News Around The District

  • Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 6/30/2021 12:15:00 PM

    When Superintendent of Schools Marc Baiocco asked the Class of 2021 “Are you ready?” one student loudly proclaimed, “Yes sir.” It was the moment he and his classmates had all been waiting for — to be officially declared graduates.

    In a turbulent year that included remote learning, hybrid learning and in-person learning, the Class of 2021 members persevered and now proudly call themselves alumni of Alexander Hamilton High School. Their commencement ceremony took place on the grounds of Knollwood Country Club on June 23. Graduates tossing caps into the air

    The ceremony began with the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance by senior Jason Atkins, and the singing of the National Anthem by fellow graduates Shaday Garvery, Kate Hidalgo, Lizbeth Medina, Bailey Proctor and Dahlia White.

    Alexander Hamilton High School Principal Joseph Engelhardt welcomed the graduates and their families and recalled how he began his tenure as principal when students in the Class of 2021 were freshman. He said he grew in his position as an administrator and learned right along with them.

    “You will forever be remembered in my heart as the class that taught me how to be a principal in Elmsford and what our school is all about. I thank you for that,” he said.

    Mr. Engelhardt shared the definition of “grit and determination” as defined by renowned American educator Angela Duckworth: “passion and sustained persistence for long term achievement with no particular rewards or recognition along the way.”

    “Class of 2021, you will be recognized for your grit and determination,” Mr. Engelhardt said. “Our students here today had to learn through this new landscape starting in their junior year – through virtual, hybrid learning or in-person, whatever combination you chose, you did it and achieved it at a higher graduation rate than any class before you. That is grit. That is Hamilton!”

    Salutatorian Alyssa Fitzgerald, in her speech, noted how she learned to be successful from her twin sister, Jonelle, who at 13-years old underwent her first of many surgeries. Her learning continued as she watched her sister persevere through whatever life threw at her.

    “I believe that story of that 13-year-old girl is a testament to the flexibility and exception a successful life requires,” Alyssa said. “She taught me, in order to be successful, you have to walk out into the unknown, be kind and be willing to accept help because whether you think you need it or not, you do.”

    “I say to my fellow graduates, when you encounter a hurdle, take that leap of faith,” she concluded.

    Board of Education President Candice Wood noted how for so many years, the graduates had awakened to the same alarm clock announcing it was time to go to school.

    “You will continue to wake up every day to that same alarm but with a different vision and a different perspective,” she said.

    “Be proud of yourself and all your complexions and complexities, all of your accomplishments. Through the trials and challenges that you will face, embrace the good times and the memories, learn from your pitfalls and disappointments and embrace the opportunities that await you,” she said.

    Student Government President Kate Hidalgo reminded classmates how quickly time has passed. Many of them first met while in pre-k, she said.

    “Time goes by like the speed of light and we don’t realize it until all we have left are memories,” she said. “If there are things you haven’t done in the past four years, don’t be upset about it, just take things slower in the future. Live in the moment and don’t rush to grow up,” she said.

    Kate is the first in her family to attend college and she thanked her parents for making that possible. She spoke directly to them in Spanish, later informing the crowd about the essence of what she had said to them before concluding: “I look forward to seeing what the future holds for each of us. We are now the generation of change. This year we have shown that our generation is resilient and adaptable, and we have a voice that will not be diminished.”

    During the ceremony, members of the Class of 2021 received a number of awards and scholarships.

    “The faces you see surrounding you are the ones you are going to remember from your childhood,” said Valedictorian Jackie Praino. “This is your Hamilton family, your Elmsford family, and they will always be here to support you and lift you up as you prepare to embark on the next step of your journey.”

    “The next steps in all of our journeys are ones we must learn to take on our own,” she continued. “No matter what, we will all be getting a new beginning. We are saying goodbye to the life we have known in Elmsford. The future is yours to shape any way you want.”

    Guests were entertained with a song, “For Good,” from the musical “Wicked,” sung by seniors and classmates Lizbeth Medina, Bailey Proctor and Dahlia White.

    Before he formerly declared them graduates, Superintendent Marc Baiocco shared some encouraging words of his own.

