News Around The District
Dixson students go Around the World with “Mr. Lou”Posted by Alicia Smith on 11/30/2023 9:00:00 AM
Students at the Carl L. Dixson Primary School had an opportunity to travel without leaving their school’s gymnasium when storyteller Lou Del Bianco, or “Mr. Lou” as he is known, visited the school and shared stories and songs from the far-off places.
Students were introduced to a folktale from Japan, another from Russia, a folk song from Jamaica and a fable from Greece.
Mr. Del Bianco described himself as “an actor, singer, and storyteller” who helps “make stories come alive.”
Folktales, he told students, are stories that are handed down from one generation to another over and over again before being put in a book. They often have an important lesson included in the tale.
The story from Japan spoke about an old man who wanted to be younger. A bird had him follow him to a body of water where he was told to have one sip to drink. The old man followed the directions and suddenly turned younger. When he told his wife, she wished for the same, but was greedy. She drank so much water she turned into a baby.
“When you read folktales, you learn about the world around you and about yourself,” Mr. Del Bianco told students.
In the tale from Russia, the storyteller invited students to come join him. They acted out being certain animals including chickens, goats, and cows. The animals were invited into the home of a farmer and his wife. The wife was dissatisfied with their dwelling and wanted a bigger house. The farmer’s rabbi kept telling the family should be happy with what they have because “it could be worse.”
As more animals were invited in the home became overcrowded. Students had fun as they ran around clucking like chickens or mooing like cows as Mr. Del Bianco told the tale.
Eventually the farmer and his wife agreed their home was just right for them and that even with the small dwelling things “could be worse.”
“It’s a tale about being happy with what you have,” he said.
Mr. Del Bianco once again asked a group of students to join him as he sang a folksong from Jamaica. He taught students some simple dance moves to go along with the music.
In a final fable, a tale that teaches lessons, he relayed a story from Greece, one that told the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Students helped to act out being sheep while he played the part of the shepherd who kept exaggerating the circumstances about the dangers of a nearby wolf.
“Never believe a liar,” Mr. Del Bianco said. “A fable,” he said, “teaches you right from wrong.”
Club Fair is full of opportunities for AHHS studentsPosted by Alicia Smith on 11/27/2023 2:00:00 PM
One band member banged his drum, and a member of the Spirit Squad did cheers in the hallway. They were certainly attention-getting feats. And that was the idea during the AHHS Club Fair.
Each club offered at Alexander Hamilton High School had a table represented and students in all grades had an opportunity throughout the day on Nov. 22 to stop by and chat with club members and hopefully sign up to join.
The event, organized by the student government, is held annually. Students can get involved in different clubs of interest. Among them are the Internet Club, PRIDE, Spirit Squad, Student Government, Mock Trial, Mock Congress, Band, GREEN Club, Science Olympiad, Yearbook, Art Club, Coding Club and RADD, or Raiders Against Destructive Decisions.
“It’s a great opportunity to collaborate with other students and understand each other better,” senior Sarah Vinu, treasurer of Student Government said of joining a club.
The student government, she said, helps plans dances and other school activities.
“We work as a team for the betterment of the school,” Sarah said, adding that she gets a lot of satisfaction from seeing the results of the groups hard work.
“We heard that it was the best homecoming this year,” she said.
Senior Matteo Di Berto, vice president of Student Government, agreed that homecoming was amazing this year, and encouraged others to get involved in the organization.
“This is the first-year student government has planned the Club Fair,” he said. “I think we did a decent job.”
The verdict is in: Mock Trial is really fun. At least according to club members.
“It gets me more out of my shell,” senior Amanda Gonzalez said of Mock Trial. “And you learn about the legal system.”
Mock Trial Vice President senior Aazekie White said members of the club have different types of trials that they prepare for, including criminal cases. Members are assigned roles and research how the case could best be heard.
“I’ve always been interested in debating, so this was perfect for me,” he said.
