As we all look back over the year of 2021, it would be nice if we could compare it to previous years. How comforting to give a detailed analysis of growth, and achievement. Sadly, 2021 will go down as a year marked by extraordinary events. We have had a pandemic such as we have never seen in our lifetimes. Thankfully, due to the miracle of vaccines, we are now seeing a slow recovery. Yet the statistics for inflation, employment, and climate control, are uniformly sad. And no one can say that the quality of life in our great city is yet back to normal.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is a National Book Award Winning novel by Sherman Alexie. Alexie tells the story of Arnold Spirit Junior, a cartoonist growing up on a Spokane Indian reservation. Through dynamic illustrations and confessional writing the reader follows Junior as he transfers from his school on the reservation to an all white school named Reardon 22 miles away. Ellen Forney illustrates this chapter with a picture showing the protagonist's perception of his new school as “an opposite '' of who he is and where he is from. Every time I teach this novel I am taken by the poignant text to self connections ninth graders form with the book. The themes of identity and displacement resonate and students even create their illustrations highlighting aspects of who they are. Instead of creating “opposites,” as the author puts it, students illustrate essential qualities of their own identities. Often they write about prior school experiences, or camp. Here 9th grader Sebastian Liceaga emulated the style of writing in the book with a colorful representation of his identity as a dual citizen.
This month, the York Prep Athletics Department is excited to announce the return of in-person basketball games! Scroll through the slideshow to catch some of the action from the Boys Varsity Basketball game against Dwight!
On a rainy Tuesday last month, Mme. Tabourin and I took student in the Cinema Club and Photography Club to a screening of Jacques Becker’s 1947 comedy, Antoine et Antoinette, at the French Institute/Alliance Française. The film was the final feature in a series called “Wes Anderson’s French Connection,” which explored the influence of French cinema on Anderson’s filmography, and particularly his latest movie, The French Dispatch. Although Antoine et Antoinette is in black and white, juniors Smith Pingree and Ander Garrido, sophomores Emily Singh, Owen Barbagallo, and George Perlman, and 6th grader Vishnu Ayyalasomayajula managed to stay awake (mostly) and even reported enjoying the film—for some, it was the oldest movie they had ever seen! As we walked back to school through Central Park discussing the film, members of the Photography Club stopped the group to snap some pictures, taking advantage of the suddenly clear autumn weather, and not wanting to miss a good photo op.
Earlier this month, the 12th grade history class Revolutionaries and Reactionaries visited the Museum of Modern Art to view the work of artist Emory Douglas. The class just finished reading Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party as part of a unit on “The Arc of Revolutionaries.” Emory Douglas is the former Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party, and was responsible for designing and publishing their newspaper. Before viewing the exhibit, which included excerpts of several of the newspapers, students watched and discussed a talk between Emory Douglas and MoMA associate curator Akili Tommasino.
Students in Mrs. Haberman’s 11th-grade AP Biology class participated in a fun and fascinating lab last week. To study the effects of osmosis, diffusion, and hypertonic, hypotonic, and isotonic solutions, they removed the shells of chicken eggs! First, they soaked them in vinegar – this was like removing the “cell wall” and keeping only the “plasma membrane.” They then soaked the eggs in different solutions to investigate the tonicity. When they put the eggs in water, they expanded, and when they put the ends in syrup, they shriveled. “The students were fascinated by this lab,” says Mrs. Haberman. “Many of them went on to independently perform their own experiments with the eggs and materials from class. It was a lot of fun!”
At York Prep, traveling 5,000 miles around the globe and 3,000 years back in time is just a half hour’s walk. On November 11, the short hike through Central Park transported Mr. Cleckley's and my 7th grade Ancient History classes, accompanied by Mr. Rosado-Gonzalez, Ms. Brinson, and Mr. Strazza, back to the Egyptian realm of the pharaohs. The group capped off their understanding of the Egyptians by entering their powerfully built tombs and temples and admiring their precision-made tools and stunning jewelry.
Earlier this month, the Community Service Club had their first service trip. Ms. Brodsky, Ms. Dorfman, and Ms. Lakin took a group of 12 students to Central Park to clean up Sheeps Meadow. Before embarking on their mission to pick up litter and beautify York Prep’s honorary green campus, the faculty advisors emphasized to the students that their actions would greatly impact the community. Ms. Brodsky said, “The kids did a great job with this and were very enthusiastic about picking up as much trash as possible! We were really impressed.”
Ms. Young’s STEAM: Design Thinking class completed their truss bridge challenge with the final task of testing their bridges. The students, from grades nine through 12, placed their bridges over a gap of 15 inches to see if they could support the weight of at least 10 textbooks for 10 seconds. How did the bridges hold up? Seniors Nate Doldron, Aaron Bacall, Harrison Metrick, and Trevor Kim designed and created the winning bridge, which supported 56 books weighing over 100 pounds! Scroll through the slideshow for more results!
Can I be the only person who does not carry a cell phone? It seems that modern society is run on the basis that one will always have a cell phone at hand.
I find that they interfere with important meetings. They go off at the wrong time, sometimes by robo-callers offering warranty extensions on cars that do not exist. Sometimes by people who want to chat and are lonely. I have sat in meetings with parents where one of their cell phones goes off, and they stand up and move to the door to take the call. Not that one of their relatives is sick or a disaster is happening, but just an ordinary business call that the rest of us have to wait through. I really do not like cell phones.
