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Seniors Launch Public Service Announcements

Seniors Launch Public Service Announcements photo
Over the course of several weeks, Rye Neck High School seniors worked to create public service announcements and raise awareness about a variety of issues. As part of an interdisciplinary project in Melinda Merkel’s and Karen Parisi’s classes, the students researched their chosen topics and learned how to become active participants in their community. 

“They thought about an issue that they cared about and wanted to see change in our school, community or world,” Merkel said. “Their topics could include a human rights issue, environmental concern, teen issue, medical advancement or any social issue that they felt passionate about.” 

Students chose to focus on a variety of topics, including organ donation, texting and driving, anti-Juul, gaming disorders, hunger, opioid crisis, DACA, cybersecurity and more. Having completed extensive research on their chosen topic, each student drafted an essay that explored the causes, effects and solutions to the issue. Then, they created a full-color poster and a 30-second video commercial for their advertising campaigns. 

“The variety of interests and the depth of investigation made each day of watching films an adventure,” Parisi said. 

Merkel said that despite the challenging assignment, the students mastered their topics and demonstrated their skills as filmmakers. 

“It was a good way to learn and establish our independence as thinkers, and it got a message out,” senior Magdalena Zarate-Rangel said. 

Watch Nina Sullivan's PSA on the effects of balloons on sea life, here

Young Writers Complete Personal Narrative Stories

Young Writers Complete Personal Narrative Stories photo
Young Writers Complete Personal Narrative Stories photo 2
Young Writers Complete Personal Narrative Stories photo 3
Third-graders, who have been studying about personal narratives, recently wrote stories from their own life experiences. The young writers drafted their personal narratives and brought their characters to life through actions, internal and external dialogue, and vivid descriptions. 

“We took the time and care to help our students discover and develop their writing identities and becoming familiar with the routines through their personal narrative pieces,” third-grade teacher Ann Cullagh said. 

The students first drafted their stories in a notebook as a way to explore different strategies before typing out their stories on a computer. They also learned about the efforts that go into the process of planning, writing and revising their stories. 

“The most important aspect of this unit has been helping students understand that writing is a recursive process and that their voice is important and needs to be heard,” Cullagh said. 

Fourth-Graders Master Circus Tricks

Fourth-Graders Master Circus Tricks photo
F.E. Bellows Elementary School fourth-graders learned to balance on stilts and juggle various objects when the O-Town Circus Academy visited their school from Nov. 13-16. 

Throughout the week, performers provided the students with a variety of engaging activities and helped them master their circus skills, which included juggling, plate spinning, diabolo manipulation, devil sticks, Chinese yo-yo, clowning and stilt walking. 

“Besides having fun, the students were learning through play and discovering on their own how to perform,” said physical education teacher Kristin Desio, who oversaw the program along with fellow teacher Bryan Iacovelli. 

The activities were designed to support the students’ physical fitness, balance and coordination and strengthen their gross and fine motor skills. In addition, the learning experience helped enhance their ability to collaborate with peers. 

At the end of the week, the students will demonstrate their newly acquired skills to parents, teachers and peers during a special circus performance, to be held on Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. at the middle and high school campus. 

The interactive workshops, which all students in third- through fifth-grade had the opportunity to participate in, were made possible thanks to the generous support of the PTSA. 

High School Students Design Original Board Games

High School Students Design Original Board Games photo
High School Students Design Original Board Games photo 2
High School Students Design Original Board Games photo 3
Rye Neck High School freshmen – who have been studying about the different world religions in their Global History classes – recently worked together to design their own board games as a way to expand their knowledge. 

The innovative project, which spanned a couple of weeks in Robert Brevetti’s, Andrea Katz’s and Marcella Scalise’s classes, allowed the students to be creative, think critically and collaborate with their classmates. The process began with the ninth-graders completing several activities to compare and contrast the ideas behind the major world religions that influenced the world. Then, drawing inspiration from their favorite board games, they created new rules and incorporated elements of one of the major world religions into their projects, decorated their game boards and created tokens or game pieces.

“They worked hard to use the main ideas and beliefs of their religion to make a fun and interesting board game,” Scalise said.