“It’s a safe place for people and to be true to themselves,” Mock Trial President senior Katherine Sosa said.
Interact Club President Ashley Robinson explained that her club is a great way for students who enjoy volunteering as it offers several ways to serve the community.
“I just like helping in my community,” Ashley said, explaining that the club’s advisor posts opportunities for students to engage in and the club decides what of those they’d like to participate in.
“It’s also a great way to get your volunteers hours,” Ashley said.
Peeking out from behind a colorful tri-fold poster was eighth grader Nina Ware, president of the Art Club.
She assured that anyone who likes to be creative would be welcome in the Art Club.
“Art is subjective. Art can be anything,” Nina said. “In the club you’ll have time to do your art.”
The club is working on creating a mural near the library, she said and would love to get more people to help with the project.
Dominic Steo, who is in the eighth grade, perused the tables and opted to sign up for the Chess Club.
“I’ve never learned how to play chess and I saw the club today and decided to sign up,” he said. “I want that experience.”
Sophomore Jake Garcia opted to sign up for the yearbook.
“I really enjoy taking pictures,” he said, adding that he hopes to contribute photos to the yearbook.
“It’s exciting, all of the opportunities the clubs provide,” Jake continued.
Grady students encouraged to be Dream Makers for themselves and others with lessons from Omegaman & FriendsPosted by Alicia Smith on 11/3/2023 9:00:00 AM
Without even a grunt, “Dynamo,” hoisted two students in the air as they laughed out loud. They hung up there for several seconds, hanging on to a metal bar, before being placed back on terra firma, much to the delight of the entire Alice E. Grady Elementary School student body.
The exercise encouraged students to reach for the skies, and be “dream makers,” those who stay focused and adopt an attitude of hard work to make their dreams, and that of others, come true. They reminded students too, that they can be a H.E.R.O—Helping Everyone Respect Others!
Dynamo (Ray Zyna) was joined by his wife, “Zyna,” (Jannett Zyna) in a two-part assembly for 3rd and 4th grade students and a second for fifth and sixth graders. The couple are part of the Omegaman & Friends, Enterprise, an organization that spreads an anti-bullying and positive message encouraging students to hold nothing back as they work towards their goals and dreams.
“We are here to press upon you that you are not a bunch of winners, and you are not a bunch of losers,” Zyna said. “You are a bunch of choosers.”
“You have the power of choice,” she continued. “Your superpower is your ability to make the right choice.”
In another powerful demonstration, third grader Joel, was asked to rip apart a book called “The Book of Bad Choices.”
When the feat proved to be impossible, Zyna lent him a hand by asking if he needed some assistance and showing him a technique to try, and suddenly the book was split in two.
“When you have a dream maker, they will say ‘you are having a tough time, do you need some help?’ a dream maker will offer help,” Zyna said.
Fifth graders Carter and Dominic each took a turn at ripping the book in half and learned that teamwork was another way to be successful.
Dynamo told students that they will likely encounter some rough times in life as that is sometimes how things go. However, he said, the best way to forge through those times is by making good decisions.
“You have to have a great attitude during those times, like saying ‘I’m not going to quit,’” he said.
It was this type of attitude that helped him reach his dream of becoming a body builder. He was taken out of his abusive home as a child, but fortunately he had a dream maker in his life. His grandparents, he said, encouraged him to continue going after his goals.
“Her greatest superpower was love,” he said of his grandmother. “A superpower we have is the ability to forgive. I encourage you to walk in love and forgiveness.”
He explained how he committed himself to reaching his goals, and even demonstrated how his body building dream became a reality by bending the metal bar and breaking a baseball bat in half.
Zyna also shared her personal story. Her mother died when she was young, and she reacted by acting out in school.
“I was the bully in school,” she admitted. “I was the dream breaker,” or the person who prevents others from finding success.
