Fifth-Graders Sent Off with Inspiring Words


Fifth-grade students at Increase Miller, Katonah and Meadow Pond elementary schools celebrated the milestone of moving on to middle school during special ceremonies on June 22.

Before each student had an opportunity to receive a diploma and congratulations from their school’s administration, teachers and families, they were inspired by remarks from each of their principals.

At John Jay Middle School, IMES Principal Kerry Ford shared a parable about a pencil maker offering advice to a pencil before putting it in its box.

“So, fifth-graders, as you prepare for a new stage of your life, remember the valuable lessons of the pencil maker,” she said. “Make a mark, correct mistakes, value your inside, know that sharpenings will make you stronger and be your best.”

KES Principal Cristy Harris shared one of her favorite children’s books, “The Little Engine That Could,” with the school’s fifth-graders.

“You will have many new, exciting experiences and face challenges along the way as well,” she said. “Think of the ‘Little Engine That Could’ when you get to those junctures along the way, where an ‘I think I can’ attitude will help you through.”

MPES students gathered at John Jay High School heard Principal Carolann Castellano share a story called “Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean.” The story showcased that while each item mentioned in the title was faced with a similar problem, being boiled in water, each reacted differently. The carrot, which started out hardened, softened in the water, while the egg’s insides became hard. The coffee beans were transformed into a rich, delicious drink.

“‘Which are you?’ asked the mother. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?’” said Castellano.

The touching ceremonies concluded with the distribution of diplomas and nostalgic slideshows for all to enjoy.

JJMS Eighth-Graders Move Up

Eighth-graders at John Jay Middle School celebrated their successful completion of three middle school years during a moving up ceremony on June 21. The students will embark on the next phase of their educational journey as high school freshmen in September.

Following the students’ procession into the middle school gymnasium, student council officers Angelina Cerami and Stone Fenton led the Pledge of Allegiance and choir members sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “For Good from Wicked.” Principal Richard Leprine and Assistant Principal Lisa Kor welcomed the guests and addressed the eighth-graders to wish them well on an exciting new journey.  In his remarks, Leprine referenced the resilience and grit Gordie Howe and Muhammad Ali displayed in their lifetimes.

“As you move on to high school and throughout your life, I encourage you to persevere,” Leprine said. “You will also face obstacles, roadblocks and challenges. Know that within you lies the power to excel at whatever you choose to focus on. And remember also the importance of kindness and helping others along the way.”

Kor described the Class of 2020 as extraordinary and expressed how much the students have grown to mean to her. She encouraged them to follow their passions and remember the wonderful memories they’ve made in middle school and the great impact they’ve had on their teachers and school community.

Following the presentation of certificates to all eighth-graders, Leprine announced the Presidential Awards, which were granted to students who made Honor Roll for two years. At the end of the ceremony, the students were treated to a “JJMS Memories” slideshow that displayed the friendships and memories students have made over the last three years.

Seniors Take the Next Steps


John Jay High School’s Class of 2016 proudly marched into Caramoor to celebrate their last moments before becoming Katonah-Lewisboro School District alumni at the school’s 60th annual commencement on June 21.

Superintendent of Schools Andrew Selesnick told students they should be proud of the distinct John Jay voice that makes the class a special one.

“The John Jay voice is clear, confident, welcoming, warm, funny, compassionate and passionate, insightful, individual, friendly and purposeful,” he said. “Again and again, I have been impressed by the strength of your voices. It is a strength that you should not take for granted and one you must take advantage of.”

The afternoon ceremony was livened up with performances by school singing groups, including the Rolling Tones, the Noteables and the Treblemakers.

Board of Education President Marjorie Schiff noted that the end of this school year marks not only the culmination of the graduates’ four years of high school, but her four years serving on the Board.

“As I look back over the past four years, I reflected on how things have changed in our school community and how they have changed in public education, too,” she said. “I also reflected on who you have become over the past four years – the values that have been imparted to you by your families, your teachers and everyone in our school community.”

Schiff praised the students for representing the district with integrity and preparedness.

“We are hopeful that you will always value learning and you will champion education for future generations of students,” she said.

Valedictorian Georgia Crzywacz and salutatorian Ryan Kramer also shared parting words with their peers, but not before class co-presidents Gabby Dowd and Kelly MacDonald formally recognized a classmate that did not make it to graduation – Brian Conway. Dowd and MacDonald invited Conway’s parents to the stage, where they accepted a yearbook dedicated in his honor.

