Byram Hills Internship--Brandon Jones By Sam Donsky, Student Intern
July 10, 2015 One of the most highly anticipated stages of a student’s experience in the Byram Hills School District is the senior internship. Students choose from a large option of internship possibilities, ranging from helping a teacher at Coman Hill to interning for the American Theater Wing, the association in charge of the Tony Awards.
This year, there was one student who had the opportunity to work with prominent people in both the Armonk and general Westchester community: Brandon Jones spent his internship working with Town Clerk Anne Curran and Assemblyman David Buchwald. Below he shares his experiences:
Who did you intern for?
For six weeks, between May and June, I served as the Town of North Castle’s intern under Town Clerk Anne Curran. She created a position that gave me first-hand experience with the different facets of the local government, allowing me the opportunity to work with many departments.
In addition to Anne Curran, I worked with Director of Planning Adam Kaufman, Police Chief Peter Simonsen, and Beth Pollack on re-codifying the Town’s Comprehensive Plan. I helped out with its organization and was responsible for helping adjust the Town’s alcohol and filming permits.
I also devised marketing tactics for the Town’s new government outreach program called “North Castle Forward” with 2016 Town Clerk Candidate and Communications Director Alison Simon. Additionally, I spent some time with Court Clerk Claudia Pulise, Judge Doug Martino, and Judge Elyse Lazansky. They further enriched my experience by allowing me to sit in open court with the Assistant District Attorney and see court cases firsthand, including plea negotiations with defense attorneys.
One of my proudest achievements was revising the Town’s outdated and confusing Dog Code with Judge Lazansky. Supervisor Schiliro was generous with his time and took an interest in my success. He and Anne Curran arranged for me to work in State Assemblyman David Buchwald’s office as well, where I gained insight into New York State government.
What did you learn from your experience? Any skills that you can take with you into the future?
As a high school debater, I already had a strong interest in government so this internship was a perfect fit and a great learning experience for me. I was able to apply my research skills from debating toward practical projects that affect our community. And, I had a birdseye view of the workings of local government so I could see what keeps our Town running smoothly and how that makes our lives better. I now have such an appreciation for the hard work our public servants do every day.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of my time with the North Castle government was how it provided me an inside perspective into how both our government and our legal system work. This is particularly valuable for me since I will be attending American University this fall to study an interdisciplinary major of Communications, Legal Studies, Economics, and Government.
What was a memorable moment or experience that occurred during your internship?
My most memorable internship experience was when Town Justices Elyse Lazansky and Doug Martino allowed me to sit down with them, the Assistant District Attorney, and various defense attorneys to witness plea bargaining. I got to hear what is usually whispered out of earshot. With my debate experience, I really saw myself in the attorneys, constructing persuasive arguments. Considering that I’m interested in law, this was the perfect experience.
Byram Hills Graduation June 23, 2015
Congratulations to Byram Hills Graduates, Class of 2015
June 24, 2015 As the graduates of the Byram Hills Class of 2015 prepared to accept their diplomas at Purchase College on Tuesday June 23, thunder boomed. Then, the skies cleared as the graduating class climbed on to the stage for the last time together, while the traditional processional song of “Pomp and Circumstance” was played by the Byram Hills High School Band, conducted by Marna Weiss.
The pride and appreciation of the 208 graduating students were acknowledged throughout the auditorium as family, friends, teachers, administrators and the Board of Education members applauded them.
Mr. Chris Borsari, Byram Hills High School principal, said that although this day marks the conclusion of a thirteen-year journey, it begins the next facet of the lives of the graduates. At the onset of their senior high school year, Borsari said he stressed the critical importance of the students’ leadership and the examples they set for the overall success of the school year. “As I assured you,” he said, “hard work, anxiety and excitement that accompany all the firsts and lasts of senior year would pass like a blink of an eye when I would present you with your high school diplomas. Today we are marking a truly significant milestone in your lives; the conclusion of your Byram Hills experience and the start of your post high school days.”
Borsari continued, “There is no doubt that our culture supports and encourages achievement; however, publicly celebrated achievements are not the only ones that bring us pride as there have been thousands of smaller, but no less significant, student accomplishments. Part of a school culture values and supports hard work, commitment, and collaboration. I recommend you embrace and even yearn for the numerous struggles which are bound to litter the road that stretches out before you," he said, "because your ability to confront, persevere and learn from the challenges which await you will have significant impact upon your future success.”
