January 2018 Education Roundup

From pint-sized programmers to budding artists and authors, recycling rangers, remarkable readers, achieving athletes, mellifluous musicians, and most of all, kids who care enough to help other children in need worldwide, students of all ages kept area schools bustling with activity and excitement throughout November and December – with holiday cheer always a shimmering part of the mix.


Minecraft and Dash the Robot Teach Coding at Dows Lane

Photo: Dows Lane Elementary School participated in coding and computer programming activities for the worldwide Hour of Code in December.

Billed as “the largest learning event in history,” kindergarten through third-graders at Dows Lane Elementary School in Irvington joined millions of students from around the world in a variety of coding and computer programming activities for an Hour of Code, a popular feature of Computer Science Education Week in December. Dows Lane has incorporated coding and computer programming into its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum, and it continues to be an ongoing initiative throughout the District.

Third-graders in Gwenn Carney’s “Project Lead the Way” classes used Minecraft, a video game that places blocks in a 3-D generated world.

Carney, a technology teacher for 26 years, spoke of the shortage of students going to college for engineering and technology-related fields, noting, “We’re hoping to encourage students to learn about the new technology that’s coming our way.”

Kindergartners, first- and second-graders interacted with Wonder Workshop’s Dash, a programmable robot that brings coding to life.

“Our younger students are … learning how to make the robot move and by exploring … lights, sounds, sensors and movements,” said library media specialist Kate Lalier, who added that older students learn programming through the drag-and-drop Blockly app.

“It’s never too early to bring computer science and coding to our K-3 students,” Principal Deb Mariniello said.

Dows Lane Students Donate to Storm-Ravaged Puerto Rico

Dows Lane Elementary School students and staff are reaching out to help students in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Together they have donated more than 200 pounds of school supplies to the Juana Colon School in Comerio, where virtually everything was destroyed when the storm left the school inundated in more than 10 feet of water.

“I hope our students took away the simple lesson of how good it feels to give, and felt pride in the amazing job that they all did,” said Laurel Warager, a first-grade teacher who spearheaded the initiative. “For some, this may be one of their first experiences in what it means to be a global citizen.”

Dows Lane Raises $1,759 for UNICEF

Dows Lane Elementary School students raised $1,759.44 for the United Nations Children’s Fund this year. Under Irvington teachers Susan Buck and Diane Kiernan, the students began collecting money on Halloween using Trick or Treat for UNICEF boxes. Sunnyside Bank in Irvington allowed teachers to use the coin counting machine to tally the change collected.

Since 1998, the school has contributed over $50,000 to UNICEF via the Halloween drive, an effort spearheaded by Sarah Carnahan, a fondly-remembered Dows Lane teacher.

Main Street School students expressed their imagination and created art, inspired by Romare Bearden, for Eyes on Art.Dows Lane, Main Street School Students Focus “Eyes on Art”

Students at Dows Lane Elementary School and Main Street School in Irvington expressed their imagination and created art inspired by artist Romare Bearden in November and December as part of the PTSA-funded Eyes on Art program. Bearden is known for art that celebrates the African-American experience, which he integrated into greater American modernism.

Elissa Strauss and Lori Hecker, a mother-daughter team and co-directors of the Eyes on Art program, trained parent volunteers to provide biographical and historical information about Bearden, then instructed students on the elements of art and examined how the artist used these to convey his message.

Strauss offered special thanks to program co-chairs Stacey Rosenkranz and Rebecca Rikon at Dows Lane and Lisa Izes at Main Street School, and to Main Street School Principal Joyce Chapnick, Dows Lane Principal Deb Marinello, art teacher Nina Rossi, and Jen Barnett and the PTSA. Visit the PTSA website at www.irvingtonnyptsa.org/eyes-on-art.

“The students reflected upon how the artist layered his life experiences into his collages, and created their own individual collages that layered aspects from their own lives, interests and experiences, while jazz music was played in the background as inspiration,” Strauss and Hecker said.

L-R: Irvington High School students Miranda Farman, Jess Greene, Zoe Maxwell, Luke Caromsino and Eric Pastarnack, cross-country coach Chris Barry and Athletic Director Arthur McCormack.Irvington High School Athletes Honored

Five Irvington High School athletes were recognized with certificates at the December 5 Board of Education meeting.

