Volume 3
Issue 2
In This Issue

Upcoming Events

Have a Safe & Happy Summer!


Sean Stubblefield has come a long way in the past two years
A fourth grader from Garrison, Sean was honored as a Student of Distinction at the Garrison Board of Education meeting recently for the tremendous progress he has made both socially and academically since coming to the Walden School at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES in the fall of 2014.

Like many students who arrive at Walden, Sean had been having a difficult time succeeding in his home school despite an array of interventions by the school's staff. He had been significantly affected by unfortunate events in his family, leaving him withdrawn, disengaged and lacking motivation. 

His teacher Toni Borst said it was difficult for Sean to focus on instruction or participate in classroom activities. Over time, however, he came to trust the Walden staff and his teacher. 

Now, "Sean is fully engaged in learning and is no longer afraid to make mistakes.  He is very comfortable having conversations with his peers and with adults.  He is very accepting of the diversity in our school and is kind to others," said Walden Principal Mike Sowul.  "He has become a quiet leader and role model with his peers.  For every month this year, he has either been the classroom student of the month or the runner up." 

Principal Sowul shared a story about Sean at the Student of Distinction ceremony.

"Sometimes, it is really hard to capture the magic that can happen in a classroom over time.  I would like to tell a brief story that was told to me earlier today by Ms. B, Sean's teacher.  Apparently, Ms. B and Sean were verbally engaged in some sort of challenge activity.  Sean politely told Ms. B that she was just too slow.  Ms. B asked 'why would you think I'm slow?'  He responded honestly, 'because you're old.'

"Ms. B has a wonderful sense of humor and even though she will be retiring his year, she still has a great passion for teaching and truly enjoys her students.  She also doesn't back down.  So, she told Sean:  'I may be old, but I'm not slow' and challenged him to a foot race.  And so the race was set.  The price was negotiated and agreed upon:  If Sean won, she would make him his favorite: deep fried oreos.  If Ms. B won, he would make her her favorite: Deep fried pickles.  

"On the race day, Ms. B came prepared in her track and field garb.  They went down to our Pines Bridge handicap accessible track and secured an audience of the staff and students from our sister school, Pines Bridge.  As Ms. B tells the story, when the race began, Sean took off like a rocket and she never had a chance.  As he neared the finish line, the crowd was cheering for Sean and chanting "Deep Fried Oreos."  As Ms. B finally made it to the finish line, the crowd was chanting "CALL 911."

Next year, Sean will be entering into one of our local school building classes with a plan to have him ultimately return to his home school district.  Based upon his progress to date, Sowul said he was confident that Sean would attain this goal.

Walden & Pines Bridge Student Artwork

Walden Students Seine For Fish in The Hudson
Sean examines his find after seining in the Hudson

Students from the Walden School studied outside of their classrooms recently at the Center for the Urban River at Beczak in Yonkers, where they learned about aquatic life and caught everything from fish to shrimp, eels and crabs. 

Before going outside, the students listened to a presentation about the Hudson River and the animals that are found in it. 

From the second they arrived, the students were excited. They looked around at the fish and other aquatic life in the tanks inside the Beczak and eagerly awaited going out and catching some of their own.

When asked what she hoped the students would get out of the trip, Walden teacher Carly Dreher said "I hope the students get hands-on learning and have the opportunity to experience something they wouldn't normally be able to in the classroom, and learn more about the environment in which they live." 

The students put on waders and walked into three feet of water and engaged in a fishing technique called seining using a 30-foot net to catch whatever they could.  

The trip was made possible by Teaching the Hudson Valley, an education project of the National Park Service, Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Hudson River Estuary Program. The Center for the Urban River at Beczak is run by Sarah Lawrence College.

Walden & Pines Bridge Students Rock the House
Kenaye's artwork is displayed

It was like "The Voice," "X Factor" and "America's Got Talent" all combined into one as students from the Walden and Pines Bridge Schools rocked the house with everything from classic rock songs to hip hop dances to comedy and even a video display of art.

In Walden and Pines Bridge Schools where differences are celebrated, the ninth annual talent show was open to anyone brave enough to perform.    

Students from Ms. Lopreato's class held up pictures to go with the words to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and Miss Adams' class performed to "It's a Grand Ol' Flag." Ms. Longo's class danced the "Cha Cha Slide," and Ian  and a teacher acted out a scene from the comic strip "Spy Versus Spy."

Jordan sang "I Will Survive," in a strong, clear voice reminiscent of Gloria Gaynor, while David danced like Michael Jackson. Joshua H. reprised the theme song from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" complete with a cardboard taxi cab to show him moving.