Class of 2015 Salutatorian Brian Schoenfeld echoed Borsari's words. “This year our journey ended in so many successes in so many areas." He then named a few of them: debate, music, theater, science research, and the boys baseball team who won the Class A New York State championship last week. That acknowledgement received an astounding round of applause.
“Sometimes the journey took an unexpected twist,” he added, “and that made our shared journey so interesting and worth remembering. We have so much to be grateful for. We should remember to appreciate the steps along the way to reach our goals whatever they might be.” He then quoted the late Arthur Ashe: “Success is a journey, not a destination.” To which Schoenfeld added, “When we achieve our goals, it’s how we get there that makes the accomplishment that much more meaningful. The path is up to us and the journey is up to us to enjoy.”
Class Valedictorian Elizabeth Kingsley then shared her thoughts. “Day-to-day high school seemed a long process of challenges and rewards. Byram Hills is experiencing an incredible moment, too many to list. As had the earlier mention of the baseball team, her acknowledgement of the Mock Trial Team, which won County Championships for the first time in 22 years, was also greeted by a big round of applause. “We’re leaving with a great legacy and a wonderful sense of collective accomplishment. To enter the world as an adult in 2015 is an extraordinary moment in history; our timing is ideal,” she said.
Comparing 100 years ago to now, she said in “1915 the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote; four years later, women won that battle after 150 years of American history that had left them out." Furthermore, she said, “the 1950s saw the origin of the civil rights movement, the '60s brought us the feminist movement and the push for gay rights followed that.” She then noted to a round of applause, “We now have legalized gay marriage in 36 states and we’ve learned a lot about transgender transitions as Barnard College, an historically women’s college, has made the decision to admit transgender females.”
The year 1915 also marked the first transcontinental phone call, among other things of which Kingsley spoke. She said she measured many moments in her young life by the technological changes going on in the world, including the transitions of the cell phone: from flip phone, to iPod, to iPhone and its 1.4 million developed apps. Then she took a selfie with the class behind her to cheers from the auditorium.
Continuing on another note, she said, “We are lucky to also be the generation that has access to both technology and authentic experience. The ultimate direction of the world is shaped by each of the decisions we make; all of the changes occurring around us, societal, smart phones and scientific discoveries, are the twists and turns in the trajectory of human experience. We are the generation of change, and have the power to guide ourselves and maybe the world on the right path, facing forward toward a life of responsibility and incredible opportunity,” she concluded.
Dr. William Donohue, superintendent of Byram Hills School District, presented the graduating class and bid them well as they each set off for a new phase of life. He said there will be time to remember the small moments about getting on the school bus for the first time, or fights over the purchase of the first cell phones. But, he emphasized, it’s the building of community that is most important and is a rare commodity in today’s world. “Our greatest strength as a school district," he added "is not our test scores or our college admissions; it’s our roots in the community. Academics, sports, the arts, technology, every talent, every interest, and every student from every neighborhood was supported by this community. The student community itself was fortunate, for many graduates have been together since kindergarten or maybe longer. They watched each other grow up, and more important, they helped each other and exemplify teamwork and collaboration, making the high school a ‘great place to learn.’”
Ira Schulman, president of the Board of Education, received the Class of 2015. He advised them never to forget the keys of wisdom and compassion, and a heart full of love because that is so needed now. “Citizenship is just not a spectator sport,” he said. “Take time to become involved, volunteer time to your community, and remember that you always get back far more than you give.” He then added, “Resist cynicism and the impulse to be jaded. Do not shy away from the elderly and infirm, or from those whose socioeconomic status has variance to yours. There is much goodness in the world; let it find you,” he concluded.
In addition to the graduatind seniors, Schulman said that the Byram Hills community bid farewell and extended much gratitude to the two retiring Byram Hills department heads and faculty member in attendance: Michael Gulino, Joy Varley, and Marion Kelly.
Gulino served as Director of Athletics, P.E. and Health Education since 2001. Prior to that, he taught middle school health, and coached cross country, track and field and football at Byram Hills since 1986. Joy Varley served 28 years as Director of Fine Arts, while Marion Kelly taught fifth grade at H.C.Crittenden Middle School and Wampus Elementary School for 23 years.
