As Reported by Freshman Stella Banino '20
Over two days in April 2017, at the Fordham Model UN Conference, the Ursuline Model United Nations Team battled contemporary problems such as world health, the rights of women and children, and the role of major corporations in solving world issues. The focus of the conference was the Sustainable Development Goals, 17 goals the United Nations set to try to reach by 2030.
These goals include gender equality, access to education, and ensured safety for animals both above and below water. A refugee simulation during the second day showed the struggles that refugees face.
By the end of the conference, Zika had been cured, rights of many marginalized groups had been ensured, and access to clean water had been increased. At the closing ceremonies, the Ursuline team dominated, winning an award in every single committee. Congratulations are due to Elizabeth Olsen, Best Delegate of the Fortune 500 Committee; Lorelei Wolf, Best Delegate of the World Health Organization; Payton Bartz, Best Delegate of the Social Humanitarian Committee, and Stella Banino, Outstanding Delegate of the United Nations Security Council. After a long weekend of debating, running in heels, and solving world issues, the 11 delegates headed home, looking forward to the next conference.
For the first time, 13 of our 7th grade students formed a mock trial team and are taking part in the 20th Annual Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition in the Bronx in May-June 2017. In the first round, they were designated as either defense or prosecution and competed against 32 schools from NYC and Westchester. Under the supervision of faculty moderator Mr. Pierce Wade and the dedicated coaching of parent volunteers Lisa Citarella, Keira and Len Gordon, Matt McCauley, and Linda and Rob Rafferty, the team has spent hours in preparation for the competition. They worked to craft every part of the girls' performance: opening and closing statements, witness testimony, and objections.
The first round of competition was on May 10, 2017. A second round will be scheduled soon. The finals will be judged by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
The purpose of the Mock Trial Program is to provide middle school students with a positive introduction to the judicial system and expose them to role models and careers in the law. During the competitions, actual judges preside over the mock trials, and court officers and stenographers staff the courtrooms. We especially thank the parents who have spent hours preparing the girls for this exceptional opportunity.
Student participants are Ava Basciano, Anna Brody, Caroline Brody, Jacqueline DiSanto, Maggie Gordon, Mackenzie Handler, Brennan Hickey, Rory Keane, Ella Mbanefo, Emma McCauley, Logan Rafferty, Rory Sibley, and Diamond Spence with Juniors Emma Gordon and Winnie Ryan assisting. The team is pictured above with Judge Elizabeth Taylor, Coordinator of the Thurgood Marshall Junior Mock Trial Program. Our girls conducted themselves with the utmost respect toward their judges and competitors while doing their best to win their respective cases, and we could not be prouder of them. Good luck in the next round!
Congratulations to Natalia Matar '19 and Sophia Thomas '19 and the Teen Leadership Committee that was awarded the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital Leadership Committee Youth Volunteer Award. The Teen Leadership Committee is a group of 13 Westchester County teens who meet regularly, raise funds and increase awareness for the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, a member of the WMCHealth Network.
These girls and boys hosted various high school fundraisers, volunteered at hospital events and on-site with teen patients, and held holiday toy drives. Their main fundraiser was an annual teen party held in January at LIFE in Ardsley, NY. Attended by over 400 high school students from the Hudson Valley, Connecticut and Long Island, the event has raised $30,000 for Child Life over the past two years. This service experience taught them not only leadership, financial, fundraising, and team skills but, more importantly, illustrated how a small group working together can help others, in this case, sick children.
Their award was presented by Michael D. Israel, President of the Westchester Medical Center Healthcare Network (10 hospitals) and by Dr. Michael H. Gewitz, Physician-In-Chief of the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital.
Congratulations also to Alicia McMillan '18 who received the 2017 J.R. Tesone Youth Public Health Service Award from the Westchester County Board of Health. This award is presented annually to a student who exemplifies the highest level of commitment and distinguished public health service to the community in the past year. Alicia raised money and worked with SOUL RYEDERS, a cancer care group in Port Chester, to create personalized care packages for children with cancer. She filled the packages with blankets and toys to help the children through their difficult times.
As reported at hudsonvalleynewsnetwork.com, Westchester County Board of Health president R. Steven Nakashima presented the award to Alicia for her compassionate care and advocacy for children affected by cancer. "Tapping her family's contacts, Alicia held a tea party, karaoke and cocktail party fundraiser and raised more than $8,500 for several cancer-related charities. SOUL RYEDERS continues to offer the kits to families.