One group collaborated on reinventing Candyland by incorporating facts about the different Christian beliefs. Other student-created games included Buddhism Candyland, Buddhism Trouble, Christianity Monopoly, Christianity Trouble, Hinduism Candyland, Hinduism Chutes and Ladders, Hinduism Game of Life, Hinduism Sorry, Judaism Chutes and Ladders and Life of a Christian.

Freshman Danielle Lindo said creating a board game with her friends allowed her to learn new facts about the different religions. Cora Radulovic, a freshman, said she enjoyed the creative aspect of the project, which allowed her and her classmates to express their ideas and apply their knowledge in a fun way. 

“I’m hoping our students now have a better understanding of the religion they did their projects on and how important these world religions are still today,” Scalise said. “The board games project was an interactive way for them to review the major ideas and beliefs of the world religions.” 

Scalise said the students will play their board games in class as a way to prepare for their midterm and final exams.

Bellows Students Share a Piece of Home With Troops

Bellows Students Share a Piece of Home With Troops photo

In honor of Veteran’s Day, all students at F.E. Bellows Elementary School participated in a service project to thank our troops overseas for their service and sacrifice to our country. The students crafted handmade cards and wrote letters as a way to express their appreciation and gratitude.

“It is the perfect way to kick off the upcoming holiday season by being kind,” Principal Michael Scarantino said.  

In addition to making the cards, the students filled and attached small bags of soil to the cards to make the soldiers feel close to home. Susan Combs, a fifth-grade teacher and team leader who spearheaded the project, said some soldiers carry them in their pockets and others keep them in their bunks. 

The letters and bags of soil were delivered to United for the Troops, a nonprofit organization that works to share acts of kindness and generosity to our armed forces, that will then distribute them to the brave men and women overseas. 

“It is a wonderful organization that helps so many soldiers who cannot be home during the holidays,” Combs said.  


RNHS Students Earn OCA-WHV Scholarships

RNHS Students Earn OCA-WHV Scholarships photo
Rye Neck High School students Audrey Elise Young and Sandy Zhang have each earned a scholarship from the Organization of Chinese Americans’ Westchester and Hudson Valley chapter. 

Young received the Jean Wood Chang Award, which is given to a student who has displayed strong academic and extracurricular achievements. Zhang received the Avon Xiaochun Luo Award, which recognizes a student who has demonstrated significant achievements in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). 

The mission of OCA-WHV, which was established in 1980 by Frances Chu, is to promote and protect the social, political and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans in the local community.

For more information on the awards, visit

Three Middle Schoolers Honored as Students of the Month

Three Middle Schoolers Honored as Students of the Month photo
Rye Neck Middle School students Lara Auffarth, Nathaniel Findlay and Josef Zyngier were recognized for their accomplishments and honored with Student of the Month awards. 

Auffarth, a sixth-grader, is a conscientious, kind, respectful and courteous student. According to her teachers, she puts her best effort into all assignments, participates in class discussions daily and is always willing to help her classmates. Her hobbies include playing soccer, basketball and reading.

Findlay, an eighth-grader, is a motivated, responsible and hardworking student. According to his teacher, he has shown excellent academic success. Outside of school, he plays the piano, sings and runs triathlons.
Zyngier, a seventh-grader, is a kind, hardworking and responsible student. According to his teachers, he earned the recognition due to his strong work ethic and great personal traits.  

‘Kindness Matters’ for Rye Neck Middle School Students

‘Kindness Matters’ for Rye Neck Middle School Students photo

Rye Neck Middle School seventh-grader Dylan White has won the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Lions Club’s Peace Poster Contest for expressing her vision for this year’s theme of “Kindness Matters.”

“I drew a girl holding the earth with doves next to her,” White said about her peace poster project. “There were flags spiraling around her and a story of kindness on each side of the page. The message was that everyone, the whole world, has to be kind to stay together.”

White’s art teacher Trisha Appel praised her student’s understanding of the theme and artistic skill of adding realistic details in her work, as well as simplified and stylized figures to tell two different stories that show different acts of kindness. 

“Her work can reach all different types of people and connect to everyone from children to adults,” Appel said. “I love how she used different materials in a way to help emphasize different areas of her work. I think she truly showcased the message that kindness is important all around the world and even simple acts of kindness can go a long way for lasting peace in the future.”

A total of 71 seventh-graders from the middle school submitted their artwork for the schoolwide competition. They used a variety of materials – from markers to colored pencils, oil pastels, watercolor paints and tempera paint – to express their ideas. As part of the project, they also discussed what peace means to them, and many of them depicted flags from around the world as ways to express their messages. 

