News Around The District
Family Engagement Night Emphasizes CommunicationPosted by Alicia Smith on 11/13/2019 9:00:00 AM
School administrators, parents and some young students gathered in the Alexander Hamilton High School library for the first Family Engagement Night to discuss the evening’s theme of communication.
The Oct. 17 event was part discussion and part tutorial as school administrators walked attendees through the many options they have to effectively communicate with their child’s school administrators and teachers.
The Family Engagement Nights were created by the Elmsford Union Free School District from a concerted effort to provide better communication to residents, explained superintendent Marc Baiocco.
“The goal is to address our families’ interests, concerns and questions by providing engaging workshop experiences,” he said.
If they have not done so already, parents could sign up for the Parent Portal, which allows them access to their son’s or daughter’s school records. Through the portal, parents can view their child’s attendance records, grades, which classes they take and more. Throughout the evening, parents were given Chromebooks and were walked through the process of registering for the portal.
Hamilton Principal Joseph Englehardt discussed the app Talking Points, which is one more way parents can stay connected. “It’s probably the most amazing app we have,” he said.
The app enables parents to generate a message directly to school administrators or a teacher and functions much like a text message. The receiver can respond directly to an inquiry.
There are additional ways for parents to get information including through ConnectED or the Red Reader on the AHHS webpage where daily announcements are listed. Parents were also introduced to the district’s website and were shown how to navigate it to find information.
The school principals also discussed how parents can get involved with their child’s school.
“I know that engagement does not look the same to everybody,” said Jeffrey Olender, principal of Carl L. Dixson School.
For parents who may not be able to come to a school event during the day, they can still support their child by helping with homework.
Mr. Englehardt agreed. He echoed there are other ways for parents to engage with the school community that parents can enjoy and suggested it could be as simple and fun as attending a sporting event at the high school together.
“You are absolutely always welcome at Hamilton,” Mr. Englehardt said.
For parents who are available during the day, there is always a way to help. Some ideas detailed were volunteering in the library, being a class parent or joining the PTSA.
The doors at Alice E. Grady School are also always open, added principal Andrea Hamilton.
“There is something to be said for children who know their parents are walking around the building,” she said. “I truly look at you as a partner. Together, we are raising children.”
The next Family Engagement Nights will be on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, and Thursday, April 30, 2020. Depending on family feedback, an additional Saturday date may be added in the future.
New Executive Board voted in at GradyPosted by Brian Howard on 11/8/2019 8:00:00 AM
Sixth-grader Isaiah Travier told his schoolmates: “You know what they say, vote for Izzy, cuz he’s gonna get busy!”
It is now time for him to do just that. On Election Day, Nov. 5, Isaiah was voted in as president of the Grady Executive Board. He is joined by Angel Hidalgo as vice president, Eviana Palines as treasurer and Lilly Loriega as secretary.
Earlier in the day, the slate of candidates gave speeches to the entire school in order to share their platforms and what areas of improvement they would focus on if elected.
Several of the candidates noted the personal skills they would bring to the job — from being organized to their math skills.
Among some of the topics candidates wished to address during their one-year term is getting new basketballs, purchasing a new basketball net and being able to play on the blacktop at recess. One candidate was interested in bringing back the lemonade stand during recess too. Others hoped to improve school lunches. There was also talk of finding new ways to fundraise.
“The whole purpose is to make Grady an even better place,” teacher and election moderator Melissa Barrionuevo told the candidates. “We are all so proud of you.”
The newly elected board will be invited to a future Elmsford Board of Education meeting to talk more about its plans.
Halloween brings pumpkins and paradesPosted by Alicia Smith on 11/7/2019 8:00:00 AM
The weather outside was frightful, which fit right in with the spooky atmosphere that often surrounds Halloween.
Students and staff did not let the dreary weather on Oct. 31 interfere with their holiday fun.
In the morning, students at the Carl L. Dixson Primary School enjoyed the school’s annual Pumpkin Patch. Each student was given a small pumpkin and had the fun of decorating it. There were stickers and markers available to adorn their gourd with whatever creative designs they could imagine.
The students were assisted by friends from Alexander Hamilton High School’s Interact Club, an affiliate of the Rotary Club for teenagers. The students are often involved in community service projects and on this day were helping the district’s youngest students with their pumpkins.
“I don’t care what the reason, if people need us, we are there,” Lisa Watson, AHHS Library Media Specialist said of the Interact Club members.
