I have given a Headmaster’s farewell for 52 graduations. Our first graduation was actually in 1971 since, when Jayme and I started York Prep in 1969, we only admitted 6th through 11th graders in the first year. But I have never given the commencement speaker’s speech, until this year. Now! So I apologize for not being Oprah Winfrey or George Clooney.
We are so excited to announce the publication of the 2022-2023 issue of York Prep's 6-12th grade award-winning literary and art magazine, Genesis. This year’s issue is dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. Stewart.
Class of 2007 alum Caitlin Keating is set to showcase her remarkable documentary, Take Care of Maya, at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival, followed by its release on Netflix. Keating's invaluable experiences during her time at York Prep, and throughout her time as a journalism student and reporter, have played a pivotal role in shaping her into a successful film producer.
This month I am cheating by reproducing a presentation I made to an educational conference, this April, on the teaching of Ethics to high school students. Last month’s “Thoughts” were hopefully amusing. The same cannot be said for this presentation:
Good Morning. My name is Ronnie Stewart and I started York Prep School in 1969 with my wife and have been Head of School for the 54 years it has served its students in New York City. For most of those years, I have taught Ethics to all members of the Senior Class.
Last week, the seniors had fun surprise trip to Chelsea Piers. From swinging ropes to rock climbing walls, the students took full advantage of all of the fun options available in the Chelsea Piers Field House! Scroll through the slide show to see some of the action from their exciting excursion!
Congratulations to seniors Rome Kadi and Emily Zaretsky for winning the National Student Press Association Leadership Awards in Student Journalism! As members of The Paw editorial team, they were nominated by Paw faculty advisor, Mr. Marzoni.
Sarah Lawrence College hosts an annual High School Student Day, where exceptional high school poetry students are invited to participate. However, due to the pandemic, this event has been on hold until April 19th of this year, when SLC finally held its first in-person event in three years. This year, Ms. Umansky invited three of her students, Sophia Martinez, Kaan Akubulut, and Ruthie LaTona, to attend the SLC High School Student Day. This event was led by the renowned poet, Jeffrey McDaniel, and consisted of various writing workshops, craft talks, and student readings, making it a thrilling day for the attendees.
Every year, Scholars Programs seniors conclude their academic year with a capstone project. Under the guidance of a faculty advisor, they research and complete a their projects. They then present their chosen topics to a panel of teachers.
Dr. Davis's AP English class recently had an exciting outing to Broadway to watch "Fat Ham." This Pulitzer Prize-winning adaptation of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" infuses modern themes of Black masculinity, queer identity, and individuality into the classic tale. It was a wonderful opportunity for students who had previously read "Hamlet" in class last semester. One of the highlights of the performance was the main character's headbanging rendition of Radiohead's "Creep," which the students particularly enjoyed. This contemporary adaptation offers a fresh take on the classic story and encourages students to explore modern-day issues in literature.
The 8th grade students in my Reading and Writing class were tasked with the challenge of coming up with their own Shark Tank-style invention that would solve a problem in society. Students watched clips from some of the most popular products that were presented on Shark Tank to provide them with some ideas of what worked best. They then brainstormed their own inventions using a list of potential “problems” that they could work on solving, such as carrying wet umbrella or ice cream melting on your hands.
Earlier this week Cognita CEO, Michael Drake, announced that Kate Maggiotto will be the new Head of York Prep:
Our current Assistant Head of School, Kate Maggiotto, has accepted our invitation to serve as the next Head of York Prep beginning June 1st, 2023. This is fantastic news! Kate’s relational and strategic leadership style will provide the direction, care, and vision required to ensure that York continues to thrive into its next chapter. She will succeed Mr. Stewart, York’s founder and Headmaster of 54 years. Mr. Stewart will be retiring this year after a lifetime of exceptional leadership and service.
There are tea ceremonies all over the world, but nothing quite like the English tea ceremony. Since it may become a fading institution, I want to give it a review before it goes away with the steam locomotive. You can find this odd ceremony practiced in the better English hotels and a few department stores in London.
Every spring, book enthusiasts, schools, and libraries worldwide come together to commemorate their love of books and tasty treats through Edible Book events. On March 17th, York Prep held its inaugural Edible Book Festival, where 8th-grade English students from Ms. Ziller's and Ms. Umansky's classes crafted an "edible book" based on a favorite story of their preference. Each entry was exhibited and eventually consumed!
Mr. Rosado-Gonzalez’s 6th-grade Earth Science class shakes things up as they learn about earthquakes and volcanoes in their geology unit. His 7th-grade Life Sciences class students are currently learning about genetics and heredity. Read on to learn more about the fun ways they are exploring these eye-opening subjects.