In addition to White, judges selected seventh-graders Blathnaid Grenouillon, Monica Kosakowski, Mana Newman, Megan Ronan and Sarah Sandberg as finalists to represent Rye Neck Middle School. Their posters were submitted to judges at the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Lions Club, who selected White as the winner of the local branch contest, while Kosakowski and Sandberg were named runners-up. White’s poster will now be submitted to the district-level competition for further judging.

For her poster, Kosakowski’s drew two hands coming together to form a heart over the earth and a white dove with flags from different countries in the background. 

“The flags represent different regions of the world and are spread out to show that kindness is everywhere,” she said. “The hands forming a heart are different races to show everyone is involved, the hands are forming the heart in the earth because kindness is important everywhere and the dove is in the heart because kindness can help create peace around the world.”

Sandberg’s poster is made up of many hearts that encompass different scenes, animals and people that are surrounded by different flags from around the world. 

“I mainly used hearts because they represent love and peace,” she said. “I thought a lot about how people and animals can positively connect with one another. I chose to use animals because they are all so different from one another.”

The Lions Club International Peace Poster Contest has been in existence for more than 30 years and provides children with the opportunity to express their creativity and visions of peace. As part of the contest, students’ posters advance through several rounds of competition before an international winner is declared on or before Feb. 1.


Fifth-Graders Create Sugar Skulls

Fifth-Graders Create Sugar Skulls photo

F.E. Bellows Elementary School fifth-graders – who have been studying Latin American culture – recently completed their sugar skull art projects, which were inspired by the traditional Mexican holiday Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos).

As part of the multicultural lesson in teachers Trisha Appel’s and Dara Goodman’s art classes, the students created sculptural relief works using proportion, design and decoration. They learned how to sculpt proportional sugar skulls out of clay, create drawings of a skeleton in motion and complete their works of art with decorative details and a colorful border.

“The students thought about the layout of their composition and tried to create a sense of movement within their work,” Appel said. “Some students even created a story about their skeleton figures. They had a lot of fun learning about Mexican art and culture while working on this project.”

The art project was designed to further enhance the fifth-graders’ understanding of the content. 


Senior Awarded Scholarship for Excellence in Italian

Senior Awarded Scholarship for Excellence in Italian photo
Charlotte Murphy, a senior at Rye Neck High School, has earned special recognition for her accomplishments in the Italian language. During an awards ceremony at the Westchester County Board of Legislators headquarters in White Plains on Oct. 1, she received a merit certificate and scholarship for her excellence in and appreciation of the Italian language.  

Murphy, a student in Rosina Martinelli’s Advanced Placement Italian language class, was presented with the award by County Legislator Catherine Parker. 

“The world language department of Rye Neck is extremely proud of this outstanding accomplishment and recognition of Charlotte Murphy, as October is Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month,” Martinelli said.

The Power of Positive Words at Rye Neck Schools

The Power of Positive Words at Rye Neck Schools photo

Kindergarten through 12th-grade students across the Rye Neck Schools participated in a variety of activities and engaged in meaningful conversations about cyberbullying, online communication, internet community and respect during Digital Citizenship Week from Oct. 15-19.

Having implemented a districtwide digital literacy curriculum this year, teachers and administrators used the platform to jumpstart their lessons and empower their students as the next generation of responsible digital citizens. In partnership with Common Sense Education, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children thrive in a world of media and technology, the lessons focused on the power of positive words. 

“As a Google Reference District, we have chosen to incorporate technology into our classes and with that comes the responsibility to teach our students how to use it responsibly, as well,” Instructional Technology Coordinator Mary Lanza said. “We chose to focus on the power of positive words because the basis of our participation online, regardless of age, should revolve around respect and compassionate communication. What it takes to be a good citizen in real life are the same skills needed to be a good citizen online.” 

At Daniel Warren Elementary School, Principal Tara Goldberg introduced the idea of an internet community to all students during her morning announcement on Oct. 15. Throughout the week, librarian and media teacher Leigh Ann Kowalchick-Porphy and teacher Dara Goodman continued the conversation with students during their library and computer classes. Kindergartners and first-graders discussed what an internet community is and how we connect with people online, while second-graders discussed cyberbullying and how to be kind online. 

