The student-produced 2nd Annual Broadway Cabaret took over The Frank J. Auriana Theater on January 31 and February 1, 2020 to the delight of the enthusiastic audiences!
Violette Cadet ’20 was Lead Director and it was her vision that drove the production. Assisting her in several leadership roles were Ava Pallotta ’20- Staging, Olivia Cook ’22 - Music Director, Lola Milazzo ’22 - Assistant Vocal Director & Costumes, and Elizabeth Riccio ’22 - Choreographer. The cast appreciated Violette’s leadership, how she gracefully created a big community and made everyone feel included. They respected her ideas and had fun as they rehearsed diligently to stage a Broadway revue that gives back to the community; all proceeds went to benefit Sanctuary for Families, a non-profit that helps victims of domestic abuse and related forms of gender violence.
The selection of pieces reflected the focus on female roles and female perspectives. The order of pieces was thoughtful, alternating bigger musical numbers with solos. The simple staging and plain sets shone attention on the performers. Ursuline’s Honors Choir Director, Dr. Adamo, accompanied on piano.
The rousing opening number was Ex-Wives from the British pop musical Six. Each of the wives of King Henry VIII told their stories on their own terms as they sang, “Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived.” This high energy piece was followed by a lovely solo by Juliana Trombetta ‘20 singing Journey to the Past from the 1997 musical Anastasia. The lyrics recounted Anya searching for clues about her family. The next piece featured a group of Ursuline 7th graders in their Ursuline uniforms. Emphasizing the double meaning of the word “revolting” as both disgusting and revolutionary, these young performers sang Revolting Children from the 2010 musical Matilda in which students take a stand against the evil headmistress. The choreography was clever and age appropriate.
Dance was a wonderful complement to song in the piece Times are Hard for Dreamers from the 2017 musical Amelie. Lola Milazzo ’22 sang the solo of the courageous young woman who decides to explore Paris while Elizabeth Riccio ’22, in a bright red costume, danced a beautiful and effective counterpoint.
The duet We’re Not Done from the 2011 musical Bring It On was performed with a strong sense of emotion by Maya Zamor ’20 and Taryn Comizio ‘20. Set in the competitive world of cheerleading and team rivalries, one could sense the change in feelings as the two friends decided to reform their dance squad.
Violette next performed a solo as Beverly Bass, the first female captain for American Airlines who landed her plane in Gander, Newfoundland along with 37 other diverted aircraft on September 11, 2001. Me and the Sky from the Canadian musical Come From Away was a wonderful vehicle for Violette’s strong singing voice.
The first half closed with You Will Be Found from the 2016 musical Dear Evan Hansen on the universal themes of loneliness and acceptance. The second half began with The Schuyler Sisters from the popular 2015 musical Hamilton. Jenna Cain ’23, Kira Schaefer ’21, and Madeleine Cockburn ’25 were delightfully defiant and displayed excellent chemistry as they paraded around 1770s Manhattan while Alyssa McKeithan ’22 intervened in the role of Aaron Burr. Ava Pallotta ’20 performed the Alyssa Greene solo from the 2018 show The Prom. Her voice was beautiful and she was very convincing as a teen girl struggling to be who she really is, not who people want her to be.
This revue was titled a “Cabaret” so it was natural that a great dance number was included! The 1948 Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate was an excellent choice to showcase the strong technique, synchronization, and high energy of dancers Victoria Keenan ‘22, Elizabeth Riccio ‘22, and Kira Schaefer ’21. That number was followed by a well-nuanced solo by Taryn Comizio ‘20 in Holding to the Ground from the 1990 show Falsettos. Violette and Jenna Chiarella '20 then performed For Good from the 2003 musical Wicked. It was a moving number as they sang of the unlikely empathy between two witches in the Land of Oz. Next up was the iconic ballad Home from the 1975 musical The Wiz. Olivia Cook ’21 demonstrated wonderful vocal range as Dorothy thinking about what she has gained, lost and learned.
The closing number was again from Hamilton. The seniors in the production performed One Last Time, a fitting choice as the theme is the importance of knowing how to say "goodbye."
A group of students and faculty led Ursuline's fundraising efforts throughout January 2020 to provide aid to Australia amidst the devastating bushfires. These initiatives included a lunchtime "Pass the Jug in the Cafeteria" to collect donations, Footwear Day fundraiser, and a baked goods/healthy snacks/water sale.
Our collective, schoolwide fundraising raised $2,000 to help both the people and wildlife affected by the Australian bushfires. We donated to WIRES organization in New South Wales, World Wildlife Foundation, and the Australian Red Cross.
We have been in touch with our sister school, St. Ursula's College in Toowoomba, Australia and they confirmed that their students and families are safe. St. Ursula's is very grateful for this wonderful Serviam initiative. In addition, the poster signed by our school community has been mailed to St. Ursula's and will hopefully provide an uplifting message as they begin their new school year.
