City School District of New Rochelle

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Both Cheer Teams Earn Fourth Place
Both the varsity and junior varsity cheerleading squads earned fourth-place finishes at last weekend's UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Florida.

Both teams competed in Traditional Cheer and Game Day events in their respective levels and divisions. The varsity team's division had 54 teams and the JV team's division included 19 teams.

The teams had to advance through preliminary and semifinal rounds to get to the finals on Sunday. They were scored based on their overall performance, motions, impression, difficulty of stunts, tumbling, execution, dance and cheer.

The varsity squad is coached by Angela Trozzi, Ashley Brennan and James Benge. The JV team is coached by Melissa Begendorf and Laura Clement.

"The main goal of the trip for the varsity team was to make it to finals on Sunday," said Varsity Head Coach Trozzi. "The team improved with each performance this weekend and they hit a perfect routine in finals, placing them fourth in a very competitive division. It was an amazing trip for the entire program. We are feeling confident going into sectionals this weekend, and are hopeful that we will reach our final goal of qualifying for states."

"The JV squad had 13 girls competing at nationals for the first time," said JV Head Coach Clement. "New Rochelle cheerleading has a bright future."

In addition to the National Championship, the JV team also competed in The World School Cheerleading Championship, where they squared off against qualifying international teams as well as teams in the U.S. and earned 6th place.

The showdown is the most prestigious cheerleading championship in the country, with more than 800 teams and 15,000 athletes participating. It was held at the Walt Disney World® Resort and nationally televised on ESPN and ESPN2. 

WRESTLING TEAM: The wrestling team took fifth place in the Section One championship out of 34 teams last weekend. Jake Logan repeated as the 182-pound Section One champion. His final competition for NRHS will be at the New York State championships in Albany on February 22-23.
T.J. Jones with Barnard students at Amy's Greenhouse
Ohio Volunteers Help Amy's Greenhouse
A crew of four men from Rough Brothers Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio, volunteered to spend a day at Barnard School in early February to install a new environmental control system in Amy's Greenhouse.

Rob Tanzer sent his team, T.J. Jones, Jason Fogt, Wes Delong and Eric Clark to work with school custodians Paul Summa and Andre Bryant, along with district electrician Scott Benevento.

Barnard teacher and Amy's Greenhouse Coordinator Kathleen Connolly reached out to Rough Brothers last summer asking for some help with the ventilation. "I still can't believe a premier company like Rough Brothers answered my email and offered such a generous donation," she said. "Amy's Greenhouse always seems to attract the most kind and caring people. I really can't express how thankful we are."

At the end of the day, some of the Barnard Pre-K students marveled at the upgraded system donated by Rough Brothers and Wadsworth Controls. The 4-year-old students were excited that they were taller than the evaporator cooler. It may be small, but it serves a big purpose.

"It will bring humidity and move air across the plants," Jones said. This will also help cool down Amy's Greenhouse during the hottest months of the year."

"Amy's Greenhouse will continue to be a learning sanctuary for our children for years to come thanks to such kindness and generosity," said Assistant Principal Lori Pisani.

"Over the past two years as Principal, I have seen Amy's Greenhouse continue to grow as a beautiful extension of Barnard School and a valuable learning classroom," said Principal Nicolas Cracco. "Thanks to this new evaporation system, we will be able to have events all year round with a greater variety of plants."
Free Meals Available During Break
New Ro Connects announces that Hope Community Services is offering free meals to families in need during the mid-winter break next week.

Families can pick up two meals per day for each child on Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon in the basement of St. Gabriel's, 50 Washington Ave. Also, people can receive free bags of groceries from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in the same location. For information, call Hope Community Services at (914) 636-4010.
Sports Schedule
For upcoming New Rochelle athletic competitions, check out*

* This link connects to an outside website
Dates to Remember
Monday, February 18-Friday, February 22: Mid-Winter Recess

Monday, February 25: Community Forum, Safety and Security, IEYMS, 7 p.m.

Monday, February 25: WCSMA Elementary/Intermediate All County Chorus Rehearsal, Sleepy Hollow HS, 3:30 p.m.

