April 14, 2020
Dear Ursuline School Community,
We reach out in a time of unprecedented challenges, stress and worry among those in our beloved school community. Our thoughts and prayers are with each of you, secure in the knowledge that we will emerge different, and stronger, at the end of this challenge.
As you may know, Ursuline's campus closed on March 11, 2020. Immediately, the faculty, staff and students launched the School's distance learning platform. The transition entailed incredible planning, practice and patience by Ursuline's Administration and Faculty. The School's long history of innovation and technology, coupled with the caring nature of our community, supported this effort from the very beginning. It has been a testament of Ursuline's Mission to educate, inspire, and empower young women to witness the staff's unyielding dedication to the emotional and academic well being of the students entrusted to our care during the past month.
The perseverance, flexibility and creativity of our students stands apart, once again. Each school day starts with virtual prayers which offer solace to us each. From sixth graders to seniors, students are working on complex math using Scribble Together, practicing conversational foreign language via video conferences with native speakers, and sharing art and photography from their "outdoor studios." Serviam also adapted to the current challenges, with social-distanced-collections for a local parish and the elderly at the Jeanne Jugan Nursing Home. Last week, the tradition of a school-wide Field Day continued with innovative daily competitions. This month, the Class of 2020 makes us even prouder as we join in celebrating their outstanding college results. We look forward to celebrating the Seniors in person as a community when conditions allow.
Our $8.5 million campus enhancement project (which had been ahead of its scheduled completion date of mid-October 2020) continues with an exemption from the City of New Rochelle which designated the project as "essential". All on-site workers are adhering to social distancing protocols. The sold-out Evening of Innovation gala will be postponed until Fall 2020. Nonetheless, the enthusiasm for this remarkable project remains steadfast and we look forward to the day when we can throw open the doors of this exciting new space to our students and alumnae.
As theologian Brooke Foss Wescott noted, "Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to our eyes." We conclude by extending our deepest gratitude to President Eileen Davidson, Principal Rosemary Beirne and the entire Ursuline staff. At no time is the value of an Ursuline education more evident, and we are grateful for their heroism during this turbulent time.
During this Easter season, we extend our prayers and wishes for the health and safety of all members of The Ursuline School Community. We look forward to the day we can be together again.
Ann Gillin Lefever '82
Board Chair, on behalf of The Ursuline School Board of Trustees
Congratulations to our basketball and indoor track teams who have been recognized for their outstanding performances.
On March 26, 2020 the Journal News/lohud girls Westchester/Putnam indoor Track Team All-Stars were named. Stella Gassman, Claire Wilson, Haley McLean, Daphne Banino, Alexa Grassi and Kate Nugent were named First Team in the 4x800 relay. Casey Conroy was named to the Second Team in the triple jump. Daphne Banino was also named to the Second Team in the 1500 and received Honorable Mention in the 1,000 meters. Congratulations to each of these student-athletes! Full reporting by lohud is at https://twitter.com/lohudsports/status/1243133615166361602
Meanwhile, several basketball honors were announced. The team started the season at No. 1 and ended in the top spot as well in the final Journal News/lohud girls basketball rankings of the season. They dominated their opponents, earned a 24-0 record and won a Gold Ball. Sonia Citron and Alexa Mustafaj were both named to the Journal News/lohud Westchester/Putnam All-Star First team . Also recognized were teammates Meghan Casey and Alexa Quirolo, who received honorable mention. https://twitter.com/lohudhoopsmbd/status/1244610010174369794
The well-deserved honors kept coming for Sonia Citron. On March 30, 2020 Sonia was named Lohud Sports Player of the Year! Read more about Sonia at https://www.lohud.com/story/sports/high-school/lohud-girls-basketball/2020/03/30/ursuline-sonia-citron-girls-basketball-player-year/5081781002/
Sonia also received MaxPreps All American Honorable Mention for the 2019-20 Basketball Season. MaxPreps recognizes the top 50 high school girls basketball players in America. https://bit.ly/CitronHMAllAmerican
During this time of campus closure, students and teachers still have the desire to volunteer and help the community, although it is more challenging to do so in a safe and healthy manner. Nevertheless, here are a few examples of our school community doing its best to live out our motto of Serviam, I will serve.
