We were delighted to host a panel of collegiate athletic personnel on April 16, 2018. The panel was moderated by our own Ms. Roper, Ursuline's Director of College & Academic Guidance. Panelists discussed college athletic opportunities available - NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA, NJCAA. The college panelists described eligibility requirements, recruiting terminology, as well as rules for coaches and colleges.
Equally important was the information about the services and support student-athletes receive - academic support, leadership, community service, career planning and networking.
This event helped student-athletes and their families be aware of all of the resources and opportunities -- and process and procedures to follow - in order to continue careers as student-athletes at the collegiate level.
We thank Ms. Alyssa Gates, Marist College, Director of Student-Athlete Enhancement; Ms. Marianne Reilly, Manhattan College, Director of Athletics and Mr. William Aloia, Manhattan College, Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance & Life Skills.
The Ursuline School Drama Club was certainly "All in This Together" performing the energetic stage version of the 2006 Disney film "High School Musical." Alexa McRedmond and Owen McKinney, as Gabriella and Troy, were great romantic leads. Their vocal harmonies and their immediate chemistry drew in the audience. Amanda Moss delivered a compelling portrayal of Sharpay, the musical theater diva with a sassy attitude. Sharpay's twin brother, Ryan, was played by CJ Cotza, who brought an earnest and sympathetic quality to the character.
Meghan Hartson, as Gabriella's friend, Taylor, who is president of the scholastic decathlon, sang with her characteristic emotion and excellent phrasing. Olivia Ross was outstanding in her portrayal of Ms. Darbus, East High's eccentric homeroom and drama teacher. Caralyn Fitzpatrick captured the creativity and quirkiness of Kelsi, the aspiring composer.
Edie Anne Reidy's direction was sharp and well-paced. One highlight of the excellent choreography was during the song "Get'cha Head in the Game" when the basketball team members adeptly synchronized their basketballs. The cheerleaders, led by dance captain Jennifer Nunez, expertly performed cartwheels and encouraged the crowd. Michael Ficocelli's musical direction supported the strong vocal solos throughout. The costumes very clearly expressed the qualities of the different high school cliques which are central to the story.
It was evident that the whole cast was totally committed, and the heart of the show really came through. Just as dedicated was the Tech and Stage Crew under the direction of Pat Schifini, OSU. Shout outs to Morgan Blank, Jules Leone, Grace Smyth, Ariana Guzman, Danielle Clifford Johnson, Gianna Gerbasi, Isabella Gerbasi, Victoria Gerbasi, Jenna Kriegel, Kaitlyn Wertlieb, Morgan Wertlieb, and Katherine Mehler.
Congratulations to the entire cast and crew on three thoroughly entertaining performances on April 12 -14, 2018 that were whole-heartedly enjoyed by the large audiences. Thank you, Chris Pope of Chris Pope Photography, for the beautiful photos.
On April 11, 2018 we celebrated with six more members of the Class of 2018 who have committed to continue their athletic careers next year in college. Congratulations to the following student/athletes:
Jessica Dronzek will attend U Mass Amherst where she will be competing on the Women's Track and Field Team.
Paige Furano will attend Bucknell where she committed to be a member of the Women's Water Polo team.
Julia Longo will attend Villanova where she will be a member of the Women's Rowing team.
Kelly Morrissey will attend Princeton where she will be a member of the Women's Rowing team.
Caroline Pagano will attend the University of Mary Washington where she will be a member of the Women's Lacrosse team.
Caroline Regan will attend Gettysburg College where she will be a member of the Women's Lacrosse team.
The signing ceremony was attended by friends and family members along with members of The Ursuline School Administration, Athletic Department, Coaches and Staff. We recognize that the opportunity to take this next step in college is the result of years of commitment by the girls and their families.
These students join two others who committed to college athletics last November. Caroline Hodge will play golf at Florida State University and Elizabeth O'Hagan will play lacrosse at Belmont Abbey.