Every week, Ms. Umansky's Middle School Scholars Poetry class convenes to share their original poems based on her weekly prompts. Following each reading, the students provide feedback on each other's work. For this week's prompt, the students were tasked with creating an abecedarian poem, consisting of 26 lines where each line corresponds to a letter of the alphabet in chronological order.
Earlier this month, I took my two 10th-grade English classes to see A Doll’s House, starring Jessica Chastain, on Broadway. Both classes read the play this winter and deeply enjoyed it. A Doll’s House is a play I always enjoys teaching because of the conversations it fosters in the classroom about love, marriage, gender, and society.Dr. Davis and Coach Horn co-chaperoned this trip, and everyone had a wonderful time.
After reading Ralph Ellison’s modern classic, Invisible Man, students in my College Writing class caught a train uptown to consider how Harlem has embodied dreams of progress for generations of African Americans. First, we visited the Ralph Ellison Memorial in Riverside Park. We then paid respects at the author’s tomb in the Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum, and concluded the afternoon with some soul food at Charles Pan-Fried Chicken.
During York Prep's annual History Day Exhibition, students from Mr. Gordon and Mr. Buckley's 8th- and 10th-grade history classes presented their research projects that they had worked on for the entire semester. The projects included museum exhibits, documentaries, websites, and essays, covering a diverse range of topics. Some of the topics included the Space Race, the Opioid Epidemic, the CIA-backed coup in Guatemala, graffiti as a political art form, and the life and legacy of Jean-Michel Basquiat. The students put in a lot of effort and creativity to present their findings, showcasing their critical thinking and research skills.
I love going to the opera, and drag Jayme along about five times a year. When I was a young man, I would sit somewhere near the roof but now we are fortunate to be closer to the stage. We saw Fedora very recently. It is not a great opera. The story is absurd, and it has not been performed at the Met for over 20 years. Whenever the Metropolitan Opera returns a rarely-heard opera back into its repertoire, they bring out the superstars to perform it. And so it was with this revival, which starred Sonya Yoncheva and Piotr Bezcala. The music was fair, but the singing was superb. Going to the Met, one often sees great performances, sometimes only good ones, and, rarely, average ones. But the experience of sitting in a vast hall covered mainly in red velvet, the visual spectacle of the sets, the professional excellence of the orchestra and chorus (and occasionally dancers), still makes each performance (regardless of the opera itself) a special New York evening.
Freshmen and sophomores in my Scholars class, History of Rock & Roll, visited Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars, an exhibition celebrating the legendary career of the Velvet Underground frontman and lifelong New Yorker at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center. In addition to handwritten song lyrics, Reed’s personal record collection, and several of his guitars, students got to see many other oddities from the archive, which was acquired by the library following his death in 2013: his diploma from Syracuse University (where he majored in English), a wall of televisions playing interviews and performances on loop, his full astrological chart, pairs of his own brand of signature eyewear (“Lou’s Views”), a sweater vest knit by a fan, hundreds of photographs, concert posters, and more.
For the second year in a row, both the York Prep Girls Varsity Basketball and Boys Varsity Basketball teams have emerged as champions in the Independent Schools Athletic League Championships, defeating LREI and BWL respectively. Congratulations to the student athletes and coaches Shure, Turi, Fazio, Espel, Ahern, and Curran! Click through to see the action-packed photo slideshow created by sophomore Sam Cohen.
In conjunction with their unit on color theory and color science, Mr. Everett’s senior Science and the Arts students toured artist Kenneth Lewis Sr.’s studio. They also had a workshop at Kremer’s Pigment Store. Senior Smith Pingree captured some of the highlights during the trip. Scroll through the slideshow on the left to see some of the fun!
In his 12th-grade Colonization to Globalization Honors history course, Mr. Mancilla employs art references to teach his students. Recently, he took his class on a field trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they had the privilege of viewing some of these masterpieces. The class had a pleasant experience examining the permanent collection, as well as the exhibitions titled "Divinity in Mayan Art" and "The African Origins of Civilization".
To introduce a unit on the New York School of poetry, juniors in my Honors American Literature class visited the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to see Alex Katz: Gathering, the first major retrospective of the 95-year-old New York painter since 1986. Students honed in on Katz’s portraits of his friends, including poets Frank O’Hara, Edwin Denby, Joe Brainard, Amiri Baraka, Anne Waldman, John Ashbery, Dick Gallup, Ron Padgett, and Allen Ginsberg, who they will be researching in the weeks to come, and considered the ways that the paintings themselves function as visual poems: stripping away the noise of reality to emphasize the beauty in information that lingers on the surface.
Sophomore Sam Cohen has a brilliant eye for action photography. He has been capturing our student athletes on the field and court over the past two years. Scroll through the slideshow taken during the Boys JV basketball game against Brooklyn Friends School.