“We offer our sincere thanks for your many years of dedicated service and your steadfast commitment,” acknowledged Bosari, as he extended best wishes in their future endeavors.
Prestigious MIT Award for Byram Hills Senior By Rich Monetti
June 14, 2015 Byram Hills High School senior Danielle Adilletta has won the Women’s and Gender Studies Category of the National High School MIT Inspire Research Competition in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Founded by MIT sophomore Vaishnavi Rao, the mission of the program is to encourage young people to seek solutions through in depth inquiry in the humanities, arts, and social science fields. At the opening ceremony in April, MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart called INSPIRE “quintessential MIT,” as a project that blends independent initiative with serious, hands-on inquiry.
In her research work in the Byram Hills’ Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program, Adilletta conducted a study based on the manner in which women of varying educational levels obtain information on the practice of breastfeeding. She expressed a reasonable amount of surprise upon hearing the results.
“It’s MIT. There’s a lot of really smart people involved,” she says.
The competition, which yielded Danielle a $1500 cash prize, consisted of research round and a presentation round. After reports were submitted, Danielle was invited to the final round on MIT's campus in April to present her research before MIT professors, researchers, and graduate students with expertise in women's and gender studies.
For Students, the first year is reserved for research. Danielle learned that women of higher educational means were more likely to learn the most effective means of breastfeeding through doctors, support groups and literature. On the other hand, women of lower educational means were more likely to learn through friends and family.
Danielle, identifying the information gap between levels of education, spent junior year verifying the hypothesis. In turn, through social media and various online sources, she was able to provide a questionnaire to 148 women in Westchester County who satisfied the higher educational group. Danielle then reached out to Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx to get feedback from 153 women of lower educational means.
Analyzing the results and completing her study, senior year was reserved for writing up her proposal and entering different contests. “The MIT judges were very impressed with my study – especially the large diverse quantity of subjects,” she says.
Thanking her Harvard Mentor, Dr. Emily Oken and Science Teacher David Keith who is the Director of Byram Hills High School Dr. Robert Pavlica Authentic Science Research Program, she hopes the study helps give more women access to pertinent information so they can get the most benefits out of breast feeding.
As for how that info will be disseminated, she leaves that to the school. "It's out there if people want to see it,” says Danielle.
Heading to Villanova in the fall, Danielle plans to study Secondary Education and admits that she is all “researched out,” but obviously has no regrets. “I learned how to work with research professionals and write professionally,” she concludes.
Local Student Poet Recognized Nationally
June 12, 2015 Congratulations to Byram Hills senior Eden Gordon for her gold medal at The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards of 2015 last night. The Awards recognize talented young artists and writers nationwide. In 2015, 300,000 works of art and writing were submitted to be judged by a panel of creative professionals, with the top 1% being recognized at the national level. Gordon submitted and was honored for a poetry collection.
The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have been given out since 1923, and have been won by many artists that went on to incredible careers, including Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath, Joyce Carol Oates, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, and John Baldessari.
There are 28 different categories across writing and art, open to students in grades 7 to 12. The Awards offer an opportunity for scholarships and exhibition and publication of students' work. Visit their website for more information: http://www.artandwriting.org/.
And click here to read some of Gordon's work, as well as the rest of the New York State grade 12 poets'.
The ceremony took place at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and the Empire State Building was lit gold to honor the students. Best of luck to Gordon and the rest of the students in pursuing their literary and artistic dreams.
A Village Supports Senior Runway Fashion Show
March 12, 2015 Byram Hills High School seniors strutted their stuff Wednesday night on stage for the eighth annual senior fashion show. Ninety-nine seniors of the 222 graduating class had fun prancing around the runway in style. Facebook pages were filled with videos of music, smooth moves and cheering, as well as photos of laughter. The Masters of Ceremony were juniors who delivered amusing anecdotes that accompanied the seniors’ runway appearances.
Parents, teachers, guests, and peers were entertained as the seniors twirled, dipped and sported this season’s fashions that were generously on loan from 17 local clothiers, including Armonk’s Hickory & Tweed, Ruthie’Z, Beginning Blues, Tru Grace, Sheep Shack and other stores in White Plains, Chappaqua, Greenwich, and Rye Ridge.