On March 17, 2020 four members of the Ursuline chapter of Teenangels participated in Put Kids 1st, a livestreamed global summit originally planned to be held at Princeton University. The summit addressed crimes against children online and digitally-facilitated crimes against children. Presenters included leading law enforcement experts, mental health professionals, industry leaders, families, innovators, cybersafety professionals and policy experts. Our Teenangels joined Parry Aftab, a cybersafety and cyberlaw pioneer, to discuss protecting young people from the risks and realities of sexting and sexual exploitation online. Teenangels are volunteers who have been specially trained in all aspects of online safety, privacy and security.
In a different activity, on March 21, Ursuline families and friends donated non-perishables and made monetary donations to restock the pantry at St. Peter's – St. Denis Parish in Yonkers, which helps 380 families in need. We suggested families that may be out at the supermarket could stop by our school parking lot to drop off non-perishables. We did not suggest that families come out of their homes to come to Ursuline. Principal Rosemary Beirne was pleased to be able to bring groceries.
Still another collection was completed. Before the school closed, we had begun a Lenten drive to collect toiletries for the Jeanne Jugan Nursing Home in the Bronx. The Little Sisters of the Poor had asked us to collect personal care items such as mouth wash, shampoo, and soap to aid in the care of their residents. Sr. Pat Schifini, our campus minister, and President Eileen Davidson organized the items in bags outside, for delivery to the residents at the nursing home.
At the direction of Governor Cuomo, we joined other New York schools in closing our school building as of March 11, 2020 to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Although this situation is not something we wished for, we respect that the health experts are doing what they believe best for the safety of our community.
We are now conducting distance learning. Because Ursuline already had integrated technology in a systemic and cohesive way, the transition to distance learning has been rapid. We closed the school building on Wednesday, March 11th and began distance learning on Thursday, March 12th.
What does distance learning look like? It is not students sitting at a computer for 6 hours straight. It is a creative combination of live video conferencing, various software platforms, students completing work offline at their own pace within a given timeframe, reading, hands-on projects, and independent study.
Mrs LaBella's Photoshop and Photography Classes viewed a presentation on the work of photographer Annie Leibovitz, best known for her expressive portraits. Then students created their own expressive portraits over several days.
The Italian 2, 3, and 4 students joined their teachers and facetimed with a businesswoman from Rome, a teacher in Milano, an IT person in Rome, and students from Naples. Our students practiced their conversational Italian and also gained knowledge about life in Italy. They each shared their experiences with the current situation in Italy, how Italians are coping, and how they may be changed as people. Our students prepared questions ahead of time and translated the interview for one another. They loved the class and found it relevant and interesting.
Lauren and her classmates in Mrs. Boselli's Spanish 4 class used Google Meet to read the play "El Delantal Blanco" by Chilean author Sergio Vodanovic. The play shows the socio-political reality in the author's home country.
Maggie '20 practiced her Engineering skills outside of class time, as she and her father cut, sanded and began to prime a table.
AP Painting & Drawing and Advanced Drawing student Mary '20 took advantage of the nice weather and gained inspiration in her "outdoor studio".
Our long-time learning management system, MOODLE, has many interactive learning features that now support distance learning. Math teacher Ms. Wolff created lesson screencasts and posted them on her MOODLE class page for her students to watch. Spanish teacher Sr. Brenda Buckley and Religious Studies teacher Ms. Smyth, and many others, are creating online lessons by finding videos and in some cases interspersing the video with questions using Edpuzzle. Edpuzzle keeps track of whether or not the student watches the video, it grades the answers to questions and because it is integrated with MOODLE, puts the grade in the MOODLE gradebook automatically.
Distance learning is not without its challenges such as the absence of the school community, distractions inherent in a home environment, and anxiety about the current health situation. We have discovered that starting the day with our Daily Prayer brings a sense of community and familiarity. Rather than hear the Daily Prayer over the P.A. system, students are creating short videos of daily prayers that are emailed to students and teachers. We are also posting the Daily Prayer on our school homepage.