Over 50 students attended this year’s inaugural Community Service Club meeting. The faculty advisors, Ms. Brodsky, Ms. Dorfman, and Ms. Lakin, are very excited to get the ball rolling. “This year we are focusing on the community outside of York, as last year we focused more on ways in which we could help the York Prep community amidst the pandemic,” says Ms. Brodsky. “We are also planning on having monthly service days, in which members from the club will go out into the community and give back in a variety of ways- for example, helping to pick up trash in Central Park.” Nest week, the students will vote on which charity they will fundraise for this year.
This week in my 8th Grade Physical Science Class, we were learning about isotopes and radiation. Students watched a short video about the “Radium Girls” and learned how some elements give off various amounts nuclear radiation. Mr. Pijanowski then came by our class to show us a cup that is made up of 2% Uranium. This cup is harmless in such small dosages (it emits about as much radiation as you would interact with on a plane) but has some interesting properties due to the uranium! The cup glows under a blacklight, and also emits small particles. Mr. Pijanowski also brought in a Geiger-Counter, a device that measure the number of particles emitting from the glass. It was great to see some of the real-world examples of radioactive elements in action!
This month, Ms. Boyce's Chemistry 10-4 class learned and read about the current Takata Airbag Recall that is currently happening in car models around the United States. The recall is due to an inaccurate chemical combustion that is spontaneously occurring and injuring, and in some cases, killing car passengers. Her students made their own airbag models by mixing vinegar and baking soda together to see a reaction which caused the bag to inflate. Ms. Boyce said that the project was "a lot of fun and applicable to reality!"
On October 18th, seniors in Dr. Marzoni’s English 12-2 class hosted a Q&A with Harper’s contributing editor and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater creative writing professor Barrett Swanson about his essay for the magazine’s June 2021 issue, “The Anxiety of Influencers.” The essay covers Professor Swanson’s time visiting a TikTok “collab house,” Clubhouse FTB (short for “For the Boys”), in September 2020, and his experience, as he puts it, “educating the TikTok generation.” Students asked Professor Swanson to expand on some of the ideas about social media and higher education presented in the article, inquiring about the role the pandemic has played in TikTok’s rising popularity, and critiquing what they perceived as a mischaracterization of FaZe House, an incubator for e-Sports gaming. The interview was an overwhelmingly positive experience for at least one of the students, Amir Pezhmanian, who asked, immediately after the bell rang, “When can we do this again?”
Congratulations to senior William Van Der Rhoer, junioe Ben Banchik, and freshman Joseph De Simone for winning third place in this week’s Cross Country Championship Meet! What a strong finish to a great season!
Ms. Cox, Ms. Tabourin, and Ms. Umansky are delighted to announce the new staff of York Prep’s award-winning 6-12th grade literary and art magazine, Genesis! Congrats to all! "We are hard at work on choosing pieces for the upcoming issue and look forward to its publication in 2022!" says Ms. Umanksy. Click through to see the 2021-22 masthead!
Mr. Martin and Ms. Hutchison are always shaking things up in the dance studio. Students are always welcome to express themselves and have a good time, while getting some exercise in our dance classes. Click through to see some of the dancers in action this month!
The York Prep Writing Center serves as a resource for upper school students to edit and revise any variety of assignments as they receive one-on-one instruction from a York Prep faculty member. Located in room 203, the Writing Center is open during morning and afternoon Jump Start and lunch. If you’re an upper school student who needs help with an English essay, or finds yourself struggling with that History term paper, or just wants to publish a short story, come pay us a visit and we’ll get you on your way. If parents or students have any questions please contact English teacher Jon Serri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week, Mr. Viscardi’s 8th grade drama students performed monologues that they wrote, to an audience of York Prep faculty and administrators. The performance was intimately staged in the chapel room, and the students did a great job.
Ms. Fratta’s 8-1 history class has been doing a deep dive into the Puritans during the development of the New England colonies. They’ve recently finished a project on the Salem Witch Trials where the students created "Instagram accounts” for people involved during the Trials. They created profiles with photo grids on Google Slides with “posts” that further explained the person, the Witch Trials, or the Puritan beliefs. They even added a comment for each post from other people involved in the Trials.
“It was a fun project, and the students got very involved,” says Ms. Fratta.
After Mrs. Haberman’s senior honors Environmental Science classes learned about community and restoration ecology in different biomes around the world, they created comics, raps, videos, and games to explain how different species interact with their community and environment in their chosen biomes. They explored feeding relationships, energy flow, tropic levels, keystone and invasive species, and types of succession in specific ecosystems within these biomes.
Students in Ms. Young's 9th-grade STEAM: Design Thinking class were tasked with the challenge of creating a structure that spans 15 inches and can support the weight of 10 pounds for 10 seconds without breaking. They also needed to make sure that their bridges were constructed while staying within budget. Each piece of material that they used came with a fee, and the class constructed truss bridges that each designed.