Support for the people of Puerto Rico has also been a focus. On January 12, 2020 four members of the Ursuline faculty and Administration - Principal Beirne, Ms. McDermott, Sr. Pat, and Ms. Tenore - joined dozens of other volunteers at AFYA Foundation to sort and pack vital materials to send to Puerto Rico following the recent devastating earthquakes. AFYA, located in Yonkers, rescues, sorts and delivers life-saving medical supplies, equipment, and humanitarian goods to help those in need around the world. A collection is going on at school during February 2020 for more supplies, and students also signed a poster with messages of encouragement.
We are proud to report that two Ursuline alumnae received recognition for their work as outstanding teachers.
Bronxville High School teacher Beth Gillin Agarabi '85 received a National Board Certification on January 8, 2020. This is the highest credential an educator can receive, after logging more than 160 hours of hard work over the course of a year.
Beth stated, "This process has humbled me to think about our roles in and out of the classroom. We, educators, possess such an integral role to affect change and move the dial towards greatness in our worlds. Teaching requires a reflective lens, but I find myself asking more meaningful questions ranging from 'Why will I teach this?' to 'How will this skill or unit impact our learners to contribute meaningfully beyond Bronxville?'" You can read more about Beth's work HERE.
Colleen Keller Chiacchere '98 received the Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality Award (St. Ignatius Award) at Creighton University on February 4, 2020. This award is given to recognize Creighton's faculty and staff who live the spirit of St. Ignatius through their participation in the mission of Creighton, and their involvements beyond university life that reflect the Ignatian ideals of Magis, Cura Personalis, and being persons for and with others. Colleen is the Director of the Magis Catholic Teacher Core within the Department of Education
Colleen, who holds an MEd and MS, said, "My time at Ursuline, particularly my religion classes, service work, Peer Ministry and the teachings of St. Angela certainly set the stage for me to be so curious and dedicated to working in Jesuit schools and being so fond of St. Ignatius." Colleen is pictured here with the president of Creighton University, Fr. Hendrickson. We invite you to read more about Colleen and her work HERE.
Our ballet students created a magical evening as they presented a Winter Dance Lecture Demonstration and performed "Sun, Moon and Stars" on January 9, 2020.
The beginning of the program was a lecture demonstration. All of the first semester ballet classes demonstrated ballet terms that they have learned and executed them technically at the ballet barre.
The second portion of the program was an interpretation of dance on the theme Sun, Moon and Stars. The dancers wore vibrant colors of yellow to match the sun, royal blue representing the stars in the blue sky, and gray to signify the moon. All of the musical selections were chosen to fluidly express how imagination and choreography interprets dance orbiting through space.
Congratulations to all the ballet students on their poise, solid technique and graceful movements. Thank you to Mrs. Jenne Griffith for excellent choreography, music selections and dance instruction.
St. Angela reminded her company of women, "Thus, from the great need we have of divine aid, we must pray always with mind and heart."
After the recent attack at the home of a Jewish family in Monsey, New York, Cardinal Dolan urged that "all people come together in a spirit of unity to reject such hatred and bigotry wherever it occurs." The increased violence in the Middle East is further reason to affirm our commitment of goodwill toward all. We also want to pray for the people of Australia, that the wildfires will cease and that there will be no further destruction and loss of life.
As a sign of our unity with those of all faiths, our Campus Minister, Sr. Pat Schifini, prepared an ecumenical prayer service. We gathered on January 7, 2020 in the Ursuline Province Center Chapel to pray for peace. We were pleased that Jess Lorden, Executive Director of Congregation Kol Ami, was able to join us.
We sang songs of peace and lit the Christ candle to remind us that Jesus is our Light who guides our feet in the way of peace. Our formal prayers included a Jewish and an Islamic prayer for peace as well as the Universal Prayer for Peace and words from Pope Francis.
In a simple and beautiful candle lighting ritual, we lit candles for peace, courage, hope and peace makers. We know that we were joined in spirit by many in our Ursuline community who are also praying for peace. We offer a download of our Prayer Service HERE.
Basketball history was made on December 21, 2019 as the Koalas defeated Albertus Magnus 63-58 and Coach Beth Wooters ‘80 earned her 600th career victory at The Ursuline School!
The historic win was achieved in the opening round of the Slam Dunk Tournament at the Westchester County Center. Sonia Citron had 26 points and 15 rebounds, Alexa Mustafaj scored 16 points, Meghan Casey contributed 11 points, and Fiona Mills had 5 points and 7 rebounds.
The Journal News reported that “Ursuline played with purpose and gave coach Beth Wooters a milestone win.” Coach Wooters said, “Getting it here, I mean, what better venue is there. And to get it playing a team like Albertus, that is the exciting thing. We really had to work to get it. I was hoping the girls didn’t know about it, but they did. It just means a lot to do it here with our friends and supporters.” More Journal News reporting is HERE.
