On February 5, 2019 we welcomed Jamie Ford, New York Times best selling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Mr. Ford addressed our student body and other members of the school community in an informal and candid manner which was very much appreciated. He connected with students immediately as he told of the tweets he received from young people after his novel had been selected as a high school summer reading assignment.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a historical fiction set in Seattle and it moves in time between World War II and the present day. It is the story of the friendship of a young Chinese American boy, Henry, who meets Keiko, a Japanese American girl, when they are both sent by their parents to an all-white school to assimilate. It is also about what happened in Seattle after the bombing of Pearl Harbor when 120,000 Japanese nationals were rounded up and Henry loses Keiko.
The novel is a story of love, of fathers and sons, and of making decisions, sometimes out of fear. Mr. Ford described it as an exploration of identity. He revealed that he writes to make people more empathetic. He considers himself to be in "the compassion-making business."
Mr. Ford took time to disclose to students his writing journey, and his family inspirations in which his Chinese grandfather figures prominently.
Many students were keen to receive his writing advice: "If you aspire to it, give it a shot! If you can write three to five pages a day for three months, you have a book. But know that it is an applied craft. Allow yourself to play some bad notes, to fail a lot. Failure is growth."
After the inspiring school assembly, Mr. Ford generously took time to speak with alumnae and retired Ursuline faculty at a small reception. We thank him for signing copies of his book. Members of Unison, our school newspaper, enjoyed the opportunity to interview Mr. Ford at the end of his visit.
The Visiting Author Series at The Ursuline School was initiated 10 years ago by President Eileen Davidson. The first such guest speaker was James McBride in March 2009. Over the years, authors of wide acclaim, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee and Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr, have addressed the student body, sharing their wisdom and encouragement.
We were absolutely delighted that Mr. Ford joined this special group of authors who have visited our school.
Photos here by Chris Pope of Pope Photography.
Our high school Model United Nations team ended its competition season on February 3, 2019 with an outstanding showing at AmeriMUNC, a macro simulation put on by the American University School of International Relations which simulates real-life ongoing environmental, economic and political conflict within the Pacific region. The Juniors on the Secretariat continue to increase the club's national standing with strong performances in small, high-pressure committees, supported by an increasingly vocal and capable Sophomore class.
The following members were recognized for their outstanding performances:
Best Delegate - Stella Banino '20
Outstanding Delegate - Lorelei Wolf '20
Outstanding Delegate - Cate Hughes '20
Verbal Commendation - Maeve Reynolds '21
Ursuline’s Junior Model United Nations club is also becoming a force to be reckoned with! Twenty-two middle school students participated in YMCA Model United United Nations II, a conference in Hershey, PA the weekend of January 11-13, 2019.
The student delegates participated in three distinct simulations:
- General Assembly, where delegates assume the roles of diplomats representing countries and engage in debate on topical issues: Chemical and Biological Weapons, Sustainable Tourism, and Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- International Criminal Court, where delegates take on the task of arguing as prosecution or defense in cases tried by the International Criminal Court.
- Crisis Resolution Committee, where delegates immerse themselves in a historical or current crisis that they are expected to work together to resolve.
At this conference, organized by the YMCA, to reinforce the theme of Respect for All, delegates contributed “donations for At Jacob’s Well to support efforts to provide transitional housing and supportive services for low income, mentally ill men and women." In addition, during the conference, all delegates conference-wide engaged in this service project by making paper flowers, bracelets, and cards to give to people who live in these group homes sponsored by Jacob's Well.
Congratulations to all our student delegates on their hard work, diligent preparation, and enthusiastic debating. The following middle school students received awards:
Premier Delegate: Nuala Reynolds
Premier Delegate: Written Press - Amrit Singh
Outstanding Country Rep Award- Sri Lanka: Amrit Singh and Kyla Warren
Premier Country Rep Award- United States: Rachel Ortiz and Nuala Reynolds
Recognition of Outstanding Country Research Questionnaires: Scarlett Anikewich, Madeline Alaimo, Amrit Singh, Nyomi Hatchett, Catherine L’Helias, Jacqueline Zang
Violette Lee Cadet '20 and Carmen McGuigan '20 produced and directed an amazing Cabaret on January 18, 2019. Congratulations to all those who took part in the "Night of Broadway." The show dazzled the crowd with outstanding comical and serious performances of the great Broadway shows such as Hairspray, In The Heights and Wicked. Over 20 students in grades 6-12 performed. The finale was the full cast performing "When I Grow Up" from the show Matilda.