    “Let your heart be your compass, your mind be your map and your soul be your guide and you will never be lost,” he said, quoting Indian author Ritu Ghatourey

    “In the days and months following the pandemic, we all questioned our decisions. Your family members questioned is it safe to return to school? Students wondered what this school year will be like, teachers worried about how am I going to continue to teach in this hybrid model, administrators questioned how do we possibly keep everyone safe. We learned when nothing is sure, everything is possible.”

    And finally, it was the moment students were waiting for — the distribution of their diplomas. When every member of the Class of 2021 had theirs in hand, they tossed their caps into the air before breaking up as a group to meet their family and friends.

    Click here to see photos from the event!









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  • Dixson first graders are on the move

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 6/28/2021 10:45:00 AM

    Ready or not, Alice E. Grady Elementary School, the first-grade students from Carl L. Dixson Primary School are on their way! 

    It became official on June 23 when four classes of first graders were recognized for their accomplishments and celebrated for all of their hard work. 

    This year’s Moving Up Ceremony was divided into four mini-ceremonies due to COVID-19. Parents and families gathered on the lawn in front of the school and enjoyed words from school officials, hearing a song from the graduating class and seeing their child receive a special certificate. Children process into moving up ceremony with papr mortar boards on

    Principal Jeffrey Olender remarked how, in his mind, Dixson is “the happiest place on earth.” It earns that recognition due to the fun that students and staff members have, and also through the support of parents and the Village of Elmsford. 

    “There is no place that embodies that better than Elmsford,” Mr. Olender said. “It takes a village – a village committed to the students and the people of Elmsford.” 

    He recognized the support of Mayor Robert Williams, who often visits the schools, including to attend the Moving Up Ceremonies and graduation. He also goes out of his way to help the district, even if it means shutting down village streets for a Halloween Parade.

    Superintendent Marc Baiocco commented on the amount of technology that students and their parents had to use during a year that consisted of at-home learning, hybrid learning and in-person learning. He said it was a technological experience that was way ahead of schedule, which vaulted the district’s youngest students into 21st Century Learning. 

    “It was remarkable what we were able to accomplish this year,” he said. 

    Board of Education Vice President Dennis Rambaran agreed with Mr. Olender, saying that Dixson was the happiest place in the county. He said that the happiness is something that he witnesses every day as a police officer who assists with the morning traffic around school. 

    “I would love to see that continue at Grady,” he said of the students’ enthusiasm. 

    During each ceremony, classes performed the school’s song, “Dixson Spirit Way,” which was led by music teacher Christopher Funke. 

    Grady Principal Andrea Hamilton was a surprise guest. She introduced herself to the students and met with them on the playground, following each ceremony. She informed them of a Grady tradition: When a teacher or staff member is speaking and needs their students’ attention, they will raise their arm in the air with one finger pointing up. This reflects that Grady is one family and they are in it together.  

    As one final act as Dixson students, each child climbed up the steps of the playground slide ad “slid into second grade.”

    Several first-grade teachers spoke to their students and parents: 

    Christine Sanese: “There were a lot of differences this school year, but there was a lot that was the same too – friendships, community and family that we build every year. We want to thank you, parents, for all of your support. How proud you must be of your children. We were so happy to have had them.” 

    ToniAnn Plati: “Parents, where would we be without you? It’s been such a tough year for you, for us and for them. They were so great. They came in the smartest class and left even smarter.” 

    Courtney Velardo: “I could not be prouder. You were rock stars!” 

    Mary Ann Maric: “You have grown into writers and readers and lifelong friends. You will always have a piece of our teacher hearts.” 

    Fabiola Diaz: “Parents, thank you for your support and understanding.” 

    Click here to see photos of the day! 


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  • They’re moving on up! Grady 6th graders celebrate end of elementary school

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 6/24/2021 12:00:00 PM

    After a school year like no other, the Alice E. Grady Elementary School 6th grade Moving Up ceremony was unlike any others in the past either.

    Students were recognized and celebrated for all their accomplishment in a unique ceremony that included all the pomp and circumstance, without the friends and family.

    This year the Moving Up Ceremony was videotaped as a way to keep the gathering small due to indoor COVID restrictions. Families had an opportunity to view the event in its entirety on June 23 when a link was posted on the district website.

    Sixth graders processed into the school gym where they were welcomed by school Principal Andrea Hamilton and other district dignitaries. They received special awards and honors, enjoyed some music from the Grady Band and the Grady Choir. And when it was all over, they were officially declared graduates. Lawn signs with the names of the Class of 2021

    "We tried our best and were successful,” student representative Dylan Canafe said in his speech to the class.

