News Around The District
The NED Show arrives at Dixson to encourage studentsPosted by Alicia Smith on 11/27/2019 12:00:00 PM
With a flick of her wrist Megan flipped a yo-yo high into the air before it snapped back to her palm.
“Whoa!” was the response of the students at Carl L. Dixson Primary School as they observed her talents and took their seats in the gym.
The yo-yo would be one of many tools Megan would use to tell the story of NED’s Mindset Mission, a tale about adopting the right attitude to “go and grow!”
The show is presented by All for KIDZ, which has been inspiring more than 2.5 million students around the world with a 45-minute assembly since 1989.
NED is a young boy who is sailing through life. When something does not go his way he has a habit of giving up. That is, until a series of exciting experiences teaches him the value of hard work and reaching goals.
“If you give up because it’s too hard, you know what you have,” Megan asked the students. “You have brain freeze!”
On the other hand, she said, if you don’t give up, the result is “go brain!”
Using yo-yo tricks, magic, cheers and some good old-fashioned silliness, Megan went on to relay the tale of NED, whose name stands for Never Give Up, Encourage Others, and Do Your Best.
Poor NED was having a bad day when his school principal told him he needed to adjust his mindset. He then went on an exciting adventure — climbing Mount Everest where he met a yeti named Yet. The beast helped NED to understand “the power of yet,” that he may not be at the top yet, but with hard work he will get there. And he did.
NED was then transported to a tropical paradise on Encouragement Island, where he met Captain Kindly, who helped him find some buried treasure, and helped NED find his courage along the way.
Suddenly NED was beamed aboard a spacecraft! Here he learned about letting go of the cocky “I know” attitude and was able to “let go and go and grow.”
As NED made his way through each obstacle and slowly grew a positive mindset, the students reacted with cheers and giggles at the antics of NED and those he met along the way.
When Megan asked students what they had learned, they responded with “encourage others” and “never give up.”
“NED’s mindset mission is accomplished, but yours is just getting started!” Megan told the students.
AHHS assembly addresses staying safe onlinePosted by Alicia Smith on 11/21/2019 1:15:00 PM
It may be a message students have heard before, but it is important enough to hear it again — the internet is amazing but can be dangerous. However, there are ways for students to keep themselves, and their friends safe.
Alexa Benincasa, a representative from the New York State Missing Persons Clearinghouse at the Division of Criminal Justice Services in Albany, visited Alexander Hamilton High School to share important information on how students can do just that.
“It’s important because it’s such a big part of our lives,” Ms. Benincasa said of the internet. “Using the internet is important because it’s a way to get information and connect to people. You just have to use it safely.”
When she asked students to raise their hands if they had a cellphone, most of them did. A high number of them also indicated they played video games online, used Snapchat, had an Instagram account, or used TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and Netflix.
“People share too much information online,” Ms. Benincasa continued. “What I want you to learn today is to stay safe, but have fun.”
Ms. Benincasa encouraged students to think about anything they post online before they do so and to avoid risky behaviors. Some of those behaviors include sending inappropriate photos of themselves to someone, even if that person is a close friend, sharing inappropriate comments or photos, and visiting adult websites.
Before they post anything online ask themselves, “what does this say about me if I post it and could this get me into trouble?”
One of the dangers of posting or sharing posts is an individual has no control of where the information goes when it is shared by friends, whose friends can then continue to post or share.
“It can spread quickly,” Ms. Benincasa said. “It’s easy to lose control over who sees it.”
Things no one should ever post online include personal information, passwords, home addresses, locations, phone numbers and email addresses. Users should also take advantage of the privacy settings on their devices to protect themselves even further.
Ms. Benincasa also addressed the important topic of sexting. Many view it is a form of flirting or feel flattered when someone requests risqué images. However, usually the fall-out is terrible, resulting in the images being shared with people the sender does not know, which can lead to bullying, blackmail or possibly legal trouble.
Students can gain some control by not sharing or posting images they do not want others to see and not forwarding images they receive from others.
If anyone ever feels threatened by a message they have received online or pressured to send inappropriate images, talk to an adult, Ms. Benincasa said.
Another concern online users should consider is how others may try to groom them, which is dangerous. Grooming can happen through flattery, sending gifts, discussing adult topics, asking them to keep a secret or to meet in person.
“If an adult acts interested in you it is a red flag,” Ms. Benincasa said. “Don’t engage them.”
She advised to block the person, unfriend him or her and tell a trusted adult.
Cyberbullying is another issue that many online users may contend with. The definition is “the use of technology to bully someone else.” It can come in the form of mean comments, photoshopping images of an individual in a compromising position or creating a fake profile.
Individual who are being cyberbullied may feel lonely, isolated and develop low self-esteem. They may not want to go to school or may try to harm themselves.
Again, the best thing to do if you are being cyberbullied is to block the person, make an e-report to the social media site on which it was posted, talk to an adult and create new accounts.
“Be a responsible digital citizen,” Ms. Benincasa reminded students.
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.