Ms. Kravitz's 7th-grade Reading and Writing class recently had an exciting visit to the Riverside Library on Amsterdam Avenue. As soon as they arrived, they were treated to a "book buzz" presentation by the librarian, Michelle Lee, who shared insights on popular books among teens across different genres. The students were then issued their own library cards and given a detailed tour of the library. The highlight of their visit was when each student got to borrow a book from the Young Adult room.
Every year, seniors in the Scholars Program embark on a year-long capstone research project. During this time, they collaborate with a faculty advisor to delve into a subject they are enthusiastic about, and work on a presentation to showcase their findings. In April, the Scholars presents their projects to a panel of faculty members in the form of a “Defense”. This year the topics include Unearthing the Historicity Behind Pre-Common Era Biblical Stories by Ryan Borkowsky, A Toxic Relationship: Parasocial Sabotage in the Cosmetics Industry by Imani Carter,The Monumental Effect of the Civil War on Local Politics:Political Campaigning Before and After the Civil War by Alexander DeHaas, Marketing and the Pet Industry: The Investigation of Psychology in Consumerism by Kimberly Pineda,Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Mind-Body Connection, an Alternative Approach to Western Biomedicine by Valeriya Vinnichenko, New Tricks For an Old Dog: a novella by Daniel Rosenkranz,Setball!: The Ultimate Fusion of Basketball and Volleyball by Rayanna Hines,Punk Rock New York: the Birth, Death, and Reincarnation of a Movement by Drew LaVallee, and Post-American Land Bridge Sheepby Chris Vullo. Click here to read more about each project.
The Annual Middle and High School Chess Club Tournaments begin on Monday, March 3rd! The Tournament will be open to everyone in the school even if they aren’t in chess club. Middle schoolers who attend the chess club are eligible to also play in the High School Tournament if they wish. “Reigning champions Kaan Akbulut (High School Champ 2022) and Issac Mah (Middle School Champ 2022) will both be out to defend their titles, but the competition is expected to be fierce,” says Chess Club Faculty Advisor Mr. Ward.
Junior Harrison Geiling recently founded Hoopin4Hope, a fundraising campaign that supports displaced and injured Ukrainian teens. Harrison's passion for making a positive impact in the world was sparked by his volunteer work in Ukraine last year, where he witnessed the struggles of families fleeing the war, injured children, and frontline troops. Inspired to take action, Harrison created Hoopin4Hope. Hoopin4Hope's aim is to raise $3000 through high school basketball playoffs and State championships, which will be donated to Ukraine Friends, the nonprofit organization that Harrison worked with during his humanitarian mission. Through this initiative, Harrison and his team hope to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young people affected by conflict, demonstrating how the game of basketball can be used to support global communities. In this Q and A, we learn more about Harrison's inspiring story and his vision for Hoopin4Hope.
My 8th grade English class teamed up with STEAM teacher, Ms. Young, to build model windmills in conjunction with their reading of the allegorical novel, Animal Farm. Animal Farm tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, Mr. Jones, to form a society where all animals are equal, free, and happy. However, the rebellion is betrayed, and under the dictatorship of a pig named Napoleon, the farm ends up in a state as bad as it was before ousting Jones. In this activity, students were given access to a limited supply of resources and challenged to build a freestanding, motorized windmill while simulating a communist, democratic, or totalitarian government structure.
At York Prep, we are proud to have alumni like Michael Shipper who embody the values of our school. Mr. Shipper is a testament to what can be achieved when you receive care and support from your community and use it as motivation for success in life.
Michael’s story begins with his grandfather passing down an inspiring (paraphrased) quote from Theodore Roosevelt that became his mantra: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care." As a student entering middle school at York Prep, he received tremendous amounts of individualized support from teachers, which helped him develop into the successful entrepreneur he is today. He founded Empowered Sports & Fitness on the Upper West Side in January, 2015. The ESF philosophy is to encourage athletes to move, play, and have fun regardless of their backgrounds or abilities. Each athlete feels empowered by the ESF team's level of compassion and dedication.
Welcome to February. As a second child, until now I never thought of myself as a “Spare”. Of course, I am not the son of a King either. I married a second child and have no idea, or much interest, if this is a sociological factor or just chance. Currently, I have noticed a tendency to find deep psychological reasons for simpler issues.
York Prep is thrilled to announce a major accomplishment for the student curated Genesis Art and Literature magazine. The National Council of Teachers of English has named a Genesis a First-Class magazine in the 2022 Recognizing Excellence in Art and Literary Magazines! Congratulations to the editorial staff, writers, and artists, as well as the faculty advisors Ms. Umansky, Ms. Tabourin, Ms. Cox!
