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Rye Neck High School Celebrates Class of 2019

Rye Neck High School Celebrates Class of 2019 photo

During the 124th commencement ceremony on June 26, 119 members of Rye Neck High School’s Class of 2019 received their diplomas. The students celebrated their accomplishments and the completion of their secondary school experience before an audience of friends, family, teachers and administrators.

Principal Tina Wilson welcomed the guests and praised the students’ impressive accomplishments, which include $46,850 in scholarships, 18,600 hours of community service and representing Rye Neck at 64 higher education institutions in 18 states and three countries. She encouraged the students to enjoy every moment along their journey and the relationships they develop along the way. 

“Harness all of the positive attributes you have developed,” said Wilson, who described the graduates as a group of bright, caring and intelligent young adults. “Use your empathy, activism, confidence, grit, ambition and intelligence to make our communities stronger. Be kind to others, but most importantly, be kind to yourself.” 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro reflected on the close friendships the students have made and the treasured time they have spent together, which for many of them started in Rye Neck as far back as kindergarten. She also paid tribute to the students’ kindness and generosity and encouraged them to continue to be creative, caring and community-minded individuals.

“As you prepare to take the next step along life’s journey, I know that you certainly have the capacity to make a difference in the world and to touch the lives of others in a meaningful way,” Dr. Ferraro said. “Take advantage of the knowledge you have gained as Rye Neck students. Along with the friendships that you have made, they will support your life’s work.” 

The graduates also heard from guest keynote speaker Amy Carelli, a RNHS Class of 2009 graduate, as well as salutatorian Grace O’Rourke, who paid tribute to her classmates’ accomplishments and described them as talented, dedicated and ambitious. In his address, valedictorian Rafael Zyngier reflected on the importance of enjoying your life and living in the moment, rather than accumulating a list of accomplishments. 

“Finding satisfaction with our accomplishments really stems from being happy with the decisions we make along the way,” he said. “Success means something different to everyone, so make your decisions according to your vision and keep in mind the clarity in those moments of reflection. Only we can determine if we are happy with ourselves.” 

Zyngier encouraged his fellow graduates to find a place where they appreciate those around them and are treated respectfully, and, most importantly, do something worthwhile. 

“We all have wonderful lives ahead of us, filled with the wonder and danger and excitement of the unknown,” he said. “But it’s up to us to grasp those opportunities and take advantage of everything life offers.” 

One by one, and after years of hard work and dedication, the students took hold of their diplomas before taking their first steps as Rye Neck High School alumni.  


Eighth Graders Celebrate Milestone in Moving-Up Ceremony

Eighth Graders Celebrate Milestone in Moving-Up Ceremony

Eighth graders – who have been described by their principal as kind and hardworking students – celebrated their accomplishments over the last three years during a special moving-up ceremony, held at the gymnasium on June 26.

The celebration began with the middle school band performing “Pomp and Circumstance” and continued with a performance of “America, the Beautiful.” The ceremony featured inspiring words from student representatives Asha O’Reilly and Matthew Steeves, who reflected on their middle school experience and encouraged their classmates to demonstrate grit in all of their endeavors. 

In his remarks, Principal Dr. Eric Lutinski shared a few words of wisdom with the students about the importance of embracing failure as a stepping stone to success, and provided them with advice on developing grit. 

“Having grit means having determination, fortitude, resolve or strength of character,” he said. “Grit is ignoring available excuses. Grit is finding a way to get things done. It’s OK to take advantage of support from family, friends and technology once in a while; just don’t forget that you are your own best resource.” 

During the ceremony, several students received awards for excellence in academics, athletics and the arts. 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro referenced this year’s “Wizard of Oz” theater production as she offered words of wisdom to the students. She also encouraged the students to thank their parents for their love and support. 

“As you prepare for the next chapter of your Rye Neck journey, I ask you to look within yourself and to think about the adventures of the Scarecrow, the Tinman and the Cowardly Lion whenever you are faced with challenges,” Dr. Ferraro said. “Always know that you have the courage, sensitivity and intelligence to achieve. After all, you are Rye Neck students – brave, caring and smart.” 

Signifying the conclusion of one chapter and the beginning of another, the eighth graders were called one by one to accept their certificates. They will embark on the next phase of their educational journey as high school freshmen in the fall.


‘Extraordinary Class’ Moves Up to Rye Neck Middle School

‘Extraordinary Class’ Moves Up to Rye Neck Middle School photo

F.E. Bellows Elementary School fifth graders – who have been described by their principal as a class of kind and extraordinary children – said farewell to their elementary school days during a moving-up ceremony on June 20. Together, they will embark on the next phase of their educational journey as sixth graders at Rye Neck Middle School in the fall.