When she was called to the office, her principal talked to her about her attitude and behavior. He recognized where her anger was coming from and asked her something no one had ever asked her before: “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
When she informed him that she wanted to be a teacher, the principal reminded her that she did not pay attention in class, she bullied others, she was not a model student.
The principal went on to tell her if she wanted to make her professional dream a reality, she would have to be respectful, kind and take responsibility for her schoolwork.
“I was able to respond in a positive way,” Zyna said after this talk. She had found a dream maker.
“You are the example of what a dream maker is,” she told students.
To do that, she reminded students about how they can be dream makers for themselves and others. This included being an upstander, someone who intervenes when someone is being mean to another and helps to prevent bullying.
“Together,” she said, “we can be successful and be a bully free school!”
AHHS college fair helps students look to the futurePosted by Alicia Smith on 10/27/2023 10:00:00 AM
AHHS college fair helps students look to the future
When junior Alisha Butler walked out of the gym after attending the 2023 college fair, she declared Mercy University was her college of choice.
Finding a college or university that suits them is the goal of the college fair, and on Oct. 25, Alexander Hamilton High School students had an opportunity to speak with college representatives as they begin to think about their plans after high school.
Among the other schools Alisha spoke to on this day was Purchase. She is considering studying speech therapy or pre-law.
“I hope I can finish all my classes knowing I tried my best,” Alisha said as she looks ahead to finishing high school. “I want to be more independent.”
Throughout the morning each grade filtered into the gymnasium to learn more about the possibilities that await them.
“It’s a chance to speak to college representatives and get more information,” Guidance Counselor Monica Ahern said of the fair, adding that it is also a great way to learn about schools for those who may not be able to visit in person.
There were 25 schools at the fair and Guidance Counselor Stephanie Luccioni-Burns said each Wednesday a college rep visits AHHS which enables students the opportunity to talk to them individually.
Such meetings like those at the fair also help students to learn to advocate for themselves and get used to speaking to others.
Junior Justice Duncan said he was looking for schools that offered a degree in Criminal Justice.
“I’m just here to look around and see what my options are,” he said, adding that he feels some pressure to begin the college application process.
“For me, personally, I hope they find a college they thrive in,” Mallory Cleere, admissions counselor for Wells College in Aurora, NY said. “Every student is going to be different in what they are looking for.”
Regeneron Day of Giving introduces students to the fun of sciencePosted by Alicia Smith on 10/25/2023
For a few minutes Grady Elementary School was under siege by some medieval weapons: catapults. Fortunately, no one was hurt and there was no damage to the building. Rather, it was all in good fun and more than a few laughs were had.
Students made miniature catapults and shot rolled up aluminum balls and globs of clay at a target on the gym wall. The Catapult Challenge was just one of several activities’ students engaged in during the Regeneron Day of Giving held on Oct. 20.
The annual event includes a visit from volunteers from the Tarrytown-based pharmaceutical company Regeneron who spend time with students engaging them in scientific activities. This year the Westchester Children’s Museum provided the activities and materials while the volunteers helped students.
“We love it,” fifth grader Max Kelly said about science. “You get to do some amazing stuff with it.”
Max and his classmate Sage Woolery worked together on the Radio Science activity. They attempted to silence radio waves by using different materials, like fake fur, gloves and more, to muffle the sound.
“We had a theme of historical technology and simple machines,” said Alyssa Martin, manager of education and programming at the children’s museum describing the type of activities that were available to students on this day.
The activities related to engineering or developmental technology, Ms. Martin said, and the goal was for students to try them all or spend their time engaging in one they particularly enjoyed.
“It’s wonderful to see how inquisitive the kids are,” said Regeneron volunteer Ann Marie DeMatteo. “They can pick anything from building, art, solar and more. The kids are participating in everything, which is lovely.”
Fifth grader Chloe Bazil donned a mask to cover her eyes while her friend Kiara Mora walked her through a maze, giving her directions, such as “take two steps forward, now turn left.” The activity was part of the Program-a-Path, which taught students how to program a computer.