    “I want you to remember your dreams. Never give up on your dreams and continue to work on achieving goals,” he said. “Continue to shine and to do big things.”

    After thanking the teachers and staff, Board of Education and others for their support throughout the unprecedented year, Dr. Hamilton addressed her words to the Class of 2021.

    “You will never forget this year. For the first time ever, you got to learn at home. You’ll never forget how many times you heard your teacher say, ‘can you hear me?’ And here we are celebrating your resilience,” she said.

    “My hope is that you will continue to grow and learn more about yourselves. You deserve the very best,” she continued.

    Dr. Hamilton also shared five suggestions she had for students: Listen to your parents, never give up, help others and if you need help ask for it, continue to be brave and finally, to give their parents and teachers a round of applause as a thank you for their commitment to them.

    “Your parents are here in spirit,” Board of Education Vice President Dennis Rambaran assured students during the ceremony.

    “We know how hard you worked, and you all know it’s not as easy as it sounds. Elementary school is a lot of work, and it’s hard and you guys did it,” he said. “You are on your way to the high school where you will meet new people, see new faces and definitely will have new challenges. But you and I both know you can do this. You have all the tools you need.”

    In his address to students Superintendent Marc Baiocco also offered five things he hoped students would pay attention to in the future. They consisted of being self-aware, knowing their purpose, practicing self-care with themselves and their relationships and mindfulness.

    “I know each and every one of you is going to do great things at Alexander Hamilton High School,” Dr. Baiocco said.

    Following the presentation of awards, it was time to make everything official.

    Students lined up by class and as their names were called, they held up to the camera a hand-made sign that helped identify who they were behind the required masks they were wearing.

    When all the students had received their diplomas, a loud cheer went up from the students, staff and special guests and the celebrating began.

    Click here to see photos from the ceremony and be sure to visit the website to watch the ceremony in its entirety!



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  • Dad’s enjoy donuts on their day

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 6/24/2021 10:00:00 AM

    Let’s hear it for the Dads!

    On June 18th fathers and caregivers took a few minutes to enjoy some bonding time at the Carl L. Dixson Primary School. The event took place just in time for Father’s Day during the annual ‘Donuts for Dads’ celebration.

    Although the event was scaled down a bit due to COVID-19, there were plenty of well wishes for a happy Father’s Day as dads brought their sons and daughters to school. There were plenty of donuts to enjoy too.Man sitting on steps with two little girls


    “Welcome, welcome, Happy Father’s Day,” teacher Andrea Cleveland announced as dads began to arrive at the school.

     Dads enjoyed breakfast with their child and had an opportunity to chat with one another as well as with teachers before going on with the rest of their day.

    Click here to see all the fun!

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  • Grady sixth graders end the year with a pizza party and parade

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 6/21/2021 11:15:00 AM

    The 2020-2021 school year is winding down and sixth graders at Alice E. Grady Elementary School have begun to celebrate the end of their elementary school experience. 

    In the first of two celebrations the entire class gathered at nearby DeLuca Park to enjoy a day away from the classroom. Students played games, relaxed with their friends and enjoyed a pizza lunch. 

    A few days later on June’s “Fitness Friday,” the school turned its usual fitness time into a parade for the oldest students. 

    “We wanted to celebrate the sixth grade,” Principal Andrea Hamilton said. “We’re having a ‘clap-it-up,’ and got the whole school involved to honor and celebrate their accomplishments.” Man leads a parade of students

    It was one of the first days when students were allowed to take their masks off outside – a huge change for students who have worn masks at school since November 2020 at the start of in person learning.

    On June 11 the entire student body, along with faculty and staff members, gathered outside Grady and formed two long lines.  

    “They’re coming! They’re coming!” announced an excited younger student at the sight of the sixth graders. 

    The sixth graders formed a long procession and walked out of their school in the middle of the lines formed by their teachers and friends, and up the hill toward Alexander Hamilton High School. Everyone clapped and shouted words of encouragement and sang “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang. 

    The parade was led by physical education teacher Drew Watson.

    “Dr. Hamilton and I have put this together to send you on your way up the hill,” Mr. Watson told the Grady Class of 2021 after they had walked a circle in front of the high school. Mr. Watson led a clapping cheer: “Good luck, sixth grade!” 