Recently, English 8H students did a cross-curricular project on colors in both literature and art. The class has been reading Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes, which is about Hurricane Katrina. In the book, colors are used as symbols that represent themes such as the potential for harmless or beautiful things like a white cloud or a red heart to become deadly as well as the hope conveyed by a rainbow.
Not everything you read on the internet is true! Mr. Gordon’s eighth-grade honors history class used the historical thinking skills of sourcing (analyzing a source for credibility) and corroboration (comparing information between different sources) to determine whether a claim from the internet was accurate or not. They completed news analyses by writing fact-checking articles in the style of the fact-checking website Snopes.
Mr. Cockrell’s music students have been experimenting with a new instrument that puts an entire band in the palms of their hands! The Orba is a portable electronic device that features four different modes: drums, bass, chords, and melody. Each mode offers different variations, and musicians can tap, clap, and shake out beats and tunes with it! Students can even record their creations then play over their recordings.
On September 20th 10th-grade student, Owen Barbagallo, captured Canadian Strong Man, Kevin Fast, breaking the Guinness Book of World Record of the heaviest vehicle pulled by a person. This whole scene, which was being filmed live for the Kelly and Ryan Show, unfolded right on 67th Street and Central Park West. Oh, the things we see around campus! Click here to watch Owen's video!
Our new STEAM instructor, Ms. Young, has spearheaded a new class called STEAM: Design Thinking. This week, her 9th-grade students created their dream houses, as part of their civil engineering and architecture unit. They are learning about creative techniques that interior designers use to make spaces that fit their user’s needs!
When I was about eight years old, my father pointed out to me a headline in the London Evening Standard newspaper. It read: “Jewish Black Marketer arrested”. My father’s very valid point was that the race or religion of the culprit was irrelevant. An individual was arrested for a crime. Period! His religion had nothing to do with what he did. Or were they trying to smear a group? (No credit for the answer!)
On a warm and sunny Sunday in September, the YP Film Department headed out for a day of filming on location on the Staten Island Ferry. “This project started out as a short play written by John Viscardi (York Prep Drama Director) in 2019 that went on to win first place in a 2020 one-act play festival for a regional theater company in Middleburg, West Virginia,” says Performing Arts Chair Ms. Hutchison. After adapting it into a screenplay and filming it, the plan is to submit State of Affairs into a number of film festivals.
Anyone who enters the lobby of York Prep can now instantly get the weather forecast thanks to the new state-of-the-art weather station on our rooftop. Simply check the monitor by the elevator for the five-day forecast, current temperature, humidity, dew point, and more! You can even see a live feed from the roof.
During the first week of school, the ninth- and 10th-graders had a special outing at Ellington in the Park. Located inside of Riverside Park, the venue provided plenty of open space to enjoy lunch, play sports, and just chill out in the open air. Both students and teachers who were present had a great time! Click through to check out the fun!
Mr. Maldonado’s middle school science classes are heating up this fall with sizzling hands-on experiments. On day one, his 6th- and 7th-grade students played periodic Battleship. Can you even think of a more fun way to learn the periodic table?
Last week, York Prep students, faculty, and administration basked in the glorious fall weather in Central Park during Field Day! Spirits were high, and everyone was excited to be back after taking a break from Field Day last year due to the pandemic. Kickball, volleyball, football, Jenga, sketching, singing, and strumming were all on deck. Delicious boxed lunches were provided for all in attendance, and we ended the day with a special treat in the form of an ice cream truck that served yummy frozen desserts!
Our sixth- and seventh-grade students kicked off the school year with an exciting Maker Faire event at The Giant Room the Friday before the first day of school. They asked themselves, “How do you envision the world in 2030?" Instructors prompted them to dream and build a future they would like to see, and their ideas flowed throughout the space.
We are excited to welcome new York Prep faculty members this year! Meet Aida Bardissi, Christya Boucher, Kate Hall, Alison Kaslow, Taylor Levin, Jared Lippman, Emma Luparello, Andrea Maylath, Namrata Singh, and Lindsey Young.
“The summer before the pandemic hit I stumbled upon a film crew in Coney Island,” says art teacher and prolific painter Mr. Schwartz. “Being nosey, I asked what was filming and was told a documentary about the history of French fries. I met the director, Anthony Bourdain's tv series director named Michael Steed, and after he learned that I was the son of the man who was the manager of Nathan's in the 60's, Michael asked if I would agree to be interviewed for the film.”
Earlier this month, students voted for their 2021-22 SGO officials. Congratulations to our new President Olivia Kieffer, Vice President Nicholas Feigelson, and all of our grade representatives! Click though to see the full list of SGO members.
Have you ever had a fish hook stuck in your head? Or waited at the airport for six hours after your flight was delayed? How about getting an awful rash at an amusement park? Listen to the latest podcast from Mr. Morrisey’s podcast club to hear about these experiences as students recount them. Stay tuned for more podcasts as the podcast club evolves this year into a Scholars Program class for high school students in the fall semester and the middle school in the spring semester.
I want to welcome you all back to another school year. If you are new to the school, I wish you a very special welcome. You may occasionally read these monthly essays on our website. They go back to 2004, and can be accessed in “archives” of “Headmaster’s Thoughts”. They began as a result of a student in my senior Ethics class commenting that while they had to write essays, we, the faculty, never had to show that we could write. In effect, we had no homework to show our students. So I started writing an essay every month and now, over 200 of them later, I find I enjoy the process. In reality, some were better than others. About three years ago, Jeremy Clarke’s wife put together a book compiling 60 of them, hopefully the better ones.
