The Ursuline School community deeply mourns the passing of Mrs. Mary Ann Scorese Pitofsky ‘80, a beloved member of the Reading and Language Department, former science teacher, and alumna. Mrs. Pitofsky died on June 15, 2018 after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
During her years as a student at Ursuline, Mary Ann was known as a leader and athlete. After college and an early career in physical therapy, Mrs. Pitofsky found her true calling as a teacher. She joined the Ursuline science faculty in 1987 and became a respected member of the department. Over the years, Mrs. Pitofsky dispensed her scientific knowledge with competence and flair, creating interest, excitement and success in all her students. Her own love of science was evident in everything she did with and for her students. Mrs. Pitofsky instilled in her students the desire to know more, to investigate their ideas, and to develop their own curiosity about topics in science.
Mrs. Pitofsky left Ursuline in 1991 to be a full-time mom to her son, but her Ursuline story still had more chapters! She returned to the science department for a few years and then again devoted herself to her family life. During these years, Mrs. Pitofsky added to her pedagogical skills as she became versed in learning differences. In 2009, Mrs. Pitofsky again returned to Ursuline, this time as a member of the Reading and Language Development Department. She worked one-on-one with students who struggled with science, helping them feel empowered to learn with confidence and to succeed.
Mrs. Pitofsky did all of this with a sense of humor, a smile on her face, and a twinkle in her eye. Her engaging grin and infectious laughter endeared her to colleagues as well as Ursuline students who were her overriding pleasure and vocation. Her colleagues described her as a “guiding light” at Ursuline.
In recent years, Mrs. Pitofsky had been confronted with health issues but faced these challenges with optimism and perseverance. She adopted as her motto the words of St. Angela, “Do something, get moving, risk new things and stick with it, then be ready for big surprises.” At her Ursuline Reunion in 2015, Mary Ann was presented with the St. Angela Award in recognition of her devotion to Ursuline and commitment to the education of our young women.
We extend our condolences to her husband, Don, and son, Lee, as we pay tribute to the passing of an exceptional woman, teacher, and friend.
Visitation is Monday, June 18, from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m., and 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. at Leo P. Gallagher & Son Funeral Home, Greenwich, CT 06830.
The Funeral Mass is Tuesday, June 19 at 10 a.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Church, Riverside, CT 06878.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon her. Amen.
May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Spring is the time of year for NYSSMA festival competitions. NYSSMA is the New York State School Music Association. The Ursuline choirs are known for their diversity of literature and high level of performance. All three Ursuline choirs competed and earned awards.
The Middle School Choir was awarded gold. The girls sang Bora Maisha, A Kenyan song about the gift of life, Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, show choir tune, and Fire, a poem written by a teen age girl and set to song about the power of fire to destroy and build. This choir is pictured here with Music Department Chair Ms. Rosemary Kennedy.
The 51-member Junior Choir, under the direction of Dr. Jean Boehler, received gold for their Level 5 performance of Candlelight Carol by J. Rutter, Hey Nonny No! by C. Kowalski, and Take Me to the Water by R. Dilworth.
The Honors Choir, directed by Dr. Jean Boehler, earned silver for their Level 6 performance of A Clare Benediction by J. Rutter, Sing Me to Heaven - D. Gawthrop and the African American Spiritual, Ain'a that Good News arranged by Dawson.
Congratulations to golfer Caroline Hodge who was selected as the weekly winner of the Con Edison Scholar Athlete Award, a very prestigious recognition for Westchester/Putnam athletes. Caroline is the first golfer selected from the Section 1 Girls Golf program! She is the 28th Ursuline student/athlete to earn the Con Ed award. Caroline is heading to Florida State where she will be a member of the FSU golf team. We invite you to read more details in the Lohud article HERE.
Congratulations to Katie Mulligan who was named to the Section 1 Girls Lacrosse Golden Dozen! This award recognizes 12 athletes for their exceptional achievement in academics, athletics and other components such as community service.
