Unraveling Gender festival scheduled for March 25 at NRHS
Unraveling Gender, a one day educational extravaganza that provides a safe space to discuss gender identity and expression, will take place on March 25 at New Rochelle High School.
The festival aims to celebrate diversity and foster an inclusive community where people of all genders can express themselves fully. The goal is to educate the community and create an open discussion where members can ask questions and talk with professionals.
The event is being organized by New Rochelle High School senior and Bezos Scholar Ana Acevedo. It will feature remarks from keynote speaker Sam Killermann, an author, speaker and social justice comedian. Reginald Richardson, NRHS principal, and Michael Hilderbrand, NRHS House IV principal, will also address the festival attendees. Other speakers include: Eileen Riemerschmid, Lisa Scott, Stephanie Herzog, Cody La Vada, Tyler Vadela, Montita Sowapark, Santiago Castillo, Julia Wiener and Jessica Fournier.
The festival is a free event. Middle school and high school students, parents, teachers, administrators, community officials and other community members are invited. It is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"We promise to provide a fun and interactive experience to ask the questions you have been too afraid to ask," Acevado said. "We also guarantee dynamic activities, wonderful entertainment, and amazing speakers. Our goal is to celebrate diversity and foster an inclusive community."
New Rochelle's Family University is planning an evening of education and information for middle and high school students and their parents. The event is a collaborative effort organized by New Rochelle FOCUS and the City School District of New Rochelle. The event will take place on Monday, March 13 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at New Rochelle High School.
The evening will educate parents on how to support their children in facing tough life challenges, including mental health issues, drugs and dangers online. Workshops will include strategies to reduce stress, combat anxiety, use technology appropriately, make healthy choices regarding sex, and recognize abusive behavior, among others.
The event's keynote speaker will be Ty Sells. His presentation, "Creating Connections That Count," will teach parents how to better connect with their children and provide a nurturing environment where that connection will flourish.
"Each year our numbers increase due to the quality of the workshops and the variety of the topics offered," said Linda Fosina, Coalition Coordinator for New Rochelle FOCUS. "It's a great evening for families. It sparks conversation between parent and child, which is so important to establishing healthy relationships."
The event will feature a hot dinner buffet from Gemelli Pizzeria and will be sponsored by New York-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital. As many as 350 to 400 attendees are expected, and pre-registration is highly recommended, although walk-in attendees are welcome. To get additional details and to pre-register, visit NRFOCUS.org or the school announcements section on the high school and middle schools' home pages.
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44 IEYMS students qualify for talented youth program
Last month, 89 students from Isaac E. Young Middle School took the School and College Ability Test (SCAT) to compete for entry into the Center for Talented Youth, a program run by Johns Hopkins University.
The school is proud to announce that 44 students made the cut for various programs.
"We are thrilled that so many students qualified for such a competitive program," said Dr. Tawanda Robinson, assistant principal at IEYMS. "Their success is a testament to the quality education provided throughout the school district, and the support and encouragement students receive from their families."
Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth identifies and develops the talents of the most advanced K-12 learners worldwide. It offers bright students the opportunity to engage in challenging academic work in the company of peers who share their exceptional abilities and love of learning.
While the focus is on rigorous academics and learning, the social experience that results from bringing these students together is an integral part of the program.
As many as 21 students qualified for summer academic programs, which include attending college-based classes and living on campus in one of several colleges around the country.
Fourteen students qualified for online courses and another nine for intensive study programs, which are college-based and three weeks long.
Martha Rodriguez, a counselor from IEYMS, coordinates the SCAT testing every year. Because fees for residential programs can be as high as $4,500, Rodriguez will work with families to secure financial aid from CTY for the programs and complete the necessary applications for course selections.
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Kaleidoscope students get taste of Chinese culture
Chinese dumplings, dim sum and even acrobats were part of a recent cultural experience enjoyed by students of Webster Elementary School's Kaleidoscope program as part of their Mandarin language class.
The 46 fourth and fifth-graders who learn Mandarin with Huanyue "Michelle" Wang, are in a two-year program featuring a rigorous and rich curriculum where they receive 40 minutes of instruction every other day. By the time fifth-grade is complete, they have a solid language footing.
"The students are working hard learning this new language," Wang said. "Compared to English, Mandarin is a very different language. In the beginning of fourth-grade, it is a challenge to learn a new symbol system. Students find it more enjoyable once they begin to understand the language."