"Not only has Alicia helped on a personal level, but her kits will benefit children for years to come," Nakashima said. "Alicia demonstrated compassion and generosity far beyond her years and leveraged her community connections to make her Kids Care Kits a reality. Her efforts are a shining example of how young people can make a difference."
We invite you to see photos and read the full report at hudsonvalleynewsnetwork.com
Jane Singman '18 has taken on the cause of helping Syrian refugees. We all have read about the continuing war raging in Syria that is causing thousands of people to flee. Catholic Near East Welfare Association ("CNEWA"), through its regional office in the Middle East, is working with local churches, religious sisters and priests to help refugees such as the Syrians. Jane and six other Westchester students created Relief United, a sub-charity of CNEWA, to raise both money and awareness for the plight of Syrian refugees.
One event they hosted was a musical evening at Kingsland Point Park in Sleepy Hollow, NY, on April 28. The event, called Project Syria Live, featured food trucks, activities, celebrity guest speakers, and live performances from talented artists, some of whom have been on NBC's "The Voice." As reported at thehudsonindependent.com/project-syria-live/, Relief United "has been working closely with the Sleepy Hollow Board of Trustees and has created an advisory group of an additional 30 high school students representing 10 additional schools, including Sleepy Hollow High School, to help share information on the mission of Relief United and this special evening. "Our goal is really to unite all the youth and energy in Westchester behind a fantastic cause to help our brothers and sisters in Syria who need it most."
Jane has been joined by a group of Ursuline student volunteers who spread the word and support this cause. Volunteers include Juniors Quinn Hogan, Allegra Acevedo, Mara Brockwell, Nicole Caiazzo, Kim Caserta, Juliana Cirillo, Tess Eagens, Rory Hagstrom, Annika Pan, and Kaleena Perez.
Jane and the other co-founders have been recognized for their leadership and dedication at a gala in New York City, on Channel 12 News, and in the press. We invite you to read more in Catholic New York's online issue HERE and in the
Middle school parents appreciated the informative evening on April 27, 2017 hosted by our Personal Development Department. We showed the documentary "Screenagers" about the impact of technology on adolescents. Then guest speaker Laurie Wolk led a discussion about how to engage in effective conversations to set limits on technology use and privacy. Ms. Wolk shared her 10 Tips to Raise Confident and Connected Girls in the #Selfie Generation. Ms. Wolk is an author, educator and motivational speaker who focuses her work on teens and social media.
In late April 2017, we welcomed students from our sister school Brescia House School in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was a great week getting to know them better. The girls went to classes with their host sisters and visited the Art Show. The Brescia House students also gave an informative presentation to our 9th and 10th graders, sharing a video about their school and teaching our Ursuline students about South African history, culture, food, sports, and wildlife.
Their faculty chaperones, Kirsten Cartlidge and Kevin Smart, observed how we use technology in the classroom and compared notes with our Director of Technology Integration, Mrs. Lucyk, and Mrs. Barton, our Global Education Coordinator. Chaperones were hosted by two of our Faculty members, one of whom co-led our student visit to South Africa last year. Thank you to all the host families who shared a little bit of our New York world and extended warm hospitality to our Ursuline sister school!
It was also our turn to host the annual Ursuline Sister Schools Lacrosse Tournament. The teams that visited represented Ursuline Academy Wilmington, Ursuline Academy Dedham and Ursuline Academy St. Louis. The games were played over the course of two days. The visiting student/athletes also took part in school events, such as Mass. Fun evening activities were organized for everyone involved, such as bowling and a large team potluck dinner, where the teams exchanged gifts with one another. A wonderful weekend for the Ursuline community from all over the country to make happy memories.
The Spring Concert on April 5, 2017 again delighted our school community with an outstanding variety of musical numbers performed with joy. After the induction of new members of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, our youngest students began the program, with the 6th Grade Wind ensemble playing an earnest Prayer of St. Francis. Other highlights were the Glee Club's extremely strong performance of Bohemian Rhapsody, to thunderous applause, and the Wind Ensemble's Caribbean Carnival, which was a lot of fun and featured different instruments such as castanets and drums. The Honors Choir showed versatility, singing a lovely Ave Maria and later The Rhythm of Life by Cy Coleman.