Thirteen York Prep graduates from the Class of 2021, who were in Marine Biology and AP Biology, spent over a week on a trip-of-a-lifetime exploring the terrain and encountering the flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands. Accompanied by Ms. Domenicali-Shah and Mr. Ward, the students traveled by boats from island to island, hiked, and snorkeled while coming face to face with a wide array of indigenous sea and land animals.
When I was seven, I swallowed a flying insect while riding my bike. How I did that, I cannot remember. All I do remember is that I came home on a Saturday afternoon, upset that I had swallowed a fly, and concerned what the fly would do to me.
Congratulations to rising senior Nicholas Feigelson for earning the highest possible ACT composite score of 36! Fewer than half of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score. In the U.S. high school graduating class of 2020, only 5,579 out of 1.67 million students who took the ACT earned a top composite score of 36.
This is my second major pandemic experience. My first was in the great flu pandemic (the Hong Kong Flu) of the winter of 1968-69. Then, like now, the vaccine was in short supply, and initially, was only given to priority groups. Fortunately, I got the vaccine early because I was in the middle of the Kray trial, a historic one by any measure, not least in that it was the longest murder trial ever in Britain.
Those who enjoy comedy got plenty of laughs in the one-week course entitled The Great Comic Artists of the 20th Century. Along with clips of some of the actors' most hilarious scenes, the course provided brief video biographies explaining how each of the performers honed their skills and achieved their fame.
Mr. Cockrell's ninth-grade music class made upcycled musical instruments for their final projects. From can sets to banjo-guitar hybrids, the students dug deep into their imaginations and crafted sustainable creations from cereal boxes, old washers, tape, and more!
Just as we all remember where we were when the two planes hit the twin towers, so it was in mid-march of 2020 when the city started shutting down for real due to the pandemic.
Myself and my wife, Fiona Hutchison, and all our colleagues were teaching at York Prep. Things were normal, for the most part. We were in the throes of rehearsing Cabaret a year after our successful production of Chicago and we were feeling good about the prospect of opening on April 23rd.
Our students were working hard as they always do, and as we often do we recorded our dance numbers so that we could review them later and make whatever changes we thought necessary. Little did we know those videos would be the only vestige of that production.
There were whispers, rumors really, about the severity of the pandemic, but we didn’t, or couldn’t grasp, the severity of it until we were forced to shutdown the school.
We had up to that point in time a robust theater department and production track record at York having produced two main stage shows per year for nearly the past decade. Annually we had as many as 70 students in our Drama Club ranging from 6th thru 12th grade, which represented nearly 20% of our school population. So losing not just our hitherto production of Cabaret, but our dramatic way of life, was devastating to us all, and we needed a response.
And that response was a film called Ghostlight.
Set far into the future in a post-apocalyptic world, Ghostlight is a cautionary reflection of our time here on earth, inspired directly by the effects of the global pandemic and the impact it had on our performing arts community at York. It is somber insofar as it represents loss, but hopeful insofar it offers a glimpse of our spiritual longevity. It is, in the end, our love letter to the theater, and what it represented to us, as we felt it slipping away.
The Class of 2021 set sail last month for a magical night of dancing underneath the moonlight. The seniors had a blast during prom, which took place just days before graduation! Scroll through the slideshow, and catch the prom-goers, both students and faculty, dressed to the nines.
While Ms. Arnao’s 8th-grade Reading and Writing class was working on writing dialogues, they came up with some deep interview questions. After creating a full list of questions that deep dive into the lives and minds of each student, they conducted interviews with each other and wrote profiles based on their interviews. They also created this fascinating video, where you can find out everything from where the students see themselves in 10 years to who they would be reincarnated as! Learn more about Katherine Carr, Sofia Conetta, Tristan Leonard, Sam Coen, Ben Unger, James Crovitz. Watch their interview video here!
At the end of May, we celebrated our eighth-grade students with a Rising Up ceremony on the rooftop. We wish them all the best as they finish this year as middle schoolers and return next school year as high school students!
We kicked off the long Memorial Day weekend with a fun Friday in Central Park, complete with a yummy dessert truck, games, and an obstacle course we will never forget. Dean Maggiotto won the obstacle course, and had the pleasure of facilitating the grand prize of "pie-facing" Mr. Pennnington and Mr. Ward. Scroll through the slideshow to catch a glimpse of Mr. P and Mr. W in their whipped-cream masks! Thank you to Mr. Beich, Ms. Hill, and the faculty and administrators who organized such a well-deserved and enjoyable day for all the students to let out some steam after a most memorable school year!
After Mrs. Haberman's AP Biology class completed their AP exams, they got to perform fetal pig dissections. They examined the nervous and organ systems, and Mrs. Haberman says, "They students found the activity to be very exciting and educational."
Last Wednesday, York Prep hosted its 2021 Student Awards Ceremony. Broadcast live from the library, students watched from their classrooms. Following the Awards presentation, students picked up their yearbooks in the Pantherdome and had the chance to sign each other’s books. Congratulations to our students! Please click here to see the program, as well as the full list of award recipients.
