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We were excited that our friends from St. Ursula's College in Toowoomba, Australia were with us in early December. Seventeen exchange students and their chaperones got to know their New Rochelle sisters, attended classes together, and did some sightseeing excursions on their own. We value these exchanges very much. This was their third visit to New Rochelle, a result of an exchange that Mrs. Davidson and Mrs. Moore started five years ago.

A highlight of their 8-day visit was our celebration of the Immaculate Conception Liturgy. The Toowoomba group performed two beautiful vocal pieces for the school community and then asked us to join in their "college" song, "Serviam." This is the motto of all Ursuline schools across the globe and though the expression of Serviam is different in each Ursuline school, it is one element that binds us together.

We thank the girls from St. Ursula's for spending time with us and sharing a bit of their culture with us and we thank our families for sharing the American way of life with our Aussie "sisters." We look forward to the next chapter of our exchange, in April in Australia!

Our students can discover each day how to become leaders by taking initiative, developing an idea, encouraging others, communicating persuasively, and acting with integrity. We offer many ways for the girls to learn about leadership.

On December 7, 2016, our seniors and juniors appreciated an inspiring presentation on leadership by Beth Cobert, Acting Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Washington, DC. Ms. Cobert spoke about leadership qualities, drawing on her experiences in business and the public sector. She described for students the progress made in numbers of women rising to leadership roles in business, Congress, and science fields. She stirred the imagination of the students as she noted the accomplishments of women in the Senate, Ada Lovelace (who wrote the first computer program in the 19th century), the women who calculated flight trajectories for the 1969 Apollo 11 flight (featured in the new movie "Hidden Figures"), and Beyonce. Ms. Cobert encouraged students to become good leaders themselves, and detailed one model of leadership. She also offered practical advice to our future leaders.

Ms. Cobert was a management consultant at McKinsey & Co for 30 years, rising to Senior Partner and Director. In 2013 she was appointed by President Obama, and confirmed by the Senate, to the position of Deputy Director for Management, Office of Management and Budget. In 2015, she was tapped by the President to take over leadership of the Office of Personnel Management. We were thrilled that our students had the opportunity to learn from such a distinguished speaker!

Our Drama Club presented "12 Angry Jurors" in late November. The play is an adaptation of Reginald Rose's 1954 hit "12 Angry Men." The whole play is set in a jury room on a hot summer day. The jurors are asked to decide whether a 19-year-old man is guilty of murdering his father. Initially, the jurors vote 11-1 for guilty but, since they are required to reach a unanimous verdict, animated conversation ensues as evidence is re-examined. At certain intervals, the action was suspended as the judge and two lawyers addressed the audience and asked audience members for their opinions on the issues raised.

The actors delivered the difficult, elaborate dialogue with poise. Violet Lee Cadet gave a wonderfully nuanced performance as the initial dissenting juror and Amanda Moss, the last juror to agree to the final verdict, was compelling as she displayed restrained anger. Veteran Drama Club members Nicole Annunziata, Diana Bravo, Meghan Hartson, Sarah Hillesheim, Ciara McAloon, and Alexandra Sayegh were extremely persuasive as the jurors who struggled with the evidence and their own feelings. We are pleased to welcome new Drama Club members Caroline Cohane, Lucia Heredero, Gaby Paiusco, Samantha Pensiero, and Maya Zamor who were very convincing in their roles as jurors, lawyers, and judge. TUS Drama has a wonderful future ahead of it!

Of course, the show could not go on without the hard work of our stage and tech crew. Hats off to Stage Manager Emma Harvey, Tech Manager Juliarae Sansone and crew members Morgan Blank, Gianna Gerbasi, Isabella Gerbasi, Victoria Gerbasi, Danielle Clifford Johnson, Jenna Kriegel, Gaia Bernardini, Isabella Curbelo Reyes, Emma Scrivo and Morgan Wertlieb. Photos were taken by Chris Pope of Pope Photography.

Congratulations to the entire cast and crew. We look forward to the spring musical!