The duo also presented the school’s key of knowledge to the class presidents of the Class of 2017, Carter Lombardi and Steven Palmesi, who thanked the current seniors for serving as positive role models. Dowd and MacDonald said they chose to adorn the key with a miniature megaphone, representing the class’s strong voice.

Attendees additionally heard from Eleanor Fritsch, who delivered the senior class address, and from senior class advisor Thomas Rizzotti. Interim Co-principals Gil Cass and Kim Piccolino delivered a lighthearted exchange before officially recognizing the Class of 2016 for fulfilling their graduation requirements and beginning the presentation of diplomas.

“That’s all, folks!” Cass and Piccolino echoed to enthusiastic applause.

Fifth-Graders Give Back


Increase Miller Elementary School fifth-grade students rallied for a special end-of-year service project that benefited neighboring students.

The project kicked off when a group of young volunteers introduced their class service initiative at a schoolwide assembly – a school supply drive to benefit nonprofit organization Neighbors Link’s “Learning Links” program, an after-school program held at Mount Kisco Elementary School. The program offers tutorial and homework assistance to at-risk children of low income families.

Fifth-graders helped publicize the initiative by creating posters, working an information booth at the Spring Fair and collecting and organizing the donated supplies. The students set a goal of gathering a backpack, filled with supplies, for each of the program’s 84 students.

“We met our goal…and beyond!” said parent Ruthie Rosenberg, who helped oversee the drive. “We delivered the 84 backpacks to Mount Kisco Elementary School on Thursday, June 9, and they were given to the students at an end-of-year celebration on Friday.”

Enjoying the Garden’s Harvest on Salad Day


Meadow Pond Elementary School students eagerly lined up to enjoy fresh garden-to-table salads on June 10, the school’s annual Salad Day.

During their lunch periods, students enjoyed eating the vegetables that they helped plant in the school’s Learning and Growing Garden earlier in the school year. Thanks to the help of the Garden Club, the vegetables were lovingly cared for and harvested at their peak for all to enjoy on the special day. Kindergarten students pitched in by helping to make a variety of dressings that were offered at lunchtime.

Kindergartners were excited to show their peers the dressing they helped create and told their peers how delicious the salads tasted.


Kindergartners Celebrate Father's Day with Donuts


Increase Miller Elementary School kindergartners showed appreciation for their fathers and grandfathers with sweet treats and heartfelt messages during the annual "Donuts with Dad” gathering on June 9.

The students prepared a song and read from a book they had illustrated to thank their fathers for the love and care they give them every day. After the performances, the students played bingo with their fathers using a variety of words they had picked to describe them, from “amazing” to “magnificent,” “funny” and “helpful.”

“The children really prepared everything themselves,” kindergarten teacher Jennifer Noonan said. “They learned the song, they made the book and all of that is to show appreciation for their dads and show them how much they love them. They were so excited.”

During the celebration, the students and their fathers and grandfathers enjoyed donuts, fresh fruit and iced tea. They also put together puzzles, read books and spent quality time together.

“My dad is really special and I got to eat donuts with him at school,” said kindergartner Megan Venkatraman, who added that she had fun spending time with her father. “He likes donuts. He is athletic, funny, nice and always takes care of me.”



Making Math Count

John Jay Middle School’s MathCounts team represented the school well with an impressive third-place finish at the Museum of Mathematics Tri-State Area Tournament of Champions in May.

“The JJMS team of Matthew Collins, Stone Fenton, Jonathan Frantz and Raymond Zou bested 10 other schools that had won their county chapters from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut earlier this spring,” said team advisor James Egeler, a seventh-grade math teacher.

KES Bikes to School


Katonah Elementary School students recently took advantage of warm spring weather by participating in the International Bike to School Day.

The grounds of KES were flooded with helmeted students as they excitedly rode up to the building to join their peers. Students enjoyed some outdoor festivities before school started in celebration of the special event.

HS Students Work with World-Renowned Musicians

John Jay High School musicians were treated to a special concert and workshop on May 13 by Bassam Saba and April Centrone.