We congratulate Coach Beth Wooters and all the players who contributed to this accomplishment over four decades!
And the basketball success continued after the 600th win. The Koalas played with intensity all weekend and won the tournament, beating Hastings 83-45 in the championship game.
Our 2019 Christmas Concert on December 18, 2019 opened with the induction of 25 new members into our chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Tri-M selection is based on scholarship, character and service, along with a high level of proficiency in music. Congratulations to the newest members of this honorary organization.
The enthusiastic Middle School Choir opened the concert in the Tully Family Auditorium - Gymnasium with four challenging pieces which they sang in four different languages: English, French, Italian and a Nigerian carol titled Betelehemu that included a rhythmic chant against a lovely melody.
The wonderful Junior Choir enchanted the audience, especially with the contemporary arrangement of The Christmas Song. The Honors Choir, as strong and melodious as always, performed a modern setting of the traditional chant Ubi Caritas; the girls sang in four-part harmony and the effect of the lush harmonies was quite breathtaking. They then sang in six different parts in the spiritual I'm Gonna Sing til the Spirit Moves in My Heart, a big challenge that came together very well.
Our instrumental groups wowed the audience with gorgeous arrangements of traditional carols as well as surprising new musical selections. The Wind Ensemble played Scenes From An Ocean Voyage in a minor key; the percussionists evoked the sea, shark and whale very persuasively. Their rendition of Away In A Manger was unexpectedly and enjoyably played calypso style!
The excellent Orchestra treated the audience to a beautiful, flowing performance of French Christmas Carols. Then, soloist Lily Desiderio played the opening notes of All Is Calm on her cello, leading the Symphony Orchestra in a beautiful performance of that piece. Flutist Magdalena DiGiorno played exquisitely to close out the performance. They certainly earned their standing ovation.
Congratulations to the Performing Arts Department for preparing such a joyous evening of music! Thank you to our Performing Arts faculty: Mrs. Rosemary Kennedy-Clarizio, Dr. Laurie Adamo, and Mr. Mark Collins.
The first Saturday in December holds a special place on The Ursuline School calendar. That is the day we host the Emily Clemente Memorial Speech and Debate Tournament. The tournament is named in honor of Emily Clemente, an Ursuline student and beloved member of the Ursuline speech and debate team more than 30 years ago. Tragically, Emily Clemente died in a car accident while still a student at Ursuline, but her memory lives on every year at Ursuline on the first Saturday in December.
This year was no different, as Ursuline hosted 125 participants from 15 schools plus coaches and judges on December 7, 2019. We were joined by former Ursuline faculty and forensics supporters Mr. Ken DeLuca and Mr. Mark Lipitz. In addition, it was an honor that one of the judges was Preet Bharara, former United States Attorney General for the Southern District of New York, pictured here with Principal Rosemary Beirne and members of our team. Ursuline teacher Mr. Paul Grisanti joined long-time Ursuline Forensics Club faculty moderator Mr. Chris Bratt as they welcomed everyone and handled the logistics.
We congratulate all student participants and recognize their hours of practice with coaches as well as students’ willingness to receive pages of critiques from the judges. These young people learn to organize their thoughts concisely when they have a 10-minute limit for a speech. Other times, they memorize poetry or prose, thereby honing their ability to speak without reading notes. Confidence builds as they deliver a dramatic or humorous interpretation of a play, or speak extemporaneously on an assigned newsworthy topic.
Ursuline’s Forensics Club is a competitive speech and debate activity, a member of the New York Catholic Forensic League (NYCFL), New York State Forensic League (NYSFL), and the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA). We offer various categories for different levels of ability, from beginner to expert. In the coming months the speech and debate team will be competing in several more local tournaments. We also compete at college tournaments if student interest and commitment merit it. And we're always looking for new members!
We are grateful and proud that Ursuline has once more received a grant from The H.W. Wilson Foundation. This new grant, in the amount of $50,000, is to provide furnishings for the Innovation Hub, a makerspace currently under construction. It is impossible to overstate our appreciation for the Foundation's support and for the impact that their generosity has on Ursuline students. A rendering of the Innovation Hub is shown here.
As of December 12, 2019, the Innovation Campaign is moving full speed ahead on both the construction and fundraising fronts. The steel beams were installed just before Thanksgiving and now steel decking is being mounted. Over $6 million of the $8.5 million goal has been raised thanks to gifts and pledges of all sizes. We invite you to read more details and see photos on our Innovation Campaign website www.tusinnovationcampaign.org.