     The entire student body also shouted a cheer to thank their teachers. 

    Click here to see photos from these fun events!


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  • Meet the Class of 2021 Valedictorian and Salutatorian

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 6/17/2021 10:00:00 AM

    When the Alexander Hamilton High School Class of 2021 Valedictorian and Salutatorian were asked what word they would use to describe their class, they both came up with the same one: energetic.

    It is clear that students used that energy to persevere through a year that was unlike any other. Beginning in their junior year, students were put into remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Safety precautions were still in place in the fall, causing their senior year to begin in a remote setting as well before moving to a hybrid model and finally in person. Both class leaders noted how their classmates stayed focused and committed to their education to get to this point — graduation!

    Jackie Praino, Valedictorian Girl in pink shirt

    Tulane University, Major in math or engineering

    “In my head it hasn’t hit that we are graduating,” Jackie said a few weeks away from the big day, June 23. “It hasn’t hit me that we are not coming back. It probably will hit me at graduation.”

    Jackie said she felt she had a good chance at being named Valedictorian.

    “I was really happy because I worked really hard for it,” she said. “I’ve always been dedicated to my courses, and I was glad to see that pay off. I was really pleased with myself.”

    Through her tenure at Alexander Hamilton High School, Jackie has served as the Green Club president. During her tenure she oversaw the building and planting of a sustainable garden in the school’s courtyard. She is also the student government representative for her grade and a member of the National Honor Society, the Drama Club and the softball team. Academically, she has taken a number of Advanced Placement classes, including Calculus, and is enrolled in several dual-enrollment classes that offered both college credit and was credited for her required classes in high school. English, she said, was her most difficult class, but when it came to math and science, she was in her element.

    “I am a math and science person,” she said.

    Jackie and her classmates had to contend with very unusual circumstances considering the major impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on education.

    “Personally, I didn’t think it was too difficult,” Jackie said of all the adjustments that had to be made. “I’m a good student. I just thought if you just stick with it, you should do well. I focused on my classes and did the work that was assigned,” whether she was at home in remote learning or in person.

    Her senior year, she said went by very fast.

    “It’s just going to be weird not being here,” she said.

    Jackie shared the ups and downs of life with her sisters, Cassandra, Class of ’18, and Kathleen, who will graduate next year.

    “I’ve never been in a school building by myself,” she said.

    That will change when she arrives on the campus of Tulane University. Jackie was fortunate in that she was able to visit the university in early March 2020 just before everything went into lockdown.

    “There’s just a lot of energy down there,” she said. “I wanted to go to a college where there was a lot going on.” And where it was warmer, she added.

    Jackie had considered Duke University, but decided in the end that Tulane better suited her.

    She will miss Elmsford, though, she said, specially knowing where everything is, and she will certainly miss her friends and family. Her plans for the summer include spending time with family and friends, babysitting and travel.

    She has given some consideration to the speech she will give at graduation. The theme, she said, will focus on looking forward.

    Girl in yellow shirtAlyssa Fitzgerald, Salutatorian

    Cornell University, major in mathematics with a pre-veterinary track

    “I’m excited and very proud of myself,” Alyssa said of having been named Class of 2021 Salutatorian. “I worked really hard. I also expected it. I tried to hold my place and worked hard to maintain it.”

    She is not the only one. In addition to thinking of her class as “energetic,” she said they were also very motivated and diverse.

    “Everyone is doing something different. I really like that,” she said.

    Throughout her time at Hamilton, Alyssa has been in the band and served as group section leader for four years. She was also captain of the Cross-Country team and participated in both spring and winter track. This year she was student government treasurer. She has also participated in the Science Olympiad, including as team captain this year, and is a member of the Green Club. Alyssa also volunteers at the Greenburgh Public Library and Paws Crossed Animal Rescue in Elmsford. She works at Carters, a children’s clothing store.

    This summer she will be working as a camp counselor and has an internship at a veterinary clinic.

    “I knew from the beginning I wanted to go to an Ivy League school,” Alyssa said, adding that the university’s motto, a quote by founder Ezra Cornell, appealed to her: “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.”

    Alyssa also said it was a draw to attend the top veterinary school in the country.

    Alyssa, and her twin sister Jonelle, will be the first in their family to attend college. Jonelle will be attending Eastern University.