The Ursuline School is extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of all our student/athletes. These students prove themselves to be leaders both in and out of the classroom and athletic arena.
We were thrilled on March 23, 2018 to welcome Stephen Ritz and his enthusiastic message of harvesting hope and changing lives! Mr. Ritz was the keynote speaker for the 2018 Global Education & Serviam Symposium in our year-long exploration of the topic of Global Hunger & Food Justice. We learned how he and his students have dramatically improved academic performance and transformed their South Bronx community from the poorest Congressional district in America to reclaimed neighborhoods with garden rooftops.
It all started by growing plants in his classroom. Then, students put plants on a wall, creating beauty and utility, and giving birth to the first edible classroom in America! Next, in window-less classrooms, students figured out how to use LED lighting to provide the light that plants require. Thus, a simple science activity grew into project-based learning.
As students experimented more and identified additional needs, Mr. Ritz and his students began to take over abandoned buildings in the Bronx and plant nutritious green spaces. They set up rooftop gardens and built green rooms. Then, they began installing landscapes in Westchester County as well as in the Hamptons. The students earned an hourly wage for this work, and learned the skills of entrepreneurship as well as the importance of service. They provided food for their school cafeterias, donated produce to school families and made financial donations to homeless shelters, tsunami victims, and medical groups. Growing plants created environmental and social justice solutions in this unlikely place in the South Bronx.
Since greening his curriculum, Mr. Ritz has seen near-perfect attendance and graduation rates, dramatically increased passing rates on state exams, and behavioral incidents slashed in half. Other communities, states and countries have looked to Stephen Ritz and the Green Bronx Machine for advice and inspiration. Mr. Ritz's TEDx Manhattan Talk boasts over 1 million views and is used for teacher training / workforce development globally. Mr. Ritz has been a Delegate at WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education), he has spoken at the United Nations, and he consulted for Fortune 500 companies. He wrote The Power of a Plant: A Teacher's Odyssey to Grow Healthy Minds and Schools which tells how one idea germinated into a movement and changed students' lives.
Ursuline students were inspired by this presentation and eager to get involved. Plans are underway to partner with this organization on valuable projects to alleviate hunger locally and to raise awareness. Mr. Ritz thanked students for their service initiatives and challenged them to dream big, be entrepreneurial, and take responsibility! Si, se puede!
Students in Ms. Geller's AP U.S. Government & Politics class are studying the election process from an analytical perspective as well as experiential. The analytical and creative work centered on teams of girls designing campaign posters for fictional characters running for President in 2020. The candidates were Captain America, Mulan, Shrek, Elle Woods, and Puss n' Boots.
Drawing on the fictional background and values of each character, as portrayed in film or TV, each campaign team determined the party affiliation of their fictional candidate as well as their political platform, endorsements, and even a relevant scandal that could threaten the campaign. Imagination was evident in the completed posters which, for example, boasted an endorsement of Elle Woods by fitness celebrity Brooke Windham, hinted at the scandal of Captain America's sword containing vibranium stolen from Wakanda, and proclaimed Shrek's slogan: You can't spell "Progress" without "ogre."
These same students took action by hosting the League of Women Voters at school so that any student aged 18 had the chance to register to vote. We thank the representatives of the League of Women Voters for their visit to Ursuline.
As this class studies both the political process and government, these students joined the Constitutional Law class on March 13, 2018 for a livestream about the First Amendment. The livestream was organized by the Newseum in Washington, DC. Featured speaker was Mary Beth Tinker, a plaintiff in the landmark 1969 Supreme Court case that defined constitutional rights of students. Ms. Tinker answered questions tweeted by students; our young women were thrilled to hear our school name announced when one of their questions was chosen for discussion. In a soft-spoken, thoughtful manner, Ms. Tinker described how she had been encouraged in the 1960s by the Birmingham children. She spoke about the importance of having a voice to benefit everyone, and also educated students about the limitations on the First Amendment.