On November 14, 2016, our Visiting Author Series continued with the excellent presentation by Camron Wright, author of "The Rent Collector." All of our high school students and faculty read the book this past summer. We were intrigued to learn how Mr. Wright was inspired to write the book after seeing a documentary film, "River of Victory" produced by his son about people living at the Stung Meanchey municipal dump in Cambodia.

When asked how much of the book is fiction, Mr. Wright responded, "Truth is consistent, whether fictional or real life. I agree with what Ernest Hemmingway is reported to have said, 'All good books have one thing in common, they are truer than if they had really happened.'"

The story centers on a woman named Sang Ly who is desperate to save her sick son, even as she and her husband struggle to survive. It is universal in terms of its message of hope, the importance of second chances, and the value of joy.

Mr. Wright exhorted the students, "We all have paths, we all get to choose. We are each living our own story. If you are struggling, I implore you not to give up in the middle. The struggle is the best part. You can overcome problems. You are part of a great generation. Make wise choices; be grateful."

The book has received several accolades, including being named Book of the Year, Fiction, from Foreword Reviews and Honorable Mention at the Great Southwest Book Festival.

We thank Mr. Wright for sharing his empowering message with our school community. It was a truly outstanding day with the author of an exceptional novel!

The Ursuline School is thrilled to announce that we have been awarded a $50,000 matching grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation for the further expansion of our Global Education & Serviam Program.

"We are extremely pleased that the E.E. Ford Foundation specifically noted the thoughtful direction our school is taking and our extraordinary stewardship," said President Eileen Davidson.

This grant was awarded after a highly competitive and comprehensive application process. It will be matched 1:1 with gifts from major donors. The total $100,000 funding will provide important resources to continue the annual Global Education & Serviam Symposium, to enhance the new Global Scholars Program, and to strengthen our growing partnership with Concern Worldwide via the Global Concerns Classroom. As Ursuline's expertise continues to develop, our New Rochelle school will share our model for schoolwide global education with sister Ursuline schools and others.

We are excited to move forward with the important work of our Ursuline mission to create an awareness of global challenges in each student - whether she travels or not - and to ignite lifelong reflection and conversation on how she might use her skills and talents to improve the lives of others.

Ursuline teachers regularly enrich their classroom experience with excursions to New York City. On November 2, 2016 Ms. DiIorio's Junior and Senior Ceramics and Sculpture students visited the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in Manhattan.

Accompanied by a museum docent, students viewed Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS which mixes "...crocheted yarn with plastic trash, and fuses mathematics, marine biology, feminist art practices and craft to produce large-scale coralline landscapes both beautiful and blighted." Everyone engaged in some lively discussions about what art is and what mediums artists use.

"Everyone on the trip had a fun and educational experience as we observed art made from mediums like clay and yarn. I was particularly intrigued with the second exhibit since it was based on the garbage patches in the oceans, which is a topic I just covered in Marine Science. It used everyday materials, plastic, and colorful weavings [crochet] in the various pieces."—Alexandra Hasselt, Class of 2017

Students also saw three ceramics exhibits offering a glimpse into the contemporary honoring of the history of women's work, the great ceramic figurative traditions, and the radical methods and ideas that have opened up the possibilities for contemporary clay work.

Lastly, in a studio art experience, students used a variety of found objects and art supplies to create small sculptures.

The theme of the evening was gratitude when members of the Ursuline community gathered at the President's Dinner Reception on October 27 at Wykagyl Country Club. We celebrated a record-breaking year, thanks to generous donors who contributed nearly $1,400,000 to the 2015-16 Annual Fund.

President Eileen Davidson warmly thanked the alumnae, parents and friends who each gave $2,500 or more in the prior year. She expressed gratitude to those who gave unrestricted gifts as well as those who supported causes close to their hearts, such as scholarships.

The highlight of the night was the series of short speeches by student recipients of our privately funded scholarships. The girls spoke of how their Ursuline experiences have changed their lives. Rita Mabli P'05 closed the evening with heartfelt words on behalf of scholarship donors. We thank all our donors for their investment in Ursuline!

We thank Chris Pope of Pope Photography for the excellent photos.

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.

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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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