Mr. Viscardi has done it again this year. He has once again created a showcase for the magnificent student film makers of York Prep with the 2021 YP Film Festival. Please click here to watch all of the films!
Congratulations to the Class of 2021 in this appropriately spaced graduation.
Can you all see each other? Good! No one can pretend this has been an easy year to be a high school student, but particularly for seniors as you were, this last year has been one of disrupted relationships, new learning methods, the fear that someone close to you will suffer from COVID, and appropriate spacing. To all of you, I want to congratulate you on your grit, how you have functioned in sub-optimal conditions, and the way you have succeeded through it. I admire you as an exceptional class; we at York will remember you well.
On Tuesday, May 4th, York Prep’s 10th graders had the honor of meeting filmmaker Randall Christopher for a question-and-answer panel on his process of creating the 2018 award-winning animated short documentary, The Driver is Red. Christopher, who Zoomed in from San Diego to conduct this “virtual field trip” for the sophomore English and history classes, was both inspiring and captivating in his presentation. The afternoon began with a screening of the documentary about the 1960 capture of Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, in Argentina. Then, Mr. Christopher joined the classes remotely, leading the students on a journey from the sketchbook to the screen about his Holocaust research and animation process.
I love teaching William Golding’s allegorical novel Lord of the Flies at the end of a school year. It is immensely gratifying listening to students apply what they have learned as readers to recognize the rich mythological and religious allusions tucked within the novel. Found poetry is a perfect format for students to creatively demonstrate their understanding of a story.
A rare charm of this year of lockdowns and thin company is the chance to read as much as I used to in college. It is fun in itself, but I have also, time and again, been struck by how differently I respond to great literature in my late 30s, as to when I read it in my late teens (I started college young in Australia and only had a few months left once I turned 20). One example is “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” by Yeats. At 17, I was convinced it justified every dumb thing I had ever done and wanted to do. Rediscovering it lately, it describes the heart of foolish waste and tragedy; perhaps not least because I lost somebody close to me, who exhibited just that kind of beautiful recklessness in the poem until it caused her needless death in a small aircraft at 33. As a father now, one who proudly declares himself “risk-adverse”, I barely remember the 17-year-old who cherished the wanton thrill of “Airman”.
Over the past several years, Barbara Murphy has served as the head of the Parents Association here at York. She has coordinated countless food and clothing drives, faculty appreciation luncheons, fundraisers, and keynote speakers. With her daughter Emily graduating this May, Barbara is stepping down from her role.
The Spring 2021 issue of The Paw is now available! This issue takes a first-hand look at how the students and community at large powered through the past five months. While it was a very challenging period of time, many powerful and meaningful developments occurred and we also witnessed new growth throughout the school and in the neighboring community. The student editors and writers adeptly wrote about topics that spanned from the POD experience at school to the polarizing subject of political discussions in the classroom. You can read these articles and more by clicking here.
Poet and author Aimee Nezhukumatathil visited Ms. Umansky’s English 10-Honors class via Zoom earlier this month to discuss her book World of Wonders. This book is her debut collection of essays about the natural world and the way its inhabitants can teach, support, and inspire us. It was also named as a New York Times Best Seller, and a Barnes & Noble 2020 Book of the Year.
During senior year, Scholars Program students choose and develop their own projects under the guidance of a member of the Scholars faculty. This faculty member guides them individually, positing lines of inquiry that might lead them to a deeper understanding of their subject. The project culminates in an oral defense and presentation of their projects before a panel of two faculty members and one student evaluator, all in the final weeks of their senior year.
This spring, freshmen and sophomores in Dr. Marzoni’s Scholars course, History of Rock & Roll, have been studying the evolution of rock and roll out of the blues, country, jazz, and folk music into a multi-billion industry and one of America’s greatest contributions to culture worldwide. Through R&B, doo-wop, rockabilly, the British Invasion, soul, funk, surf rock, psychedelia, glam, punk, metal, and beyond, students have learned to analyze each genre as a complex negotiation across lines of race, class, gender, politics, and technology, that continues to this day.
This year, York Prep’s Arts Department created Arts Month to showcase the visual and performing arts talent that is so prevalent among our student body. Arts Month kicked off with musical performances by Sophia Olsaker, 9th grade; Jayden Littlejohn, 10th grade; and Romeo Bongiovi, 11th grade.
York Prep students were treated to a very special musical performance on the rooftop last week! Mr. Cockrell’s rock band performed a lively set that included “Love Shack”, “9 to 5”, and “Valerie”. The band members are Sophia Olshaker, 9th grade; Remi Young, 10th grade; Paul Petretta, 10th grade; Jake Adair, 11th grade; Robson Matthew’s, 11th grade; Elara Kobus, 11th grade; Ben Warshavsky, 12th grade; Vera Niksic, 12th grade; Jay Sambuco, 12th grade; Nicole Rashkover, 12th grade; and Jack Flesher, 12th grade. You can watch the full performance by clicking here!
