City School District of New Rochelle

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Columbus Chess Team Earns Westchester Championship
The Columbus Elementary School chess team is officially the 2019 Westchester County Chess Champion after taking first place in the grades 4-12 section, first place in the fifth-grade section, and first place in the fourth-grade section at the 2019 Westchester County Scholastic Chess Championship last weekend at Columbus. The team also came in second place in the third-grade section and third place in the second-grade section.

Individual awards were won in the fifth-grade section by Dylan Minchez (third place) and Kevin Lopez (fifth place). In the fourth-grade section, Constantine Zelatis came in third place and Dylan Solovyev came in fifth place. In the third-grade section, Ashley Corazoa came in first place for chess players rated under 400.

The students are sharpening their chess skills as they prepare to compete in the 2019 K-6 National Elementary Scholastic Chess Championships run by the United States Chess Federation, in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Columbus PTA-Chess Committee has re-energized the work of the team and club by fundraising and producing great events throughout the year.  The committee hosted last weekend's tournament and served breakfast and lunch. 

The students are fundraising in order to raise money to travel to the national competition. The District has been supportive of chess instruction at Columbus for 20 years. Families are raising money to cover travel expenses, which the District does not cover and which will be especially important for families in need. Costs include airfare and other transportation, four nights in a hotel and meals, as well as the entry fees.
2 NRHS Students Advance to State Math Contest
Two New Rochelle High School mathletes - senior Eliza Crocker and junior Stephen Bartell - have advanced to the New York State Math League Meet, which will be held April 6 at Middletown High School.

They were among 43 students who qualified to represent Westchester and Putnam counties in the statewide competition from among more than 500 students in the Westchester Interscholastic Math League (WIML).

"It's the cream of the crop that reaches this level," said Dr. Nazar Rabadi, the coach for the NRHS team. "The math questions are extremely rigorous. They are not the questions we typically see in the classroom."

The WIML meets are held monthly and involve competition between 67 teams from 28 Westchester and Putnam school districts. These competitions are held in subgroups and rotate among three to four neighboring high schools.

In addition to individual competitions, the students have the chance to work as a team on group or relay questions.

Board of Education Notes
The following are highlights from the March 26 Board of Education meeting held Tuesday evening in Henry Barnard Early Childhood Center.

Science Team Commended

The Board of Education adopted a resolution commending the New Rochelle High School Science Research Program team for its performance in the March 16  Westchester Science and Engineering Fair. The 17-member team was the largest from New Rochelle to ever compete in the fair, and returned with 15 awards. The Board resolution commended the members for their "faithful dedication (and) extraordinary, tireless and conscientious service," and extended "best wishes to them for many years of professional and personal accomplishments."

Reading at Barnard

Barnard Principal Dr. Nicolas Cracco and Assistant Principal Dr. Lori E. Pisani discussed a balanced approach to reading instruction designed to show students, as Dr. Cracco said, "that learning is both fun and exciting." The approach incorporates language and word study, reading workshops and writing workshops. It is based on the five pillars of reading instruction - phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Kindergarten reading performance improved this year over last, Dr. Cracco said. Fluency with naming letters increased 4.6 percent and fluency with the sounds of letters improved more than 20 percent, according to the presentation.

One slide showed kindergarteners in paper hats that read "I am a super reader" parading through the hallways, cheered on by their schoolmates in other grades. Dr. Pisani explained; "No unit is complete without a celebration."
Social Studies

The number of New Rochelle High School students taking college-level Advanced Placement courses in social studies has more than doubled in just over a decade to more than 580 this year, department Chairperson Gustavo Barbosa told the Board. That was one note in his presentation, which focused on how the teaching of social studies has changed, with teachers fostering and guiding inquiry and investigation rather than simply disseminating facts. Students discover that they can make connections between something that happened a century ago with their own lives.

"Social Studies inspires the minds and hearts of young citizens to deeply engage in their local, state, national, and global communities as agents of change," the presentation read.
New Rochelle Fund Gala April 4
Four New Rochelle High School seniors and four community leaders will be honored at the 21st annual Foundation Awards Gala presented by the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence on Thursday, April 4.

The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Surf Club on the Sound, 280 Davenport Ave. Errol Louis, host of "Inside City Hall" on NY1 News, CNN contributor and New York Daily News columnist, will serve as master of ceremonies.