Congratulations also to Caroline Regan who was honored with the New Rochelle City Sports Hall of Fame Scholarship, presented at City Hall.
Sports activities offer all our student/athletes the opportunity to develop individual skills and teamwork. We are proud to name the following students who achieved excellence at particular levels:
Golf: Alice Hodge, Caroline Hodge, Kali Barisano, Kristen Sohr, Geraldine Goodman
Lacrosse: Claire Fox, Caroline Regan, Kaitlin Mulligan, Shannon Yeung, Anne Woodtli
Softball: Daniela Miceli, Gabriella Gleason, Mia Martinez, Jane McCauley
Track: Jessica Dronzek in the Long Jump, Lily Flynn in the 3000m & 1500m, Sarah Flynn in the 800m, and Claire Wilson, Caitlin McLean, Lily Sheahan and Caitlin Conly in the 4 X 800 relay.
Golf: Alice Hodge, Caroline Hodge
Lacrosse: Caroline Regan
Softball: Mia Martinez
Track: Lily Flynn, Sarah Flynn
Golf: Caroline Hodge, Alice Hodge (also All -Federation)
Track: Lily Flynn finished 3rd in 1500m race.
Our golf team won their league. Caroline and Alice Hodge were members of the Section 1 team that won the State Championship for the 4th year in a row.
May 25, 2018 was a warm, sunny day as 145 Ursuline seniors processed into the Tully Family Auditorium – Gymnasium for the 121st Commencement of The Ursuline School. Principal Carol Killebrew gave a warm welcome and introduced the trustees in attendance. After Msgnr Keane gave the invocation, the seniors who are members of our Honors Choir led the singing of The Star Spangled Banner.
Valedictorian Erica Leonard spoke of the importance of failure, "In order to succeed, you are going to need to fail, and probably more than once. But it's good to fail; you learn so much more when you fail than when you succeed. Therefore, don't be afraid of failure, embrace it. As long as you stay motivated, keep dreaming big, and push through, you are guaranteed to find success one day."
As the diplomas were handed out by President Davidson, each graduate descended the stairs and the daughters of alumnae were greeted by their mothers; there were nine such special intergenerational pairs.
In the Awards and Honors portion of the program, a number of individual recognitions were acknowledged.
National Merit Finalist: Sarah Ahn
National Merit Commended Students: Juliana Cimini, Virginia McKenna, Erica Leonard
National Hispanic Recognition Program: Allegra Acevedo, Grea Palomino.
Valedictorian: Erica Leonard
Salutatorian: Juliana Cimini
Global Scholars: Mara Brockwell, Meghan Hartson, Megan Malave, Elisabeth Olsen.
In the President's Address, Eileen Davidson alluded to the Ring Day theme for this class, Superheroes, as she told them: "Just as Wonder Woman brandishes her bracelets, your ring identifies you as a member of a community of sisterhood and faith. Faith which inspires a sense of purpose and fortifies prayer - the greatest weapons of all." Mrs. Davidson reminded the graduates, "In a world where dialogue is often vitriolic, where true heroes are hard to find, where the role of women is still subject to stereotypes and limitations, use your voice."
The members of this class received offers of admission to 235 different colleges in 26 states, the District of Columbia, and three countries. They will be enrolling at 92 different colleges and universities. Seven graduates will continue their athletic careers in college. Together, this class earned over $30 million in merit scholarships. We congratulate them and wish them continued success!
On Thursday morning, May 24, 2018, members of our Advanced Placement Environmental Science class volunteered at the “Food for Others” garden in partnership with Stephen Ritz, founder of the Green Bronx Machine. Several faculty/staff joined them to prune and tie the 4,000 thriving fruit and vegetable plants that Ursuline 7th graders planted two weeks earlier.
The Farm is the Bronx's largest organic soil farm – it is under the subway, on a decommissioned city street. The food will be harvested and distributed this summer to recovering cancer patients who are food insecure. Two representatives from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center worked alongside the Ursuline students. They thanked Ursuline for making a difference for the many needy patients throughout the Bronx and New York City.