Soloists Christina Yavdashnyak '20 and Catherine O'Donoghue '19 were wonderful. The trumpet solo by Jessica Abbattista '17 was a real treat – a lullaby on an unexpected instrument – performed with exceptional feel and backed up superbly by the Symphonic Orchestra. A dramatic Beethoven number closed the night.
The following evening, the Dance Concert presented "Decades of Dance." The brilliant choreography expressed the characteristics of each time-period extremely well, whether the ballet class as flappers dancing Slow Down Blues (1920s) or the Hip Hop Dance Club performing a medley of numbers from the 2000s. The Tap Dance Club's choreography of 1950s Mr. Sandman was surprisingly expressive as the dance subtly told a story.
All the costumes were well matched to the dances, and the performance of Sailing (1970s) used cloth very effectively to complement the dance moves. Music choices were first-rate: The audience swayed as the Spanish Dance Club performed and were nostalgic during the ballet class moves to What a Feeling from 1980s Flashdance. The Irish Dance Club showed a lot of energy as they presented Tell Me Ma by Sham Rock while the Indian Dance Club was extremely elegant as they offered Manwa Laage (2000s).
We thank Ms. Kennedy, Mr. Benza, Dr. Boehler, and Ms. Griffith for the instruction and guidance that they provide students all year long.
Over the Easter Vacation 2017, three groups of students and faculty chaperones went on exciting adventures abroad.
Our traditional European trip for Juniors explored Italy, one Exchange group visited our Ursuline "sisters" at St. Ursula's College in Toowoomba, Australia while another Exchange group went on a service trip to Colegio Santa Ursula in Lima, Peru.
The European itinerary focused on Italy. In Brescia and Desenzano, our students learned more about St. Angela Merici, foundress of the Order of St. Ursula. They visited her childhood home known as the farmhouse, and the Church of St. Angela. In Venice, the group enjoyed a gondola ride. Florence featured a stop at the Duomo, the square and the Ponte Vecchio. Assisi included a visit to St Francis Basilica. The students also went to Nice, the unofficial capital of the French Riviera, and Monaco.
The Australian Exchange group first enjoyed the sites in Sydney, such as the Opera House, climbing the Sydney Bridge and the famous Bonzi Beach. Then they spent time with students at our Ursuline sister school. The girls attended classes together and stayed with their host families.
The Peru Exchange group devoted two days to service in the remote countryside of Jicamarca where they helped with the construction of a building. Then the group visited Qorikancha, the most important site in the Inca Empire and also home to the Temple of the Sun. Another cultural highlight was the Natural History Museum (Museo de Historia Natural) in Lima, Peru's most important museum of natural history. This group also connected with an Ursuline sister school and visited with Ursuline Sisters.
Easter Sunday was very special for each of these traveling groups. The Juniors on the European trip spent the day touring Assisi. The Australian Exchange group spent Easter with their host families. The Peru Exchange group flew back to Lima and attended Mass celebrated by Cardinal Cipriani at the Cathedral Basilica in Lima.
Please also visit out Twitter account @KoalasGoGlobal for more global education news!
The Drama Department ushered in the Spring Season with the always vibrant and comical musical "Bye Bye Birdie" on March 16-18, 2017. Ms. Edie Ann Reidy craftily directed the musical at The Ursuline School. Mr. Michael Ficocelli and his seasoned musicians on woodwinds, bass and drums brilliantly accompanied our actors. Ms. Reidy is very thoughtful in her casting each year, and this production was no exception.
Emma Harvey '17 (Kim MacAfee) swept the audience off their feet with her warm, sweet soprano voice and exquisite feminine charm. Ciara McAloon '17 (Rose) was convincing and strong in her portrayal as the English teacher stuck in a role she doesn't want. Amanda Moss '19 (Ursula) brought energy and joy to the stage. Equally skillful was Meghan Hartson '18 (Mae Peterson) in her overbearing and accurate portrayal of the jealous mother.
The ensemble only enhanced the memorable tunes with technically impressive tap dancing and choreographed phone chords in "The Telephone Hour." The set, lighting and costumes contributed to the upbeat 1950s Middle America feel. Ursuline Drama is also grateful to the several young men from Iona Prep and Fordham Prep who contributed enthusiastically to these outstanding performances. The audience was clearly eager to "Put on a happy face!"