The weather continued to worsen throughout the day, however, did not dampen the “spirits” of students at the Alice E. Grady Elementary School.
While they could not hold their Halloween Parade outside as they usually do, they simply took their parade through the hallways of their school.
With a flourish from the drums, the Grady band, led by band leader Nikolaus Campbell, stepped off in the sixth grade wing marching to the “Star Wars Theme.” As they passed by each classroom, students, many of them in costumes, fell in line behind them.
After marching through the halls, the entire school assembled in the gym where many parents gathered to see all the hoopla.
First fall drama production at AHHS this weekPosted by Alicia Smith on 11/6/2019 10:45:00 AM
Eight-hundred and twenty-two years is a long time to wait.
Fortunately, the community does not have to wait that long as the Alexander Hamilton High School Drama Club presents its first-ever fall production, “An Evening of One Acts.”
A cast of 15 will present three one-act plays —“21 Chump Street” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Rowing to America,” by Kitty Chen and “Waiting,” by Ethan Coen, Nov. 7, 8 and 9.
The production is the first time the school has put on a fall show. The selection of three dramatic pieces is new as well and offer an opportunity for those less inclined to sing and dance to show off their dramatic acting skills.
“It’s a great opportunity for students who are not great singers and dancers but are great actors,” Director Chris Guzman said.
“After the spring musical we had such great momentum to grow the program,” he said.
In another first, the production is being done in a much more intimate setting, where actors are playing to a smaller audience who sit right on the stage with them, rather than the 400-500 who usually fill the auditorium.
“Now the focus is on the black box feel of it,” Mr. Guzman said.
Senior Alanis Cabrera plays the role of Naomi in “21 Chump Street.” This is her sixth show at the school as performing is one of her passions. Alanis is a dancer with the Broadway Dance Center and has performed in a number of shows with her troupe.
Alanis said her character is an undercover cop who works in a high school.
“She came from a tough background and is trying to do better. She’s very driven, passionate,” Alanis added.
This is her first dramatic role and said the experience is completely different from the performances she has done in her school’s musicals, especially because she is used to having dancing roles.
“In this role I definitely have to focus in order to translate Naomi to the audience,” Alanis said.
“It makes me feel really proud, I really love to act and to see it grow. It makes me happy,” she said of being a part of the first fall show.
Senior Jon Tapia plays the very patient Mr. Nelson in “Waiting.” Last year was the first time he auditioned for one of his school’s production and performed in the spring musical “In the Heights.”
“I’ve always had a passion for music. This was breaking out of my shell,” he said of joining the spring cast.
He enjoyed the experience so much, not only did he come back for the fall show, but he is now considering studying the performing arts in college. He is interested in NYU for the performing arts or Molloy College for Musical Therapy.
“This is certainly the first time we are doing this kind of thing,” Jon said. “It gives us more of a chance for those who don’t get a lead, and for the director and all of us to pursue something on the dramatic performance end.”
“An Evening of One Acts,” will take place Nov. 7, 8, and 9 at 7 p.m. at Alexander Hamilton High School. Tickets can be purchased in advance at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4429273
Please note, there are limited seating available.
College Fair offers a look ahead for AHHS studentsPosted by Alicia Smith on 11/1/2019 3:00:00 PM
More than 60 college and university representatives filled the gym at Alexander Hamilton High School on Oct. 24. They spent the day answering student questions from students who are beginning the college application process.
“We have a good variety of colleges this year, a good mix of SUNY and CUNY and private schools,” guidance counselor Monica Ahern said.
Junior Sandy Manzano is thinking of majoring in psychology or criminal justice. She stopped by to see which schools offer those majors and to learn more about the schools’ locations.
“It costs a lot of money to go to college,” she said, sharing a concern for many students.
The purpose of the fair is to answer questions that students may have and hopefully allay any fears about the experience from applying to deciding where to study.
“I am excited and I’m nervous,” admitted junior Julie Irohan about the entire college process.
Having spoken to representatives from Saint Peter’s University, James Madison University and Ramapo College of New Jersey, Julie said the experience helped her get excited about her future.
“This fair is really cool,” she said, hoping, neuroscience or psychology.
Junior Brandon Harris and seniors Justin Johnson and Tyrese Clerge also came by the fair.
“I’m trying to see what schools require to get in and their location,” Brandon said.
Justin said he is a bit nervous about college, but is excited to move on from high school. He is interested in the culinary arts, would like to study business and one day open a business of his own.