Hair bounced in just the right way thanks to hairstyling done by Cherylyn Salon, D’Alessandro, Johnna’s Salon, HOTT Blow Dry, and Tammy Poultin. Eyes sparkled and lips shone thanks to makeup artists from Cherylyn Salon, Laura Sall, and Donna Berry.
Gift baskets, donated by students and parents, helped the Grade Activity Boards (GAB) raise $4,200 from themed auction items. They included: entertainment baskets from the freshman class, vacation-themed baskets from the sophomores, and college-themed baskets from the juniors. The funds will help defray the costs of senior proms.
Byram Hills High School Students Inducted into Cum Laude Society
November 8, 2014 During a ceremony held this week, the 21 new members of the Byram Hills High School Cum Laude Society were urged to develop their leadership skills and remember that “good failures” can contribute to success.
The seniors inducted into the prestigious society, which honors high scholastic achievement in secondary schools, were also congratulated for their accomplishments before an audience filled with beaming parents, teachers and friends.
“These students have not simply excelled in a given course or a specific area of study, but rather have pursued excellence in all that they’ve done,” said Principal Chris Borsari. “As a result of their dedication to learning and personal growth, they are at the top of a very talented senior class.” The students’ accomplishments go beyond their impressive GPAs, said Borsari, noting that they had also excelled individually as actors, debaters, varsity athletes, science researchers and artists.
The new inductees are Nolan Abramowitz, Alison Bidjarano, Elise Briody, Gregory Carlin, Nicholas Contillo, Alisia Escobar, Katy Gallagher, Samantha Gold, Eden Gordon, Lucy Greenwald, Nicole Hoffman, Catherine Jankovic, Amos Jeng, Bessie Jiang, Elizabeth Kingsley, Payton Levine, Guinevere Mesh, Brian Schoenfeld, Ella Taubenfeld, Kyle Vacco and Ross Weinfeld. Along with the students, music teacher Marna Weiss was also inducted as a faculty member of the society during the Oct. 28 ceremony at the high school.
Last year’s faculty inductees, Director of Athletics Michael Gulino and Social Studies teacher Joanna Lewick, offered advice to the new members.
Gulino said that the students have already demonstrated leadership in high school and would likely continue on that path. “You will eventually be leaders in our country in the various areas you choose,” he said. He urged them to become the type of “humble leaders” who do not look to attract followers, but rather to develop future leaders.
Lewick told the students that showing resilience and grit in the face of failure was an important lesson to learn. “Good failures” help people in various ways, perhaps challenging them to work harder or try another approach, or even realize that they need to turn their talents to another area. “With each failure, we grow and we learn and we develop our own resilience and become grittier people with even greater potential,” said Lewick.
Dr. Sandra Abt, the chapter president, also congratulated the new members, advising them to learn from each other, stay on track, get a good education, and train their minds to think. In the words of rapper Jay Z, “Dream big, be unrealistic,” she said.
“Your future lies before you. Make the most of it,” she said.
Byram Hills Seniors Honored in National Merit Scholarship Contest
October 4, 2014 Five Byram Hills High School students are semifinalists in the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program. Seniors Bessie Jiang, Elizabeth Kingsley, Brian Schoenfeld, Ella Taubenfeld and Ross Weinfeld, are among 16,000 students nationwide who were named semifinalists in the 60th annual competition.
The Byram Hills seniors will continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring. About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.
“I know we’ve all worked hard all through high school, and I feel like this is a really great reward,” Elizabeth said. Semifinalists, who are the highest-scoring entrants from each state, represent less than 1 percent of U.S high school seniors.
Additionally, the following 14 seniors were recognized as Commended students. Val Amorosana, Alison Bidjarano, William Bohrer, Elise Briody, Gregory Carlin, Nicholas Contillo, Ofir Dinstein, Eden Gordon, Lucy Greenwald, Amos Jeng, Payton Levine, Chloe Nenner, Daniel Spingarn and Joshua Spingarn are among about 34,000 students nationwide who received letters of commendation.
About 1.5 million high school juniors entered the 2015 scholarship program by taking the 2013 Preliminary SAT.