“It felt like I was asleep,” Chloe said of being giving the directions without being able to see where she was or where she was going. “She gave good directions.”
Fourth grader Tristan Stewart stayed at the Cardboard Automata station where he built a structure out of cardboard.
“I like building stuff,” Tristan said. “This is fun because I don’t normally get to do this stuff at school.”
Fourth graders Naomi Laing and Zenia Sharrack had big smiles on their faces.
Naomi said she enjoyed operating the solar cars, which allowed students to move cars across the floor with a light.
Zenia liked the maze.
“It was challenging and fun,” she said. “It was something that was interesting. I like how science is interesting, there is always something fun.”
Students share talent in celebration of Hispanic Heritage MonthPosted by Alicia Smith on 10/24/2023 9:00:00 AM
The afternoon of Oct. 17 was a special one for the students at Alexander Hamilton High School. In two assemblies, the entire student body gathered in the auditorium for a special celebration in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month. The event featured student performers.
They sang, recited poetry, shared original artwork and music all to support the concept of “todos somos, somos uno,” or “we are all, we are one.”
“We have a really, really special performance for you,” Principal Joseph Engelhardt told the crowd. “The students worked diligently to put on a great performance.”
With that, students took to the stage. Among them were the AHHS Chorus who sang a number from the movie “Encanto,” and even some staff got up to dance during another musical performance and on another occasion the audience clapped along in time to the music.
“I like sharing about my culture,” Senior Jada Estrada, who performed with fellow students and Band Director James Walton. The group performed “Obsesión” by the band Aventura, although they did include some original lyrics.
Jada said students had spent time over the past three weeks working on their selections in preparation for the assembly.
“I hope they come away with the realization that we are all one school with a wide variety of cultures and that we can come together,” she said of the audience.
Sophomore Nasir Lopez shared an original piece of art that he had created which was projected on a large screen for all to see. In addition, he sang along with Jada.
Nasir said he was asked to share his talents due to his outgoing personality, of which he was happy to oblige as he loves music.
“At first we were just going to do a Spanish version, but at the last minute we decided on the English version,” Nasir said. “It worked.”
The assembly was special as it was a way for the school to come together and support one another.
“I think it’s important to support any culture or fun traditions,” Nasir continued.
The event ended with a parade as several students walked across the auditorium stage with flags representing their heritage and signs.
A closer look at language education in the district and its futurePosted by Alicia Smith on 10/12/2023 3:40:00 PM
There was plenty of apple cider and hot chocolate to be shared during a crisp evening hosted by Superintendent Ron Gonzalez while he shared with parents and families a closer look at language education in the district.
Special guest included Elisa Alvararez, Associate Commissioner for the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages from the New York State Education Department. Ms. Alvarez joined the gathering via Zoom.
“My job is to protect the rights and laws of every English language learner,” Ms. Alvarez said.
Dr. Gonzalez said he is working with Ms. Alvarez to ensure non-native English-speaking students have the support they need as well as on how the district can expand its foreign language options. Additionally, he hopes to inspire more students to earn a Seal of Biliteracy when they graduate.
The seal, Dr. Gonzalez explained, is an added recognition students receive on their diploma which indicates the individual has achieved “a high level of understanding in another language.”
Last year, 14 percent of graduates earned a Seal of Biliteracy.
In the district students have an option to enroll in a Spanish bilingual program beginning in the primary school. Students can continue to study the language in the elementary school, although they transition to a daily Spanish instructional period during the day. From there, they have an option to enroll in a native speaking course at the high school, choosing between Spanish and French.
“Without being bilingual our students are going to struggle to be competitive,” Ms. Alvaraez said. “The world wants our students to speak another language besides English.”