“These five athletes have not only demonstrated a high level of performance that was recognized on both the Section and State level, but they have led their teams, through unselfish play, to make their teammates the best they could be,” Athletic Director Arthur McCormack said.

Luke Caromsino, a senior and boys varsity cross-country team member, was the Section One Class C champion this year, his second title in three years.

Miranda Farman, a junior and girls varsity soccer team member, received All-Section honors. Twice recognized for All-League honors, she was a part of three league championship teams and two sectional final teams.

Jess Greene, a senior and girls varsity soccer team member, received All-Section honors. Three times recognized for All-League honors, she was a part of three league championship teams and two sectional final teams.

Zoe Maxwell, a senior and girls varsity soccer team member, scored 40 goals this season to bring her career total to 116, the school’s all-time record. She is a three-time All-League and All-Section selection, and was voted by the New York State Sportswriters Association to the New York State Class B first team. Maxwell also received the prestigious Con Edison Athlete of the Week award and was selected as the Westchester County Player of the Year by the Journal News.

Eric Pastarnack, a senior and boys varsity soccer team member, received All-Section honors. He has twice been selected as All-League.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kristopher Harrison expressed pride in the students not only for their impressive accomplishments, but for representing “themselves and the Irvington school community so well.”

Dows Lane third-grade Recycling Rangers handle the school’s recycling every TuesdayRecycling Rangers at Dows Lane

Every Tuesday, Dows Lane Elementary School third-grade Recycling Rangers roll up their sleeves and head to work handling the school’s recycling.

Chris Cullen, a third-grade teacher who runs the program, said, “It teaches them the importance of doing their civic duty and provides many learning experiences while fostering responsibility, community relations and working as a team.”

Sara Laub and Sophia Meyer go on the defense against the Lincoln Lancers at the Howard Godwin Holiday Basketball Tournament.Tarrytown

High School Basketball Players Compete at County-wide Godwin Games

The fans cheered on their Horsemen at the 26th Annual Howard Godwin Holiday Basketball Tournament on November 30 through December 2, as the Sleepy Hollow Girls and Boys Varsity Basketball Teams took on players from around the County. Sleepy Hollow School Board President Mimi Godwin’s late husband, Howard, started the tournament in 1992 to give students in the District an opportunity to be part of something bigger.

“He loved these kids,” Godwin said as she watched the teams play. “He wanted them to have their own tournament.”

The SHHS team members started each game by shaking Godwin’s hand as they entered the court.  The players showed their skills and sportsmanship throughout.  Trophies were handed to the winning teams, the Ossining Boys and Mamaroneck Girls, at the end of the tournament. Money raised will help fund the Varsity Athletic Awards Dinner in June.

Celebrating the SeasonBrittney Trenczer conducts the Sleepy Hollow Middle School Orchestra at the Winter Concert.

Students from the Tarrytowns celebrated the holiday season by filling the air with beautiful melodies as musicians and singers participated in the Winter Concerts at Sleepy Hollow Middle and High School. The orchestra, chorus, and band performed under the direction of Brittney Trenczer, Gail Persad, choral accompanists Scott Treibitz, Austin Day and Micah Sprague. The students offered a number of traditional and contemporary pieces that got everyone into the holiday spirit!

Washington Irving Intermediate school students also delighted audiences. Many thanks to directors David DiLeo, Neal Spitzer, Christopher Funke and accompanist Scott Treibitz.

Author and illustrator Mark Siegel meets with young authors after his presentation at Washington Irving School.Author, Illustrator and Parent Inspires Washington Irving Students

Words and pictures came to life for fifth graders at Washington Irving when award-winning author and illustrator – and parent – Mark Siegel visited the school on Friday, December 15 and inspired the young audience. Siegel, the father of a WI fifth grader and a seventh grader at Sleepy Hollow Middle School, is well-known to the students for his books including Oskar and the Eight Blessings and 5 Worlds.

“This is who it is for,” he said, noting that the students give him motivation.

