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North Castle Daily News

Byram Hills High School: You are Connected
A.J. Brodsky

June 2, 2014
With overwhelming support by over 78% of the voters, a serious step forward in the technology at Byram Hills has occurred earlier than anticipated. Now, students across the high school will have access to the internet with the new WiFi. Previously, at certain busy times during the school day, students and teachers could be stymied by slow speeds or even frozen periods of technology blackouts. No more holding the door open with a shoe so someone could make a phone call without being locked out. No more standing on radiators with a hand out the window to miserably try to receive a text. The school budget line for technology infrastructure allows for many tech upgrades. Considering how recent the WiFi is up and running, it is relatively laggy, but is expected to be in full strength by the start of the next school year, making many students happy.

Cutthroat Assassin: Watch Your Back Byram Hills
By A.J. Brodsky

May 6, 2014
A rite of passage for the senior class at Byram Hills High School is Assassin. Every year, game players are assigned targets by a student commissioner to execute with super soakers, eliminating the combatants from the game. To indulge in the event, each competitor puts in $10 for a chance at winning big.

The objective is simple; take out your targets within a couple of weeks without getting taken out yourself. It is possibly the most competitive event of the school year, including sports because nearly 90% of the grade participates.

Many strategies are brought into play, from hiding in and under cars to scaling roofs. The guerrillas hide in the trenches of their targets' lawns and gardens, all for the sake of a kill. This game turns even the most docile of people into conniving, devious mercenaries. With a $1000 cash prize, anybody and everybody is at risk. A senior in the game, Max Siege, says, "It's an intense game that always keeps you on your toes."

The game has been going on for a number of years and one thing that creates concern is the amount of police activity that comes into play. Parents come home to find assassins hiding in the bushes with guns and can only assume the worst. So, every year, a few phone calls may be made to the police and the kids have to awkwardly backpedal through their explanations.

Some enjoy the game for fun. Others can turn into warmongers with serious bloodlust. Friends turn into enemies, the truth is doubted, secrets are kept, and no one trusts each other. These are just mere side-effects of Assassin. But regardless, this game is a way for the entire class to be engaged together for one last time before the final send-off to college.

Student Film@Byram

By A.J. Brodsky

March 31, 2014
With the ever increasing interest in film and acting, the Byram Hills High School Library has started a new program called Film@Byram. Every day, students’ short films are debuted on a small television screen at the library.

Byram Hills High School students spend a few moments watching their classmates’ creative endeavors. The film clips have been video recorded by students enrolled in the three film courses: Film I, Film II, and Film Workshop.

After the filming is done, students upload the clips onto a computer and edit in Adobe Premiere. As the program is relatively new, awareness of Film@Byram is still limited, but with time, the hope is that the word gets out and more people watch the short films at the library.

While awareness is limited, it has sparked the curiosity among some students. A senior involved in the project, Cassie Vitacco says, “A couple of kids I’m friends with have come up to me and told me they saw my name and asked about the film.”

Film teacher, Mike Chuney, appreciates that there is an outlet to showcase the students’ work.  “Artwork is never done until someone sees it,” says Mr. Chuney. He means for the project to be a point of conversation for people to stop, and to admire the work and inspiration that goes into it.

A grant application has been submitted for a larger monitor. Mr. Chuney is also looking for a dedicated room to showcase the films. This project demonstrates the tremendous creativity of Byram Hills students. And who knows, we may have some future Academy Award winners in our midst.

Byram Hills Interns 2014

College Testing: The Decision to Opt Out
By Kyra Higham

May 30, 2014
High school may be stressful at times, especially when preparing for college applications. As the years progress, stress fills the air and students talk about when to take the dreaded SATs and ACTs. There are also hours of homework, cramming for standardized and other tests, and keeping up with a busy social life.

The SATs and ACTs are typically the gateway to college, but now, more colleges are debating whether or not they should accept these scores as criteria for admissions. The following are some of the colleges that consider SAT and ACT scores optional for admission: Manhattanville, College of Saint Rose, Jacksonville University, Lynn University, Moravian College, and Hartwick College. There are many others.