    “I wanted to take that big step,” Alyssa said of going away to school. “It’s such a beautiful campus too.”

    In order to get through the tumultuous COVID-19 pandemic, Alyssa said she created a schedule for herself early on and stuck with it. She opted to remain remote for the entire year due to health concerns with a family member. The time away from school enabled her to care for her aunt’s dog, who was ill. It was time that helping further entrench her desire to become a veterinarian.

    When the pandemic hit, and remote schooling was the only option available, Alyssa said it was a bit of an adjustment for everyone, including teachers. There were some days, she admits, that she felt unmotivated and overwhelmed.

    “I put my trust in God to pull me through and keep me positive and motivated,” she said.

    Alyssa appreciates her small town and how everyone knows one another. She anticipates she will have to find her way on the large campus at Cornell.

    “I’ll take it day by day,” she said of her last few days at Hamilton. “I want to finish strong.”

    And once her classwork is done, she will focus on her graduation speech, that she says, will have a theme relating to kindness and hard work.


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  • A night out: Prom 2021

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 6/11/2021 3:30:00 PM

    Cameras got quite the workout on the evening of June 10 when moms, dads, friends, guardians and (soon-to-be) grads gathered in front of Alexander Hamilton High School all dressed up and ready for their close up. Seniors going to prom gather on front steps of high school

    It had been some time since this annual tradition had taken place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but with restrictions easing, it was time to return to the fun of the before prom photo op.

    Students and their dates gathered in front of the high school and not only shared laughs and compliments with their classmates, but elbow bumps and hugs with many of the families and staff that had also gathered. And there was a lot of photos taken!

    Cameras snapped away and it was not long before the Class of 2021 headed to the waiting busses to be whisked away to the Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club for Prom 2021.

    Click here to enjoy some before-the-event photos!


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  • Another first for the AHHS Drama Club: Theater under the stars

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 6/11/2021 1:00:00 PM

    Fresh off of the success of their first-ever radio show, students in the Alexander Hamilton High School theater program are engaged in another new theatrical adventure: performing under the stars with their “2021 Courtyard Spectacular” on June 17-19.

    The show will feature a number of Broadway hits as a nod to the fact that theater – both in schools and on Broadway – is back after more than a year of being in the dark. 

    In March 2020, the program’s musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As schools worked through how best to manage classes, athletics and extra-curricular activities, the theater program had to adjust as well. The three-part radio show, which students wrote and produced themselves, was one creative way to provide them with a theatrical experience during the 2020-21 school year. As COVID-19 restrictions have recently been adjusted, allowing for small crowds to gather, the AHHS drama club decided that the show must go on. 

    For the first time in its history, AHHS Theatre will perform outside in the school’s courtyard. A stage has been created specifically for the show. Audience members will be limited and are required to wear masks. Flyer for upcoming theater show

    “This is the group that is the loyal-est of the loyal,” said director Chris Guzman of the cast, many of whom have been part of the theater program for years.  

    Mr. Guzman said that the students were enthusiastic about performing one last show during the school year and that they hope to show how theater can return better and stronger after the turbulent past year. 

    There are challenges that have to be overcome, Mr. Guzman said, adding that the students have worked hard to meet them all. Among them is having enough students to stage a show, as the club is competing for participating with a condensed spring athletic season that usually does not conflict with the school’s spring musical.  

    Performers have also had to manage within the COVID guidelines. For example, they, like audience members, are required to wear masks during the performance. 

    “I am immensely proud of this group,” said Mr. Guzman. “It’s going to be a really nice night. It’s a celebration of theater, the cast and community.” 

    The performance consists of a number of songs from Broadway shows, including tunes from “Twelfth Night,” “The Lion King,” “Mamma Mia,” “Rent” and “Wicked.” 

    Seniors Bailey Proctor and Lizbeth Medina both said that there was no way they would miss an opportunity to perform one last time at AHHS. They both have been part of the theater program since seventh grade. 

    “It’s just a thing we do,” said Bailey, who is headed to Villanova University after high school graduation. “Plus, I love singing and dancing.” 

    Lizbeth, who will be attending Florida Atlantic University in the fall, said that she recalls an elementary school field trip to see a production of 'Gigi.' That sparked her interest in theater. 