The York Prep 2021 Film Festival is now live! Click on the YP 2021 FILM FESTIVAL to watch films written by, produced by, directed by, and starring York Prep students. You can then click on the YPFF 2021 VOTING BALLOT link to vote for the best films in the following categories: Best Short Film, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Screenplay, Best Director.
Music plays such an important role in our lives. While different genres may fit into different aspects of our lives, certain genres speak to us the most. Listen to Mr. Morrissey's Podcast Scholars class talk about their favorite genres in their latest podcast "What Music Moves You?" by clicking here.
I should start this piece by stating that I have always enjoyed bicycling. I cycled to my secondary school, I cycled around Oxford when I was a student there, and I still bicycle down Hudson River Park with Jayme. But I should also add, for the record, that one of my daughters was nearly killed by a hit-and-run food delivery man on an electric bicycle, while she was crossing the road at a traffic light, which was in her favor. Three days in an induced coma, fractured skull, blood in the brain. A nightmare!
The Class of 2021 has dedicated themselves towards achieving academic excellence, and after working closely with Ms. Rooney, Mrs. Stewart, and Mr. Leventhal from the York Prep College Guidance team, they have been accepted to the following colleges. We are very proud of them and wish them all the best towards their bright futures.
Ms. Borden's eighth-grade science class combined art and science when they made posters about different types of simple machines. Their creations are bold and artistic, and would look great adorning the walls of any science classroom! Click through to see them.
Experiment Week in Mrs. Haberman’s 10th-grade Chemistry class involved a whole bunch of reactions! What kind of reactions, you ask? Just a little good old-fashioned synthesis, decomposition, combustion, single displacement, and double displacement reactions! This may sound quite exciting, but it looks even more exciting!
For the past year, as lockdown orders have found many of us watching more movies than we ever have before, a new club at York Prep has been meeting weekly to discuss classics of world cinema. A group of sophomores and juniors founded Cinema Club over a shared love of “the seventh art,” and since November, we’ve been systematically working our way through the Criterion Collection, watching films by the likes of Orson Welles, Fritz Lang, Federico Fellini, Wong Kar-wai, Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson, and Quentin Tarantino. We are actively recruiting new members, so if you love movies as much as we do, come join us on Mondays at lunch in Room 326 or email email@example.com for a Zoom link. Click through to read some capsule reviews of our charter members’ recent discoveries.
Last week, The Gilder Lehrman Institute announced that our very own history teacher, Mr. Gordon, was one of the ten winners in their inaugural American History in 100 Documents: An Innovative Curriculum Contest. The guidelines of the contest were to create a lesson plan using one or more primary source documents in American History: 1493-1945, which provides K-12 schools, universities, and institutions—including Harvard, Yale, and the Library of Congress—access to tens of thousands of rare letters, artwork, broadsides, and maps spanning six centuries of American history.
Happy Poetry Month! This past Sunday, The New York Times ran a follow-up article containing poetry inspired by Ms. Umansky's golden shovel poem. Out of he dozens of poems that were submitted from around the country, Ms. Umansky selected a few to feature. Click through to read them.
The Affinity Social Justice Club has continued to meet this semester, unpacking an array of social issues that have surfaced since the new year began. We have welcomed new members with an eagerness to share and learn from one another. Some of the topics we have addressed this semester include the inauguration and celebration of a new president, the riots at The Capitol, the COVID-19 vaccine and its disproportionate rollout, the celebration of both Black History Month and Women’s History Month, and the #stopasianhate and Black Lives Matter movements.
Countless local community groups have responded to the call from state and city governments to offer suggestions for making the police more equitable and accountable. Our school is no exception. At York “PB and J” stands for “Police Betterment and Justice.” Last summer, in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the resultant outpouring of protest, a library full of York students and teachers met to trade stories of encounters with police, propose areas of investigation, and synthesize ideas about necessary changes in law enforcement policy, training, and community engagement, toward a more equitable and less violent future.
The Community Service Club is raising money to donate to the Fund For Public Schools. The Fund is a non-profit partner to the NYC Department of Education. “The kids wanted to help out their peers in NYC who haven’t been as lucky as them to be able to have returned for in-person learning until recently,” says Community Service Club Faculty advisor Ms. Dorfman. “This is an ongoing fundraiser until the end of the year.”
All right, dear readers, let us get back to normal…the one where I get to be a curmudgeon. It has been too many months since I have been able to just complain through this wonderful vehicle of communication: my “Thoughts”. In the not so recent past, I have complained about the cost of a small bottle of water in airports ($4.08), indicated the fact that the British Royal Family are nothing but the heirs to warlords, and worried about signs over toilets in railroad cars. So let me catch up by moaning about the menus that companies make you go through, after you try a simple phone call for help.
Ms. Umansky is a regular contributor to the New York Times "At Home" section. Throughout the past year, she has presented readers with inspiration and instructions on how to create their own poetic creations. This week, she introduces us to the Golden Shovel in "Find a Headline, Write a Poem". Ms. Umansky explains that a Golden Shovel is a "poem that takes a line from another poem or text (often a Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem, but not always) and uses each word in that line as the end of a line in the poem."
Breaking news about the COVID-19 vaccine is developing constantly these days, and one of the biggest stepping stones towards getting the vaccine for many people, has been scheduling a much-coveted appointment. Enter a new website developed and run by four New York City high school sophomores, including York Prep sophomore Daniel Rosenkranz, called Vaccine Scheduling Service.