We congratulate Jeanette Gisbert, MPA who has been named the new Executive Director of Volunteer New York! effective July 6, 2020.
Ms. Gisbert has been serving as Volunteer New York!'s Deputy Executive Director and currently is an Executive Fellow for Capacity Building and Affiliate Network with Points of Light global network, a ten-month fellowship program. She will return to Volunteer New York! at the end of June 2020. Volunteer New York! mobilizes over 26,000 volunteers annually and serves more than 500 nonprofits in three New York counties.
Jeanette Gisbert is a 1994 graduate of The Ursuline School. She stated, "I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be able to make a difference in the community that I was born and raised in. At Ursuline, I was introduced to the Serviam mission and throughout my career I've had the privilege of seeing the magic that happens when people get off the sidelines and engage in community. We are so lucky to have an organization like Volunteer New York! in our community. I'm looking forward to continuing to elevate its work so that everyone knows how to connect to a community need."
Volunteer New York! Issued a Press Release that describes Jeanette's local roots, important contribution, and the vital work of this organization:
"Gisbert, a first-generation Cuban-American, is a resident of Cortlandt Manor, New York, with over 20 years' experience in the nonprofit sector. She was born and raised in Westchester County less than 5 miles from the where Volunteer New York!'s main office is located in Tarrytown and is a proud alumna of The Ursuline School in New Rochelle. Gisbert is an engaged community member: graduate of Leadership Westchester (2009), selected as a Rising Star by the Business Council of Westchester (2012), and honored for her community leadership by the Westchester Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (2016). Gisbert is a member of Impact100 Westchester and active with the PTA at Lincoln Titus Elementary School and for Boy Scouts Pack 144.
In her early career as an accountant for KPMG in Boston, Gisbert was attracted to the nonprofit sector "because I wanted to make a contribution to the world." She joined AmeriCorps VISTA in 1999. "AmeriCorps validated my desire to have a career in the nonprofit community. It solidified for me the power of volunteerism and the magic that happens when individuals say yes to volunteering and the connections and relationships that develop."
Gisbert earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the Wallace E. Carroll School of Management, Boston College; and a Masters degree in Public Administration from the School of Public Affairs, Baruch College.
Valerie Mason Cunningham, Chair of Volunteer New York! said that the board, with [the input of current Executive Director Alisa H. Kesten,] has been preparing for the leadership change for over two years. "Members created a detailed action plan and conducted a strategic search for the best candidate, and know they've made the right decision," she said. "We are very excited and confident that Jeanette will take us to the next level as we continue to thrive and grow. Her stellar record, competence, and belief in the power of volunteerism are tremendous assets. And her passion to help build a better future for all is absolutely contagious. Jeanette has been instrumental in helping to transform this remarkable organization."
Gisbert assumed the role of Deputy Executive Director at Volunteer New York! in 2015 after having served for the five previous years as its Senior Director of Volunteer and Corporate Engagement. She joined Volunteer New York! in 2010 after a seven-year stint at New York Cares, New York City's largest volunteer connector organization, where she served as that organization's first Director of Volunteer Relations and was responsible for the recruitment and management of thousands of volunteers and hundreds of volunteer leaders.
As the first ever Executive Fellow for Points of Light as its Executive Fellow for Capacity Building and Affiliate Network, Gisbert is bringing great perspective as an affiliate leader. Points of Light is a global nonprofit with the mission to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action.
Natalye Paquin, Points of Light CEO and President commented that "Jeanette's leadership as an executive fellow at Points of Light has made our enterprise stronger while helping us develop a deeper connection with our Global Network. She set the bar high as our first executive fellow and we are so glad she will remain connected with us as she brings her talents back to the Volunteer New York! Family."
This year, Volunteer New York! will celebrate its 70th anniversary (1950-2020) with a series of extraordinary initiatives, while it continues to produce the highly regarded programs and new and expanded events for which the organization is well known.