    Both agreed the AHHS Theatre performance of “In the Heights” was their personal favorite and said that they enjoyed being a part of that show – so much so that Bailey thinks of it as “the culmination of my high school experience,” while Lizbeth thought it was the best show the theater program has ever done. 

    As for their current performance, they are excited to participate in the school’s first outdoor theater event. 

    “We’ve put together an awesome show,” Bailey said, adding that the audience members will know many of the songs and are encouraged to sing along. 

    “They chose songs that transition well with one another,” Lizbeth said, noting the selected numbers tell a story even though individually they are from different shows.

    Lizbeth said she is thankful to the adults who have brought the cast together and are working to make the show a reality. Among them are Mr. Guzman, music teacher Rob Jacoby and Physics teacher and set designer Sabrina Doolittle

    “They are not afraid to try new things, step out of the box and do things not typically done in high school,” Lizbeth said.

    “They really figured out a way for us to have an opportunity to perform this year,” Bailey said. “I’m definitely thankful.” 

    Performing with masks on is new and does impact a performer’s breathing, Bailey said. Performers are more reliant on their ears to hear themselves and their castmates as they sing. Being outside is also a new experience, which required focus for the performers —there is no space to practice behind the scenes or before going on stage. 

    “It’s definitely scary,” Bailey said with a laugh. “There’s no room to mess up.” 

    Freshman Jason Hungredor, a newcomer to AHHS Theatre, said that he was a bit reluctant to join the cast but was encouraged to do so by his music teacher Mr. Jacoby. Jason said that lyrics have been challenging and he was relieved to sing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” because it has less choreography than some of the others. 

    It is also the first show for fellow freshman Yuriy Kryvoruchko. “The most challenging thing is that as freshmen we have a busy schedule and it’s hard to get to rehearsals,” Yuriy said, adding he has been enjoying the experience of participating in the show so far. 

    AHHS Theatre veteran Anna Vatai, a junior, said that she keeps returning because it grants her an opportunity to grow. 

    “It was really unfortunate that ‘Twelfth Night’ was cancelled one week before opening,” she said. However, she appreciated that the current production includes a few numbers from that show as a recognition of the cast’s hard work from last year. 

    When asked why community members should see the current production, Anna replied: “because it’s theater reopening and it will bring back that spirit of theater.” 

    The “2021 Courtyard Spectacular” will be performed on June 17, 18 and 19 (rain date June 20) at 8 p.m. Masks are required. Tickets are $10 and seating is limited. For more information, including the reservation of tickets, visit eufsd.org/theatre. 


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  • Taking time to read with author Annie Turnquest

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 5/25/2021 4:00:00 PM

    It was a gorgeous day when local author Annie Turnquest paid a visit to the Alice E. Grady Elementary School. Blue skies, puffy white clouds, a gentle breeze . . . perfect for some reading outside!

    And that is exactly what second-grade students did.

    The children sat on blankets and towels from home on the school’s front lawn. Greeting them there was Ms. Turnquest, who read her book “From Inside, The Boys Brigade Learn During Coronavirus.”

    The rhyming story is timely, telling a tale of how a group of friends manages to get through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fictional characters have to contend with many of the same things the Grady students did — remote learning, missing their friends and trying to find fun things to do when so many activities were canceled.

    Woman reads to group of students out doorsSome words in the book are in bold, and readers can find a glossary in the back of the book. They will also find instructions for several activities’ readers could do, such as making a volcano, magic dough and even an erupting lemon. Another suggestion was to read!

    Reading was one activity that second-graders were actively involved in during the Principal’s Reading Challenge held in April. Students were challenged to read for a minimum of 20 minutes each day and log how long they had read. Each Monday morning, their teachers tallied the minutes their students had read during the past week. The school principal had agreed that the entire class would be treated to an author’s visit if they met a certain goal.

    In a notice to parents announcing the reading challenge, the principal noted “research shows that children who read every day are better prepared to succeed in formal education.” Families were invited to participate too as a way to show students how much fun reading can be.

    “This book is going to uplift your day,” Ms. Turnquest told the students before she began to read.

    “Ah! What am I going to do? Learning from home is something different and new . . .” Ms. Turnquest began as students listened and snacked on Goldfish crackers.

    Second graders had been given a signed copy of the book and read along with the author as she walked among the seated students.

    At the part in the book where the characters practiced yoga to relieve some stress, Ms. Turnquest had students stand up and try some of the poses she shared in her book — mountain pose, cobra pose, and lightning bolt pose among them.