Oskar and the Eight Blessings introduces children to serious issues such as hate, fear and racism in a fairytale-like style. The story takes place in 1938 when Oskar, a young Jewish boy, finds refuge in New York City and discovers eight blessings, one for each night of Hanukkah. Fifth-grade teacher Heather Resnick organized the visit during the holidays to stress the book’s message of hope.

Siegel explained the process that he and his team undertake to transform an idea into a published book.  Pleased to see that some of the children are creating their own stories, he encouraged the students to nurture their talents.

“You have to feed your inspiration and it will grow,” he said. “If some of these children hold onto their inspiration and passion, it’s an awesome reward.”

Briarcliff Manor

BHS Counseling Coordinator Meredith Safer; HOBY 2017 Alternate Christopher Li; Jason Heitzler; and BHS Principal Debra French.Students Recognized for Leadership

Jackson Heitzler of Briarcliff High School has been selected to represent the District at the Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership program at Adelphi University in June 2018.

During the three-to-four-day seminar, HOBY ambassadors will meet, interact with, and question current young leaders in such fields as government, media, business, and education.

Actor Hugh O’Brian (best known as TV’s Wyatt Earp) founded the non-profit organization in 1958 to foster leadership, service and innovation in youth and “to motivate and empower individuals to make a positive difference within our global society, through understanding and action based on effective and compassionate leadership.”

Heitzler’s winning essay on leadership was chosen in a blind reading by the school’s four counselors; Christopher Li was selected as the alternate.

Coordinator of Counseling, Meredith Safer, explained that Jackson received the highest score for taking a different approach. “He talked about standing up for a friend and helping a new student integrate into the Briarcliff community,” Safer explained.

Li’s essay,  a juxtaposing of his two differing activities, sports and volunteer work, was also compelling.

Heitzler said, “Being a leader means believing both in yourself and others, while standing up for what you believe is right, rather than what is popular.”

Briarcliff’s winning athletes: Alex Leahy, soccer; Kaleigh Gowan, volleyball; Carly Schwab, swimming; Claire Goldstein, swimming; Yasmin Hill, diving; and Anna Keatron, swimming.Congrats to Briarcliff Manor’s All-State Athletes

Briarcliff is proud of its athletes who continue to be heralded for their stellar achievements.  This year the dedicated students tookhonors in soccer, swimming – four honorees! – and volleyball.

Alex Leahy, a soccer player, won numerous accolades this season including Player of the Year, All-Section, League MVP and All-League, as he helped lead the Bears to the Class B finals.

The quartet of sterling swimmers are: Anna Ketron, the State champion in the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle relay, who was also named All-League; Carly Schwab, a State champion in the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard breaststroke, the 200-yard medley relay and 200-yard freestyle, who earned All-State and All-League honors; Claire Goldstein, State champion in the 200-yard medley relay, who earned All-League honors; and Yasmin Hill, also a diver, who placed 5th out of 23 divers at the State championships and was a conference runner-up.

Kaleigh Gowan, a volleyball player, was named Conference Player of the Year, All-Section, and All-League as she led the Bears to the Class B finals.

Congratulations to all!

Briarcliff Middle School Mathletes L-R: BMS math teacher and Mathletes advisor Svetlana Ryzhik, Gautam Gupta, Lucas Martin, Gordon Beckler, and Kevin Cao. Not pictured Marlena Kuhn.

Briarcliff Middle School Mathletes participated in the American Mathematics Competitions, The AMC 8, which provides an opportunity for students to develop positive attitudes towards analytical thinking and mathematics through problem-solving challenges in a low-stress and friendly environment.

BMS’ top scorer, Lucas Martin, scored in the top 1% nationally and received an “Honor Roll of Distinction” certificate. BMS runner-up, Gautam Gupta, scored in the top 5% nationally, received an Honor Roll Certificate and a Certificate of Achievement for students in grade 6 or below who scored higher than 15 out of 25. Gordon Beckler (6th grade), Kevin Cao (7th grade), and Marlena Kuhn (8th grade) rounded out the Briarcliff presence at the competition and ended up placing third on the BMS school team.

