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!
The Ursuline Cheerleading Program hosted its first Koalas For A Cause cheerleading competition on December 17, 2016. The competition featured over 20 teams from Westchester County with a special performance from Sacred Heart University. While the event acted as a fundraiser to support their bid to the National High School Cheerleading Championship, the cheerleaders insisted on including a service component.
The Koalas teamed up with the Children's Hospital at Montefiore and collected 500+ toys over the span of 6 hours to donate to patients. Following the competition, members of the Varsity Cheerleading team visited the children's hospital to hand wrap the toys that the children would receive for the holiday season. They loved hosting an event that brought together teams in the community for a day of spirit, competition, and service!
On November 29, 2016 Ms. Kim Tietjen and Mrs. Doretha Buster, of our Counseling Department, took 10 students to the Diversity Summit hosted by Fordham Prep at the Marist Brothers retreat house in Esopus, NY. The students engaged in a variety of learning and leadership experiences to better understand stereotyping, racial profiling, gender roles, LGBTQ+ concerns, social action, and more. Through thought provoking presentations and discussions, the students ignited a desire to affect change, strengthen common bonds, and seek greater inclusion in their school communities
Mrs. Buster also attended the 2016 People of Color Conference in Atlanta hosted by NAIS, the National Association of Independent Schools. The theme was Advancing Human and Civil Rights: Fulfilling the Dream together. Bryan Stevenson was the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony. He is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. He is also one of the most acclaimed and respected lawyers in the nation. His memoir "Just Mercy" is a "must" read. Three legends were honored at the closing ceremony: John Lewis, Hank Aaron, and Christine King Farris, the eldest sister and only living sibling of Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr. Mrs. Buster also took part in 5 workshops and an affinity group. There were over 5,000 attendees from all races, ethnic groups, cultures, gender, and sexual orientations. It was an inspiring gathering.
Student coders in Mr. Lorden's Computer Science II Honors class went into the city on December 9, 2016 to meet with both the IBM Interactive Experience and IBM Watson teams. The girls learned about merging virtual reality with cognitive computing, and IBM's famous Watson Experience.
The students had prepared for this exceptional opportunity by researching artificial intelligence, IBM's business segments, and IBM's commitment to diversity in the workplace. Our girls are the only high school students who have had the opportunity to visit these premises. Thank you to Liz Healy '94, Ursuline alumna and trustee, who is an IBM senior executive and arranged the trip.
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.