The program began with a processional to “Pomp and Circumstance,” a flag salute and a performance of “America the Beautiful” before Principal Michael Scarantino welcomed the guests and honorees. He shared a few words of wisdom with the students and reminded them to look after one another because they are a family who will travel together through their entire school career. 

“My hope has always been that this theme – this message of family – would resonate with each and everyone one of you, and it has,” said Scarantino, who fondly remembered the students as his first third grade class at the school that he’s had the privilege of watching grow and learn over the years. “As I stand here proudly on your moving-up day, I am confident that you will take care of one another in middle school.” 

Scarantino encouraged the students to continue to show kindness and respect toward others and strive to achieve their goals. 

“Stay extraordinary whether you are an athlete, a scholar, an artist, a scientist, an innovator or a humanitarian – or a combination of all of the above,” he said. “Being extraordinary means anything you put your mind to is possible.” 

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Ferraro acknowledged that the students are ready for new, exciting challenges and opportunities that await them at middle school.  

“You have become strong, confident boys and girls with dreams and aspirations,” Dr. Ferraro said. “You are all extraordinary in so many ways. I ask you to remember that you have the Bellows spirit, so push yourselves to explore, take on a bit more, and when you do – new doors will open.” 

Before the students were called one by one to receive their certificates, they performed “Words of Wisdom,” a song that was written by the students and music teacher Tom Galgano. The ceremony concluded with a performance of “The Moving-Up Song 2019,” another song written by the students and Galgano.


Adventure Book Author Inspires Fourth Graders

Adventure Book Author Inspires Fourth Graders

Fourth grade students at F.E. Bellows Elementary School – who had been studying about New York State and its history – recently welcomed to their school author Peter Lourie, who shared his adventures that had inspired his numerous nonfiction books for children and adults.

During his visit, Lourie shared with the students that he wanted to become an archaeologist to travel the world, but after an experience in Ecuador, during which he researched the story of the Inca gold, he began writing adventure-travel books. He also discussed the many places around the world he has traveled to and how his experiences have inspired his books. He’s written books about rivers, including the Hudson River, as well as ancient cultures, animals and the environment. 

“It’s all about exploring the world,” he told the students. “Not the world of computers, the real world, where there are people and places to go to.” 

Lourie also took the students on a virtual adventure by sharing with them a selection of pictures and video clips from his travels and showed them the gear he brings on his river adventures. Following the gradewide assembly, Lourie hosted workshops to inspire young writers to embark on their own writing adventures and teach them the process of research, journal-keeping and revision. He encouraged the students to improve their storytelling skills by rewriting their stories numerous times, include details and not get discouraged. 

“Peter is a wonderful author and great storyteller,” fourth grade teacher Joan Spedafino said. “We loved having him here.” 

Lourie’s visit was generously sponsored by the PTSA.


Daniel Warren Students Create ‘Wonderville’ Community

Daniel Warren Students Create ‘Wonderville’ Community
Daniel Warren Students Create ‘Wonderville’ Community 2
Daniel Warren Students Create ‘Wonderville’ Community 3
Daniel Warren Students Create ‘Wonderville’ Community 4
Daniel Warren Students Create ‘Wonderville’ Community 5
Daniel Warren Students Create ‘Wonderville’ Community 6
Daniel Warren Students Create ‘Wonderville’ Community 7
Complete with a school, police station, toy shop, bakery, pizza restaurant, local bank and library, as well as roads and traffic lights, kindergarten through second grade students at Daniel Warren Elementary School have created their own model of a community, called Wonderville. 

Inspired by the community that surrounds Rye Neck, each class was tasked with creating their own building out of cardboard and decorating it to resemble a real location in their community. Throughout the year, they have been focused on exploring three topics of study as part of their school’s new inquiry-based learning space, the Wonder Studio, which launched at the beginning of the school year. Each study – Garden, Architecture and Community – provided them with opportunities to wonder, discover, explore and create.

“This interactive opportunity allowed students and staff the chance to consider the significance and roles that people, places and shared ideas play in the creation of a community,” said library and media teacher Leigh Ann Kowalchick-Porphy, who spearheaded the activity. “It also allowed students an authentic opportunity to consider why community is important to us all.” 

The student-created community served as a culminating project to the students’ experiences and exploration of the concept of community. 

“As an inquiry-based learning space, the Wonder Studio is all about the process of asking questions and the exploration and discoveries we make as we find the answers to our questions,” Kowalchick-Porphy said.  

Science Symposium Celebrates Students’ Achievements

Science Symposium Celebrates Students’ Achievements photo

Members of Rye Neck High School’s Science Research Program celebrated their outstanding achievements and showcased their science research projects during the 17th annual Science Research Symposium, held on June 4 in the middle/high school campus library.

