2020

News List

  • March

    A Heartfelt Message from Ronald Stewart


    Dear Parents and Students,
     
    We all realize what a stressful time this is for our students, and I cannot express how much the York community would like to get us all back together again. But, realistically, that seems very unlikely in the near future. Without getting political, I just do not think that by Easter we will all be back. I think our Distance Learning will continue for some time, and we have planned accordingly.  Trust me that as soon as we can re-open school, I will joyfully tell you immediately.
     
    If you have any questions about our Distance Learning Plan, Ms. Marshall and her team have sent out clear directions and, if you have mislaid them, they can be sent to you again via e-mail. Reach out to her at HMarshall@yorkprep.org. The Plan is also in the Files folder of YP Home on Canvas. If there is a problem with video conferencing feel free to reach out to your teachers via email or Canvas, or to our technical expert, Mr. Richard Abba, at rabba@yorkprep.org. I have tried Zoom several times and although the platform is excellent, I have made mistakes and have had to learn to be patient (not my strongest point). Your deans, of course, are standing by to troubleshoot and answer your every concern. Remember that our Spring Break ends on April 3rd, and therefore classes start on our regular timetable, via Distance Learning, on April 6th.
     
    Frankly, I am more concerned for the sadness in our students than anything. I think that being a 6th through 12th grader should be a time of joy. A time of friendship and group interaction. Tragically, some of that is lost. We will work hard to get clubs and activities online as well as educational classes. But an online dialogue is just not the same as being together, and although we all feel this sense of isolation, I fear that our students feel it more deeply. This is a time for families to share pleasures: a board game, a film that can be watched together, or a walk (of course at safe distancing) in a park.  And even take up things that we never had time for: yoga, keeping a journal (I am afraid that "Journal of a Plague Year", as a title, has already been taken by Daniel Defoe many centuries ago), reconnecting by e-mail with distant relatives and friends (and the word "distant" is relative since, in these times, they could just as well be nearby), learning some new skill (cooking springs to mind) that you always wondered about. But it will not be easy.
     
    As is laid out in our Distance Learning Plan, our teachers will Zoom with their students and work will be assigned. I know that some will find it more difficult than others to focus. Let me ask our students to work as diligently as they can, knowing that we will be understanding about grades and recognize that allowances will have to be made.
     
    Finally, I want the students to know how much you are cherished by all around you. Your family and your school. We are one community and every member is valuable and precious. There will be a day when we return. We may do elbow bumps (I cannot get used to them) and wash our hands more (that I already have become used to), but be assured that we will be back together. Until then, let us make the most of a bad situation, let us grieve for those who are sick and those of our young who are being robbed of what should be a wonderful time in their lives. I promise that we will do everything to continue to make school a place of happiness and safety, and I wish everyone in the community a healthy future.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Ronald P. Stewart
    Headmaster

     
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  • Eighth–grader Nicholas Belladonna Papajohn Receives Honorable Mention from Scholastic Awards For His Poetry

    Nicholas Belladonna Papajohn submitted his poem Wondering, to the 2020 NYC Scholastic Awards, presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, in partnership with The New School, after writing it for his middle school scholars program poetry class. In addition to an Honorable Mention award, he received a letter citing his work as “as the most outstanding work submitted among peers”. The Scholastic Awards were established in 1923, and have recognized some of the nation’s most famous artists and writers while they were teenagers, including Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and Andy Warhol.
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  • Athlete of the Month: Megan Scott, Seventh-Grade Starting Point Guard on the Varsity Girls Basketball Team

    As a first-year varsity player yet only in the 7th grade, Megan Scott has proven to us that age is nothing but a number. Having started every single game, she has taken on the role of being the starting point guard. Her terrific work ethic, love of the game, coachable attitude, and solid fundamental skills have propelled her to become a leader on the court. Keep up the good work Megan!

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  • Headmaster's Thoughts: March 2020

    For those with stamina, there are two essays this month.
     