“Having these conversations now is sort of laying the foundation, the building blocks of what we want them to think and understand in the future,” Goldberg said. “We’re embedding the idea of being kind, thoughtful and intentional with what they’re putting out there, via texting or emails. They still want to be a good person and be kind.”

At F.E. Bellows Elementary School, all lessons connected to the schools’ theme of being a superhero as the students discussed the impact of positive words and what it means to be a good digital citizen. In addition, fourth-graders drew comic strips to illustrate how to stand up for someone who is being cyberbullied. 

At the middle school, students participated in mixed grade-level conversations with their English teachers and guidance counselors about being an upstander online. They linked their discussions to their summer reading book, “Bystander” by James Preller. Meanwhile, at the high school, freshmen and sophomores discussed the effect of their comments and relationships online, while juniors and seniors reflected on how online behavior can affect relationships and reputations. 

Lanza said the conversations during Digital Citizenship Week served as a great opportunity to encourage positive online behaviors.

“We believe this is a responsibility that falls on our entire community,” said Lanza, who added that parents received family resources to support what was being taught in the classroom, so they can continue the conversations at home. “How often do students in our high school discuss the same topic as children in Daniel Warren? We loved the idea of this being a conversation an entire family could have at home.”

For more information, visit

Rye Neck HS to Premiere Stage Adaptation of ‘Clue’ as Fall Play

Fall Play
The murder mystery-comedy “Clue” – adopted from a board game to a movie in 1985, and now into a play – will come to life on stage at the Rye Neck High School Performing Arts Center from Oct. 26-27. Having acquired the rights to it, Rye Neck will be the first high school in the country to perform the play. 

“The show features a wonderful cast and crew of Rye Neck students,” theater director Scott Harris said. “It’s a wonderful exercise for the students to hone both their comedic timing and their ability to convey mood and fear. We have a lot of new actors in the cast this year, so they’re getting a crash course in handling this kind of challenging, fun material.”

In “Clue,” which is based on the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn, a group of strangers has been summoned to a mysterious mansion where a certain Mr. Boddy is threatening to reveal their darkest secrets. But when Mr. Boddy ends up dead, the race is on to figure out who killed him, in which room and with what weapon. 

“This hilarious murder mystery-comedy will leave you guessing and laughing all along,” said Harris, who grew up as a huge fan of the original film and admittedly could recite much of the dialogue by heart. “When I became a theater teacher, I always thought ‘Clue’ would make a great play, but there wasn’t an adaptation of the film available. I was patient, and eventually they got around to creating it [last year]. I jumped on it the second it was announced, and I am proud to be presenting the nationwide high school premiere of this new stage adaptation of one of my favorite movies.” 

Rye Neck’s production features a beautiful mansion set and a great crew of students, who have been diligently working on the costumes, artwork, hair and makeup. Head of costumes is senior Olivia Allison, while senior Risa Liebmann is stage manager. Sophomore Ethan Chin, one of the assistant stage managers, has been instrumental in working the stage lighting and sound. 

“These shows exist because of the passion and interest of students who give up hours and hours of their free time to work on this huge project,” Harris said. “I love doing it because it gives so many students a chance to be part of a project where their own particular talents can take root and blossom.”

Performances are on Friday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rye Neck High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and children. They will be available at the door on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

For more information and a list of the cast, visit

Third-Graders Discover ‘The Pathway to Peace’

Third-Graders Discover ‘The Pathway to Peace’ photo

F.E. Bellows Elementary School third-graders, who have been learning about surrealism, recently drew inspiration from their music classes and the works of Belgian artist René Magritte to create their own images of peace.

“Often, you can find similarities throughout Magritte’s work, such as using the sky in different parts of his paintings,” art teacher Trisha Appel said. “He also was known for including a dove in his work, which is the international symbol of peace.”

Their artworks were also inspired by a song, “The Pathway to Peace,” which the students wrote with music teacher Thomas Galgano. Besides painting, they collaged different papers to their work, including the sheet music of “The Pathway to Peace.”

“Our students were able to connect what they were learning about in music to their own works of art,” Appel added. 

Every third-graders’ work will be displayed in the auditorium for the winter music concert at F.E. Bellows in December. 