Of the district's seven elementary schools, five - Davis, Ward, Webster, Barnard and Jefferson - offer foreign language classes, while two have none. Currently, the programs are very site-based and not formally structured by the district. A committee is looking into the disparity in foreign language offerings in the schools and will offer options to the Board of Education for a districtwide world language program.
At Webster, it's not just lessons in Chinese symbol reading, writing and pronunciation that are important. The cultural context of the language is just as critical.
The recent Chinese New Year offered an opportunity to reinforce just that. Every year, the Kaleidoscope program celebrates the Chinese New Year by making traditional foods and introducing students to unique arts, such as calligraphy.
This year, Wang's mother, Min Liu, who was visiting from China, came to Webster to show students how to make pork and chicken dumplings. Students also went on a field trip to Queens College to watch a performance by acrobats from Shanghai, China, followed by a special dim sum lunch at a nearby restaurant.
Nearly 1.2 billion people, or 16 percent of the world's population, speak some form of Chinese as their first language. Mandarin is China's official language.
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Black History Month Celebration
Students who attend The New Rochelle High School Alternative Campus celebrated Black History Month in February by exploring the lives of African Americans who became prominent in the public eye because of their struggles, experiences and contributions.
In Joel Fridovich's psychology class, students examined the case of Emmit Till, a 14-year-old boy who was lynched in 1955 in Mississippi after allegedly flirting with a white woman. The class explored the impact of Till's mother's decision to show her son's beaten and distorted face in an open casket at his funeral. Those photos, which affected hundreds of thousands of people, gave momentum to the civil rights movement and demonstrated the power of images and the media in bringing change.
"In discussing Black History month events, many students were shocked and almost unbelieving about how horrible conditions had been in the past," said Fridovich. "Some discussions focused on how sad and frustrating it is that racism still remains prevalent in 2017."
Students in Devin Barletta's American history class explored the causes and effects of the Great Migration. Half-a-million African Americans facing economic, social and political hardships in the south left for the urban north between 1915 and 1930, leading to the largest internal migration in U.S. history. When they arrived, they created communities that became the center of African American culture and life in the 20th century. Students explored the Great Migration through primary sources like images, paintings and letters to understand its impact through the eyes of those who experienced it.
In Karen Tucker's English class, students wrote biographies about famous African Americans. These biographies discussed the subjects' early lives, accomplishments and the reasons for their fame. Students also created visual representations of their biographies, which were then put on display at the school.
Margaret Angeletti's art class created a collaborative design project on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Each student made his or her own stylized design, which was then combined with others' to create a puzzle-like sketch of Dr. King. The finished work is symbolic of the belief professed by Dr. King: Work together for the benefit of all.
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2017-2018 school budget review sessions begin March 9
In preparation for the May 16 school budget vote, the City School District of New Rochelle Board of Education will be holding its 2017-2018 school budget review sessions. The district welcomes the community's input.
The district's finance staff is working on crafting a proposed budget to present to the board for adoption at its April 19 meeting. Final numbers for the proposed budget will not be available until April.
Meetings will take place on March 9, 14 and 21 at 7 p.m. at the New Rochelle High School Library. All meetings will be broadcast live on the district's website and rebroadcast on Cablevision Channel 70 and Verizon FiOS Channel 30.
Putting together a school budget in New York State is complex. The district continues to follow zero-based budgeting development practices, meaning all expenses must be justified for each new period, starting from a "zero base," with every function analyzed for its needs and costs.
"We stay focused on what's most important, and that is providing the best educational programs and services to our students, while making sure everyone's needs are met in a healthy and safe environment," said Superintendent Dr. Brian Osborne. "We prioritize continuing approaches that are working, and then we look at what enhancements we can make to better support all our students."
Osborne stressed that the community's involvement is important. "The input that we receive matters, and we appreciate the engagement of the community."
City School District of New Rochelle
Rent the Runway making prom magic for seniors
New Rochelle High School seniors will have the opportunity to walk into their prom in June dressed in free high-end designer clothes, courtesy of Jennifer Hyman, a NRHS alum and CEO of Rent the Runway.
Hyman, Class of 1998, made the generous offer in October when she was inducted into the New Rochelle High School Wall of Fame. She said the gift was her way of giving back to her alma mater, where she developed the confidence to face the world.
Rent the Runway is a successful New York City-based online service that provides designer dresses and accessories for rent at a fraction of the retail price. The company also has a handful of stores in major U.S. cities, including New York City.