A special thank you to Dr. Adamo, who accompanied the performers, Sr. Pat Schifini, who handled the tech room and Ms. Johnson, who served as the faculty coordinator. The price of admission was a free will donation to benefit Sanctuary for Families, a non-profit organization that helps victims of domestic abuse and their children.
Thank you to Chris Pope for the excellent photos.
Ursuline is proud that already this year three of our student-athletes received the Westchester Con Edison Scholastic Sports Award and were named Athlete of the Week. This distinction is given for outstanding accomplishments in athletics, academics, and community involvement. The winner is selected each week by a panel of athletic directors and coaches who review ballots submitted by each athlete's athletic director or coach.
Swimmer Josephine Panitz was honored on November 3, 2018 as the Con Edison Athlete of the Week. Josie, the Ursuline swim captain, has dominated local swimming and excelled at the section and state levels. Josie is the 2017 NY State Champion in the 200 IM and the Section 1 record holder in the 200 IM. She continued to post outstanding results after her Con Ed selection. We are pleased to report that Josie is the 2018 Section 1 Champion in 200 IM and 100 Breaststroke and a member of the 3rd place 200 Medley Relay. At the 2018 NYS CHampionships, Josie placed 2nd in the 200 IM (All American Consideration) and 2nd in the 100 Breaststroke (All American Consideration). Josie has committed to compete for Ohio State University next year.
On November 24, 2018, runner Sarah Flynn was selected to be the Con Edison Athlete of the Week. She was also named the Lohud Sports Westchester/Putnam Cross Country Co-Runner of the Year, and Section 1 Class A Sportsmanship Award winner. Sarah runs year-round: cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. Her 2018 season successes included winning the 2018 Westchester County Cross Country Championships for the second time (first time was in 2016) and 4th place at the Section 1 Championships. Sarah then competed in the NY State Championships and qualified for the Federation Meet (which was later canceled due to snow). Sarah will run for Boston College next year, joining her older sister, Anna.
On January 3, 2019, runner Lily Flynn was named the Con Edison Athlete of the Week. Lily is a three-season athlete: soccer, indoor track, and outdoor track. Lily was the 2017 State Champion in the 1000m. This season her numerous record-breaking results included winning the Marine Corps Holiday Classic 800 meter victory, where she ran the #1 time for high school girls this season, and the 3000m in the third fastest time in the U.S. to date. She also was named to LohudSports 2018 Westchester/Putnam Girls Soccer All-Stars. Lily has committed to attend Stanford University and compete on Stanford's track & field/cross country teams next year.
At Ursuline, all three of these student-athletes take Computer Science Honors 2 and either several AP courses or Engineering Design Innovation. All three student-athletes also have demonstrated a commitment to community service which is a long-standing Ursuline value. For example, last September, Sarah Flynn organized a charity event called "Laps for Love." The proceeds from the event were directed to "Girls on the Run" and "Right to Play." Sarah chose those organizations because she believes that sports can be a path for children to become confident in who they are.
These three awardees join the 28 outstanding student-athletes from The Ursuline School who were named Con Edison Athlete of the Week winners in prior years. We acknowledge their hard work and dedication - both on and off the sports arena - and congratulate them on this well-deserved honor.
The Con Ed Athletes of the Week are interviewed on WHUD. We invite you to listen to the interviews aired on WHUD at this link:
All who attended our Christmas Concert on December 11, 2018 were treated to a fabulous evening of beautiful and challenging music from our choral and instrumental ensembles.
Our Middle School Choir opened the concert singing ancient as well as well-known carols in English, Latin, German and French. The Wind Ensemble received a standing ovation after their piece, "Highlights from The Greatest Showman" dazzled the audience. Members of the Junior Choir performed the "The Christmas Song" getting the audience in the holiday spirit while the Orchestra proved that they could interpret their great version of Imagine Dragons hit, "Radioactive."
The Honors Choir shared three beautiful seasonal pieces, including "See Amid the Winter's Snow" and then joined with the Junior Choir to perform "Christmas in the Great Hall" featuring solos by Olivia Cook and Christina Yavdosnyak. The Symphony Orchestra musically delivered a unique arrangement of the Shaker tune, “Simple Gifts.”
The much- anticipated finale showcased the scope of the Performing Arts program as all the instrumental and choral groups recreated “The Hallelujah Chorus” with much fanfare bringing the festivities to a close.