“That’s what jazz is, it’s playing the wrong note to lead you to the right note,” says five-time Grammy winner Victor Wooten. During his Bass Masterclass at the Jazz Education Network conference, he invited the audience to be experimental and to join the musical conversation that is jazz music. After his presentation, sophomore Imani Chisholm felt inspired by his message to “play what you know”, and senior Paul Petretta declared that he would “stop overcomplicating (his bass playing), and just play.” Earlier this month, Mr. Cockrell, Ms. Hutchison, and seven students traveled to Orlando, Florida to attend the JEN Conference. The trip was nothing short of an epiphany.
Mrs. Haberman’s Honors Chemistry students recently conducted some exciting lab experiments. The students formed groups, which set up and performed a synthesis reaction of iron and oxygen, a decomposition reaction of copper (II) carbonate, and a combustion reaction of isopropyl alcohol and oxygen. They then taught the reaction to the rest of the class. “They did a really impressive job and had a lot of fun actually doing the reactions we learned about in class!” said Mrs. Haberman. Click here to see the reaction in action!
We are joined by Sophie Bohrer today. She is a three-sport student-athlete at York, and recently committed to run track and field in college.
Turi: Sophie, you recently committed to college to run track and field. Congratulations, tell us where you committed and why you chose the school.
Sophie: I recently committed to Ohio Wesleyan. I chose the school because I got a spot on the track team, they have a great education program, it's a great size, and has a beautiful campus and nice people.
Turi: How did you narrow your search for a school that fits you academically and athletically?
Sophie: I narrowed my search that fit me academically and athletically. It was really easy and I knew that was the place (for me). Also having the education is awesome!
On January 9th, 11th-grade students in my Honors American Literature class and Mr. Hartman’s Pre-Portfolio Painting & Drawing class took the 1 train downtown to the Whitney Museum of American Art to see Edward Hopper’s New York, a new retrospective of the celebrated American painter. For many students, this was a first visit to the museum, and a rare opportunity to learn interesting bits of trivia about the painter’s life and work: that his wife, Josephine, for instance, served as the model for every female figure across his entire body of work, and that the couple were avid theatregoers, even attending the premiere run of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman in 1949 (which the students would see for themselves at the Hudson Theatre on Broadway later that week). Our gracious guides did what they could to ensure that it would not be the students’ only visit to the museum, providing them with free passes at the end of the tour to return with family and friends.
What does the future hold for York Prep? Will the boys varsity basketball team continue its winning streak? What's new and improved on the YP campus, and what needs to be improved? These burning questions, and more, are all answered in the Winter 2023 issue of The Paw. Under the helm of new faculty advisor, Dr. Marzoni, the student reporters injected each article with both hard-hitting facts and insightful personal perspectives. Read The Paw Winter 2023 issue here.
Ms. Boyce’s 10th-grade Chemistry class kicked off their chemistry reactions unit with a very interesting experiment combining Aluminum with Copper Chloride. The combination created a temperature change, color change, as well as a solid to form! Scroll through the slideshow to see the result!
This month, the entire 11th grade attended a matinee show of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman on Broadway. After reading the play, students were excited to watch a live performance of the critically acclaimed adaptation starring Wendell Pierce. Students agreed that the excellent cast, the creative lighting cues, and the incorporation of live music on stage made this a thrilling and moving theater experience.
This fall, the sophomores, juniors, and seniors enrolled in my Scholars course, Introduction to Journalism, studied the fundamentals of the trade, considering such topics as newsworthiness, reporting techniques, accuracy and verification, news style, and journalistic ethics as they worked on their own submissions to York Prep’s student newspaper, The Paw.
Wellness Wednesdays, coordinated by our Wellness Team, have been an integral part of the York Prep program this year. As part of this series, our 6th and 7th graders recently gathered for a presentation on anxiety, stress, and coping. After the presentation, the students split into two groups and participated in therapeutic art and yoga sessions.
Congratulations to the Genesis staff and faculty advisors: Leah Umansky, Emily-Greta Tabourin, and Christina Cox, for earning a first-place award from the American Scholastic Press Association contest. In previous years, Genesis has placed in the overall contest, but this year junior Owen Barbagallo won the first-place prize in the “Outstanding Photographer” category on behalf of Genesis.
This being the beginning of a New Year, let me wish all of our readers a very joyous 2023. After 18 years of writing these monthly thoughts, I proposed to Jeremy Clarke, with who I share an office and, indeed, running the school, that I delegate to him the writing of this month’s thoughts. He agreed, so here they are:
I am grateful to Mr. Stewart for offering me the baton this month, and especially to do so at the beginning of the New Year. School days between September and December are always the most intense, in my view. These are our two shortest quarters, during which the weather becomes frigid, seniors anxiously await responses from their Early Decision schools, and we squeeze in Field Day, Halloween, International Dinner, two Wellness Days, the fall play, and Midterms among much else. I am sure the students join the teachers in welcoming this holiday break. We look ahead now to a semester with a little more room to breathe. To me, January to June always feels a little like climbing down the other side of the mountain.