, a recognition of their musical skills and accomplishments, leadership and service.

Director of Fine Arts Marc Beja opened the ceremony on April 15, welcoming the inductees, their families and friends, and school officials. He praised the students as role models in the District for the way they conduct themselves when they are in front of an audience - and when they are not.

“They’re leaders who have shared their musical talents with our community countless times, they’ve achieved top marks in their ensembles at New York State music festival adjudications and in their overall academic program,” he said. “They make our community a more musical and joyful place.” 

The honor society, a program of the National Association for Music Education, recognizes students for their accomplishments in music based on musicianship, scholarship, character leadership and service. The organization’s high standards are a reminder of each inductee’s passion, work ethic, service and achievement in the performing arts, said Aaron Lockwood, the Byram Hills orchestra director and Tri-M Music Honor Society adviser.

“The students we will be celebrating tonight are caring, dedicated, hard-working people and musicians,” he said. “They are leaders in our school and continually find ways to share their musical talents with the school and community. They are models of excellence who have masterfully balanced academic, music and service requirements.”

The inductees, Mr. Lockwood said, have displayed leadership in their school ensembles, “showing a high degree of loyalty, cooperation, leadership and passion.” Many have participated in honors ensembles at the county and All-State levels. The inductees understand the importance of creating community in their ensembles in school, Mr. Lockwood said, “sharing their love of music every day, going above and beyond of what is asked of them.”

To be inducted, students must be a member of a musical ensemble for two years, have an A in their music ensemble classes, a B+ overall academic average and participate in school and community service events.

The inductees were Beatrice Bachmann, orchestra; Juliette Brey, orchestra; Gavin Bunting, orchestra; Ariana Guido, orchestra; Joshua Herr, band; Paley Kirschner, choir; Max Leopold, choir; Aiden Lipton, choir; Emi Nagura, choir; Nicole Nassar, band; Amanda Olego, orchestra; Evan Reiss, orchestra; Avni Sundaram, orchestra; and Alexandra Zodda, orchestra.

The honorary inductee was Andrea DeLorenzo, secretary to the Director of Fine Arts. She was introduced by chorus teacher Dr. Douglas Coates as “the heart and soul of the Byram Hills Fine Arts family” who has served the department for two decades.

“It’s been a pleasure working with all of the students and all of the faculty in this department and the art department,” Mrs. DeLorenzo said. “It’s been a great time.”

Byram Hills music students captivated the audience with beautiful music. Tri-M members Lauren Chase and Laila Byles, both juniors who were inducted last year, performed a violin duet from Six Petitis Duos, and Evan McCauley, also a junior inducted a year ago, played Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14, also called “Moonlight” Sonata. Junior Paley Kirschner, inducted this year, sang Judy Garland’s version of “Get Happy.”

Tri-M New Inductees


Eight Byram Hills High School students were honored for their creativity by winning regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, with two advancing to the national competition. 

Five students were honored for art and three were recognized for writing. 

Region-at-Large East Art Awards

The awards recognized outstanding merit in originality, skill and personal voice and vision. A panel of creative professionals reviewed the entries.

Junior Bella Lamberti, Gold Key, painting, for “Fractured Self Portrait”

Sophomore Angelina Nie, Gold Key, drawing and illustration, for “Awaiting” and Silver Key, drawing and illustration, for “Hidden Beauty”

Junior Alexa Shuster, Honorable Mention, painting, for “Mother” and Honorable Mention, drawing and illustration, for “Lord of the Flies”

Senior Ruby Smalheiser, Silver Key, photography, for “The Roads Ahead”

Senior Alexander Woodworth, Honorable Mention, photography, for “At the Carnival” and “Standalone”

Hudson-to-Housatonic Region Writing Awards

The winning entries were selected by a panel of novelists, editors, teachers, poets, librarians, and journalists from 2,708 works submitted.

Senior Carissa Chung, Silver Key, personal essay and memoir, for “Disappearing Act”

Freshman Justin Isban, Honorable Mention, poetry, for “Whispers of Victory”

Junior Inaara Lalani, Silver Key, personal essay and memoir, for “Overcoming the Storm”

Gold Key works in art and writing were automatically advanced to the national level of judging.

Since 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, presented by The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, have recognized achievement in the visual and literary arts and are a source of scholarships for creative teenagers.


Fractured Self Portrait 

“Awaiting,” by sophomore Angelina Nie and “Fractured Self Portrait” by junior Bella Lamberti won Gold Key awards and advanced to the national competition.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HCC Wall Murals 3


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BHHS WESEFA look at the Byram Hills winners:

Best in Category Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mamma Mia 1

Mamma Mia 2

Mamma Mia 3

Mamma Mia 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Band Festival

Chorus Festival

String Festival

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HCC Author Visit


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Aladdin 2

Aladdin 3


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

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

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

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

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

National Merit FInalists

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