Each year, the Fund honors community members for their outstanding work and contributions, and bestows Student Achievement Awards on four New Rochelle High School seniors, who are selected for the honors by the City School District of New Rochelle. 

For tickets and more information about the gala, visit the Fund's website.
Sports Schedule
For upcoming New Rochelle athletic competitions, check out*

* This link connects to an outside website
Dates to Remember
Monday-Friday, April 1-5:
PTA Book Fair, Jefferson

Tuesday, April 2:
Board of Education Meeting, Ward,
7 p.m.

Wednesday, April 3:
College Information Night & Reception, NRHS, 5:45-7 p.m.

Wednesday, April 3:
PTA Meeting, ALMS, 7 p.m.

Thursday, April 4:
College Fair, NRHS, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thursday, April 4:
New Rochelle Fund Gala, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, April 5:
School Spirit Day, Davis

Friday, April 5:
Willy Wonka Jr. performance, IEYMS, 7 p.m.
13 Grants Will Support Innovative Initiatives Districtwide
New schoolyard garden beds, a popular musical presentation that teaches kindness, and school hallways that delight children with educational sensory activities are among 13 innovative projects coming to the City School District of New Rochelle thanks to $17,000 in grants from the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence.

The Fund announced the awards this week. In choosing the enrichment programs, the Fund evaluated applications from teachers, administrators and parents, seeking projects that promote active student learning.

"Given the number of strong proposals we received, it was difficult making funding decisions," said Lauren Pekats, Fund board member. "But we are thrilled to support the initiatives that were selected." The New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence supports the New Rochelle school system and its extraordinary, diverse student body by advancing equity and excellence with the goal of inspiring all public school students.

"These are wonderful programs that show the creativity and devotion of our teachers and administrators and the strong partnership we have built with District families," said Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey. "We are incredibly grateful to the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence for making the projects possible with these grants. Students from one end of the District to the other will benefit from the Fund's generosity and vision."   

Among the programs are "Addy & Uno," a family-friendly musical that teaches kindness, respect and acceptance of students with various disabilities through puppets and song. Students in grades 4 through 8 at Columbus, Trinity and Jefferson elementary schools, along with students at Isaac E. Young Middle School, will enjoy this heartfelt journey celebrating hope, dreams and the beauty of differences. 

Other grants include: funding for Trinity Elementary School to collaborate with the Hudson Park Children's Greenhouse in building garden beds on campus; a point of sale (POS) cash register system in the Government Organization (G.O.) Store for Student Government and Digital Literacy students at NRHS; kinesthetic and sensory hallways for students at both Barnard and Davis Elementary Schools; and a program titled "Literature Igniting STEAM" at Jefferson Elementary School.

For 21 years, the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence has partnered with the District and engages the broader New Rochelle community to develop, fund and implement high-quality educational and enrichment programming that enhances the school experience and helps students thrive and succeed along their educational journey. Please visit for more information. 
Mariano Rivera addresses students during Family University

Advice and Messages of Compassion Shared at Family University
Authors, mental health experts and others - including Yankees legend Mariano Rivera - offered advice Wednesday night to hundreds of New Rochelle students, parents and guardians on the challenges teens face.

During the annual event, Family University, Rivera offered a message of love and compassion for one another and said it is not as important to be "the best" as it is to care for others.

"This is a team," he said in the Whitney M. Young Jr. Auditorium at New Rochelle High School. "This is the New Rochelle team from the youngest grade to the highest grade."

Social media, self-image and the importance of mentors were among the topics discussed. Stephanie Humphrey, an author and tech & lifestyle expert, cautioned students to avoid negative discussions on social media.

"You don't have to add to the noise," she told them. "It's not necessary. 

The one callous text you add to a cyber pile-on could be the one that pushes someone to do something drastic, she warned.

It was a message that resonated with junior Kendall Arterberry.

"I will be more aware of what I say to people because you never know what they're going through," she said.

Family University was presented by the NRHS PTA and sponsored by NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital. The evening was split into two venues, with parent-centered talks in the Linda E. Kelly Theater and those aimed at students in the Whitney Auditorium. 