    As I approach my 200th essay in this series of “Headmaster’s Thoughts”, I realize, yet again, why I write them. Clearly, I feel compelled to write in a therapeutic (and some may say narcissistic) spasm of urgency. But I am also conscious of the fact that while so many writers feel this need, there is no corresponding group of readers.  In reality, we have an army of writers and a platoon of readers.
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  • February

    Congratulations to Ethan Kushnerik For His Victory in the USA Fencing Junior Olympic Championships Cadet Men’s Division

    Last week junior Ethan Kushnerik competed in the USA Fencing Junior Olympics in Columbus, Ohio and won first place in the Cadet Men’s Epee Division!
    Ethan is not only the best in the country when it comes to fencing, but he is also a dedicated student who works hard to stay on the honor roll. Read more about Ethan’s story on our Student Stories page.
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  • Phoebe Unger performs an original piece

    Music Students Attend a Songwriting Workshop Conducted By Larry Kirwan

    This week the York Prep Music Room had the privilege of hosting songwriter/author/playwright/composer Larry Kirwan, who conducted a workshop in songwriting.  Eleven students attended this workshop, which was organized by music teacher Coty Cockrell, and some of them even shared their original pieces with Mr. Kirwan.
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  • York Prep Students Visit Black in Time: A Black Renaissance at FIT

    On February 11th the Affinity Social Justice Club, along with other York Prep students, visited the Art and Design Gallery at Fashion Institute of Technology to tour the Black in Time: A Black Renaissance exhibit. Accompanied by School Counselor Elizabeth Aiello, the students were guided through the exhibit by two student curators from the FIT Black Student Union.
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  • Varsity Boys Basketball Team Advances to the ISAL Championship Game!

    The Varsity Boys Basketball team (11 -3) has advanced to the ISAL championship game by defeating Mary McDowell 69 – 63 in last night’s semifinal!!!
    The Panthers will now take on undefeated Brooklyn Friends (14-0) in the final game. In order to get this critical win, WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! Please come out to cheer them on Thursday at 5:45 PM at Leman Prep. The gym is located at 1 Morris Street, a short walk from the Rector Street stop on the 1 train.
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  • This March, York Prep Students Will Embark on an Incredible Journey To the Galapagos Islands

    The Galapagos Islands, known to some as the “Enchanted Isles”, and home to some of the highest levels of endemic species (about 80% of the land birds and 97% of the reptiles and land mammals can only be found on the Galapagos Islands) will serve as the extraordinary backdrop for 13 lucky York Prep students and three faculty members this spring break as they embark on this once-in-a-lifetime voyage. The Galapagos Islands, and particularly the preservation of their fauna and flora, represent one of Mr. Stewart’s major interests. As a member of the board of the Charles Darwin Foundation, he has been involved with the archipelago since the 1980s and has been there 13 times. He has arranged for our students and faculty members to visit for an eight-day trip, where the group will spend seven nights on the Islands accompanied by a naturalist guide.
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  • Athlete of the Month: Dedicated Swim Team Member Ming Robinson

    Ming Robinson, an 11th-grader, joined the York Prep swim team this year and has shown great sportsmanship from the start. “She is always willing to swim any event she is placed in,” says swim team coach Madeleine Palmer. “Her questions in terms of stroke technique show her dedication to doing well not only for herself but for the betterment of the team.”
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  • A Historic Moment: Super Bowl XVI

    by Eric Tull

    Yes, you read the title of this article correctly. In February of each year, the York Prep Pantherdome hosts the Annual York Prep Social Studies Super Bowl. 2020 marks the 16th celebration of that tradition, hence, “Super Bowl XVI.” The four Upper School classes knock heads together, answering questions about history, geography, government, and current events. The doughty contestants are chosen by their Student Government Organization representatives, and the questions are written and posed by history teacher Mr. Michael Roper. Winners are presented with bestselling books on a variety of history-related topics, and they also earn bragging rights for an entire calendar year. Mr. Roper is ably assisted by History Department Chair Ms. Christina Cox and the entire history team, while the officiating is covered by our
    ever-reliable physical education coaches.

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  • Headmasters Thoughts: February 2020

    This being February’s “Thoughts,” I suspect that you and I will soon get (if we have not already recently had one) the common cold. I am told that we get them two or three times a year, and that seems about right in my experience.

