District News and Announcements

  • Jefferson Students Create Iroquois, Algonquin Dioramas

    When fourth-graders at Jefferson Elementary School recently learned about Native American longhouses and wigwams, they finished the unit by building their own.
    Their dwellings were model-sized, of course, and became the centerpieces of dioramas that included figures of Native Americans, horses, streams, grass and trees.
    Student Daniel Elliot's longhouse boasted an authentic look. It was made of bark that he and his grandparents foraged for off the side of the road on a trip upstate. The grass that surrounded the model was made of maté tea leaves. Deerskin-shaped strips covered benches.
    "We went into the forest and we found a couple of pieces of bark on the floor," he said. "They used deerskin to sleep, that's why we put deerskins on the bed."
    Elliot's grandmother Lourdes Elliot, who helped forage for the bark, enjoyed the project.
    "Working with him is fantastic. I love it," she said. "To me, it's important that the family gets to do things together."
    In the unit, students studied the Iroquois and the Algonquins in the pre-Colonial days of what is now the New York area. They learned that Algonquins built faster, lighter canoes (that the Iroquois often took from them). They learned that the Iroquois lived in longhouses occupied by up to 20 families while Algonquins generally lived in smaller wigwams meant more for nuclear families.
    While learning about the history, the unit combined art in the dioramas and English in the essays they wrote. They also developed and practiced computer skills, creating double-bubble charts to compare the cultures of the two peoples.
    Student Jeimy Lopez reflected that she would like living in a longhouse.
    "It would be fun," she said. "I could live with my family members."
    They built with cardboard and sticks or twigs. Streams were created with blue fish-tank gravel or melted and re-hardened hot glue. For student Rocco Regina, the top of a two-liter soft drink bottle made a perfect frame for a wigwam, complete with the hole in the top to serve as the smoke hole.
    "They have a smoke hole because they have a fire in the house," he said.
    City School District of New Rochelle
  • NRHS PAVE Artists Experiment in Varied Media

    The walls of the bridge to House IV in New Rochelle High School are covered with the works of the PAVE art students' first marking period projects.

    Drawing inspiration from masters - blown glass artist Dale Chihuly and author Annie Dillard - the student artists created drawings, painted paper, sculpture and digitally enhanced photographs. Students from the three PAVE levels collaborated on the exhibition and held the official opening Thursday evening.
    Early in the period, students interviewed each other and created portrait drawings in ebony pencil.  They then read Dillard's classic 1982 essay "Total Eclipse" and created colored pencil drawings. 
    In late September, many of the artists visited the exhibition of Chihuly's spectacular glass sculptures at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. They created two colored marker drawings on site at the NYBG. Back at school, employing Chihuly's free-form style, they painted on paper outside for two days. They then cut, folded and formed the painted paper into their own sculptures inspired by the glass master's forms.
    Taking the project further still, the students photographed their sculptures and, using Photoshop, placed them "on site" somewhere on the NRHS grounds. They imagined what their works would look like in an eclipse and changed the photos accordingly.
    Finally, the group created a newsletter documenting the event.
    The exhibition will be on display in the hallway, near the Museum of Arts & Culture in the school, through December.
    City School District of New Rochelle
  • IEYMS Wildlife Club Learns to Rehab Animals

    How often does one get to meet an albino wallaby? The students in the Isaac E. Young Middle School Wildlife Rehabilitators in Training Club have. 

    Two animal experts stopped by in recent months to introduce the 30-plus club members to the rare, all-white marsupial and a host of other creatures, including pigeons, a hedgehog, several species of monkeys, a chinchilla and a large - and loud - bird from Australia called a kookaburra.
    The far-flung friends visited the club with human companions from Animal Nation in Rye and Noah's Park Retreat in Goshen, N.Y.
    But it is more than rarities and denizens of distant lands that hold the students' attentions. The students are also learning how to help creatures more common to our area, including the ubiquitous eastern gray squirrels. At the end of last year, club members created a release pen for the Weinberg Nature Center in Scarsdale.
    "I think it's important to help animals that can't survive on their own," said eighth-grader Gaby Meda, a member of the club. "Many times, they're overlooked or mistreated."
    Club advisor Regina Simoes is also a wildlife rehabilitator in New Rochelle licensed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, a role that keeps her busy as a beaver. She rehabilitates dozens of squirrels each year that are left orphaned or stranded, often when trees are cut down. She has been using the new pen for a crucial transition phase in their re-introduction to natural settings.
    "The pen will be used every spring, summer, and fall for many years to come, helping to release rehabilitated wildlife back into the wild," Simoes said. She hopes the club members will obtain their licenses to join her in protecting the creatures.
    The students are learning the importance of squirrels, bees and other creatures, and how their lives are interconnected with humans.
    "They really help us in many different ways," said eighth-grader Carlos Perez.
    "I just like the feeling that I did something good - that I saved animals' lives, and that I can save a lot more," said eighth-grader Melanie Moncada.
    Cindy Polera, the Scarsdale village naturalist and environmental educator of the Weinberg Nature Center, is impressed with the students' dedication.
    "They're a great group," she said. "They're curious, they ask a lot of questions and they're focused. They're wonderful kids."
    City School District of New Rochelle
  • Thanksgiving Spirit Pervades Campus School