Monday, February 25: PTA Fundraiser Begins, Columbus

Monday, February 25: SEPTA General Meeting, NRHS Library, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 26: WCSMA Elementary/Intermediate All County Band/Orchestra Rehearsal, 7 Bridges MS, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 26: Board of Education COW Session, Davis, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, February 27:  Camp Expo, Ward

Wednesday, February 27: PTA Meeting, ALMS, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, February, 27: Planetarium Show, NRHS, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, February 27: Black History Family Night, Webster

Thursday, February 28: Magnet Open House, Webster, 6 p.m.

Thursday, February 28: Science Research - WESEF Practice Night, NRHS, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, February 28: Magnet Open House, Columbus, 7:15 p.m.

Friday, March 1: Dr. Seuss Day/Read-A-Thon Start, Trinity

Friday, March 1: School Spirit Day, Davis

Saturday, March 2: Elementary/ Intermediate All County Performances, SUNY Purchase, 11 a.m. - Band; 4 p.m. - Chorus

Sunday, March 3: Elementary/ Intermediate All County Performances, SUNY Purchase, 11 a.m. - Orchestra
Jeffrey Deskovic was imprisoned for 16 years before DNA evidence proved his innocence.
Forensic Students Learn from Wrongfully Convicted Man
New Rochelle High School forensic science students had just learned about DNA evidence. Yesterday, they and some schoolmates gained perspective on the topic they could never get from science studies alone, when they heard the harrowing first-hand account of man wrongfully imprisoned for 16 years before DNA evidence proved that someone else committed the crime.

"I was a sophomore," Jeffrey Deskovic said of his wrongful conviction in 1990. "I was younger than most of you."

Despite the original DNA evidence in the case, Deskovic was convicted of murder on the strength of a confession he says was coerced. It wasn't until 2006 that Westchester County's then-District Attorney Janet DiFiore ordered another DNA test, which led to Deskovic's exoneration and release.

He spoke Thursday in the Whitney M. Young Jr. Auditorium to an audience of mostly juniors and seniors from two forensic science classes, the AP Government class, the Law in Government Class and others. He told them about starting the Deskovic Foundation to further his work on behalf of others who are in prison for crimes they did not commit.

"I wanted to take my work to the next level," he said. "I wanted to reach back into the prisons and free people - innocent people - who were in the same position I had been in."

He told them of the challenges of returning to society after 16 years - unfamiliar technology, lost friends and family members, the difficulty in finding a job. He received a master's degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and is set to graduate with a law degree from Pace University in May.

Speaking with the experience of a former inmate, he urged the students to appreciate what they have, enjoy sunlight and the freedom to travel and to understand that they can overcome difficulties. For those entering law enforcement, science or the legal professions, he implored them to dedicate themselves to doing the job well.

"Take your job very, very seriously, and go that extra mile," he said.
It was a message received by students such as senior Kimberly Sanchez, who plans to become a police officer.

"It helps me to see how I should be as a cop," she said.
Black History Celebration Draws 800 to Honor the Arts at NRHS
More than 800 community members filled the Whitney M. Young Jr. Auditorium and the surrounding hallways in New Rochelle High School on Saturday to enjoy the artwork, songs, poetry - and even planetarium shows - of the seventh annual Black History Celebration.

The event celebrated freedom through the arts and commemorated the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey praised the students who participated in the program.

"Just as you appreciate those who came before, let yourselves be the ones that the next generations look back on and say, 'I stand on their shoulders,'" she said. "Let them say that, when so much had already been accomplished, you took us one more step forward."

In addition to performances by singing groups from various schools, the show featured artwork from students across the District, much of it inspired by Aretha Franklin. Crafts, books and food were on sale. The event was presented by the Westchester Alliance of Black School Educators and the New Rochelle Black History Month Committee with support from the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence and the New Rochelle Council on the Arts.

Lathell Sebastian-Smith, whose son Maison Smith spun Aretha Franklin songs for the event as DJ SmithyBoy, was encouraged by the diversity of the audience that came for the performances.