    The question is: what can you do to get rid of the cold quickly? One almost does not know where to start answering this question, so we could do worse than to go back to the great polymath, the man who started the concept of the modern encyclopedia, Pliny the Elder. His was of a somewhat skeptic disposition, which, considering the natural remedies he lists in his “Natural History,” one can understand. Nonetheless, in a work that was the first of its kind and served as the model for all Encyclopedias that followed, he dutifully listed historical solutions to ailments, even if the practical side of him would, I am sure, not have followed them himself. His “folk medicine” cure for the cough that came with a cold, was wolf’s liver in warmed wine. Another solution, if that did not work, was drinking horse saliva for three days. I think Pliny was having fun since he described another cure requiring one to drink warmed horse urine, but not any horse, only a mare. In the end, Pliny does say that honey helped his cough (I warned you that the man was a genius), and it does indeed.
     
    I come from England, where the most famous of the old folk cures involved eating a roasted mouse. On any level, that seems like bad advice. Mice carry diseases (not as much as rats to be sure, but I never thought of them as hygienic little creatures). Maybe the idea of roasting them would eliminate the “bad” stuff (germs and viruses) and only allow the consumer to ingest the “good” stuff, whatever that may be. I discussed this with a Chinese friend who has seen “bamboo mice” (which she said looked like any other mice) on the menu in Guangzhou Province. Unfortunately, at least as far as I am concerned, she never ate one and cannot tell me what they taste like (but then is not everything supposed to taste like chicken?)
     
    There are many antique English prints of old men with their feet in hot tubs of various liquids, often hot water and lemon or vinegar. One remedy, popular in London, was sitting with the feet in hot water with dirty socks. A sort of twofer; the socks get cleaner, and you get healthier. From the same era, are the prints for “patented” miracle cures containing elixirs of anything that the salesman could convince the gullible would help. Donizetti’s wonderful opera, L’Elisir d’Amore, is about a traveling fraud who sells love potions to hopeful young people. The aim is that the potion is slipped into the drink of the desired, and that she or he would fall in love with the first person thereafter that she or he sets her or his eyes upon. I put miracle cold cures in the same “bogus” category.
     
    So let us get seriously down to some of our present-day cures. Chicken soup is the most popular remedy, and there are scientific studies that report that it helps. I wonder if those same scientists ever checked out the roasted mice. Echinacea has its adherents. A friend of mine who is a very qualified doctor, swears by grapefruit juice. I quote him: “it flushes out the virus.” The fact is that we do lose water when we have a cold, either through sweating or sneezing, and any hot fluids must help loosen mucus and replace fluids. In Hong Kong, they sell Lizard Soup with the same promises as Chicken Soup, and I am assured that it works just as well.
     
    When I went to school, we had a poster in London that showed a man sneezing into his handkerchief with the caption “trap the germs – in your handkerchief.” That still makes medical sense since the cotton sheet probably limits the spread of the cold virus. Now that most of us use Kleenex tissues, we have to hope they accomplish the same goal. But the admonition to “trap the germs,” while sensible, did not indicate that the cold itself would be any less severe or its time abbreviated by this method. Currently, it is virtuous to sneeze into your elbow. But no one tells you how long thereafter you have to hold up your arm.
     
    Dr. Linus Pauling won two Nobel Prizes, and he firmly believed that massive regular doses of vitamin C would prevent the catching of the common cold. This is considered a common remedy once you actually have a cold, and sometimes the vitamin is combined with zinc, for reasons that I cannot understand. Too much vitamin C may cause kidney stones, among other unpleasant digestive problems. I have a general suspicion of too much of anything.
     
    I would like to know of the most obscure of remedies, and I would, even more, love to know of one that worked. No placebo effect but a real way to shorten the period of misery. Jayme takes Mucinex, which works for her but not for me. Nyquil puts me to sleep pleasantly (it does not have the same effect on Jayme), and that seems an acceptable way to last through the worst days of the cold. I believe it is straight alcohol in disguise.
     
    I know that we should eat vegetables, exercise, and get enough sleep. But I doubt that any of that is the secret to never getting sick. We are going to get colds. It is often said that a common cold from start to finish takes two weeks, but if you take all of the medications, it only takes 14 days. Still, I like the concept of placebos, the charm of the folk tales, and the optimism of the Chicken Soup devotees.
     
    When in doubt, I turn to the website of the Mayo Clinic. They are not sure about vitamin C or Echinacea, and they are concerned about the negative side effects of zinc. They recommend getting rest, staying hydrated, soothing sore throats with over the counter pastilles, gargling with salt water, aspirin if you are over three years of age, humidifying the air of your bedroom, and drinking hot liquids (such as Chicken Soup) to open your nasal passages. The best advice they give is to wash your hands frequently to prevent catching the cold in the first place. I can testify that does not work, and yet I continue to try and wash my hands as much as I can.
     