Dr. Gonzalez said he hopes to eventually add another language, perhaps Italian, which had been an option for students in the past. The district dropped Italian instruction when interest among students waned. As for other languages, such as Mandarin Chinese, Dr. Gonzalez said that would be an exciting addition, however, it is difficult to find qualified teachers in this subject.
“It’s definitely part of our vision to expand language acquisition in our district,” Dr. Gonzalez said.
In the meantime, Ms. Alvarez told families they can find additional language acquisition materials to study on their own. She also encouraged those who are studying a language to include reading material in that language as well, as it is a great way for students to engage more in the language.
Familiar face arrives at DixsonPosted by Alicia Smith on 9/30/2023
Samone Grixti joins the staff as principal
For those with older students in the district, they may have met Samone Grixti at Alexander Hamilton High School, where she served as assistant principal.
Those with younger students may have met her for the first time at the start of the school year. Ms. Grixti is now the principal at the Carl L. Dixson Primary School.
Between visits to classrooms, overseeing fire drills and managing the general running of a primary school, Ms. Grixti has been welcomed to her new role in the district by students and staff.
Each day she sees something new with her students and enjoys seeing their enthusiasm for learning.
“It’s nice to see their energy as they learn new things,” she said of the students. “They are extremely creative. They are excited to walk into school each morning.”
The staff too, she said, has been supportive and welcoming and she is impressed with their work in three new curriculum initiatives that have begun this year.
“The vibe here is we are a team, a family, we’re supportive and collaborative,” Ms. Grixti said.
She is also getting to know the families of her students too. Events like Meet the Teacher Day and Back to School Night introduced her to several parents and friends.
“This is a very new experience for me, but I’m not new to the district or the community,” Ms. Grixti said of working with the youngest students in the district.
Ms. Grixti is a 2004 graduate of Alexander Hamilton High School. She began her career in education as a math teacher in the Bronx, beginning at St. Raymond’s High School and later at Jonas Bronck Academy where she served as the math team lead. She previously worked at Mount Vernon High School as the math and science department chair. Last year she joined the Elmsford Union Free School District as the assistant principal at the high school.
“It’s a love of supporting learners,” she said as to what drew her to the field of education. “It’s about supporting kids to grow and have fun, memorable experiences.”
Longtime AD among many Elmsford Athletic Hall of Fame honoreesPosted by Alicia Smith on 9/11/2023 3:30:00 PM
No one told him why he was invited to the high school auditorium Saturday, or why he wasn’t allowed to leaf through the program of events for the evening. Former Athletic Director Frank Holst, who served 34 years in the Elmsford School District, later joked that plenty of persuasion was necessary for him just to leave the house.
When the reluctant Holst realized why his presence was requested, he was moved to tears. The Alexander Hamilton Athletics Hall of Fame Committee honored him for his service, celebrating a lifetime achievement.
Holst was equally grateful.
“You all mean so much to me,” he told the crowd.
There was plenty of mutual adulation for him and all those honored during the Hall of Fame celebration on Sept. 9. The committee inducted two classes of athletes and teams, celebrating the Class of 2022 and 2023 for their achievements and the legacy they left in the district.
“For those of us who were fortunate enough to experience your success, we appreciate you for sharing your gifts with all of us in the Alexander Hamilton community,” said Richard Williams, the event’s Master of Ceremonies.
The induction ceremony — the second in the district, which honored the Hall of Fame’s third and fourth classes — began with an introduction from committee member Wayne Bass. Williams was then followed by an address by Superintendent, Dr. Ronald Gonzalez, who credited the Red Raider greats for being positive mentors and role models.
“You understood the difference between talents and gifts,” Gonzalez said. “You used them together in the race marked out for you.”
The athletes’ successes were long and impressive. They were detailed by current Alexander Hamilton Athletic Director, Robert Pollok, who introduced all of the inductees with the exception of Holst, who was introduced by committee member Dr. Suzanne Phillips.