Chris sings "Sugar"
A group of boys from Ms. Batto and Mrs. Gonzalez-Delgado's class took the stage and sang "We Will Rock You" while pounding out the beat on the floor until the entire audience was singing along on the refrain. Fiona performed like a seasoned cabaret singer, leaving the stage and serenading the audience with the Colbie Caillat song, "Try."

Ms. Liotta's students did the famous "Chicken Dance." Matthew played guitar and sang, while Billy  used his song to bid farewell to his Walden teachers because he will be moving on to another school next year. 

Jonah danced a duet with David to the song, "Down." Kenaye displayed his one-of-kind artwork through a slide show and answered questions about his work in a short Charlie Rose-style interview with art teacher Jesse Steiner. 

"It was great to see them have an outlet to show their talents and gifts and to be able to share them with the people they love," said Andrew Moskowitz, whose son Daniel performed, "New Romantics," by Taylor Swift.

Other performers included: Zachary who made the audience laugh with classic jokes; Andrew who danced to "Best Day of My Life;" Ms. Morris' students performing the song "We're on the Way to Grandpa's Farm" complete with costumes and a barn; Joshua V.  singing "Cool Kids" and playing the keyboard; Alexis singing "Shake It Off;" Mark dancing to "Milkshake;" Jhuleidy singing "Fight Song;" Benjamin dancing to "Make it Pop;" Arturo singing "Stressed Out;"  Brandon dancing to "Bills;" Chris singing "Sugar;" Hannah singing "Has Anybody Seen My Girl;" Anthony C. who danced to "America By Rail;" Benjamin dancing to "Make It Pop;" and Marquize singing "My Girl." 

Billy bids farewell to Walden
Group performances included Ms. Lopreato's class doing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"-- Christine, Tarek, Max, Leiloni, Illian, Bryan & Scotty; Ms. Adams class doing "It's Grand Ol' Flag"-Chelsea, Isabella, Katherin, Alessandro, Share and Eric "Blake"; Ms. Morris' class doing "We're On the Way to Grandpa's Farm"-- Angel, Carmen, Mark, Daniel, John, Caleb & Michelle; Ms. Longo's class doing the "Cha Cha Slide"-Ara, Joshua V. , Andrew, Kimi, Jennifer, Bianca and Ivan; Ms. Liotta's class doing "The Chicken Dance"-Lashanda, Jakai, Anthony R., Sonia, Noah, Lindsay & Anthony C.; Ms. Batto & Mrs. Gonalez-Delgado's class doing "We Will Rock You"-Thomas, Frank, Jay, Josiah, Kevin C., Kevin H., Michael with the help of Jonell and Joe.

Debra Canzio, who works with art teacher Steiner to infuse the arts into the school experience at Pines Bridge and Walden, served as emcee, introducing all of the performers and ensuring that everyone had his or her moment in the spotlight.

Fiona sings "Try" by Colbie Caillat

Everyone Is an Artist

At the Walden and Pines Bridge Schools at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES, art class is about more than producing a work of art. It is about the process.

Take the self-portraits created using empty computer boxes. Rather than discard the boxes from dozens of new computers, art teacher Jesse Steiner used the boxes as the base for students to create portraits using string and glue and paint. The end results were as varied as the students themselves.

Using a flashlight to cast a shadow, each student's silhouette was drawn onto a box. Then the students outlined the silhouette using string that had been dipped into Elmer's Glue. Finally, they added paint and other materials to compete the work. 

"We didn't have a vision of what the end result was going to be. No matter how it comes out, it is a representation of the student," Steiner said. 

Another work of art - two seated figures created from Styrofoam balls covered with paint - was the result of a long-term project that employed a home-made bowling game. Styrofoam balls were placed in large, empty pretzel containers. Paint was added to the containers and then they were arranged and stacked like bowling pins. 

Students bowled amid 1970s music, bowling alley sound effects and an announcer who introduced each bowler. Each time the "pins" were knocked down, the paint inside the pretzel containers was splattered on the Styrofoam balls. In the end, the students created about 400 Styrofoam balls.

As for the resulting sculpture, Steiner said, "I was blown away by the student's artistic vision and his ability to problem solve technical challenges in order to create these two seated figures. What was so gratifying was that we gave him the space to really create something and take ownership of it, and he ran with it."

Other notable work included a collection of clay figures by Evan Wolfsdorf. Evan created the four main characters in the Wizard of Oz, superheroes including batman and superman, Peter Pan, Jack in the Beanstalk, and a series of figures representing clothing styles from the 1920s to present.

In all, about 215 students took part in the art show.

Ellen Lane, Editor
Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES

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