    Finally, maybe garlic. In The Two Thousand Year Old Man, Carl Reiner asks Mel Brooks what his secret is to living so long. Brooks, playing the man who has lived over two thousand years, replies it is garlic. “When the Angel of Death comes to my bedside to get me, I turn over and breathily say to him, ‘Yes?’ And I have eaten so much garlic that the angel can’t stand it and runs away”. Maybe worth a shot.
     
    Ronald P. Stewart
    Headmaster
    York Prep
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  • January

    York Prep’s Literary Magazine Genesis Earns Top Honors from The National Council of Teachers of English

    Congratulations to the faculty and students who worked on the 2019 edition of Genesis for receiving the top rank of REALM First Class in the 2019 National Council of Teachers of English Recognizing Excellence in Art and Literary Magazines (REALM) Program. Over 300 schools applied nationwide, and Genesis is the only publication from a school in New York City that was recognized as REALM First Class!
     
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  • York Prep High School Students Are Invited to Register for a Cultural and Biological Expedition to Costa Rica

    This June, high school students will have the chance to experience an expedition of a lifetime in Costa Rica. Highlights of the trip include cultural exchange at a local school, visiting an active volcano, zip-lining through a rainforest, soaking in natural hot springs, discovering sustainable agriculture, and more! Students who are interested can contact Ms. Pevzner for more information. The deadline to register is February 1st!
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  • A Daring Response In A Tumultous Time: On York Prep Drama Club’s production of Almost, Maine by John Cariani

    by
    John Viscardi (Full disclosure – Again, I directed the play, so…yeah)

    My favorite quote from John Cariani, the playwright of Almost, Maine, is a bit of advice he gives to all producing the play at the beginning of the hard copy. He talks about the tight rope the director and actors have to walk in making the play work. “Don’t telegraph”, he writes. “Keep the surprises alive, and…If you don’t succeed in this – then Almost, Maine will languish in corny sentimentality. And it will be bad. Because this play (and this is the part I love) is almost bad”. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty funny, as well as courageous to admit about your own play. But the point is: “corny” is tough in this day and age to pull off. And this play is about tender love in all its wonder, magic and heartache. And, that’s just not an easy sell in today’s culture.
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  • An Exciting New Feature that Highlights York Prep Musical Talent is Now Live and Available For Your Listening Pleasure!

    Earlier this year we presented you with our new state-of-the-art music lab.
    Music students have been learning how to compose, arrange, and remix music digitally throughout the year.  In an effort to better showcase these compositions, we have started a SoundCloud account for the school. 
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  • 11th-Grader, Teddy Fitzsimons, Earns a Spot on the Youth Olympics Bobsledding Team

    Congratulations to Teddy Fitzsimons for earning a spot on the Youth Olympics Bobsledding team!

    Last month, we highlighted Teddy's hard work and achievements when he won medals during the Youth Olympics qualifying races.
    We wish him the best of luck in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the Youth Olympic games will take place in January 2020.
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  • January Athlete of the Month: Top Boys Varsity Basketball Player Unique Barnes

    Unique Barnes, a sophomore boys varsity basketball guard, has been instrumental in the hoops team’s 5-2 record before the holiday break. In his latest performance, he notched 52 points in a thrilling triple-overtime contest at Little Red Schoolhouse and Elizabeth Irwin High School. He is unquestionably one of the top players in the Independent Schools Athletic League New York, and looks towards leading York Prep towards a high seed in the ISAL playoffs.
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  • Headmaster's Thoughts: January 2020

     
    Since it is now 2020 (Happy New Year!) and Jayme and I started York Prep in 1969, I was pondering on what has changed in education over these last 50 plus years. The answer is that so much has altered the way education is delivered today to high school students, along with changing attitudes about the value of such education, that any attempt to go into detail requires a book (which I do not have the qualifications or attention span to write). The other factor inhibiting a full study is that we are in the middle rather than the end of the effects of the changes that have occurred. Trying to make a statement about a process that is in the act of evolving, is not the most sensible. So, historically, some changes that have happened will have a permanent effect, while other changes that have happened may disappear and, in hindsight, be recognized as a temporary fad.
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