The new Hall of Fame members will soon be commemorated in the hallways outside the high school’s gymnasium, joining members of the 2020 and 2021 classes, whose plaques already adorn the walls.
Hall of Fame Class of 2022
Tre Bracey, Class of 2011: Track and field star who was a three-time state champ, excelling in sprint events and the long jump.
Daryl Evans, Class of 1986: This basketball star, a three-time Section 1 champion, finished his decorated career as a 1,000-point scorer. He was a two-time all-county and all-section pick and was awarded all-state as a senior.
George Finney, Class of 1991: Basketball star who was a two-time state champion, playing a key role on the 1988 and 1990 teams. He surpassed 1,000 career points.
Shereen Lightbourne, Class of 2009: Basketball star who topped the 1,000-point mark for her career, was twice named all-state and earned a Division I scholarship to play for Rider University.
Miguel Lluesma, Class of 1981: A football and track star who shined in both sports. He was all-state and all-county in football and a Section 1 champion in track. He ran track at Colgate.
1970 Varsity Boys Basketball team: The first unbeaten team at Alexander Hamilton High School finished 22-0. The team won a Section 1 Class C title and beat rival Woodlands in the Section 1 Class B/C Open championship.
1988 Varsity Boys Basketball team: The only unbeaten state champion in school history. The team finished 25-0 to defend its state championship in Class D.
Hall of Fame Class of 2023
David Chambers, Class of 1979: The basketball star led his team to two straight state championship games. He was a two-time Section 1 champ and was named all-state twice.
Maia Hood, Class of 2013: The two-time all-state basketball player finished her career with over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. She was a two-time Section 1 champion and also set the school record in the triple jump.
Kevin McLee, Class of 1972: The cross-country and track star set school records in the 1 mile, 2 mile, 3,000 steeplechase and 880 meters. He was a five-time Section 1 cross-country champ and won both cross-country and track state championships. He was also a winner at both the Loucks Games and Penn Relays.
Russell Robinson, Class of 1972: The all-county football and basketball player has the rare distinction of playing on an undefeated football team (1969) and basketball team (1970) during a decorated Red Raider career.
Anna Teschemaker, Class of 1999: This sprint star was a six-time Section 1 champ and a six-time state champion. She won individually in the 200 meters and twice in the 100 meters and was a cornerstone of three straight 4x100 relay state titles.
1990 Varsity Boys Basketball: After starting 4-3 against a challenging schedule, this team won 20 straight games to become the third basketball state champion in school history.
2013 Varsity Girls Basketball: This celebrated team competed against some of the regions biggest and best schools and the competition paid off. The Red Raiders won a Section 1 title and reached the state final four.
Students, Families Meet, Greet, and Get SuppliesPosted by Alicia Smith on 9/11/2023 10:40:00 AMThere were plenty of objectives when the Elmsford PTSA hosted its Back to School Social and Supply Giveback Event on Sept. 8 at Alice E. Grady Elementary School. The gathering gave students a chance to grab snacks, have fun and head home with items they will need in the new school year.There was ice cream and chips, plus plenty of coloring and games. The event even included a spirited martial arts demonstration by C3 Fitness, a local fitness and self-defense center.The primary focus of event organizers, however, was to build a sense of community.“We wanted to bring the community together and just give families a chance to meet one another,” PTSA president Katie Cantor said. “I think it’s nice to see kids’ friends, meet their families, and see who they play with and what they experience in school."Students reunited with old friends and connected with new ones. Each was presented with a collection of supplies provided by ShopRite in Elmsford, which opened the event with a presentation and donated 100 bags of supplies.The PTSA also sponsors picture day and book fairs, among other things. Members encouraged parents to join their ranks. Cantor said the organization needs volunteers to host such events, to advocate for students and to support teachers.“To have these events, we need people to be involved,” Cantor said.Interested parents can contact the PTSA at ElmsfordPTSA@gmail.com.
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