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Imagine learning to speak Spanish without intimidation, without pressure, in the comfort of your own home and the chance to repeat until you spoke the words as well as you possibly could. Imagine having fun as you record yourself on your computer and play back your homework assignment as often as needed. And imagine having the chance to re-record your answers after the cat walks on the keyboard in the room where you are recording!

Sr. Brenda Buckley's students learn Spanish in this way, in addition to more traditional learning approaches. The girls use VoiceThread, a cloud application that allows the students to record themselves on their laptop as they speak, hear how they sound, and either re-record or submit to their teacher. Some conversations are created at home and then shared with their peers. Some recordings are done in class, often in teams. VoiceThread integrates well into MOODLE, our learning management system.

The girls are given questions to answer or a topic to discuss. Students in the 8th grade began their VoiceThread assignments by describing a little about themselves and their course schedule. This served as a review of grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary (such as numbers and subject names), as well as pronunciation, of course. It also allowed Sr. Brenda to assess their skills quickly.

Seniors in the Spanish 5 Honors class are creating a major research project to answer the question: What happens when cultures meet? One team is exploring the sports worlds, specifically baseball and futbol (soccer). Another team is focusing on the fusion of foods in the United States. Other groups are researching gender roles in the U.S. and Hispanic countries, music, the immigrant experience, religion and family customs.

Their early recordings on VoiceThread are descriptions of their main ideas and questions to ask their interview subjects. Sr. Brenda allocates one class period a week to work on the project. These seniors will be better prepared for college, as VoiceThread is also used at the college level, integrating with Blackboard, Sakai, Canvas, and other university learning management systems.

On October 18, we gathered to celebrate the new Technology Suite in the Sr. Anne Therese Dillen Media Arts Center, and to thank Mr. and Mrs. Richard Nasti and daughter Julia '11 for their generous re-investment in Ursuline!

This Technology Suite was initially made possible by a donation of the Nasti family in 2011 in honor of long time Ursuline art teacher Sr. Anne Therese Dillen. (pictured below with Julia) The creation of a state-of-the-art digital media arts center allowed us to increase course offerings. Courses such as Photoshop & Photography, and Digital Media Production are so popular they are now "oversubscribed."

The technology upgrades include 25 new iMacs and a new smartboard. Art students demonstrated the technology, after the formal remarks by President Eileen Davidson and Rick Nasti. We whole-heartedly thank the Nasti family for this continued support of The Ursuline School and our arts and technology programs!

Congratulations to our Varsity Tennis Team who completed an undefeated regular season, winning their 6th league title in the last 7 years! The team is again ranked #1 in the Lohud Team Girls Tennis Rankings this week.

Next is post-season play at the Conference Tournament. Good luck, Koalas.
Read more here at Lohud:

Our varsity tennis team is pictured here with Coach Andre Sinclair.

Update: October 24. In individual play at the Section 1 tournament, Keira Tobia made it to the quarterfinals while Vanessa Ciano '19 and Laina Campos '19 won the doubles for the second straight year. Now it's on to the State Championships!

Imagine if you had to choose between eating or going to school. Sophomores Victoria Limoncelli and Olivia DeLeo heard first-hand the stories of girls around the world who have to make that choice. Victoria and Olivia were fortunate to be invited to "Broadway Shines A Light on Girls' Education" hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and emceed by Stephen Colbert. Mrs. Obama spoke of "Let Girls Learn" which is a global initiative whose main goal is to educate young girls. Speakers included Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, First Lady of Malawi Dr. Gertrude Mutharika and Broadway performers from shows "The Color Purple,", "Wicked," "Waitress" and "Beautiful."

Olivia and Victoria reported on their experience at the Global Concerns Classroom meeting last week. The story that stood out to them the most was that of a young woman named Halima Roberts of Malawi. Halima was married off at the age of fifteen, and initially had to take care of her children and do household chores rather than go to school. With her husband's help, she is now continuing school but she faces yet another challenge: hunger. Fortunately, Malawi's government is currently working on new laws that will annul the marriages of young girls and allow them to go back to school to receive their well-deserved education.