Saba, of Lebanon, is a musical virtuosos and acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, educator and world-renowned authority on Arabic music who has performed with many well-known Arab, western classical and western pop icons, including Yo-Yo Ma, Sting, Alicia Keys, Santana, Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones.

Centrone, who is originally from New York, is a performer, teacher and music therapist who has lived in Lebanon since 2013. For two years, she has been principal drummer and percussionist of Ziad Rahbani’s jazz band and large ensemble, performing with many great Lebanese artists. In addition, she leads a music education and therapy project, Juthoor or Project Roots Lebanon, which serves youths in refugee camps and underprivileged zones.

The two artists performed and discussed their music during their visit with about 100 JJHS students. Later, they met with a group of about 30 students for a more intimate workshop. Those students brought their instruments and learned to play a piece of Arabic music. Centrone and Saba guided the students through the piece’s unfamiliar scale and ornamentation.

The visit was underwritten by Katonah-Lewisboro ArtsALIVE! and the BOCES Arts in Education program.

MPES Encampment Celebrates Colonial Life


Meadow Pond Elementary School fourth-graders tried their hand at fire-making, tinsmithing, quill writing and more during the school’s American Revolution Encampment Day on May 11.

Students were dressed in their best colonial attire for the occasion and began the day with a march to the school’s outdoor area where six stations were set up for them to enjoy during the day. Parents and teachers led students in the different activities, which also included apple crisp making, herb medicine and planting and colonial games.

Encampment Day marked the culmination of students’ unit of learning about early colonial life.

John Jay Baseball Wins Sectional Title!

John Jay will host Section 4's Maine-Endwell on Thursday at SUNY Purchase College at 4pm.Congratulations to the John Jay Baseball team for winning its second Sectional Championship in four years with a 8-0 win over the Brewster Bears at Palisades Credit Union Park on Saturday. Ryan Bryggman earned MVP honors and Justin Drpich received the Players Player Award for their outstanding efforts.

‘Learning Celebration’ Highlights Student Achievements


John Jay Middle School sixth-graders, who are members of Team Tenacity, shared with friends, family and administrators what they’ve learned throughout the school year during the annual “Learning Celebration,” held at the school’s library on May 12.

The event featured student-created work from different academic areas, including science, math, social studies and language arts. Students set up presentation booths and spoke enthusiastically about their chosen topics and the inquiry, creativity and research that went into their projects.

“I was extremely impressed with the level of student engagement and parent enthusiasm. Everybody had the opportunity to go 'above and beyond' with a self-selected topic, covered either directly or indirectly, in his/her academic classes,” said social studies and literacy teacher Guy Amdur. “What type of learning experience can be more meaningful and satisfying than that?”

Social studies teacher Mark Grossman said the team of teachers encouraged their students to reflect on their learning and select a topic or piece of work that they were particularly proud of or found interesting. While most students chose to create a presentation that built upon the work they already completed in class, others decided to use the skills and strategies they learned throughout the year to engage in new learning for the event.

"The students sounded professional in their presentations. They were all well spoken, filled with knowledge, and enthusiastic!" said Jennifer Fattore, a math and science teacher.

Sixth-grader Josh Hiller, who studied ancient Egypt in social studies, said he chose to further research ancient Egyptian musical instruments because he was interested in the topic. In his presentation, he described eight instruments and created a multimedia presentation on his iPad that demonstrated the sound each instrument made.

Lucy Landzberg, a sixth-grader who is writing and illustrating a book about her great-great-aunt’s life in Poland during the Holocaust, presented the first chapter of her book. Through the story that’s close to her heart, Landzberg said she wanted to educate other people about an important topic and time in history. She said she also enjoyed the creative process and opportunity to further develop her writing skills.

“I loved making all the pictures and I thought it was the best writing I’ve ever done since it’s so close to me and I know the story so well,” Landzberg said. “The [Learning Celebration event] was special because I feel like all the kids should have a chance to express themselves and show what they’ve learned and what is meaningful to them.”


Katonah Elementary School’s second- through fifth-graders recently worked with international SOUL Singers as part of a three-day program.

Students worked with performers from Albania, Kenya and Malaysia during the program and learned songs and dances that they performed for the entire school, and the community.

The program was made possible through the support of the PTO and help of music teacher Michael Gelfer. At an assembly showcasing the students’ music, Assistant Principal Terrence Costin thanked the local families who hosted the singers and their manager during the program.