Volunteer New York!'s core mission is to inspire, mobilize, and equip individuals and groups to take positive action to address pressing challenges, support nonprofits and strengthen the quality of life throughout Westchester, Rockland and Putnam. The organization encourages adults to serve, youth to build character, families to bond, young professionals to lead, mature adults to share their wisdom, and businesses to support our community. In 2019, Volunteer New York! inspired more than 26,000 volunteers who helped contribute over 275,000 hours of service to 500 local nonprofits at a value of over $8.7 million to the community."
Photo courtesy of Volunteer New York!
Congratulations to Sonia Citron ’21 who was named the 2019-20 Gatorade New York Girls Basketball Player of the Year on March 6, 2020.
This award distinguishes Sonia as New York’s best high school girls basketball player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year award to be announced in March, she joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Maya Moore (2005-06 Collins Hill High School, Ga.), Rashanda McCants (2004-05, Asheville High School, N.C.), Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central High School, Ill.), Diana Taurasi (1998-99 & 1999-00, Don Antonio Lugo High School, Calif.), Shyra Ely (1999-00, Ben Davis High School, Ind.), Katie Smith (1991-92, Logan High School, Ohio) and Lisa Leslie (1988-89, Morningside High School, Calif.).
The 6-foot-1 junior guard led the Koalas to a 22-0 record and the sectional semifinals at the time of her selection. Sonia averaged 23.5 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 3.1 assists through 22 games. A Second Team All-State selection as a sophomore, Citron is an All Section 1 honoree and led the USA Basketball U16 Women’s National Team to a gold medal at the 2019 FIBA Americas Championship.
“Citron is a complete player in every sense of the word,” said Michael Blanco, head coach at Scarsdale High. “She can play any position and guard any position. She can score on every part of the court and handle the ball. She always defends the top player on the opposing team.”
This award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Sonia, a junior, has maintained a weighted 4.83 GPA in the classroom. Over and above her rigorous academic schedule, Sonia participates in many activities at Ursuline including an after school club, Warm Hands Warm Hearts, that prepares a meal each month for 100 clients at a local soup kitchen. Her unassuming yet warm presence is noticed and admired by the other girls and everyone within her company.
Sonia also, importantly, stands out as a humble, generous and genuinely kind young woman who exudes confidence and compassion. She is a leader on and off the court. She instills confidence in her teammates which elevates the enjoyment of the game for players and fans alike.
Ursuline basketball coach Beth Wooters says, "Sonia receiving the Gatorade New York State Player of the Year award is a tremendous honor and is well deserved, especially as a junior. Sonia's basketball abilities are just one aspect of her. She is an outstanding student and is an active member of her school community. I am just thrilled that she has been recognized with this amazing award."
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track and field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. From the 12 national winners, one male and one female athlete are each named Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year. In all, 607 athletes are honored each year.
Sonia Citron joins Gatorade New York Girls Basketball Players of the Year Celeste Taylor (2018-19, Long Island Lutheran High School), Emily Engstler (2017-18, St. Francis Preparatory School), Andra Espinoza-Hunter (2016-17, Ossining High School), Dominique Toussaint (2015-16, Christ the King High School), Lauren Brozoski (2014-15, Long Island Lutheran High School), and Sierra Calhoun (2013-14, Christ the King High School) as athletes who have won the basketball award since its inception in 2007.
As a part of Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Sonia has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of her choosing. She is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year.
Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.
Photos here by Chris Pope of Christopher Pope Photography.
Ms. Geller was pleased to welcome Katie Limoncelli '10 on March 5, 2020 to speak to her Constitutional Law classes and Psychology class. Katie has earned a B.A. in Psychology from Wellesley College and an M.A. in Criminal Justice from Boston University. She is now working on her Ph.D. at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Drawing on that training and her experience in both psychology and criminal justice, Katie talked to students about forensics populations, especially those chronically underserved.
She gave students a sense of the work involved as a researcher in prisons, the difference between punishment and rehabilitation models of imprisonment, and the classic theories of crime which overlap with psychology.
Students were interested in the issues surrounding juvenile justice and the treatment of mental illness. They were intrigued to hear that TV shows portray the criminal justice system very inaccurately.