Tyrese said he as looked at a few schools that offer a degree in finance.
Admissions counselor Max O’Connor from La Salle University said that during the fall, students are mostly focused on asking more broad questions about the majors offered and location of the school.
Stephanie Annunziata, assistant professor and admissions counselor at Westchester Community College, said that college fairs allow her to engage with students and to encourage their curiosity about furthering their education.
Many students, she said, want to know more about the programs offered, details on how they can transfer and what support services are available for students.
“I always encourage students to visit the college and experience it,” Ms. Annunziata said. “Visit us, we are not too far away.”
Junior Katherine Gomez expressed that she has mixed feelings about going to college.
“I am mostly excited,” she said.
After talking to some representatives, she said she felt better and learned more about how she needs to prepare for the application process.
The number of schools that sent representatives to the fair was a 10 % increase from the previous year, guidance counselor Monica Ahern said.
Her department began planning the college fair in June coordinated the timing with the annual college fair held at the Westchester County Center. That way, the representatives will be in the area at the same time.
The fair is primarily for juniors, although some sophomores showed interest. By this time of year, Ms. Ahern said, seniors have started the application process, although some can benefit from the fair as they are still looking at schools.
School counselors will help students prepare questions to ask the representatives when they meet at the fair.
“The more they do this, the more practice they begin to feel comfortable, it makes it easier for when the make a campus visit,” Ms. Ahern said.
Engineering on display as students get to know one anotherPosted by Alicia Smith on 10/31/2019 1:00:00 PM
The suspense emanating from the gymnasium at Alexander Hamilton High School was palpable.
Would the structure hold?
There was only one way to find out. Add another book.
The result? A collapsed bridge and groans from those watching.
The exercise was one of three challenges teams of eighth- and tenth graders had during the Engineering Challenge on Oct. 18.
The teams consisted of mixed-grade groups that worked together on one of three projects.
Some built a bridge out of popsicle sticks and glue. Once complete, the bridge was put between two desks, and a large history textbook was placed on top. The bridge had to hold the book for 10 seconds. If successful, a second book was added. The team whose bridge stayed up the longest with the most books was declared the winner.
Another project involved building a fortress out of Styrofoam cups. Several flags were placed among the walls. The challenge was to build a fortress strong enough to withstand an onslaught of corks catapulted at the walls. Those manning the catapults had to try to knock the flags off the structure. The team that hit the most flags was named the victor.
Finally, there was the tower challenge. Teams built tall structures, again out of popsicle sticks, to see how tall they could build their tower without it collapsing.
Eighth-grader Josahn Savage was part of the Scorpions team. He worked on building a castle.
“It was good,” he said of working with older students. He said they all discussed the best way to construct their fortress and came to a consensus.
“It was fun,” Lauren Maresca, another castle-builder said.
Tenth-grader Arielle Lewis, who helped build a bridge, said the younger students were very self-assured. She and her classmate, Dana Grosvenor, said they only offered a bit of advice, otherwise they let the younger students decide what they thought would be best.
Science teacher Rich MacLeish said a total of 120 students participated in what has become an annual event.
Apples, apples and more apples equals a lot of applesPosted by Alicia Smith on 10/31/2019 8:00:00 AM
There were apples in bins on tables, apples being dunked in paint and pictures of apples pinned on the walls throughout the Carl L. Dixson Primary School on Oct. 18.
That could only mean one thing. It was Apple Palooza time!
Now in its fifth year, the annual event uses apples as a way to demonstrate a variety of math concepts. It is also another way for parents to come into the school to help out with all the apple fun.
Throughout the day, students engaged in apple-themed activities which incorporated everything from counting, completing number sentences, making a pattern, counting in tens and number recognition. Each activity incorporated apples, whether it was actual fruit, images of apples or apple-themed games.
Juniors help with community projectPosted by Brian Howard on 10/30/2019 8:00:00 AM
Normally the buzz coming from the auditorium at Alexander. Hamilton High School is from the talent on display on stage. On Oct. 18, however, the buzz emanated from power tools.
A group of students were busy using leftover wood from previous productions to make five bookcases. They measured wood, while teacher Sabrina Doolittle used a saw to cut it to specific measurements. Students then used a power drill to screw the bookcases together.
The project was part of the Elmsford Basics initiative, focusing on literacy. The completed bookcases will eventually find homes throughout the community, in laundry mats, stores and other venues. They will be filled with donated books for the public to enjoy.