MS French Students Earn Gold

Several John Jay Middle School students earned recognition after volunteering to participate in the National French Contest in March.

The annual contest, sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French, invites students of French in first through 12th grade in all 50 states to take a written test to compete against students with similar educational backgrounds for prizes.

Four seventh-grade students and 11 eighth-grade students participated in 2016 Secondary Contest. One seventh-grade student placed in the top 95 percentile nationally and earned a gold medal. Two eighth-graders also placed in the 95th percentile, four placed in the 90th percentile, earning silver medals, and four additional students won bronze medals by placing in the 85th percentile nationally. In addition, several students received honorable mention.

The rankings were based on 5,201 students who took the test at the seventh-grade level and 21,791 who competed at the eighth-grade level.

“This is a really great accomplishment for [the students] to see how they rank against other French students in the country,” said JJMS French teacher Christine Haddad.

Hale Inspires at Meadow Pond

Meadow Pond Elementary School students recently welcomed award-winning author Bruce Hale to their library. Hale inspired them to reach for their dreams and never give up. The students enjoyed his entertaining presentation, which culminated with the reading of their favorite book, “Big Bad Baby.” Hale was one of two authors to visit Meadow Pond this year. The author visits are generously sponsored by the Compact Team, the Meadow Pond Library and the PTA.

County Legislator Visits KES

Katonah Elementary School’s fifth-grade students continued their study of U.S. Government with a special visitor on April 28 – Westchester County Legislator Francis Corcoran.

Leg. Corcoran was elected to the legislature in November to fill an unexpired seat. He is a graduate of John Jay High School, a Bedford resident and a former Bedford Town Board member.

During his visit, Leg. Corcoran explained the unique election process he participated in and shared that he represents a district of about 50,000 residents.

“My job is to represent the interest of all of those 50,000 people,” he said. “I represent your voice in White Plains.”

Students learned that the county legislature chamber, where the 17 representatives meet to discuss Westchester laws, holds furniture that has been used since the 1930s. Leg. Corcoran explained that a tough, but important part of the legislators’ jobs is to keep taxes as low as possible, while making sure the county is able to provide the necessary services to residents. This is an important discussion that occurs each year as the budget is formed, he shared.

“First and most importantly, we have to consider the protection of citizens,” he said. “And taxes pay for all of the services we provide.”

While Leg. Corcoran said there are many differences between county government, state government and federal government, he likened Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino to the “president” of the county. He also said each legislator is a member of multiple committees that have to review bills before they become laws. Leg. Corcoran chairs the county’s Environment and Health Committee.

While government is an important entity that serves to protect its citizens, Leg. Corcoran said, he also underscored the importance of citizen participation.

“Don’t be afraid to express your opinion in a respectful way,” he advised students. “It is important to stand up for yourself and know that your voice is heard.”

Cutler Earns First at I-SWEEEP

John Jay High School senior Zury Cutler earned a gold medal in the Energy category at the 2016 International Sustainable World (Energy, Engineering and Environment) Project competition in Houston, Texas.

Cutler competed against science research students from around the country and world in the competition and was the only New York student to earn a gold medal in the Energy category. Fellow gold medalists hailed from South Korea, China, Switzerland, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Texas.

In addition, Cutler garnered two special awards at the competition – the Korean Science Service award and the Consumer Energy Alliance award.

Cutler’s three-year-long science research program project, “A Clear Path to a Brighter Future: Creation and Characterization of an Optically Transparent Hybrid Supercapacitor and Solar Concentrator,” involved the creation of a novel deice that generates electricity and stores energy while being completely transparent.

Cutler currently has a patent pending on his technology, which can be used where sunlight is available and complete transparency is needed, such as on cellphone screens, windows, vehicles and buildings.

Sixth-Graders Immersed in Study of Middle Ages


Sixth-grade students are immersed in a multi-discipline study of the Middle Ages after participating in a kickoff program with artists-in-residence John Bromka and Sondra Bromka of Bells & Motley.

The Bromkas introduced students to music and instruments from the Middle Ages and taught them a number of dances from various regions. The program also included lessons about art, culture and etiquette like proper bowing technique.

Following the residency program, “Students will be reading ‘Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village’ by Amy Schlitz in ELA class while studying that period of history in social studies class,” said sixth-grade humanities teacher Marcia Daley-Savo. “The unit will culminate with a field trip to Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts to participate in their program ‘A Day in the Middle Ages.’”