All the Global Concerns Classroom students were moved by Halima's story. They talked of ways to make more people become aware of the global issue of girl's education. They also appreciated all that they, themselves, have.

This is the third year that Ursuline participates in the Global Concerns Classroom curriculum which seeks to raise awareness among U.S. youth about current international humanitarian issues and empowers young people to take action.

The first of our 2016-17 exchange programs began in September when three students from Sant Ignasi School in Barcelona, Spain joined us for two weeks. They were hosted by three Ursuline families.

The Spanish students participated in various aspects of Ursuline school life and also gave presentations in our Spanish 4H /5H classes and Italian 3H/4H classes. Their presentations in Spanish and English about their city, their school life, culture and the Catalan language sparked lively questions about the differences between cultures and languages.

They also shared ideas on education. Our girls learned that it is mandatory for the Spanish students to study three languages from a very young age and then they are given an option to choose a fourth foreign language. Very impressive. The girls afterwards shared Instagram information and plan on keeping in touch. The Spanish students commented on how encouraging and approachable the teachers are as well as noting the attentiveness of students in the classroom.

The Spanish students also enjoyed visiting NYC sights. One Barcelona student said when their plane landed at JFK, "It's just like in the movies!" Our host families took their visitors to various NYC sights including a Yankees game, a Mets game, the Bronx Zoo, and Chinatown. We look forward to our New Rochelle students visiting their Spanish sisters in Barcelona later in the year.

Last week an enthusiastic group of Class Parent Representatives, including volunteers for the Senior Gift Parent Committee, gathered for a kick-off dinner and meeting. The parents came prepared with wonderful new ideas for engaging the school community and increasing participation! President Eileen Davidson H'12 and Director of Philanthropy Cathy Fay McCarthy '84 thanked them for their commitment to the school and reviewed Annual Fund facts and figures.

The Annual Fund is the school's top fundraising priority, providing critical support to operating expenses and helping to keep tuition increases to a minimum. Annual Fund mailers will be arriving to homes in mid-October with phone-a-thons following shortly thereafter. 100% participation from Ursuline families is the goal! Every gift, regardless of size, makes a difference so please join the effort and support the students of Ursuline! We look forward to sharing stories of our student and alumnae leaders with you throughout the year.

Heartfelt thanks to the 2016-17 Class Parent Reps for their assistance. It is sure to be an outstanding year. For more information about the annual fund or to make your gift now, please visit:

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21. The United Nations has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

We marked the 2016 International Day of Peace with a special prayer service that featured prayers from many faith traditions and cultures.

The prayers were proclaimed by students and our honored guests - Rabbi Zach Sitkin of Beth El Synagogue Center, Fr. Nicholas Anctil of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Sr. Patricia Russell, OSU, Msgr Petrillo of Saints John and Paul, and from Congregation Kol Ami, Jess Lorden, Executive Director, and David Rosen, Cantor. We thank them for sharing the morning with us.

Students in our art classes created "Pinwheels for Peace" which were planted around the Peace Pole and in front of the school. This year we also created an Ursuline Hope for Peace Tree. We adorned a Japanese maple with paper labels on which many of us had written hopes for peace in colored pencil.

Principal Carol Killebrew proudly announced that Theresa Cho and Caroline Keenan have been named Semifinalists in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Competition on the basis of their outstanding PSAT/NMSQT scores!

Approximately 1.6 million students took the PSAT last year around the United States and 16,000 were named Semifinalists. These Semifinalists represent less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors and include the highest scoring entrants in each state. They now have the opportunity to compete for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring.

Caroline and Theresa are pictured with Eileen Davidson, President of The Ursuline School, and Principal Killebrew.

Ms. Killebrew also announced that 7 Ursuline seniors have been named Commended Students in this 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program. They are Zoe Anderson, Marinna Chung, Samantha DeCarlo, Kelly Fleming, Gabriella Golinski, Sarah Hillesheim, and Nwanneka Okolo.