“Some students have never used a drill before,” Ms. Doolittle said during the assembly.
She said she was approached by AHHS Principal Joseph Engelhardt, who asked if she had any leftover wood. When she answered affirmative, he recruited her to help with this special project.
“I really like working with Ms. Doolittle, she’s a good teacher,” junior Tyler Field Jr. said about why he volunteered his time to help with this project. “I like building things,” he added.
The project was one of many team-building exercises going on at the school, as students were enjoying a half-day due to a teacher in-service.
“I just like helping out with the school,” junior Myzel Davis said.
Pep rally brings the school spirit!Posted by Alicia Smith on 10/29/2019 12:00:00 PM
There was a lot on the line on Oct. 25 when the entire student body at Alexander Hamilton High School gathered in the school gym. It was all about bragging rights.
The gym was awash in green, yellow, black, blue, white and red as each grade dressed in their designated class colors. They gathered for an all-school pep rally, celebrating the culmination of Spirit Week. Throughout the week, students had enjoyed Pajama Day, VSCO/Hypebeast Day, Twin Day, Throwback Thursday (Back to the ‘90s) and Class Colors Day.
With upbeat music pulsing to get the crowd in the right mood, the fall sports teams were announced and team members came roaring into the gym as their friends and schoolmates cheered.
Then things took a semi-serious turn thanks to a series of competitive games that pitted one class against another.
Tug-of-war was the first competition, with seventh and eighth graders fighting to achieve victory. Eighth graders managed to chalk up the first win of the day. Next, the “sophies” and juniors took a turn, with the sophomores winning that round. Then it was time for the ultimate battle as the juniors took on the seniors, with the seniors coming out on top.
Next, a member of each class had their dexterity and focus tested with a cut-throat game of musical chairs. The music began, their feet started moving . . . and the music stopped resulting in a scramble for participants to find a seat. With one person out of the game, the festivities continued. Until a lone senior sat in the last chair, besting a schoolmate!
All of this activity was sure to build up an appetite, which proved to be helpful for the next round of competition: the pie eating contest.
Again, a member of each class sat at a table with a small pie in front of him or her. When the signal was given, they each dove into their individual pie, chomping on apple, blueberry and cherry delicacies. They all chewed and munched, until a sophomore stood up, the first to finish his pie. They all came away from the table, however, with big smiles on pie smeared faces.
Think you can easily pop a balloon? The feat is not as easy as it seems, as a member of each class took a turn trying to pop a balloon. Each participant used his or her own strategy— some tried the stomp on the balloon, while others attempted to sit-on-the-balloon and others tried to squeeze the balloon between their knees. Again, a sophomore was victorious.
All of these fun and silly activities were a lead-up to that evenings homecoming, which was enjoyed by all!
¡Hola! Grady students talk with counterparts in MexicoPosted by Alicia Smith on 10/25/2019 8:00:00 AM
Fútbal, or soccer as it is known here, is the favorite sport. Most children walk to school rather than take a bus, and wearing uniforms to school is not too bad. This was some of the information gleaned from third-and-fourth grade students at the Alice E. Grady Elementary School when they spoke with students at a school in Mexico City, Mexico.
This information, and more, was relayed to students during a video conference call organized by the Port Chester-based non-profit One World on Oct. 18. Each grade level had an opportunity to speak with the Mexican students.
As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, which ran from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, students at the elementary school were connected with their counterparts at the Escuela primaria Constitución de 1857. They had an opportunity to practice their Spanish and ask the Mexican students questions in Spanish.
Gathering in the gym, Principal Andrea Hamilton spoke first, acknowledging Yolanda Garcia Trejo, the principal at the Mexican school. From there, students were able to relay their questions by speaking into a microphone. They were also able to see the Mexican students and watch their reactions to the questions.
Is your school big or small? Do you have homework on Friday? What are your school hours? were some of the inquiries Grady students made.
The students in Mexico wanted to know what kind of foods the Grady students most enjoyed and if they liked learning Spanish. Grady students informed them that pizza and French Fries were their favorites and “¡Sí!” they enjoyed learning a foreign language.
“You are wonderful ambassadors,” Joe Carvin, founder of One World told the students when the first call was completed. He assisted with interpreting when the Mexican students asked their questions.
One World, Mr. Carvin said, was created to “build character education with a global perspective.”
“Elmsford has enthusiastically embraced our program,” Mr. Carvin said. “A diverse school like Grady has an advantage when it comes to global competency.”