Our year-long exploration of Global Hunger & Food Justice continued on March 14, 2018 when, as part of this year’s two-part Global Education & Serviam Symposium, we were delighted to host two Forbes "30 Under 30" social entrepreneurs who lead innovative organizations that tackle hunger.
Rachel Sumekh, co-founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger, described how the organization partners with college campuses nationwide to end student hunger. Across the country, 1 in 5 students regularly skip meals, having to prioritize the other costs associated with college. The organization was founded in 2009 by a few students at UCLA who went into the dining hall, used their meal cards to take away some sandwiches and then delivered them around town. The team then partnered with UCLA Dining Services.
Today, volunteers on college campuses invite students to donate their excess meals/dollars via a swipe machine that directly withdraws the funds from students' accounts. Donated meal swipes are converted into meal vouchers for students in need. Food insecure college students are the key demographic. Donated meal swipes are also used to buy bulk produce or provide direct financial support to the campus pantry. The Swipes team also partners with a local, off-campus food distribution program or shelter.
Swipe Out Hunger has been recognized by The White House, Forbes, The Case Foundation, and other influencers as a benchmark for positive change on America's college campuses and an emerging leader in the non-profit field of hunger awareness and alleviation. As of January 2018, they have 36 chapters with representation from 18 different states.
Robert Lee, co-founder and CEO of Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, shared with Ursuline students how his nonprofit connects restaurants, volunteers, and food shelters digitally to get excess food to those who need it.
Robert asked students to imagine finishing a delicious meal at a lovely restaurant and then learning that 40% of food is thrown away. Yet, at a homeless shelter 15 minutes away, people are hungry. In fact, 1 in 7 people rely on food assistance.
Robert left his job at JP Morgan to co-found this venture in 2013 in NYC. Rescuing Leftover Cuisine has partnered with more than 30 local restaurants and markets to secure food donations, and built a volunteer network of more than 1,400 people to hand-deliver donations to homeless shelters across the city. They, like other such organizations, make volunteering simple and painless. It takes a minute to sign up on the app and get access to a calendar of food rescue tasks, pick convenient ones and download complete instructions. The organization now operates in 16 cities.
Both speakers noted the importance of finding a champion at a potential partnering college or restaurant. We thank both speakers for kicking-off the 5th annual Symposium with their powerful stories and for inspiring our students as they explore new ways to live out the Ursuline motto of Serviam.
Many students and faculty at The Ursuline School joined countless Catholic, independent, and public schools across the country in the National School Walkout at 10 a.m. on March 14, 2018.
It was a prayerful action to honor the Parkland victims, as well as to promote national awareness of school safety and prevention of school violence.
In line with the Ursuline mission to empower the girls to think and act, a planning committee of students took the lead in organizing the details of this walkout. Participation was optional. The student planning committee was overseen by members of administration/counseling who are sensitive to inclusion, voluntary actions, and awareness of people's feelings.
At the walkout, the student planning committee offered a prayer for all students who have perished in school violence and all those affected by those tragedies. The group stood in respectful silence for 17 minutes. Then, students spoke aloud the names of each of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The walkout ended with the Prayer of St. Francis.
All photos here were taken by members of the student planning committee.
Congratulations to junior Lily Flynn who won a State Championship on March 3, 2018 in the 1000m at the New York Public High School Athletic Association Indoor Track State Championship, the 1st Indoor Track State Championship in school history!
Lily's time of 2:45.38 is not only a school record but is also the second fastest time ever run by a high school girl in the state of New York, and the fastest time run by a high school girl this year in the United States.
This performance also places Lily among the most elite runners in the United States, as she has run the sixth fastest 1000m ever by a high school girl in the U.S.
Lily is also the NYS Federation Champion in the 1000m!
Lily made another trip to the award stand at the State Championships when she joined with her twin Sarah Flynn, junior Lily Sheahan and sophomore Claire Wilson for a sixth place finish in the 4x800m relay and they earned All-State.