Many students seek out a personal tutor to prepare for SAT and ACT tests, while others are at a disadvantage because they cannot afford the tutor. Therefore, there isn’t always a level playing field when it comes to taking the tests. The colleges mentioned above may understand that these test results are not a good indicator of success in college and beyond.

The grueling tests are hours long, and some students may have specific testing needs, and are accommodated with extra time. Under either test circumstance, for some it is difficult to stay focused, even if a break is given for a few minutes. Some students may choose not to take these tests because of the pressure and anxiety that accompanies them. And increasingly, some colleges are agreeing with them.

Prom Fun for Everyone with Donations from Operation PROM
By Kyra Higham

April 2, 2014
Operation PROM was founded in 2005 and has since provided resources and opportunities to mentor students in need. Originally, Operation PROM was established to help students who were unable to afford the luxuries of prom with donations of prom dresses and money for tuxedo rentals. This gave all students a chance to attend their proms in the appropriate attire. The organization has since expanded to collect donated school supplies and scholarships in addition to regular clothing.

There is no doubt that prom night is one of the many highlights of a student’s high school experience. There is dress and tuxedo shopping, hair styling, partying with friends, and of course, picking the right date. Not everyone has the money to spend on prom items, however; that is where Operation PROM steps in. Anyone who is financially challenged has a chance to shine in the spotlight.

Donations were collected at Byram Hills High School by English Teacher, David Hubbs, who put donation boxes out to collect items that were sent to Operation PROM. Mr. Hubbs says, “Without organizations like this one, that memorable prom evening that so many people take for granted might be unreachable for some young people.”

Before the special night, Operation PROM’s volunteers and workers will set up shop for students to select their prom dress or tuxedo.  They will also help girls with their hair and makeup.

Happiness has its own reward as everyone will glow for a fun-filled night.

For more information, go to Operation PROM’s website at

Reuse and Recycle Your Athletic Shoes
By A.J. Brodsky

June 2, 2014
H.C. Crittenden Middle School of Byram Hills has begun a project that could help students all over the country. Nike Reuse-A-Shoe transforms old, worn-out shoes into a material called Nike Grind that makes turf for football fields, rubber for tracks, and even flooring for basketball courts. Since 1990, over 28 million pairs of shoes have been turned into this material for over 450,000 locations around the world. A box in the front entrance of the middle school is where anyone can donate shoes any time the school is open until the end of the year. Crittenden is not only helping this great cause, but is also exposing students to community service. It’s just another example of how Byram Hills shapes young minds.

Average Laborers Work It Out on the Byram Hills Stage
By A.J. Brodsky

May 17, 2014
The Byram Hills High School Theatre Department hosted its last show of the year on May 15th and 16th. From the book by Studs Terkel, Byram Hills Stage presented Working, a story of ordinary workers across America telling extraordinary stories. With the seniors away pursuing their internships, a cast of 16 freshmen, sophomores, and juniors told the tales of average workers like a waitress, a UPS man, a 3rd grade teacher, and other American professions.

The musical shows the workers of the United States as people with more than regular lives. It takes the perspective some people might have of different industries and turns them on their heads. Generally, people don't find the service industry particularly interesting. But the talented and jubilant waitress Delores Dante shows how it's an art to be in her shoes. This is just one example of how general perceptions are being refuted. Each characters tells his individual story and the ups and downs of his profession.

The characters who don't particularly love their jobs tell the audience about their dreams and why they remained unfulfilled. Whether it's Kate Rushton, the housewife who wanted to be a writer, or Ralph Werner, the student who wants to be a golfer but will probably end up an entrepreneur, the play takes a look at the minds of these laborers and their true aspirations. At the conclusion of the show, the actors all got together on stage to boast about their accomplishments and the pride that they all had. No matter what the situation, they all could find a way to be happy.

For some, this was their first time performing with Byram Hills Stage. Others might have been in as many as nine productions. Whichever production this may have been for the cast and crew, every member showed enthusiasm and excitement for Working. The audience at the high school was thrilled to see this year's musical and laughed throughout the whole show, which included a number of standing ovations. The cast and crew really showed the true dedication to theatre and their hard work paid off with an amazing show.