The parents' presentations included expertise from Dr. Despina Hatziergati, M.D. Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College; Stephanie Marquesano, founder of the harris project; Elizabeth Van Buren, domestic violence counselor for Hope's Door; Francis Curley, Interim Director of Guidance and Counseling at NRHS; and Joshua Wayne, a family life coach.  Humphrey spoke to the parents as well.

Maryann Cantone, whose four daughters attend City School District of New Rochelle schools - two in NRHS - came away with plenty of helpful recommendations. Wayne, she said, reinforced the importance of "listening before you jump in with your advice." Humphrey stressed the need to monitor young people's social media use.

"It was real eye-opener," Cantone said.

In the students' presentations, Bobby Petrocelli, a speaker, author and coach, hammered home the message, "you matter, you matter, you matter." NRHS senior Chloe Werner moderated a panel comprised of District administrators and others.

"I heard some empowering messages for navigating life as a teenager and some real-life lessons," said Aaron Davis, a junior.
The executive board of the NRHS Model Congress delegation.
Model Congress Blends Debate, Social Activities
This year's Model Congress wrapped up at New Rochelle High School with a lively weekend of debate and socializing, and on a bittersweet note for the seniors who will graduate and leave the team.

"Our delegation definitely became very close," said Emily Gorman-Cooper, an NRHS senior and member of the Model Congress executive board. "That really brought New Ro closer together."

In Model Congress, students emulate legislative sessions, proposing laws and debating issues. They also make time for socializing.
The activity brought together New Rochelle's delegation with seven other delegations from eight Long Island high schools. They meet at each delegation's home school starting in November, and ending at NRHS in March. The home event opened last Friday and concluded Saturday.

"This is student-run," said teacher Kevin Corcoran, who advises the club along with teacher Deborah Minchin. "They plan everything. They run the show and they do a wonderful job. They divide and conquer the task, and they delegate to the underclassmen. It's pretty cool to watch."

It is a unique blend of social activities and friendship building with parliamentary procedures. On Saturday, the hubbub of students chatting and singing on a break in the lower cafeteria came to an immediate halt when a leader held up a hand, fingers pressed together, and called out, "Decorum!" 

The students conduct legislative discussions by raising hands and saying, "Point of inquiry!" Questions to the person holding the floor are introduced with the phrase, "Does the speaker believe...?"

Several participants said they have overcome a fear of public speaking in Model Congress, and have learned to express themselves.

"It helps us learn that our opinions do matter and our vote matters," said senior Dylan Portnoy, general chair of the NRHS delegation.

This goes for discussions of serious topics, such as human rights, animal rights and teen issues, as well as more lighthearted debates, such as whether any television show over 90 minutes long should be officially classified as a "movie."

"You still develop those public speaking skills and those debate skills, but it can be fun at the same time," Gorman-Cooper said.

Model Congress students are known to remain close after graduation, through college and beyond, and social media has made that easier.

"It really does feel like a family," Gorman-Cooper said.
The cast of Willy Wonka Jr. takes a break during rehearsal
Visit Wonka's Chocolate Factory with IEYMS
Theater Workshop
Next Friday, the Theater Workshop students at Isaac E. Young Middle School will take their audience on a trip to a chocolate factory with a bit of magic and plenty of singing and dancing - and you won't need a Golden Ticket.

The students will perform the musical Willy Wonka Junior, based on the Roald Dahl classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the 1971 movie that came from it. The musical follows the story of Charlie and several other young people who win a tour of the factory by discovering the lucky metallic-hued ticket in a candy bar wrapper.  

"We're progressing really well," eighth-grader Leila Martinez, who plays Wonka, said at a rehearsal this week. "There are a lot of nice songs, the dancing is phenomenal in my opinion, and we're working really hard."

They will perform the show at 7 p.m. on April 5. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for students. Children 3 and under get in free. The school is at 270 Centre Ave.

They'll do it again on Monday, April 8, but just for elementary school students.

Sixth-grader Valerie Meda - Mike Teavee in the play - was confident that the audiences will enjoy the humor and creativity.

"I'm pretty sure people are going to love this show," she said.

The faculty team involved in the show also includes: Claudia Cassone, producer; Michael Fry, art director; Kirk Ehrenreich, music director; Tony Martino, lighting; and John Thompson, sound.