On Friday, March 24, starting at 8 p.m., Rent the Runway's flagship store at 30 W. 15th Street will be open exclusively to NRHS seniors. Students can visit the store to select dresses and accessories.
Students who are unable to go to the store will receive a free promo code that will allow them to rent their dresses and accessories entirely online. Their selections will then be mailed to their homes.
"That will be a lot of pressure off parents because it's very expensive to dress for the prom," said NRHS Principal Reggie Richardson. "With Rent the Runway, every girl can dress in high quality designer clothes. Jen is giving our students the opportunity to experience a rite of passage that isn't affordable to everyone in our community."
This is the second time that Hyman has provided prom dresses to NRHS seniors. She made the offer last year as well, but because the announcement came in May, most students had already made arrangements for their prom dresses. Only 80 students availed themselves of the opportunity.
Richardson said details of the Rent the Runway offer came early enough this year to greatly increase the likelihood of participation.
City School District of New Rochelle
Jefferson teachers moving beyond traditional methods
At a recent meeting, teachers and administrators from Jefferson Elementary School shared with the Board of Education how professional learning strategies are impacting classroom instruction. The instructional practices they discussed were student-driven and focused on the application of acquired information, as well as problem solving.
When discussing literacy instruction, Principal Kimmerly Nieves shared that teachers at Jefferson are going beyond traditional methods. She was particularly excited about the success students are having when they use an instructional practice called accountable talk. Accountable talk involves collaborative discussion among students and includes repeating what was read, clarifying the meaning, making connections and revising understanding upon further reflection.
Teacher Stefanie Syken shared how Jefferson teachers are supporting their students in mathematical investigations that are leading to higher understandings. The guiding principle of these investigations is that students come to school with existing ideas about numbers and then build upon those ideas when provided with the proper environment, interaction and support.
Regardless of the subject, the students at Jefferson are being provided with valuable opportunities to talk with their peers about their ideas, discuss different viewpoints and continually add to their prior knowledge. And through ongoing professional development and colleague support, educators are learning how to better support their students in their investigations and discoveries.
City School District of New Rochelle
New Rochelle schools host immigration workshops
Hundreds of local residents packed New Rochelle High School and Columbus Elementary School last month to attend immigration rights workshops held just days after the Trump administration announced measures that would greatly expand the deportation of illegal immigrants. The workshops were planned in response to anxiety expressed by residents who were hearing rumors about immigration raids.
At NRHS, three student groups - Hispanic Culture Club, United Cultures Club and Newcomer Ambassadors - asked the school to host a workshop. Columbus Elementary opened its doors after Councilman Louis Trangucci reached out to Principal Michael Galland and voiced the need to come together to squash rumors and reassure residents that New Rochelle is a welcoming and caring community that values all law-abiding people and families.
"Many families are terrified. There is uncertainty, fear and confusion about what the authorities will or will not do, and that stress is being absorbed by children," said Galland. "As educators, our duty is to nurture children emotionally, socially and intellectually."
More than 500 people attended the Feb. 16 immigration forum at Columbus Elementary, which included a presentation by The Westchester Hispanic Coalition that addressed issues related to immigration laws. Graciela Heyman, the executive director, spoke about the rights of immigrants and offered advice on how to respond when face-to-face with immigration officials.
Commissioner Patrick Carroll and Captain Adrian Navarrete of the New Rochelle Police Department were present to reassure residents that police officers would continue to focus on the safety of the community.
More than 200 people attended the workshop at NRHS on Feb. 15. It included a presentation on scholarship opportunities for undocumented students, including those who were brought to the United States as children, currently covered under the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The discussion was led by representatives of the CUNY Becas scholarship program and The Guidance Center of Westchester. The Hudson Valley Community Coalition also provided information on DACA and undocumented immigrants.
Officer Edward Martinez of the New Rochelle Police Department addressed the gathered families and told them that officers would not pursue immigrants or ask them to produce documents. Rather, he said, the focus would continue to be on fighting crime.
Gustavo Barbosa, house principal at NRHS, said the evening was successful because of the support by Superintendent Dr. Brian Osborne and other district officials.
"Not many school districts are willing to provide this level of support to immigrant families," said Barbosa. "In New Rochelle, we really understand that what happens in our community has a direct impact on our students' academic performance and how they feel when they come to school. That's why it was important to reach out."