"To see so many people come out to celebrate black history is heartwarming," she said. "It really says a lot about our school system."

NRHS senior Zaleik Walsh said, "It's a great way for people to come out and support the African American community and for us to show what the African American community can do."
Five Win Awards at Science, Humanities Symposium
New Rochelle High School's Science Research Program team exceled in the Westchester-Rockland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium on Saturday when five students from the program won awards.

Among New Rochelle's winners was senior Ruqiyah Syed, whose tests of bacteria in Glenwood Lake, not far from her school, earned her the top prize in her category and a place in the state competition next month.

It was New Rochelle's best-ever showing at the event, which took place at John Jay High School in Cross River, said Jeff Wuebber, director of the NRHS Science Research Program. Students competed in two divisions, Poster and PowerPoint, with several categories in each.

Syed aced the Environmental Biology category of the competitive PowerPoint Division with her study, Providing Clean Water to Developing Countries Using Solar Disinfection of Enterococci Bacteria: The Critical Role of Oxygen. Syed explored the effectiveness of using sunlight to disinfect water - a useful strategy for developing countries. By testing the water in the neighborhood lake, she found that the bacteria count could be greatly reduced with sunlight and dissolved oxygen.

"It's a very local project, but the application is worldwide," Wuebber said.

"It was empowering to know that everyone understood my research and found it to be significant," Syed said.

Other New Rochelle winners were:

Javier Hernandez, junior: 3rd Place Poster in Behavior
Topic: Food Education and Type 2 Diabetes.
Jonny Ecker, junior: 3rd Place Poster in Cellular and Molecular Biology
Topic: Changing the Tumor Microenvironment for the Better: The Characterization of CD4+ and CD4+ CD8+ T Lymphocyte Function and Phenotype in the Presence of Phosphatidylserine Blocking Antibody.
Jade Rosado, junior: 2nd Place Poster in Cellular and Molecular Biology
Topic: Finding the Target Treatment for Diabetic Kidney Disease: The Effect of 25-HC on Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress.
Leora Segal, senior: 5th Place in PowerPoint Division in Medicine & Health
Topic: Validation of the Rat Model of Infantile Spasms Through the Analysis of EEG in Repeated Spasms.

In all, about 500 students from 37 schools competed in the symposium. The NRHS team of 17 students was the largest contingent ever from the school, Wuebber said.
Three Teachers Earning
Master Fellow Status
Three elementary school teachers are building their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math  (STEM) teaching skills in a Mercy College program funded with a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Trinity Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Johanna Vasquez was inducted into the STEM Master Teachers Fellows program on Jan. 25 and has begun taking graduate courses. Trinity fourth-grade teacher Terri Agravat and Columbus Elementary School third-grade teacher Anny Vanegas, will begin in September.

They were among 14 teachers chosen from throughout the region. In the program, educators learn new ways to teach STEM, and become resources for other teachers in their schools.

Dr. Meghan E. Marrero, Co-Director of the Mercy College Center for STEM Education,
said the Mercy program will sharpen those skills as teachers take classes for 18 months, then meet monthly with experts from the program for three years after that. They can apply for further grants to take specialized courses such as oceanography, and to purchase materials to support the work in their schools.

"They're going to be much more confident in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education," Marrero said. "They're going to get a lot of specialized support and become STEM leaders in the district."

The aim is to build on and increase strategies teachers already employ in STEM, STEAM (incorporating arts) and STR2EAM (adding reading and research).

"It gives every student an opportunity to shine in science and to share their expertise," Vanegas said. "It makes science more accessible to students and shows them that science is everywhere. It's an interdisciplinary subject. It ties everything about learning together."

"I really enjoy teaching science by doing hands-on investigations with the students where they're exploring and learning through their experiences," Agravat said. "With the Master Teachers Fellowship, I want to bring that to the next level where we're integrating math, technology and arts as well."

"The students are more engaged," said Vasquez. "The way they work together promotes a positive atmosphere in the classroom. It's nice to see that they're learning, they're using that science vocabulary and they're having a lot of fun."