Chair of Visual Arts and Digital Arts teacher Shoshana Spencer’s photograph “Cone and Pipe” was recently accepted into the photography exhibition titled “Vision: Shadow and Light” at Black Box Gallery in Portland, OR. The exhibition will be on view from March 1st – 20th. You can view her photo, along with the rest of the exhibition here.
Since sixth grade at York Prep, I have been participating in the Italian Club and the Italian Scholars Program. In sixth grade, there was no Scholars Italian Class so we formed a club under the supervision of Ms. Rhodes and we would learn basic vocabulary. Also, we would translate sentences from Italian into English. Once Ms. Rhodes left the school, everyone was sad and heartbroken. The Italian Club turned into a Scholars class that was led by Ms. Salerno. Since participating in the Italian Club and Scholars Class, I have been conversing with my family in Italian!
The inaugural podcast, produced by the middle school Scholars Podcast class, explores a topic that is at the forefront of all of our minds these days. Mr. Morrissey asked his students to ponder what they think school will be like in 30 years. After a year of attending school during a pandemic, they have experienced the "new normal", which integrates more technology into their learning processes. They have also adjusted to new schedules. How will this experience impact the future of education? Listen to their predictions in their podcast, "What is the Future of School?" here.
Mr. Gordon’s 8th- and 10th-grade history classes just completed their semester-long research projects. The assignment was based on the National History Day competition. This year’s theme was, “Communication in History: the Key to Understanding.” Mr. Gordon gave his students the option to choose any topic relevant to U.S. history, including current events. They then developed a list of sources, compiled their research, created an outline, and drafted the final project. This year, most students wrote essays, but some students produced documentaries, exhibits, and websites.
Students who enjoy following basketball players and ruminating on how many triple-doubles Lebron James can get in his 16th season can now join the York Prep Fantasy Basketball League! It is the perfect opportunity for students to enhance their basketball knowledge and have fun! Interested students can download the ESPN fantasy app onto their phones and receive details about the league via Canvas. There will be a draft for students to choose NBA players for their teams. The objective is to build a team that can score the most points combined. The club is run by 10th-grade students Harlan Auerbach and Brett Danowitz, along with faculty advisor, Mr. Shure. Meetings will take place once a month on Zoom Click here to sign up!
In Mrs. Haberman’s 12th-grade Honors Environmental Science class, a project on Waste Management turned students into innovative entrepreneurs and green publishers! “Their assignment was to learn about up-cycling and think of a product that should be upcycled, what they would upcycle it into, and how to bring their idea to fruition,” says Mrs. Haberman. “They really impressed me with their creativity!”
Coach Turi and Coach Michael got creative and produced a fun scavenger hunt for their middle school students that involved riddles and iconic neighborhood landmarks! The students found local monuments, train stations, and even Sesame Street! Can YOU tell me how to get to Sesame Street? If not, ask our middle schoolers! Scroll through the slideshow to see some other spots that they found, as they got some fresh air and exercise.
When you dig into a chocolatey brownie or a creamy bowl of mac and cheese, do you ever think about the science behind these treats? Mrs. Haberman’s 10th-grade Honors Chemistry class recently delved into this very topic while learning about Moles and Dimensional Analysis. Her students were tasked with creating something tangible while demonstrating their knowledge.
The night after I received my first Moderna vaccine shot, I slept for nearly nine hours. There must be a correlation. I like consequences like this. In Australia, they found that eating ice cream substantially increased your chances of being bitten by a shark. In New York, the percentage of lung cancer increased for people who regularly had coffee in the mid-morning.
Last year: Attendance at York Prep’s annual Social Studies Super Bowl: 300
This year: Over 450
How is this possible? In February of each year, the York Prep Pantherdome hosts the Annual York Prep Social Studies Super Bowl, where the four Upper School classes compete to answer questions about history and geography. This year, however, as with everything in the age of COVID, things were slightly different. Safety precautions made it impractical to bring a crowd of spectators into the gym, so we decided to bring the Super Bowl to them instead. The combined wizardry of Tech Director Richard Abba and History teachers Lane Choplin and Charles Kaczynski enabled us to livestream the contest not only throughout the school building but also into the home of every remote student in the tri-state area and beyond. An additional advantage: the Middle School students could watch the show from their classrooms [and were reported to be enthusiastically shouting out answers], which has never been possible before.
The last time we caught up with York Prep alum Alexander “Sasha” Khazatsky, a little over a year ago, he had just returned from a Robotic Learning conference in Japan where he presented his paper “Contextual Imagined Goals for Self-Supervised Robotic Learning” . Since then he has maintained his prolific level of work in Artificial Intelligence research, and is currently in the running for UC Berkeley’s Class of 2021 Valedictorian!
Since sophomore year I have been involved in the Scholars Program. The program allows for students such as myself to take part in additional courses of our choosing. During first semester, I was able to participate in the course “Protest Literature” led by Dr. Davis. The course focused around novels and poems discussing injustice faced by African American and other minority groups.