The artist-in-residence program was funded through the generosity of the John Jay Middle School PTO, the Katonah-Lewisboro Foundation and the BOCES Arts in Education program.

HS Writers Earn National Scholastic Awards

Two John Jay High School students have received national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards honors for their contributions in the 2016 competition.

Sophomore Kaley Mamo received a Gold Medal for her flash fiction piece, “Ponte Vecchio,” while junior Ellie Prusko received a Gold Key for her novel, “Wonderfully Tragic and Terribly Great.”

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, in existence for more than 90 years, is the nation’s largest and most prestigious recognition program for teen writers. Past honorees include Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Robert Redford, Joyce Carol Oates and Lena Dunham.

Mamo and Prusko were selected as winners from thousands of students who submitted work this year.

HS Students Impress at Science Symposium


John Jay High School students shared the progress of their work during the school’s annual Science Research Symposium on April 20.

The evening began with presentations by the program’s 15 seniors, who have been conducting their research for three years. Each student, or pair, shared PowerPoint presentations with their peers, parents and other visitors and took questions from the audience about their topics, methods, findings and scientific significance.

Among the evening’s presenters was Jack Brotmann, whose project “Hemoglobin Coated Nanoparticles: A Potential Model for Pro-Inflammatory Microparticles in Circulation,” earned him recognition earlier in the year in the Intel Science Talent Search competition as a semifinalist. Read more about Brotmann’s research here.

Attendees also heard from Zury Cutler, whose project “A Clear Path to a Brighter Future: Creation and Characterization of an Optically Transparent Hybrid Supercapacitor and Solar Concentrator,” has earned many awards – including first- and second-place awards at regional 2016 competitions and a coveted spot as a finalist in the International Sustainable World (Energy, Engineering and Environment) Project competition, held in Houston, Texas, from April 26-May 1. Cutler currently has a patent pending on his technology, which can be used where sunlight is available and complete transparency is needed, such as on cellphone screens, windows, vehicles and buildings.

The evening culminated with poster presentations by all of the program participating sophomores, juniors and seniors in the cafeteria. Attendees enjoyed refreshments while browsing the posters and engaging with the students about the scope of their work.

The science research honors course is a three-year program providing John Jay High School students with the opportunity to participate in the scientific research community and engage in authentic science research of their own design.

Fifth-Graders Assume Roles as Elected Officials

Fifth-grade students at Katonah Elementary School used their knowledge of the U.S. government to take on roles as senators, representatives and even the president of the United States during a mock trial session.

Each student representative prepared a speech to share with his or her fellow delegates in favor or in opposition to a bill that would require uniforms for all public school students. They took into consideration the demographic of the state they represented in forming their argument.

“New York has a lot of crime, so [uniforms] will be a good thing,” Gerard Garofolo said in representing his state, also citing a study that showed school uniforms correlated with a decrease in assaults and vandalism.

Leo Duarte, of Washington, disagreed, stating, “School uniforms are very costly.” He also added that students’ freedom of expression can be hindered if they are unable to wear what they choose. In addition, “Ties come with most uniforms and can be very dangerous…a huge choking hazard,” he said.

The mock debate allowed students to practice their speaking and argument skills, as well as prepare for additional opportunities for hands-on learning about government; including a visit from a Westchester County legislator and a visit to the Westchester County Legislature in White Plains.

John Jay High School Principal Recommendation


HS Chamber Ensemble Performs at Farmers’ Market

Members of John Jay High School’s Chamber Ensemble performed for shoppers at the Chappaqua Farmers Market on April 16.

They collected donations during the performance to raise money for the upcoming American Cancer Society Relay for Life, as well as the school’s newly-formed Tri-M Music Honor Society. For two hours, the group played a wide range of pieces that included “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” by Mozart, “Concerto No. 5” by Bach and “Danse Macabre” by Saint-Saëns.

Students who participated in the concert include Nicholas Aoki (violin), Matthew Gomes (violin), Acadia Thielking (violin), DeeAnn Guo (viola) and Caroline Andrews (cello).

The Chamber Ensemble was well-received by both the vendors and patrons of the farmers market. The group plans to build upon its success by performing at other venues and raising money for charities in the near future.

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