    Thanksgiving brought a spirit of helping out and togetherness to the Campus Alternative High School as students helped distribute turkeys to families in need and gathered with staff for their own holiday feast featuring foods from many nations.

    These have become modern day traditions at the school. Students volunteer to pick up turkeys from a local grocery store and deliver them to HOPE Community Services in New Rochelle. This year, the students, with volunteer firefighters, helped to unload 150 turkeys and to distribute more than 400 of the birds to families, including the elderly.

    “This is a wonderful way for students to give back to the community through warm smiles, conversation and a helping hand,” said Teaching Assistant Jennifer Renne. 

    “I enjoyed the work I did because it was for a good cause,” said senior LeSandra Turner. “I like helping others, especially around the holidays. It was great working with my fellow classmates in providing a meal for needy families.”

    The students and staff held their Thanksgiving feast the day before the actual holiday – another tradition the school has observed for more than 20 years. The celebration featured a wide variety of dishes and desserts, including pasta dishes, rice and beans, tamales, eggplant parmesan and macaroni and cheese. 

    “On this special day before Thanksgiving, Campus had a wonderful feast that included alumni, friends and family,” said junior Omari Walker. “I have never felt so welcomed and thankful for what they have done for me and my classmates. This Thanksgiving feast has showed me a lot about people’s true spirit of giving.”

    English teacher Karen Tucker coordinates the meal with help from other staff members. Neil Mattera cooked four – yes, four – turkeys and Almaire Fridovich baked a scrumptious ham. Students and teachers set up the cafeteria and served the food together.

    Former students also visit, including alumni from years ago, who bring their children and who share their accomplishments and memories of Campus. They help out or pay a visit to their favorite teachers and Program Administrator Joel Fridovich.

    Joel Fridovich wrapped up the event with a speech thanking all who participated and extending well wishes to students, alumni and staff. Uneaten food and desserts are donated to the HOPE Soup Kitchen as another way to support the community. 

    City School District of New Rochelle
  • After Arriving from Mexico, Sofia Ochoa Excels at IEYMS

    Fernanda Sofia Ochoa, an Isaac E. Young Middle School eighth-grader, wants to spread the message that everyone is capable of moving beyond any barriers in life.

    Known as Sofia, Ochoa became a student in the City School District of New Rochelle after arriving from Mexico last year. Speaking only minimal English, Ochoa quickly caught on, has had notable academic achievements and has aspirations to become a doctor or architect.

    “Sofia is intelligent, kind, is helpful to students and is such a respectful young lady,” said Jecelyn George, her guidance counselor.

    Ochoa said it wasn’t easy to arrive in a new country and go to a new school.

    “When I came here, I was really scared because it’s really different from Mexico,” Ochoa recalled. “This is a big school. I thought I was going to get lost.”

    Her family reinforced the importance of not giving in or giving up.

    “My mom and brother always told me, you need to do well. If you see a wall in front of you, don’t say, ‘I need to wait.’ If you do, you will be stuck.”

    Ochoa didn’t wait. With a thirst for learning, she threw herself into her studies, earning either an A or A+ in all of her classes in every marking period last year.  Her limited knowledge of the English language morphed into a commanding fluency.

    Indeed, her academic accomplishments were so stellar that she was selected for IEYMS’ chapter of the National Junior Honor Society. Her math and science proficiency placed her in Algebra and Biology --- both high school classes --- this year.   

    “You need to see what’s on the other side of ‘the wall,’” she said.  “It might be scary but, focus and do it.  It could be a ‘difficult wall,’ but on the other side there could be an opportunity that could help you in your future.  If you’re still stuck in the same place, you’re not going to go anywhere in your life.”

    What advice does she have for others?

