First Graders Find a Surprise
at the end of a Scavenger Hunt
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, first graders in Lea Campanini and Rebecca Rampolla’s classes found a delicious surprise after a scavenger hunt throughout the Todd Elementary School.

The students began by walking around the hallways and following clues that led them to places around the school, such as the gymnasium and the nurse’s office.

They have been working on making inferences and drawing conclusions so this St. Patrick’s Day hunt was a fun and festive way to practice these skills together,” Ms. Campanini said. “Ms. Rampolla and I always work as a team to come up with creative activities for the students. That is what is great about a collaborative class!” she added.
“My mother used to do scavenger hunts for me when I was young and now I do it for my kids and my students at Todd,” Ms. Rampolla said.

Students squealed in delight when they arrived back in the classroom after the scavenger hunt and found a “pot of gold” – chocolate coins waiting for them at their desks.
Middle School Students Create Positive Affirmations in Health Class
Every day in the beginning of Kelly Adams’s sixth grade health class at Briarcliff Middle School, students close their eyes, take three deep breaths and repeat an affirmation three times.

Each day we have a different positive affirmation to start our class,” Ms. Adams said. “This allows the students to take a minute for themselves and start the class with a positive mindset.” 

Ms. Adams is the one who provides the affirmations, but she also wanted to encourage the students to create their own.

Since I am always supplying the affirmations, I felt it was important for the students to create affirmations that are personal to them,” she said.
As part of the unit on Wellness, the lesson was designed for students to identify and attribute things about themselves that they are proud of or believe are strengths. Some affirmations could apply to anyone, such as “I am allowed to have fun,” while others were more specific such as “I am a hard-working and unique gymnast.”

“The affirmations that the students created will be displayed around the classroom, so they have constant reminders throughout the day of just how great they are,” Ms. Adams said. 
Students Learn about Racial Injustices
through Books and Poetry 
When students are reading a book with a strong or complex message, it can be helpful to explore the book’s themes through other media such as songs, poetry or history.

In Julia Fernandez’s English class at Briarcliff High School, students have recently finished reading the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”. To help reinforce the book’s message, Ms. Fernandez has been teaching them about the poem and song “Strange Fruit.”

“The poem is meant to be a follow-up to the book and I hope it can help drive home the message that the book conveys,” Ms. Fernandez said.
Ms. Fernandez began the lesson by inviting one of the students in class to read the poem out loud. Next, the class, together with the remote students, analyzed the meaning of the poem and discussed its literary devices, such as imagery, personification and metaphors. 
After analyzing the poem students listened to an article describing Abel Meeropol, the man who wrote the poem, and also saw the photo that inspired him to write it. Because the poem was turned into a song made famous by Billie Holiday, the students also watched a video of her singing it.

The poem, which compared men who were lynched and hung from a tree to fruit, had, no doubt, disturbing images. But Ms. Fernandez did not shy away from incorporating the material because she said it could help illuminate the prejudices that existed in the south during the time “To Kill a Mockingbird” was written. 

In fact, the next poem she plans to discuss is “The Balled of Birmingham,” which is about the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, that resulted in the deaths of four young girls.

“We talk a lot about the injustices and prejudices that were common in the south because they have influenced Harper Lee’s writing in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” We try to follow up books and with other forms of literature or historic events, such as the trial of the Scottsboro Boys, that can reinforce certain themes,” she said. “We want to make students aware of historical events that influenced Harper Lee during the writing of the novel.”
Fall Sports Take Two
Whether it’s on the field, in the gym or at the pool, Briarcliff students are eager to get back to sports and it shows; a whopping 45 students signed up for varsity football - an unprecedented number – and the gymnasiums and pool are filled with students eager to play sports and get moving.

“The season has been awesome so far!” said Varsity Football Coach Skip Stevens. “The excitement is tremendous. The enthusiasm is tremendous. The turnout for football is probably the largest we have had in the school’s history for varsity,” he added, as he was coaching the players on the stadium field.

Elsewhere in the middle school and high school gymnasiums, students were practicing varsity cheer and varsity and junior varsity volleyball (varsity and junior varsity swimming and diving is being held off-campus).
“We were originally planning to start the sports in August but because of the safety guidelines we are starting them now. I feel comfortable and I am grateful that we are going to have a season,” said Briarcliff Athletics Director Christos Drospoulos. “Even though we started later in the year I am not expecting the season to be significantly shorter than it would have been had we started in our normal time,” he added.

Mr. Drosopoulos shared an encouraging message he had for all the student athletes.

“Let’s start the season strong!” he said. “You have embraced the process and have gotten better every day. Let it shine on the court, pool and field. Good luck and GO BEARS!”

The varsity and junior varsity volleyball teams are scheduled to play Westlake on Wednesday. The varsity football team will be playing against Edgemont on Saturday, where the cheer team will be cheering them on. Varsity swimming and diving teams will be competing against Rye on Monday.

Good luck at the games! GO BEARS!

Our District motto is “I shall grow and I shall shine.”
It is through the care, dedication and diligence of teachers, staff, and parents, that we hope to inspire students to become knowledgeable, skilled, and confident young men and women.