Last month, we presented the Create Your Own Olympic Sport Challenge. This month, The Behind the Back Challenge is the latest installment in a series of fun physical fitness challenges brought to you by the York Prep Athletics Department. The rules are simple. Make a basket behind your back in less than 10 attempts.
Have you ever heard of a foodle? Mr. Schwartz explains it best: “Start with a food product and doodle around it to create a visual pun. His students created some very witty foodles recently via a croissant bouffant and a fruit phone! Check out the photos to see Emily Zaretsky’s old-fashioned banana phone and Olivia Kieffer’s croissant bouffant.
Ms. Haberman’s 12th-grade Honors Environmental Science class recently approached the hot-button topic of Genetically Modified Organisms, while exercising their creative muscles. Students collaborated on projects that showcased different facts and perspectives about GMOs. Ms. Haberman proclaimed, “They were so creative while demonstrating a strong understanding of the material and I am SO impressed!”
Throughout the first semester, Ms. Domenicali-Shah’s Marine Biology students explored and learned about a variety of concepts. For their midterm projects, they created multi-media presentations that explained the different facets of the marine biology topics that they learned about. From tsunamis to ocean gyres, to the effects of climate change on the ocean, and color in the ocean, each presentation was vivid and engaging, and you can see a small selection of them by clicking through for the list of project links.
Coach Nicole recently captured her 11th-grade P.E. students bowling in the dance studio. Not only was this a physical activity, but a lesson in physics as well! The students had to strategically roll a plastic ball and hit all the pins (the leading pin was a paper towel roll!) with just the right force and position. Other creative P.E. activities this year have included HIIT workouts, yoga (as seen in the slideshow), nutrition lessons, and of course, activities in Central Park. The students will soon participate in specially-designed trivia games interspersed with physical exercises!
Mr. Cockrell’s music students are on their way to becoming musical virtuosos. His high school students are conducting in-depth composition explorations, and a majority of the material is college-level! They started with the foundational principles in music, and have moved on to exploring composition via traditional harmony using chord progressions.
York Prep’s 2021 student clubs are in full swing! They are currently meeting via Zoom, and new clubs have been created to meet the growing interests and passions voiced by students. Here is the official list of active clubs, along with links to videos and flyers created by club members and advisors. Students who are interested in joining any of the clubs should reach out directly to the club advisors (Please contact Ms. Feibusch for information about the Debate Club).
I believe that these next 12 months will be a good year at York Prep! The first shot of the vaccine has been given to the medical crews, first responders, over 65s, those with certain medical conditions….and (drum roll, please) virtually all of our teachers. Our students will, therefore, be in a safer school. We hope all eligible parents and grandparents have also secured a vaccine dose.
The Winter 2021 issue of student newspaper The PAW is now available online. Click here to read about the latest issues on everyone's minds including the "new normal" education, York's bees, the relation between pine trees and our rooftop, a COVID-19 sports season, international cuisine, and how local restaurants are coping with the pandemic. Congratulations to the faculty advisors Ms.Hersh, Ms. Giebler, and Ms. Arnao, and to the writers and artists of The PAW:
Last month, the York Prep P.E. Department encouraged both students and teachers to create Olympic sports in the comfort of their own homes and outdoor surroundings. This challenge was created to keep spirits high while we were remote in December, and the results will also bring joy to anyone who watches the videos created by the students and faculty who rose to the challenge!
Mr. Marconi’s English 10-2 students read Albert Camus’s 1947 novel The Plague last quarter, and then were asked to compare the novel with their own experiences during the pandemic. Tenth-grade student, Zachary Sternchos, wrote an essay entitled “Imprisoned In My Home” in response to the prompt. His astute observations on the human condition, drawn from both Camus’ novel and the current behavioral patterns of our society during the pandemic, are incisively expressed throughout his essay. You can read his essay here.
As my ninth-grade English continues with their study of Reginald Rose’s classic play 12 Angry Men, they are learning about the complexity of law, and jury trials in particular. In the play, a minor is on trial for murder and the action begins as the jurors are dismissed to deliberate. In 2016, my wife Kassie served on the jury for a murder trial in Brooklyn. Having her speak with my students seemed like a logical extension to further introduce students to this delicate aspect of our criminal justice system, so last month, the entire class met via Zoom to hear her story.
At the beginning of the year, Ms. Hersh’s seventh-grade students demonstrated their knowledge of nouns by speaking about them on a video. It was their first use of a program called Flipgrid that they will be using throughout the year!
At York Prep, “PB and J” stands for “Police Betterment and Justice”. It’s not a club as much as a it is a community-minded political activity, prompted by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203. Last summer, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and others, and the resultant outrage and mass protest, Cuomo issued a challenge to every city and town in New York State: Gather input from your community as to the kind of policing reform they need, and write it into law by April of 2021, or risk losing your annual funding from Albany.
A pandemic was not enough to stop The Paw, York Prep’s school newspaper. Last spring when the school closed, The Paw’s intrepid reporters kept on researching and writing. And this fall, with some student reporters in school and some remote and eventually everyone online, the editorial staff continued working hard, week after week, to produce a winter issue coming out in January.
I want to wish all members of the York Community a Happy New Year. Let us wish for a better one than 2020; a future year of joy and companionship, when New York City returns to being the vibrant, exciting place it was before COVID.