    “I like this book,” announced one student as he settled back on his blanket to hear the rest of the story. Group of students outside hold up the books they just read

    Parent volunteer Lucie Rambaran was instrumental in having Ms. Turnquest visit the school. The two had met at a special book event and the Mount Vernon resident said she would be happy to meet students.

    “I truly believe any time you can get a book in the hand of a kid it’s wonderful,” Ms. Rambaran said. “She’s an educator and was gracious enough to come,” she added about the author.

    Click here to see more photos from the reading event!

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  • Cultural Heritage Day uses technology to travel the world

    Posted by Alicia Smith on 5/17/2021 10:00:00 AM

    The Elmsford community was afforded an opportunity for international “travel” without having to leave home, thanks to a virtual cultural celebration May 15 that was assisted by a Port Chester organization that focuses on unity and the environment.

    One World United and Virtuous recently began working with the Elmsford Schools and was happy to assist in creating a Cultural Heritage Day for the community that was completely virtual. Global Cultural Day logo

    Using Zoom, the community heard from people across the globe while also watching pre-recorded videos showcasing different parts of the world. Viewers were able to learn about some of the different cultures represented in Elmsford schools and were afforded a closer look at the cultures in Wales, China and Mexico.

    “We have some wonderful cultural celebrations,” Joe Carvin, founder of One World assured those viewing. “We are able to bring people together from across the globe.”

    Mr. Carvin began the celebration discussing the definition of “culture.” He showed a slide which stated: “Culture is the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notion of times, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.”

    Celebrating the different cultures represented in the schools was something the district began six years ago, Superintendent Marc Baiocco said. These celebrations have always been done in person.

    “With COVID we had to find a new way of doing things. This is what One World is all about, bringing people together,” he said.

    The celebration began with the viewing of several pre-recorded videos provided by EUFSD students and families.

    Student Kamila sang a traditional song called “Nuestra Juramiento.”  Students Mega George, Haelyana Paoulose, Sneha Sarkar and Kikhitia Pisupate shared a traditional dance from India called Bharatanatyam. Six-year-old student Ava Son shared details about her Korean culture, including traditions, food and music. Finally, a resident who’s grandchildren attend Elmsford schools demonstrated how to make a traditional dish from El Salvador called Poupousas.

    “What great, rich cultural traditions to have here in Elmsford,” parent volunteer Lucie Rambaran, who helped organize the event, said.

    It was then time to venture to other parts of the world.

    Did you know that the second longest name of a town is located in Wales?

    Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch is located in Anglesey, an island off the coast of Wales.

    Wales is just one place that was visited during the celebration. Host Dilwyn Jones greeted viewers, and he and a young guest discussed their country. They shared how it is known as “the land of song,” how daffodils are the national flower and how their flag was voted “the coolest in the world.” Mr. Jones shared a video of Welsh school children who demonstrated traditional dances, talked about the most popular sport (rugby), and the weather.

    Next on the tour was China, where the host introduced viewers to Chinese history, music, philosophy and more.

    “We have a 5,000-year-old history,” the host said from Nanjig, China.

    She discussed the influence that philosopher Confucius (who lived from 551-479 BCE) still has on the Chinese today. In a video montage, viewers were introduced to traditional culture, including music, calligraphy and more.

    “We believe human beings are part of nature,” she said. “In this chaotic world, we specifically need a tranquil atmosphere to become calm,” she said, adding that the use of calligraphy and traditional Chinese music are often used to find this state.

    Finally, viewers had an opportunity to get a look at Guerrero, Mexico, a state along the Pacific Coast.

    Hosts Rita del Pilar Zamudio Ochoa and Victor Nambo shared how the name of their state means “warrior.” They discussed its history, geography and traditions.

    A video focused on the different regions of the state and what they are known for, including traditional dances, food and notable industries such as hat making and silver production.

    “Even warmer than the climate are the people,” Ms. Del Pilar Zamudio Ochoa said.

    “That was amazing, what an experience,” commented Jo-Anne Dobbins in the chat.

    “An amazing presentation. Thank you to each country that was showed today,” commented Jessica Kruger.


    “Excellent celebration,” agreed viewer Carol Dorado.


    “You can see what technology can do,” Mr. Carvin said at the end of the celebration. “It will continue to unite us.”



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