Katie also mentioned her work with the Vera Institute of Justice which is making an effort to make prisons more humane for young adult offenders.
We appreciate that our alumnae return to Ursuline to share their wisdom and experience with current students. Thank you, Katie!
On February 27, 2020, we continued our year-long Global Education focus on Girls Access to Education. The 9th and 10th grade students learned about the global obstacles that girls face around the world in order to gain an education. They then watched the 2016 CNN documentary “We Will Rise” which shares the stories of young women living in Morocco and Liberia, persevering as they overcame incredible odds to gain an education.
The 11th and 12th grade students welcomed guest speakers Br. Jack Rathschmidt and the Honorable Patricia Buchanan of the African Women's Education Fund (AWEF) and also Ms. Nana Fosu-Randall, founder of Voices of African Mothers. AWEF is rooted in the belief that the best way to fight poverty in the developing world is by educating women. The organization supports the educational needs of women in Angola, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Founder of Voices of African Mothers, Nana Fosu-Randall saw much suffering during her service with the United Nations and believes that the alternative to war is the promotion of peace and a better understanding among all people. Nana established VAM Girls Academy in her home country of Ghana to educate and improve the lives of women and girls.
Our students were inspired by the dedication of these global change makers, and students acknowledged how grateful they are to attend Ursuline. After hearing their inspiring stories of starting schools against all odds to educate young women who went on to become doctors, scientists, and other professionals, our girls stood up and asked, "What can we do to help?" They want to become junior ambassadors, raising money and awareness for education for girls in Africa and around the world.
While the human right to an education can often be taken for granted, through our year-long look at education equity for women and girls we empower our students to advocate for themselves and girls around the world.
Forty-two members of The Ursuline School Honors Choir left for Italy on February 14, 2020 and returned to America a week later transformed by the cultural and spiritual experience.
Dr. Laurie Adamo, Director of the Honors Choir, reflected that there were many strong memories created on the trip. She shared a few of the highlights: “The moment we sang the first few notes of "Adoramus Te” in St. Peter’s Basillica and the look on all of our faces as the resonance of their beautiful voices echoed praises to God; receiving a blessing from Pope Francis on a private rooftop garden; taking in all of the sights of the Eternal City and learning from our incredible tour guide Elisabeth; singing in the amphitheater in Pompei that had been buried by the Vesuvius’ 79AD eruption; meeting with and singing for the nuns at the Ursuline Generalate and really getting to know them over pizza and sodas; climbing the Scala Santa on our knees, bringing us closer to the suffering of our Lord; seeing the 30 brave girls taking a two mile walk with me to find the only open Gelateria on a Sunday evening and singing for the store owner as he happily waited on them; dancing, singing and sharing their favorite moments with everyone at our farewell dinner.“
In addition to the choir trip, the week of February break ten students and two teachers spent a week exploring the artistic and cultural hub that is Florence, Italy, and several ancient walled cities in the surrounding Tuscan countryside.
Faculty chaperone Ms. Bacich described this Italian Immersion as follows: “We started off our stay experiencing the melodic sounds of evening vespers sung in Gregorian Chant at the central Cathedral or “Duomo” in Florence, followed by a Mass in the massive Medieval structure. After breakfasting on cappuccinos and brioche at our pensione that overlooked a piazza in the cobblestoned streets of central Florence, the students headed out for a few hours of full-immersion Italian lessons taught by native professors at the Leonardo da Vinci School located in the historical center of Florence.
Each day was punctuated by delicious meals of local fare: panini, pizza, pasta and gnocchi. We even visited a family owned “farm to table” restaurant where we were served freshly baked bread and homemade pasta. The girls enjoyed a Tuscan cooking lesson on their last evening and were able to feast on the food they helped prepare.
The local gastronomy wasn’t our only pleasure! We also feasted our eyes on the works of Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raffaello and other Renaissance masters in the Accademia Museum and Uffizi Gallery. Each student prepared and presented her favorite work of art to the rest of the group while touring the Gallery.