    “You need to always be focused on what you want to do for your future,” she said. “This (school) is best place in the U.S. for me. I see many possibilities to help me with my life. If you’re not seeing the positive things that are in school, you’re not going to get anywhere.”

    City School District of New Rochelle
  • Four Alumni Inducted to NRHS Wall of Fame

    A former Jacksonville Jaguars player, a New Rochelle City Councilman, a prominent Yale doctor and a state Solicitor General joined fellow prominent alumni on the New Rochelle High School Wall of Fame on Wednesday.
    The inductees were: former football safety Courtney Greene; City Councilman Jared Rice; Dr. Roy Herbst of the Yale Cancer Center; and Tennessee Solicitor General Andrée Kahn Blumstein. Rice and Herbst attended the ceremony at NRHS.
    "The primary purpose of maintaining and celebrating our Wall of Fame is so that when students walk down the hallway and they see your photos, they are inspired," Principal Reginald Richardson told the honorees. "So they can aspire to achieve what you've achieved, to dream about what they can be."
    Here's a look at who they are:
    Roy Herbst, MD, PhD, Class of 1980, is Ensign Professor of Medicine, Professor of Pharmacology, Chief of Medical Oncology and Associate Director for Translational Research at Yale Cancer Center and Yale School of Medicine. For his lifetime achievement and scientific contributions to cancer research, Dr. Herbst was awarded the 2016 Paul A. Bunn, Jr. Scientific Award by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.
    Jared R. Rice, Class of 1997, was first elected to the New Rochelle City Council in 2010. He is a partner and trial attorney at the New Rochelle law firm of Rice & Rice. He is also a member of the Mount Vernon City Court public defense panel. In 2016, he was named co-chair of New Rochelle's chapter of My Brother's Keeper, a White House-sponsored initiative designed to allow boys and young men of color to reach their potential in life.
    In her role as Solicitor General for Tennessee, Andrée Kahn Blumstein,Class of 1963, is in charge of all appellate litigation for Tennessee in the U.S. Supreme Court and all federal Circuit Courts of Appeals as well as in the Tennessee Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Court of Criminal Appeals. She is the first woman to hold this position in that state.
    In his senior season as a Huguenot, Courtney Greene helped lead the New Rochelle High School football team to the school's first state championship. After graduating in 2004, Greene attended and played football at Rutgers University, where he was named First and Second Team All-Big East and Rutgers Defensive Player of the Year. In 2009, Greene was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. He also played for the Jacksonville Jaguars for three-and-a-half seasons. Today, Greene works as a fitness coach.
    City School District of New Rochelle
  • NRHS Students Perform at Area All-State Festival

    Nine student musicians from New Rochelle High School were among the best high school musicians in the county performing in the Westchester County Area All-State Music Festival Concert on Nov. 16.
    The New Rochelle musicians and musical groups they played with were: Annael Alvarez, soprano I, treble chorus; Isabella Gonzalez, soprano I, mixed chorus; Alissa Johnson, clarinet, symphony orchestra; Taz Kim, cello, symphony orchestra; Jada Miller, violin I, string orchestra; Elijah Pomerantz, alto saxophone, band; Julianne Paccione, violin I, string orchestra; David Rubertone, tenor II, mixed chorus; and Gabriella Sgobbo, soprano II, mixed chorus.
    Students are admitted to the Westchester County Area All-State Band, Orchestra or Chorus in grades 10 through 12 on the basis of their audition scores at the New York State School Music Association Solo Festival held in the spring. They rehearsed two days at White Plains High School and all day Nov. 16 at the SUNY Performing Arts Center in Purchase. The concert was held that evening at the SUNY Performing Arts Center.
    Three of the students - Kim, Alvarez and Rubertone - will go on to play in the Conference All-Star festival in Rochester, Nov. 30 through Dec. 3. Kim will play cello in the Symphony Orchestra and the others will sing in the Mixed Chorus, Alvarez as Soprano I and Rubertone as Tenor II.
    City School District of New Rochelle
  • NRHS Students Take Environmental Lessons to Stone Barns Farm