That same day, Ursuline high school students also donated and planted almost 500 sunflowers at the Food for Others Farm. The sunflowers were grown in all biology classes and Advanced Placement Environmental Science at Ursuline and transported to the Farm. There are five varieties of sunflowers which will yield plants of various heights. This will create a beautiful tapestry of sunflowers to form a border around the vegetable garden. The sunflower plants will also attract pollinators and help with phytoremediation to remove toxins from the soil.
This collaboration with Green Bronx Machine began when Stephen Ritz spoke at Ursuline on March 23, 2018. He was the keynote speaker at the school’s annual global symposium which this year focused on Global Hunger & Food Justice. His enthusiastic message of harvesting hope and changing lives really resonated with the Ursuline students, who asked to get involved.
As Stephen Ritz, says, “Si Se Puede!”
On May 9, 2018, our middle school students gathered in the Province Center chapel for our traditional May crowning and prayer service in honor of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The 7th graders shared personal reflections about the importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary in their lives. They also led the assembly in praying the Hail Mary in English as well as in the foreign languages they study - Spanish, Italian, and Latin.
As is our custom, the oldest student in the middle school placed the crown of flowers on the head of the statue of Mary. All sang joyfully "Hail Holy Queen."
In early May 2018, Ms. Iorio's 7th grade math classes were ready to learn about independent and dependent probability. Ms. Iorio judged that it was a good time to introduce Breakout EDU, an immersive learning games platform modeled after the popular "Escape the Room" concept. Breakout EDU is an engaging and entertaining way of learning concepts. It requires teamwork and emphasizing different levels of thinking and skill sets in order to solve the puzzle at hand.
The 7th grade students worked in small groups to solve math clues and open a 4-digit lock, a 3-digit lock, and a shape-and-direction lock. One clue was partially in invisible ink and could only be read by shining a flashlight on the game paper. A digital timer on the white board reminded the girls of the urgency of their task as they tried, failed, and tried again. The green team succeeded in breaking out of the box before the buzzer rang!
The Breakout EDU kits include reflection questions. After the conclusion of the game, students shared how they had unlocked the locks, revealed what was most frustrating, and described how solving these puzzles might help them solve problems in the real world. They all agreed that they would love to Breakout of more math boxes!
Ursuline President Eileen Davidson was honored on Thursday, May 3, 2018 by United Hebrew Geriatric Center at their 7th Annual Community Service Awards reception. Consistent with the mission of United Hebrew, award recipients are recognized for their dedication to enhancing the lives of those in the community. As United Hebrew CEO Rita Mabli noted, "It is easy to sit up and take notice. It is harder to stand up and take action." Ms. Mabli praised Mrs. Davidson for "perpetuating education and inspiration" and called her a "community star!"
Also honored that day were American pop artist and New Rochelle native Charles Fazzino (and the father of Ursuline alumna Heather Fazzino '07) and Jeffrey Menkes, President and CEO of Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. Congratulations to all three deserving honorees!
On May 2, 2018 we welcomed back Annie McMahon, Class of 2015, and heard her informative and inspirational talk about the importance of organ donation.
Annie was born with cystic fibrosis and received a double lung transplant. She spoke with students about the new law in New York State permitting 16 and 17 year-olds to register as organ donors.
On behalf of our Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Club and student donations from a dress down day, Annie presented a check to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We were happy to also have a guest from LiveOnNewYork join us.
The opening of this year's Art Show on May 1, 2018 began, as is tradition, with the formal induction of students into The Ursuline School Chapter of the National Art Honor Society. Then, everyone enjoyed the excellent display of art by every grade. The art works ranged from the 6th grade layered landscapes in oil pastels to 8th grade nature mandalas and Studio Art Students hanging Zentangle pinwheels for peace. We were inspired by works of digital photography, computer generated images, various drawing and painting materials, as well as clay and plaster.