The evening consisted of posterboard presentations by first-, second- and third-year students in the program, who had been developing their ideas and refining their research throughout the year. Junior Lisa Engelen and seniors Ema Jovanovic, Marion Kerviche, Elizabeth Mioli, Anna Nakagama, Rebecca Super, Rebecca Tenner and Melissa Valqui presented their science research and discussed their findings, while senior Nicole Pereira provided the evening’s keynote address before an audience of peers, parents and teachers. 

Pereira presented her project, “The Effect of Valproic Acid on the Memory and Social Behavior of Blaberus Discoidalis Cockroaches.” Jovanovic presented her research, “The Effects of Valerian on Social Facilitation in Blaberus Discoidalis Cockroaches.” Kerviche and Engelen presented their project, “The Effects of Facial Features on Political Candidates’ Chances of Election.” Mioli presented her project, “The Knowledge and Perceptions of Concussions Amongst Adolescents.” Anna Nakagama and Rebecca Tenner presented their project, “High School Students’ Perceptions and Knowledge of and Access to Vaccinations.” Super presented her research, “Cardiac Development of Mice Lacking the Crk and CrkL Genes.” Valqui presented her research, “The Effect of Time and Implantation of False Memories on Eyewitness Testimony Memory.”

The Science Research Program provides students with the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of a topic of their choice and conduct independent research with the help of a mentor in a variety of scientific areas, including biology, medicine, computer science, mathematics, physics, space science, social sciences and psychology. Over the course of the program, students complete projects in labs and participate in numerous competitions at the local and national level.

Members of the science research program include first-year students Kimberly Carlton, Jackson Hillyer, Marion Kerviche, Zachary Leontiou Ava Liebmann; second-year students Jonathan Marcuse, Elizabeth Mioli and Owen Robertson; and third-year students Lisa Engelen, Adam Galluccio, Ema Jovanovic, Anna Nakagama, Nicole Pereira, Rebecca Super, Rebecca Tenner and Melissa Valqui. 


Rye Neck High School Wins Four Metro Awards for ‘Grease’

Rye Neck High School Wins Four Metro Awards for ‘Grease’
Rye Neck High School’s musical production of “Grease” won four awards from the prestigious 2019 Metropolitan High School Theater Awards during a ceremony held on June 10 at the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College. 

Ethan Chin won the male dance performance for his role as Johnny Casino, Kathryn Krull won the musical direction award, Ris Igrec won an award in the teacher-nominated technical merit category for her work as director of costumes, and the theater program won the stage crew award for the hardworking students serving in backstage duties.

“I’m so happy for our students and the entire cast and crew of ‘Grease,’” theater director Scott Harris said. “While we already knew we had put on a fantastic show, it’s a pleasure for the students to receive this recognition from the judges that came to see our production. I’m very proud of what the theater department achieved this year, and I am already looking forward to next year’s productions.”

The Metro Awards shine a spotlight on exceptional musical theater productions, talented actors and actresses, and creative teams from Bergen, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties, according to the awards website.

Awards Ceremony Recognizes RNHS Students’ Achievements

Awards Ceremony Recognizes RNHS Students’ Achievements
Juniors and seniors were recognized for their outstanding accomplishments during the annual Rye Neck High School Awards Ceremony on May 30. They were presented with awards in a variety of categories, including academics, arts, athletics and community scholarships. 

Principal Tina Wilson provided the opening remarks before Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ferraro recognized seniors Rafael Zyngier and Grace O’Rourke as the valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of the Class of 2019. Administrators and teachers presented academic awards to students in each department, including English, science, math, technology, social studies, foreign languages, arts, music, health and physical education, and special achievement and community service. 

Curtis Alter, Joseph Catanzariti, Doris Igrec, Ema Jovanovic, Grace O’Rourke, Margaret Victory and Rafael Zyngier were recognized for being the 2019 National Merit Commended Students. Risa Liebmann, Delaney Park and Elena Tisnovsky were recognized for being 2019 National Merit finalists.

The Blue Ribbon Award for Service, Leadership, Achievement and Rye Neck Spirit was awarded to Julian Allison, Stella Ewen-Tanaka, Cole Hodys, Doris Igrec, Lucia Kaempf, Colin Kelly, Olivia King, Jose Latorre, Risa Liebmann, Elizabeth Mioli, Charlotte Murphy, Anna Nakagama, Nicole Pereira and Rebecca Tenner. The PTSA Scholarship Award, presented to a graduating senior who consistently exemplified scholastic integrity, commitment to the school community and an admirable record of volunteerism, was awarded to Stephanie Corona.