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!
Ms. Rosemary Kennedy's 9th grade Introduction to Music class went to Manhattan on February 15, 2017 to see the opera Carmen, by Bizet. Seeing a live opera performance at Lincoln Center is part of the curriculum to broaden their perspective on genres of music performed world-wide. They study the opera first as an historical work of literature along with the time period and the language. The girls had a marvelous time! They were amazed by the opulence of Lincoln Center, and how packed the Opera House was on a cold Wednesday evening in February. They loved the music and all in all, had a truly positive experience! Pictured here are some of the students with Ms. Kennedy, center.
Our 10th grade Algebra 2 Honors classes completed a 10-day project-based unit called Predict the Future. Guided by Mrs. Cochrane and Ms. Barnett, students first learned math concepts of exponential growth and decay. At home, students journaled online in MOODLE about the differences between the equations of growth and decay. Next, they applied this knowledge to a subject of interest.
In teams, they took on real-life roles such as demographers or scientists. Their topics ranged from the cost of college tuition and the decline in the birth rate in China to the daily use of Snapchat and the effects of shark attacks. The girls used the Internet to collect data, analyzed it, created "XY Scatter" graphs, and found equations that best fit the data curve.
Next, the groups brainstormed potential ramifications of their data. Would the data trends continue? What would be the quality of life given this data? Finally, they created PowerPoint presentations in class and presented them. Students critiqued each other and made suggestions.
Throughout this 2016-17 project, the girls wrote in online reflective learning journals. Here are a few excerpts of those writings.
Sophia : "I enjoyed the ability to research and learn about the Mexican immigrant population in the United States. This project taught me many valuable lessons in algebra, public speaking and presentations, and applying algebra to real life. Overall, this project was very interesting and informational."
Jane: "I would have never thought that I would be able to learn an entire topic without an official lesson. This unit was taught to my class through one group project and many small activities in class, and I feel like it helped me gain a better understanding of the topic of exponential growth and decay."
Megan: "Throughout this Predict the Future project, I learned about many new things. I learned about exponential growth, the line of best fit, and correlation coefficients. I was able to discover more about China and its decaying birth rate."
Deanna: "To me, the most important aspect of this project was analyzing trends and the past, and understanding how these things can affect the future. We were also able to reflect on how we might alter our lifestyles to make a more positive impact on the world and others."
Gabriela: "After formulating the notion that data analysis can help predict the future, our class made connections to what we have learned in math this year. ... I found these connections interesting because it reminded me of math's importance in our daily lives."
Project-based units are one way that Ursuline teachers engage students to develop critical thinking skills and collaborative learning.
The week of January 30 – February 3, 2017, Ursuline celebrated "National Catholic Schools Week."
The teachings of Jesus and the writings of St Angela infuse our curriculum and activities throughout the year. However, in this week, we bring attention to Catholic topics in special ways.
Ms. Kennedy taught her 9th Grade Music Class the origins of the Mass as first and foremost, a musical work in its five parts: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei. The students also listened to the works of Hildegaard of Bingen, the first and oldest Catholic woman composer in her work, "O Successores."
Biology students read the papal Encyclical on the Environment and researched the fresh water crisis. Middle school students in earth science classes also researched environmental issues and solutions related to Pope Francis's Encyclical.
Other highlights of our celebration included Latin students exploring the Magnificat, the Religious Studies Department sponsoring an essay contest "What My Catholic Education Means to Me", and modern language classes saying prayers in their language of study. #CSW17
On January 30, 2017, Physics teacher Mr. Dalby and 12 students attended the "Engineering Tomorrow" conference held at Maria Regina HS. The event was sponsored by the Engineering Tomorrow Foundation and organized by the Archdiocese of New York. The goal was to increase student interest in pursuing careers in engineering.
The girls worked on two activities during the day, one dealing with water purification and the other with controlling the motion of a robotic vehicle through coding. This hands-on learning provided the girls with an opportunity to work on "real-life" engineering problems. In the water filtration exercise aiming to maximize water purity while minimizing cost, one of our Ursuline groups placed 2nd out of 20 teams.
We are pleased that Ursuline offers a course in Engineering along with AP Physics, providing girls with a solid background as they advance into Engineering programs in college.
January 27, 2017 was a very special day at Ursuline as we proudly celebrated the Feast of St. Angela, joining Ursuline schools around the world in honoring the foundress of the Ursuline order.
Msgr. Keane concelebrated our beautiful Mass with our board member, Rev. Jose-Luis S. Salazar, SJ, (also known as Fr. Lito). Fr. Lito's thoughtful and humorous homily helped us to better connect with St. Angela. Our Ursuline Sisters renewed their vows, reaffirming their commitment to the order and the teachings of Angela. We so very much value the Sisters at our school.
We were delighted when the Middle School Chorus sang for us "Serviam" - our new school song. The song is one we learned from our sister school St. Ursula's College in Toowoomba, Australia. Two members of the Sixth Grade shared their personal reflections on St. Angela based on the lessons they had with Sr. Pat Schifini, OSU. We also announced that five students have been recognized by the Ursuline Educational Network for their community service. They are Alicia McMillan, Keren Deneny, Althea Chowke, Meghan Hartson and Sarah Hillesheim.
Members of our Board of Trustees joined us for Mass and spent time visiting classrooms and sharing lunch with some students. Our trustees are clearly dedicated to the school and invested in ensuring the best educational experience possible.