A Letter of Commendation from the school and National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which conducts the program, has been presented by Ms. Killebrew to these scholastically talented Seniors.

The 34,000 Commended Students nationwide placed among the top 5% of all students who entered the competition. Although the Commended Students do not continue in the competition for scholarship awards, they are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise.

Five Ursuline students and faculty chaperones Ms. McDermott and Mrs. Brenlla traveled to Nicaragua this summer. Our group joined representatives from CT Quest for Peace which is the organization that we partner with each year to collect and send donations to Nicaragua.

The trip was excellent. Our group visited a home for trafficked girls, and then spent one day at an orphanage run by Teresiana Sisters. We brought more donations of clothing and other items. The young girls at the orphanage performed some traditional dances, taught our students the dances, and allowed them to wear their beautiful dresses. Then they all had lunch together.

Sunday morning the group attended Mass with the children, which was very special. Our students also had the chance to play a game of pick up soccer in front of the National Palace in Managua.

Our students gained a great deal of insight on the different ways people live in the world. We are grateful to our Nicaraguan hosts and to our trip leader, Bill Evans, from CT Quest for Peace.

Everyone knows that teachers spend part of their summers planning for the coming year. Sometimes education and training opportunities also are scheduled in the summer and a significant number of our faculty take advantage of this time to grow as educators. This, of course, benefits our students.

Ursuline annually sponsors faculty members to attend the ISTE Conference, the premier education technology conference. ISTE stands for International Society for Technology in Education. This year, four Ursuline teachers attended the conference in Denver in late June. They were Mrs. Edwinna Lucyk, Director of Technology Integration; Ms. Juliana Brittis, Technology teacher; Ms. Pat DiIorio, Art teacher; and Mrs. Mary Seiler, English teacher. These four teachers participated in workshops on wearable tech, digital storytelling, differentiated instruction, and project-based learning that connects art, computer science and engineering. They also had the opportunity to exchange ideas with other educators, enjoy powerful learning sessions and world-class keynotes.

Ms. Micceri, Science teacher, attended a workshop on Modeling Instruction in Middle School Science. It was run by STEMteachersNYC, a sub-organization of the American Modeling Teachers Association (AMTA). The workshop was 3 weeks long. The main focus of this teaching method is to have students learn about science by doing science instead of memorizing facts.

Mr. John Monacelli, Science teacher, attended the Constructing Modern Knowledge Workshop in New Hampshire in July. Mr. Monacelli had his engineering students in mind as he delved into the world of programmable sensors and micro-controllers. The hardware that provided the processing, inputs and outputs was the Hummingbird Duo Controllers which also incorporates the Arduino Leonardo. There are several different programming languages that can be used for the programming

We look forward to what each of these teachers will share with students in this next academic year!

Congratulations to Alice Rodd O'Rourke, Ursuline Class of 1972, who has been named the Chief Development Officer of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to fighting blood cancer. Alice will provide strategic direction and overall leadership for LLS's donor development initiatives, including major gifts, foundation giving, planned giving and corporate partnership.

The press release noted that she "brings extensive experience in revenue generation and organizational effectiveness. Prior to joining LLS, she served as national vice president of fundraising at the American Red Cross." Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS president and CEO said "We are thrilled to have Alice join our team as her leadership will be key to funding our mission."

The Ursuline School is one of only 32 high schools in the state of New York to be named a School of Distinction for the 2015-16 school year by the NY State Public High School Athletic Association. A school earns this distinction when 100% of its varsity sports teams achieve a 90% grade point average or higher.

Ursuline first qualified for this award in 2005 and has now earned this recognition for the 10th time. We are very proud of our student/athletes.

NYSPHSAA is a non-profit, educational service organization composed of public, parochial, and private schools dedicated to providing equitable and safe competition for the students of its member schools.

Congratulations to the varsity athletes whose work in the classroom and in competition has been outstanding!

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THE URSULINE SCHOOL   |   1354 NORTH AVENUE   |   NEW ROCHELLE, NY 10804-2192 © 2013
A Catholic, college preparatory school for girls, grades 6 through 12
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