The exciting topic at our 4th annual Global Education & Serviam Symposium on March 22, 2017 was "Fashioning Global Change."
The globalization and sheer scale of the fashion industry has created the new consumer norm of disposable, "fast fashion." It has resulted in a number of ethical issues which we explored as a school community.
We heard from women who are global change-makers in the industry. Our first keynote speaker was Elizabeth L. Cline, journalist and author of "Overdressed – The Shockingly High Cost of Fast Fashion." (Pictured below, center.) Ms Cline described the incredibly labor intensive nature of the fashion industry. Every single seam is sewn by a person sitting at a sewing machine. And the manufacture of clothing has moved to low wage countries where 80% of garment workers are females, often working long hours under pressure to meet production deadlines.
Americans buy $20 billion of garments each year, and the same amount goes to waste. When we shop, do we think, "Is this something I really love and will keep?" Ms. Cline invited us to accept the Unshopping Challenge. This means not buying clothes for 30 days. It involves a shift away from consumerism and waste to a more sustainable, less expensive lifestyle.
Ms. Cline also invited us to join the Fashion Revolution. The week of April 24 is Fashion Revolution Week, in commemoration of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 when 1,138 garment workers were killed. The associated social media campaign encourages people to ask fashion brands #whomademyclothes and under what conditions?
Our second keynote speaker, pictured above at left, presented a different perspective. Ms. Rebecca Magee, Manager of Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Eileen Fisher, Inc. shared some of the company's social consciousness and manufacturing improvement initiatives. These include the Green Eileen initiative. Under this program, customers can bring their Eileen Fisher garments back to the store for a $5 credit. Approximately half of those clothes are then cleaned and put back on the shelves of two special Green Eileen stores. In the Question & Answer session, Ms. Magee talked with students about the human rights question of what is the fair wage to pay garment workers.
Our third keynote speaker, pictured above at right, was Ms. Jane Mosbacher Morris, CEO & Founder of TO THE MARKET, an online marketplace of fashionable, artisan goods. The goal of this social enterprise is to help women survivors of abuse, conflict and disaster in 20 countries around the world to find sustainable economic empowerment and financial independence.
Ms. Morris enlightened us about the importance of economic independence and changing lives through the dignity of work. She encouraged the students to discover how they can make a difference by first considering their own talents, then deciding on their focus, and keeping in mind the needs of others. She reminded the girls that no positive action is too small.
During the break-out sessions, our students gathered in small groups and pursued a variety of projects.
The middle school students repurposed cloth, yarn, and other materials into art objects. The 9th and 10th grades watched the video "True Cost" and then conducted team discussions on various human rights issues from the perspective of different constituencies in the clothing manufacturing industry.
Juniors worked in teams with Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute on a creative Marketing project. Our girls were joined by a group of students from our sister school, Academy of Mt. Saint Ursula. Seniors spent time with Ms. Morris and then, in teams, created a "go-to-market" strategy for the country they were assigned.
By the end of this Symposium, we had all learned about fair trade wages in the fashion industry, poor working conditions, and human rights in the supply chain as well as the environmental impact of excess consumption. Our thanks to Chris Pope, of Pope Photography, for capturing the day in wonderful photos.
On March 4, 2017 seven 12th graders in our Science Research program competed in the prestigious Regeneron Westchester/Putnam Science and Engineering Fair (WESEF). Our girls were among 570 students from 38 high schools whose work was judged and we are very proud of each of their original research projects. They are pictured below with faculty members Ms. Paulette D'Alessio, far left, and Ms. Hannah Gousse, far right.
We congratulate Theresa Cho for winning the Excellence in Medical Research Award presented by Westchester Academy of Medicine. This award was given to top medicine, health, biochemistry, cell biology, and microbiology research projects. Not only did she receive an award but Theresa also received $25 and a dinner with medical professionals. Her study (pictured below) was on "Effects of High Fasting Glucose and High Cholesterol Levels on White Matter Integrity in Schizophrenia."
In Ursuline's Science Research program, students are taught how to conduct electronic searches of literature; collect, organize, and analyze data; give classroom presentations of research; and eventually, under a scientist mentor, do original research. This original research must be presented in a formal research paper, meeting the format requirements of national science competitions. The student's interest can be in engineering, physics, biology, medicine, health, chemistry or behavioral science/psychology.