BMS Math teacher and advisor, Svetlana Ryzhik, oversees the Mathletes meetings every other Wednesday, where students practice problems that stimulate and challenge their minds and help prepare them for team competitions, including Math Olympiads, Math Counts, Mathematical Association of America’s AMC 8.

Ryzhik said, “I am proud of the dedication and performance of all our Mathletes… Our team received a Certificate of Merit for a team score higher than 50.”


Kindergarteners Matthew Paute and Nayeli Ovalle donned masks and enjoyed the Super Readers’ onstage antics.Superheroes Reader Man and Reader Woman Engage Students at Park School

Ossining Superintendent Raymond Sanchez feigned great effort as he made his way to the Park School stage in December, allowing Carrieann Sipos, director of elementary teaching and learning, to help him slump wearily into a chair.

The dynamic duo donned red capes, sky blue shirts adorned with gold “RM” and “RW” stars, and red masks to transform themselves into Reader Man and Reader Woman. Their mission: help kindergarteners get excited about using their reader superpowers to conquer larger words and bigger books.

In the skit, Sanchez, as Reader Man, loses his reading powers. Reader Woman implores kindergarteners to help him by singing the Super Readers song, activating their reading superpowers, including pointer power, snap word power and reread power.

Once their powers were restored, Superintendent Sanchez as Reader Man and Sipos read the Gingerbread Man to children and encouraged them to also be super readers. The PTA donated a new book for each kindergartener to take home.

Zeriyah Williams gave Reader Man and Reader Woman a thumbs-up. “They were good because they read us a book,” she said.

Claremont Students Create, Experiment, Learn and Have Fun on Enrichment Day

Claremont School fourth-graders Mohammad Waris and Nick Cerbone conduct a dancing raisins experiment during the school’s recent Enrichment Day.From making raisins dance and concocting slime to building card houses and cooking wontons, Claremont School students enjoyed Enrichment Day on November 22, right before heading home for Thanksgiving.

The third- and fourth-graders learned about a range of topics such as the animals of the Galapagos Islands and participated in “Yoga and the Animal in You” workshops and others on how to create origami, hanging pinecone bird feeders and Thanksgiving bracelets.

The Claremont School PTA purchased supplies for many of the workshops and members volunteered in classrooms.

“The administrators, teachers and PTA all worked together to help children try something new or participate in an activity they are passionate about,” Principal Kate Mathews said.

Third-grader Melissa Abzun learned how to make a fall-themed wreath by gluing artificial leaves and ribbon to orange paper plates with the middle cut out.

Making slime, by far the most popular activity with eight sections per period, led fourth grader Richard Chillogallo to say, “This is the best day of my life. I wish we could do this every day,” as he mixed glue, shaving cream, laundry detergent and blue dye.

Ossining PTA Thanks Community for Generous Support on Giving Tuesday

Anne M. Dorner Middle School PTA members, teachers and administrators are proud of the PTA-created Giving Tree wall in the cafeteria that encourages students to tape messages about kindness to the tree.On #GivingTuesday, the Ossining School District received more than $2,000 in donations to fund enrichment programs and scholarships.

The contributions, which the Ossining PTA raised in under 24 hours, will go toward programs ranging from Enrichment Palooza at Park School to SAT Prep at Ossining High School.

“Giving Tuesday … was a huge success,” Ossining Superintendent Raymond Sanchez said. “This was the first year we actively participated and we are blown away by the outpouring of support. No matter the size of the donation, it is appreciated.”

“The generous donations are a vote of confidence for public education and Ossining,” PTA President Beth Sniffen said. Anyone who wants to contribute can still do so by clicking on the GoFundMe page.

Jessica Vecchiarelli, a Briarcliff Manor resident, who has a son at Brookside School and a daughter at Park School, spearheaded the #GivingTuesday initiative. “Here in Ossining we are so proud of our schools and our community,” she said. “As a parent, I want to do all I can to support my children and see Ossining grow.”

The Ossining School District has a long commitment to giving, from community members to faculty, staff, students and parents. The district’s ACTION committee, composed of District staff members and parent volunteers, collects books, clothing, food and other items for children and families.

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