Senior Art Students displayed their portfolio of works in a gallery-like setting in the Tully Family Auditorium-Gymnasium. Seniors also shared written reflections on art. "Art is transforming the strange visions we see in our minds to a piece of beauty that others can see and admire," wrote Annika Pan. Classmate Palina Saljanin shared, "Photography can capture an amazing range of love and emotions that allows me to express myself and tell a story." Senior Kerry Travers reflected on the words of Thomas Merton, "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."
We congratulate our amazing and highly talented student artists. Thank you to Art Department faculty members Ms. Mary Quartaro, Mrs. Meg LaBella, Ms. Pat DiIorio, Ms. Tara Barkovitz, and Ms. Juliana Brittis for their dedication to students throughout the year.
Congratulations to our music students and music faculty for presenting an absolutely brilliant Spring Concert on April 25, 2018! The talented Sixth Grade String Class began the evening with selections that displayed excellent rhythm and impressed us with how much they have learned in just one year. The fantastic Middle School Choir, under the direction of Music Department Chair Ms. Rosemary Kennedy, processed into the gym singing an upbeat Bora Maisha “Life is the Best Gift.” The gifted soloists featured in “Songs of a Disney Princess” received thunderous applause. They were Violet McCann-Anthony, Gianna D’Ambrosio, Devon Keane, Evelyn Gassman, and Katherine Timmons.
The middle school singers were followed by the Middle School Wind Ensemble who performed beautifully the surprisingly complex “Jasmine Flower.“ The Ninth and Eighth Grade String Class treated us to an arrangement of “Amazing Grace” which showed off their fine pizzicato and bowing skills, and highlighted soloist Mary Branley. The piece was arranged by Mr. Mark Collins, of our music faculty, who also directed each of the middle school instrumental groups.
When the Middle School yielded the stage to our high school music groups, we were ready for even more musical riches! The percussionists added a lovely touch to the Wind Ensemble’s performance of “Hedwig’s Theme” as conducted by Mr. John Benza. The wonderful Junior Choir, under the direction of Dr. Jean Boehler, offered two very different musical selections and sang both superbly. The Honors Choir, extraordinary as always, blended their voices like beautiful tapestries.
The finale of the Romeo and Juliet Overture performed by our exceptional Symphonic Orchestra began with a sweet melody, progressed to a dramatic middle section, and ended with harmonies that led us to imagine the lovers embracing as the tune played out. Notable also were the outstanding violin soloists, Olivia Ross and Geraldine Goodman. We thank our choir accompanist for the evening, Dr. Christopher Cooley. It was a splendid night!
Our Spring Dance Concert on April 26, 2018 was a wonderful program by our ballet class as well as an exciting presentation of diverse dance genres by our after-school dance clubs.
The Ballet Class presented 6 different dance works choreographed by Ms. Jenne Griffith, Ursuline’s dance instructor. The “Disney” theme was clearly expressed by the dancers’ gestures and beautiful costumes. These included graceful extensions in “Colors of the Wind,” lovely ballroom steps in “Beauty and the Beast”, and fluid hand movements in “Arabian Nights.” In the performance of “Let It Go” the older, experienced high school dancers showed their technical virtuosity, even dancing on point. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” number was exuberant. The finale was exquisite – “The Circle of Life” in which all dancers joined as the drums kept the beat.
Hats off to the club leaders for their selections of music and choreography of the dance club routines. The Hip Hop Dance Club performed two works, each with high energy as they popped and locked in unison. The Irish Step Dance Club also presented two works; the second was appropriately named “Showcase” as the dancers kept their upper bodies stiff while their feet made amazingly quick and precise movements.
Each of the other clubs delighted the audience with their aesthetics, their flexibility and strength, and their interpretations of each music style. We were thrilled to watch the Spanish Dance, Tap, Contemporary, Street Jazz and Bollywood dance clubs as well as the Choreographers’ Workshop.
Our thanks to Ms. Griffith for her dedication, imagination, and resourcefulness which made this evening incredibly special!