This is a 3-year independent research program. It is a unique research opportunity for the student and requires a time commitment above and beyond the ordinary school schedule. Sophomores review research conducted by others and practice presenting an analysis of a specific article of interest. Juniors design individual experiments. Seniors conduct experiments and enter competitions. At graduation, each student has a virtual research portfolio documenting 3 years of work.
The Science Research program has a significant history at Ursuline. A number of students have continued their science studies in college or medical school. We are grateful to the scientist mentors who have guided our student researchers over the years.
For the 2016-17 school year, Ursuline students in the Global Concern Classroom (GCC) club have been exploring the challenge of how the international community addresses the needs of people most impacted by "Complex Emergencies" throughout the world.
Global Concerns Classroom is a year-long program run by Concern Worldwide US, open to all high school students (grades 9-12) in the NYC, Chicago, and Boston metro areas. On March 3, 2017, our GCC students went to New York City to participate in the 3rd annual Youth Summit held at the Mutual of America corporate office on Park Avenue. They are pictured below with Mrs. Spiridon, Mrs. Barton and Mr. Bratt. Our 20 students collaborated in teams with high school students from eight metro-NY schools including Bronxville High School, Trevor Day School, St. Vincent Ferrer, Queens High School, and Friends Seminary.
Together, the students researched problems in countries such as South Sudan, Bangladesh, Haiti, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and the Central African Republic. They worked on project design, short-term and long-term strategies, developed $1 million budgets and delivered creative presentations including websites and social media vehicles, news reports and poetry. They were also able to consult with global field experts from Concern Worldwide.
We are so proud of our Ursuline students who displayed confident, strong voices as they presented smart, empathetic plans to two different panels of judges. We are very grateful to our continued partner, Global Concerns Classroom, for helping to educate our students on important global issues and humanitarian relief planning.
During the long weekend following the end of midterms, January 19-22, 2017, Ursuline's High School Model United Nations went to their first overnight conference of the year in New Haven, Connecticut. The conference was organized by Yale Model United Nations. Here is the report by Payton Bartz '18:
For four days, the 12 delegates debated world issues such as rural poverty, the Panama papers and women's rights through the perspective of their assigned country, Panama. Five of the girls found themselves in the General Assembly, with committees of between 60 to 100 other students from around the world.
Franchesca Tan represented Panama in DISEC (Disarmament and International Security Committee), Cathleen Hughes in ECOFIN (Economic and Finance committee), Lucy Losada in SOCHUM (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee), Winnifred Ryan in SPECPOL (Special Political and Decolonization Committee) and Nwanneka Okolo in UNSCD (UN Special Conference on Drugs).
Six delegates were in the ECOSOC (Economic and Social Committees), with Akhila Konuru in the UNEP (UN Environmental Program), Payton Bartz in the UNDP (UN Development Program), Kaleena Perez in WHO (World Health Organization), Izzy Olsen in UN Women, Megan Malave in UNHCR (UN High Commission for Refugees) and Jessica Argento in UNESCO (UN Economic, Social and Cultural Organization). Finally, one delegate found herself alone in the Regional Bodies committee, freshman Stella Banino, who represented Panama in the OAS (Organization of American States).
Despite the long committee sessions and the early starts to their mornings, the girls had a lot of fun throughout the four-day trip. On Friday, Yale hosted a "Yale Day" that provided services from both Yale and the NGO Charity: Water. Yale professors gave lectures open to all delegates with topics ranging from neuroscience to philosophy. Perhaps one of the most interesting additions was the Virtual Reality Room by Charity: Water, which equipped students with a virtual reality device and allowed them to see through the eyes of an impoverished Ethiopian girl. The day ended with a showcase by Yale students, with comedy skits and performances by dance groups and acapella groups. Even though the Ursuline students came back exhausted, they all thought the day rewarding and learned something new.
The Awards Ceremony on Sunday afternoon brought some wonderful surprises. Junior Payton Bartz won the Outstanding Delegate Award in her committee of more than 60 people, and Stella Banino received a Verbal Commendation for her efforts in the OAS. On the bus ride home, there wasn't a single person who said that they wouldn't do the whole conference all over again!