My favorite excursion was a day trip to the city of San Gimignano, a Medieval jewel nestled high in the Tuscan hills, known for stone towers and exquisite walls. Later, that same day we traveled to the stunning city of Siena with its unique scalloped piazza and the Basilica of San Domenico that houses the relics of St. Catherine of Siena. Inside the church, the girls lit candles and offered prayers on their journey to this grand woman of faith and doctor of the Church. Their prayers worked! We all made it back safe and sound with a little bit of jetlag, a lot of souvenirs and plenty of memories.”
Our students’ and faculty’s safety and well-being are always of paramount importance. This year, the Coronavirus outbreak in China prompted a review of travel precautions for every traveler anywhere in the world. We have been closely monitoring the occurrence of Coronavirus since the start of 2020 to assure that we are doing everything possible to keep our travelers and our entire school community safe. We have been in touch with the Centers for Disease Control and the New York State health department regularly and continue to follow their guidelines. We have also reached out to infectious disease specialists and take all necessary actions in order to keep our school community as healthy and safe as possible.
Thank you to artist Leah Tinari who inspired us with her visit on February 13, 2020. She shared from her extensive experience in fine art, commercial art and fashion.
Ms. Tinari spoke to students about her love of painting at an early age, the years of study, and long hours on projects. She echoed our growth mindset messages as she candidly told students, "To be good at something, you really have to work at it. " She described the creative process of first painting portraits in gouache, adding splashes of luminescence and then hand stenciling words around the portrait. The portraits have been published in two books, "Presidents" and "Limitless: 24 Remarkable American Women of Vision, Grit, and Guts."
The inspiration for "Limitless" came after Ms. Tinari realized that in her first book there were no females; she felt it important for children to have women role models from a variety of backgrounds and fields. "Limitless" honors the groundbreaking achievements and incredible impact of 24 extraordinary women and the impact they have had on society, with courage, perseverance, brilliance and passion being at the core of each woman's success. The book aligns with the Ursuline mission of encouraging students to see their potential as limitless and the ability they possess to be change makers.
Ms. Tinari also spent time with the AP Art & Design class, answering questions as well as providing invaluable feedback on student art works.
Ms. Tinari and her work have been featured in many notable publications such as The New Yorker, The Fashion of the Times, Manhattan Magazine, and Elle. Her commercial work includes campaigns with Nike and American Express as well as collaborations with Bergdorf Goodman and Uniqlo. She and her work have also been featured on the Rachael Ray Show, CBS This Morning and Inside Edition.
We were pleased to welcome Ms. Ifeoma Ike who spoke to our school assembly on February 4, 2020. She is an attorney, professor and entrepreneur who has dedicated her career to justice, advocacy and policy. A New Jersey native, Ms. Ike is a first generation Nigerian American. She has worked in government in both the United States Congress and the Mayors Office of New York. She has also worked in the non-profit world, for example on the Innocence Project where she helped write laws to protect innocent people from wrongly being incarcerated. In addition to advocating for equity and equality, she is a professor at Lehman College, teaching both political science and African American history.
Ms. Ike began her presentation by asking us to consider why Black History Month is important. She noted that history is a complicated struggle and all marginalized communities – whether, for example, women/girls or immigrant communities – ask what can be accomplished in the midst of their struggle?
She pointed out that the celebration of black history started as one week in February because the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas are in February. She then suggested we think of February as a month of liberation and freedom.
Along that theme, Ms. Ike invited us to celebrate black history from a number of perspectives. In her thoughtful presentation, she suggested we can:
> celebrate black liberators such as Harriet Taubman;
> celebrate the fight for education, such as the marches for integration;
> celebrate black brave artists, including pianist and singer Nina Simone;
> celebrate movements such as the Black Wall Street in Oklahoma in the early 1900s;
> celebrate hidden figures such as Henrietta Lacks; and
> celebrate black youth.
At the conclusion of her presentation, Ms. Ike encouraged students especially to “see yourselves as powerful. We all have a part to play, just like the youth who came before us.” We should not be fighting each other based on orientation or skin color, she said. “We should fight for each other! All are welcome in society.”
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."