The Ursuline School Drama Club proudly presented their fall drama, The Woman Who Came to Dinner on November 22 and 23, 2019. This comedy, based on the 1939 play The Man Who Came to Dinner, centers on a brash radio personality who is a rude house guest and tries to thwart a romance between her assistant and a local reporter, all while actresses visit from around the world.
The audience enjoyed the fine acting of the whole cast. Taryn Comizio gave a forceful performance as Sheri Whiteside, the illustrious and opinionated radio personality. Alexis Pinto was sassy yet passionate as the faithful assistant Maggie Cutler. Alexa McRedmond shined as the glamorous actress Lorraine Sheldon and her lovely solo was a highlight. Courtney McAloon was delightful as Banjo.
In our Ursuline drama tradition, we approach many styles and genres of plays over the years so that all students can experience a wide range of theatrical repertoire. This three-act comedy is a classic and heavy with dialogue. The thespians clearly had worked hard to embrace the language and references to the 1930s culture. Each line was delivered with intent. Congratulations to the cast under the direction of Edie Anne Reidy and the stage crew. Kudos also to the set designers and costume designers. Photos here are by Chris Pope of Pope Photography.
On November 13, 2019 we celebrated with five seniors and their families as these student-athletes from the Class of 2020 committed to play their sport in college.
Camryn DiCostanzo will play lacrosse at Iona College.
Grace Prince will row at Loyola Maryland.
Alexa Quirolo will play basketball at Saint Anselm College.
Kathryn Posner will swim at Franklin & Marshall.
Alice Hodge will play golf for Florida State.
Each of these student-athletes has worked hard and persevered at their sport. They also are dedicated students in engineering, advanced drawing and painting, computer graphic design, and environmental science. Some of them are members of the National Honor Society and one serves as a Student Ambassador. Congratulations to these young women and their families!
Ursuline’s second annual Model United Nations Conference, TUSMUNC II, on November 16, 2019 was another absolute success! Sixty delegates from Ursuline, Fieldston School and Maplewood Middle School debated issues around the theme “Out of the Ashes: Reconstruction after Conflict.” Delegates assumed the roles of diplomats representing countries and engaged in debate using the rules of parliamentary procedure. They prepared for the conference by writing position papers. Then, in teams they drafted resolutions and presented them in a public forum. The Ursuline middle school team, JMUN, is pictured here.
The four committees at TUSMUNC II represented fictional universes and historical situations: Ad Hoc NYC, Ragnarok – A World Aflame, Crisis in Burkina Faso - 1987, and America After the Revolution. The middle school delegates passed directives and carried motions. The NYC Committee faced a crisis when the power went out at the Empire State Building, and they elected a new mayor. The Burkina Faso 1987 Committee created a national constitution. At the Ragnarok Committee, delegates advised survivors of the apocalypse how to build a new civilization. The America After the Revolution delegates debated whether to repay debts to France.
A new, fifth group, was called Press Corps. These delegates had the chance to be journalists; they reported news from other committees while advancing their own news company.
Undersecretary General Lorelei Wolf ‘20 offered an enthusiastic welcome to delegates. She remarked on the dedication and passion of the high school Ursuline Model U.N. (“MUN”) team members who planned and ran this conference. She said, “We all decided that MUN means more to us than just meetings every Thursday and a conference here and there. It means more to us than just debating politics for the day and then going home to forget about them. To us, MUN is a way to engage as a global citizen, to exercise your creative energy and create exciting possibilities, whether it be through your interpretation of a delegation or by your choice of committee to run. Our enthusiasm truly knows no bounds. I can honestly say that I don’t know any other group of people who would spend hours helping one another research and think up solutions to, say, the crisis in Burkina Faso, for instance. But that is exactly what we do, and I am inspired daily by the commitment I see my friends pour into this club.” The high school MUN leadership team is pictured here: the Secretariat, Crisis Team, and Committee Chairs.
Lorelei introduced the keynote speaker, Alexandria Sedlak, Ursuline Class of 2014. Alex is “an Ursuline alum who not only participated in MUN for all four years of her high school career but who dedicated her life after high school to pursue the ideals fostered by her global awareness.
She attended Fordham University and helped found the college’s own Model UN club and host their first conferences (which we attended and loved!). Honing her interests, she studied public health and policies at Columbia University, and went on to law school at Hofstra University, pursuing a career in health law and human rights law. During the summer of 2018, Alex interned at the United Nations.” Alex charged the delegates to embrace the moment and realize that, as future advocates, they do have the potential to change the world. Alex is pictured here with Principal Rosemary Beirne.
Joining for the morning was Magdalen Gaynor ‘71 representing the Louise Este Bruce Foundation who has generously funded Ursuline’s Model United Nations Middle School Conference program.
Each Model U.N. conference chooses a specific charity as a fundraising focus. At TUSMUNC II, the amazing young people donated $339 to the charity Tunnels to Towers.
Learn more about this middle school conference at https://www.tusmunc.org/