Students Spread Kindness With Peace Dove Paintings

Students Spread Kindness With Peace Dove Paintings photo

Sixth-graders at Rye Neck Middle School are spreading kindness, peace and positive messages throughout their school, thanks to an art project they recently completed in teacher Trisha Appel’s art classes.

Inspired by Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, and his famous antiwar painting called “Guernica,” the students created their own original paintings that incorporated the international symbol of peace – a white dove – at the center of their work. 

“The students used the dove as a means to carry their message throughout their work,” Appel said. “Many expressed how their doves were being used to show a positive message and bring that message to others as they view their work.” 

Using pencils and paper, the students first sketched out their ideas before painting their compositions with watercolor paints. Then, they painted their dove white with tempera paint to make it stand out, and later outlined it in black oil pastels or black pencils to either smooth out the edges for a softer look or create a crispier edge. They also incorporated different words of encouragement, scenes of nature, landscapes, people and city skylines to help express their messages of peace, kindness and positivity. As a final step to the project, the young artists added borders to their finished works and reflected on the experience. 

“In my project, the dove is rising with the sun – with the rays of different words that describe peace, such as hope, love, peace, joy, life, grace, unity, pride,” said sixth-grader Samina Quli, who added that her dove is rising to bring hope to a new day. “When people look at my painting, I hope they feel a bit happier. In darkness, you can always find a speck of light.”

The students’ work also directly aligns with the No Place for Hate program at Rye Neck Middle School, which was spearheaded by sixth-grade guidance counselor Meegan Lawlor as a way to promote kindness within the school community. 

“The peace dove art project will be used as a visual means for all students to remember to be kind and to stand up for what is right in order to make our school a safe and fun place to be for everyone,” Appel said. “The students liked the idea of being able to brighten up the halls of the middle school with positive messages expressed through their own works of art.”

As sixth-graders work on this project each trimester, their paintings will decorate the middle school halls with messages about peace and kindness throughout the year. In addition, several paintings will be chosen to be displayed at an upcoming exhibit at the Mamaroneck Library, to be held in December. 

Seventh-Graders Work Together Through Obstacle Course Challenges

Seventh-Graders Work Together Through Obstacle Course Challenges photo
Seventh-Graders Work Together Through Obstacle Course Challenges photo 2
Seventh-graders recently bonded over a variety of outdoor teambuilding activities, which were designed to promote a sense of community, trust and collaboration. They learned how to work together, solve problems and enhance their communication skills when they took their annual field trip to the Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES campus in Yorktown Heights on Sept. 21. 

“This trip taught students the necessary skills to complete certain physical and mental challenges as a group, and these skills are now being used at school to help create a supportive classroom environment,” English teacher Christopher Tinnirello said.

Seven Seniors Honored as Commended Students

Seven Seniors Honored as Commended Students photo
Seven Rye Neck High School seniors were recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation as Commended Students in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program. It’s an honor given annually to outstanding students who achieve exceptional scores on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. 

Curtis Alter, Joseph Catanzariti, Doris Igrec, Ema Jovanovic, Grace O'Rourke, Margaret Vicotry and Rafael Zyngier, who received the National Letter of Commendation award, are among 34,000 students throughout the nation to be recognized for their exceptional academic achievements. They placed among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.6 million students nationwide who took the qualifying test in 2017. 

Congratulations to the students on being recognized for demonstrating outstanding potential for academic success.

Seniors Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Seniors Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists photo
Three Rye Neck High School seniors – Risa Liebman, Delaney Park and Elena Tisnovsky – have been named semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship program. 

The students are among 16,000 high school students nationwide who were awarded the distinction by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. They represent the top 1 percent of students from across the country with the highest scores on the qualifying Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. They took the qualifying test in 2017 along with 1.6 million other juniors from more than 22,000 high schools.

“On behalf of the faculty and administration, I congratulate our students and families on this accomplishment,” Principal Tina Wilson said. “We wish them luck as they move forward in the process.” 

Rye Neck’s semifinalists are in the running for approximately 7,500 scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring. About 90 percent of the semifinalists will advance to the next round and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship. To become a finalist, the students must submit a detailed scholarship application, demonstrate an outstanding academic record, write an essay and earn scores that confirm their earlier performance on the qualifying test. 

National Merit Scholarship finalists will be announced in February, while scholarship winners will be announced in the spring.