    They collected eggs, cooked dishes with beets, turmeric and kohlrabi straight from the farm, and shared a vegetarian meal, all as part of the Advanced Placement Environmental Science class. The students in Julia Chillemi-Kouyoumdjian's class spent the day recently at the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Tarrytown. The trip took their lessons off the whiteboard and projection screen and out to the down-to-earth setting where nature and agriculture play out. The Stone Barns Center seeks to transform "the way America eats and farms by creating a healthy, sustainable food system," its website says. "It was really cool to see how they work sustainably, which might not be the case on other farms," said student Grace Turkewitz. The students made lunch with the Pocantico Hills farm's bounty, including cabbage, spinach, kohlrabi, beets, turmeric, ginger and scallions. They made a chick pea, coconut, and spinach curry, a cabbage and kohlrabi slaw and other dishes. Alexis Cohn said she might not have eaten the dishes if she'd seen them elsewhere, including the beet salad she made that glowed with a hot pink color. "Because I knew what was in it, and I knew that we made it, I gave it a shot and ate it," she said. "The students learned that many natural processes can promote the growth of crops rather than relying on harmful synthetic, petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides," said Chillemi- Kouyoumdjian. They took an in-depth look at how knowledge of ecological relationships affects farmers' decisions. They also discussed the lack of access to sustainably grown food and the way food quality in the United States varies greatly. "I was also very proud of the collaborative effort the students put into making and enjoying a meal together," Chillemi-Kouyoumdjian said. "They discussed their relationships with food, and showed they were beginning to understand how food choices impact personal and environmental health." An educator from the Stone Barns Center will come to the class in the near future for a follow-up discussion to wrap up the two-day program. "It taught me a lot about how farms could be better for our environment," said student Jack Rieger. "Everyone is looking for the solutions for the long run, to keep farming going," Cohn added. "One thing I observed on the trip is that all the answers are in nature already."
    City School District of New Rochelle
  • Webster Students Stage Show with Life-Size Puppets

    The papier mâché puppets were so large that it took three Daniel Webster Magnet School fourth-graders to operate just one. "You are the arm; be the arm," teacher Adam King reminded the two students who each operated one limb, while another held the torso and head aloft. They were rehearsing with Peacemaker, the main puppet character in a tale about the uniting of the Iroquois peoples. Forget hand puppets and sock puppets. The main characters in this tale were as tall as the teachers. They are pieces in a play performed by the students and organized by the Arm-of-the-Sea Theater, a performing arts organization from Saugerties, N.Y. that leads theater arts programs in school districts. Patrick Wadden, co-director of the Arm of the Sea, worked with about 90 fourth-graders on six different days to prepare for the performance, which took place Wednesday. "The puppets are showing how they lived a long time ago," said student Kaylee Galvez, one of the performers. The show was "Peacemaker and the Tree of the Great Peace," a story of how five Native American tribes joined together to become the Iroquois Confederacy. "We're helping the students make something that is larger than oneself, and larger than anything any few of us could pull off," Wadden said. In rehearsal, student Keira DeNigris, another performer, said, "I like how the main characters are made. It's going to look realistic, the way they move." The show incorporates puppets and props created in previous years, along with new pieces. This year, the students created a 12-foot-high paper mosaic "Tree of the Great Peace" and a papier mâché otter head. "It's a hands-on way of learning about the Iroquois," said Kathy Coyne, the school's magnet facilitator. "The value they place on nature, the value they place on animals - that all comes out in the play."
    City School District of New Rochelle
  • Peer Tours for New Students Create Warmer Welcome at Trinity

    When Trinity Elementary School fifth-graders Erick Alvarez and Catalina Fuentes recently showed a new schoolmate from Guatemala around the building, they were kicking off a program to help welcome students from other countries and those who do not yet speak English fluently. Alvarez and Fuentes gave their tour in Spanish, visiting the main office, nurses' office, auditorium and cafeteria, and introducing their new friend to the CAMPEL (computer, art, music, physical education and library) teachers. "I think he liked it because whenever he met a CAMPEL teacher, they smiled at him and he smiled back," said Alvarez. The tour adds a welcoming touch to the process for taking in new students. That process is a collaboration among Assistant Principal Michael Hilderbrand, Melissa Kelly, four English-as-a-new-language teachers, and Tiara Reyes-Vega, the District's Director of Instructional Support. It also involves meetings with the student and parents and recommendations from ENL and bilingual/dual language teachers to determine the best program for the student. This initiative is part of Trinity's English Language Learner screening, identification, and placement process mandated by the New York State Education Department. "To be a student who is new to the country, and new to the school, it's critical to feel welcome and connected, not just by the adults, but by your peers," Hilderbrand said. The school of 850 students receives newcomers throughout the year, many from other countries, and some who have been to several other schools before arriving in New Rochelle. "A lot of them have moved a few times," Kelly said. "After a tour, we find that they feel more comfortable and adjusted on the first day." Fuentes agreed that the new student seemed to appreciate the introduction to the school. "I think he felt good knowing what the school looked like," she said.
    City School District of New Rochelle


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Steve Brown