We invite you to see a post-race interview of Lily at Mile Split NY by clicking on the link here:
All Ursuline art students interact with actual works of art in museums and galleries. Thus, in February 2018, the Advanced Drawing and Painting classes, together with Art Department Chair Ms. Quartaro, went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art specifically to view the Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman & Designer exhibition.
Student artists spent time sketching in the galleries. In addition to the Michelangelo exhibit, the girls also explored the galleries of European Painting, Contemporary Art, and Impressionism to see up close the works of masters such as Rubens and Degas. They also took in the David Hockney retrospective.
The following month, each student chose a master artist to apprentice with, which meant studying their technique and creating a series of studies in that master artist's style. Finally, each girl created her own masterpieces.
Ms. Micceri's 8th grade Earth Science students learned about earthquakes through a variety of hands-on group projects. The end result was a deeper understanding of scientific concepts as well as practicing critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving and the scientific method called argument-driven inquiry.
One class undertook the Seismic Safe Structure Project. Through readings, class discussions, and analysis of pictures of real bridges, the students determined common features that made the structures sturdy. Then, the girls designed the tallest model building they could, out of 50 mini marshmallows and 100 toothpicks. Their design had to include at least one square and one triangle and stand at least two toothpicks tall. Their structures then had to withstand a 30-second jello shake test.
This project may sound simple. However, at each stage, the girls had to think critically about their design and the implications of their placement of materials. The girls had to agree as a team on their structure and describe to classmates why they chose that design. They tested their design and they wrote a reflection on how they could improve their structure.
Another class researched whether hydrofracking in Oklahoma has influenced the occurrence of earthquakes there. Students collected and analyzed graphs of oil production data and maps of earthquake locations. They decided on a conclusion and wrote their evidence on small whiteboards. Then, in the spirit of argument-driven inquiry (ADI), they conducted peer reviews of each other's presentations. Students loved working in the way that real scientists do.
In a third class session, the 8th graders used the magnetic elements of littleBits to build earthquake shakers. Then, they ran a simple experiment that they had designed in order to test how properties of different objects can affect their ability to withstand the earthquake.
Thank you to IBM and to Ursuline trustee Liz Healy '94, IBM partner and VP, for hosting our computer science students at the IBM offices in NYC on February 8, 2018.
This was the third annual visit by Ursuline students to the IBM Watson Global Headquarters.
Our students were thrilled to learn from industry leaders about the transformative technology called blockchain, which offers parties in a business network a secure, synchronized record of transactions, thus addressing potential of fraud or errors.
Another session focused on IBM's Watson and its cognitive capabilities. The girls discussed with IBM executives how cognitive computing allows people to find insights locked away in volumes of data, rather than simply mathematically precise answers. They explored how Watson mirrors some of the key cognitive capabilities of human expertise, at massive speed and scale, to help human experts make better evidence-based decisions. Our Koalas Who Code club looks forward to working with IBM on a chatbot.
Ursuline students also enjoyed a lunch panel with female leaders in the field of technology, hearing from IBM's finest what a career in technology involves.
Service is a core motto of our school, and students were keen to find out how IBM makes an impact on current community needs; IBM executives shared about P-TECH, a bridge from public high school to college and careers, developed in partnership between IBM and CUNY.
We were thrilled to host Juliette Jeffers on February 7, 2018 and her one woman show, "Pan Gyul – The life of a Trinidadian steel pan player."
Ms. Jeffers is an actor, producer, and teaching artist with experience on stage and screen. Wearing a colorful tunic, she recounted a story of a young woman who secretly learns to play a steel pan drum which was originally only played by men.
She wove in background information on slavery and the importance of the drum, which she played occasionally during the performance. She also infused her performance with humor.
After the performance, Ms. Jeffers spoke to the student assembly about the themes of equality, determination, and innovation.
Students appreciated how Ms. Jeffers related those themes to her work experiences in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, where she has had roles in television shows such as Grey's Anatomy.
She invited students to share their experiences as well and the girls responded enthusiastically.