The Ursuline School announced on January 26, 2017 that it has earned accreditation by the New York State Association of Independent Schools, known as NYSAIS.
This accreditation comes after a year of self-study which included all members of our school community – teachers and staff, board of trustees, students and parents.
Unlike other accreditations, the NYSAIS process asked us to evaluate ourselves through the lens of our mission. We evaluated our approach to teaching and learning, our operations and finances, our community and all aspects of school life. The examination also included a visit by the NYSAIS committee. It was a rewarding exercise which strengthened us. The NYSAIS analysis will guide us in our strategic initiatives and add an important validation as we apply for additional grants from foundations. We are proud of our school community for demonstrating how we work each day, to fulfill our mission and educate young women!
On January 24, 2017, The Ursuline School proudly announced that it has been awarded a $25,500 grant from The H.W. Wilson Foundation.
The funds will help to transform a traditional classroom into a 21st century innovation space, and provide equipment, so that our girls can design, build and invent.
The innovation space will engage even more students in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math). It will be a modern-day workshop equipped with state-of-the-art tools and technology as well as furnishings on wheels that can be re-configured easily to accommodate class work and student projects. This is important so that students can work in groups and can adjust their space depending on their projects. Through hands-on experimentation and considerable trial and error, students develop skillsets that have real applicable value.
Several projects will be piloted this semester including: the use of micro controllers in a senior engineering class, and a wearable technology project in 8th grade art classes.
This is the third grant awarded to Ursuline by The H.W. Wilson Foundation. The first two grants made possible a reimagined library so that students can study independently and collaboratively. The total grant funding from The H.W. Wilson Foundation is now more than $100,000 for which we are very grateful to the trustees of the Foundation.
Sarah Niedzwiecki-Mecoy '00 just completed the Cape2Rio, a prestigious and iconic Cross Atlantic sailing race from Cape Town, South Africa to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil aboard the Lion of Africa Vulcan, a 42ft sailboat. Sarah was the only female bowman and only female member of a Grand Prix team.
The race is a 3,797 mile trip if done in a straight line but the actual distance traveled is much further as the boat needed to navigate around certain weather patterns. Sarah and the Vulcan crew completed the race on January 16, finishing third, 15 days after they set sail from Cape Town. This is a remarkable accomplishment as the Vulcan is a boat designed for inshore racing, not crossing an ocean like the much larger and faster boats they were up against.
As bowman, Sarah's jobs included very physical and potentially dangerous tasks such as running all the rigging, putting the forward sails (which weigh as much as she does) up and down, and going to the top of the mast, which is about 5 inches in diameter and 55 feet above the deck. She also climbed to the end of the bowsprit while sailing at speeds of up to 30 knots, the equivalent of crawling to the end of a jousting stick, tied to the hood of a 4x4 car driving off road at 40 mph!
Conditions on board the Vulcan were difficult. Sarah and the crew worked shifts of four hours on/ four hours off, 24 hours a day for 15 days. Space was very limited, and clothing consisted of only two long sleeve and short sleeve t-shirts and two pairs of shorts. Clothes were constantly damp with salt water. Food consisted of a high protein diet of freeze-dried items.
The first few days of the race, life inside the boat was cold and very bumpy, making it uncomfortable for the few hours of sleep the crew got when off watch. Then, while less bumpy, it was hot and humid, not favorable conditions for sleeping. Sleeping down below became very unpleasant with all hands sleeping in their wet gear in both extremely cold and then incredibly warm, humid conditions.
Sarah and the Vulcan crew arrived in Rio greeted by many family members and a gorgeous sunrise, after 15 long days at sea.
Sarah said, "It was tough....the experience was brilliant. Everyone worked well together. But then it's easy to do well when you are all working towards the same goal." A seasoned sailor, Sarah has reached the pinnacle of her sailing career to date, competing in an extreme race. Congratulations to Sarah on completing such an amazing journey! Photos courtesy of Lion of Africa team.
This weekend our Junior Model UN (JMUN) club had a very successful trip to the YMCA Youth Model United Nations Conference in Hershey, PA. The conference consisted of a General Assembly simulation, followed by an International Criminal Court Trial and a Nation Building Historical Committee, which proposed alternate solutions to the fracturing of the USSR into countries unable to prosper alone.
The girls excelled, earning many awards, including the highest award during the 2/4 committee chambers. They doubled the number of awards they earned last year, establishing them as one of the top JMUN organizations in the Northeast.
We are proud of all the girls for their hard work and we applaud the award recipients who include Daphne Banino '22 for Outstanding First-Year Press Delegate (Written Press) and Outstanding Country Research Papers recipients Maeve Reynolds '21, Tanner McIntyre '21 and Bella Nieto '21.
Congratulations to Katie McLoughlin, a senior basketball player, who received the Westchester ConEdison Scholastic Sports Award and was named Athlete of the Week. This distinction is given for outstanding accomplishments in athletics, academics, and community involvement.
Katie, a 3-sport athlete, joins a group of 26 outstanding student-athletes from The Ursuline School who are previous winners. Katie was interviewed by legendary sportscaster Bob Wolff (pictured with Katie, above). A podcast of her interview can be found on the WHUD website here: http://www.whud.com/con-edison-athlete-of-the-week/ .
The link to the Lohud article is here: https://t.co/Go8w39cRf5
We are very proud of Katie's hard work and dedication both on and off the court and congratulate her on this wonderful honor!