Before the concert started, we held our Tri-M Music Honor Society Induction. Tri-M selection is based on scholarship, character and service, along with a high level of proficiency in music. Congratulations to the newest members of this honorary organization.
Congratulations to the Performing Arts Department for preparing such a wonderful evening of music! Thank you to our Performing Arts faculty: Ms. Rosemary Kennedy, Dr. Laurie Adamo, and Mr. Mark Collins. The excellent photos are by Chris Pope of Pope Photography.
Thank you to Dr. Jennifer Blum '02 who visited our physics classes on December 14, 2018. After graduating from Ursuline, Jennifer earned a B.A. in Astrophysics at Columbia University and then her Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Blum's expertise is in black holes and the x-rays in space that help us observe black holes to better understand how our universe evolved. She has worked as a researcher and in cyber security.
She inspired the students with her research as well as her encouragement of many types of STEM careers that can impact the world around us. STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. “There are so many awesome fields in STEM,” exclaimed Dr. Blum. She also urged students to cultivate support systems, mentors, and advocates.
Dr. Blum shared with students her strong sense of helping others. She ardently believes that “when you start moving up, you have to bring other people up with you. When I was a team leader at work, I wanted those who reported to me to be successful as a team and get credit for it. I encourage young women to remember that we need to all rise up together as a group. There is enough success to go around.”
Another way to mentor others is as a leader in professional organizations. Dr. Blum currently serves as President of the Washington D.C. Metro Chapter of AWIS which is the Association for Women in Science.
Eileen Davidson, President of The Ursuline School, and Ann Lefever, Chair of our Board of Trustees, were honored to share their experiences and lead a session at the NYSAIS Trustee Governance Conference on December 8, 2018. NYSAIS is the New York State Association of Independent Schools. The conferences are designed specifically for leaders of independent schools.
The session entitled Board / Head Partnership centered around the importance of a strong and open relationship of trust and mutual support between the Board Chair and the Head of School. The discussion provided participants an opportunity to explore how to foster the best relationships possible to benefit the school. Members of our Board of Trustees were also present at the conference, attending the many informative sessions.
Pictured here, from left, are Board Chair Ann Lefever, trustee Janine Daughtry, President Eileen Davidson, and trustees Deirdre McCaffrey and Teresa Jankovic.
Our home exchanges with Ursuline schools around the world are one way that Ursuline prepares students to be active, global citizens and responsible leaders in an increasingly culturally diverse world. Since 2012 we have enjoyed our connection with St. Ursula’s College in Toowoomba, Australia, a Catholic day and boarding school for girls in Years 7-12.
The most recent chapter of this exchange took place in December 2018 with the visit of 15 Australian high school students, and their faculty chaperones, to Ursuline in New Rochelle. Both the Australian visitors and their host “sisters” broadened their global perspectives and gained invaluable life-defining experiences.
Students attended classes together and also took time for shopping, sightseeing and attending a performance of the Broadway musical “Anastasia.” Our whole student body enjoyed learning about Australia and St. Ursula’s College at a school-wide assembly where the Australians gave a wonderful cultural presentation. We were also treated to the outstanding musical and dance talents of the Australian students which ended with the singing of “Serviam - I will serve.”
Thank you to our host families for opening their homes to our Australian sisters. We know that cross-cultural friendships have been made which will last a lifetime!
As part of our Distinguished Speaker Series, we were thrilled to welcome author and educator Debby Irving on December 5, 2018. Ms. Irving is an inspiring speaker and author of Waking Up White. She has extensively studied race and racial tension. She uses her own life story to reflect on and consider how belief systems shape our understanding of the world, the systems and structures of racism, and the challenges of working toward racial justice.
Ms. Irving says of her book: "My hope is that by sharing my sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, I offer a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance."
Her talk was an important step as we undertake our strategic initiative on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Ms. Irving is pictured here with our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team and members of our Administration.
On November 16 and 18, 2018, our Drama Club presented entertaining and sophisticated theater to an appreciative audience, this time with the staging of a new adaptation of Shakespeare directed by Edie Anne Reidy. In our Ursuline drama tradition, we approach many styles and genres of plays over the years so that all students can experience a wide range of theatrical repertoire. This year, we again explored the words of the Bard with the presentation of "A Night of Shakespeare."
The first act portrayed Shakespeare sleeping, and dreaming up his characters, each of whom then recited well-known monologues. The second act was an abridged presentation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," a popular Shakespeare comedy.
Twenty-five students had the opportunity to study a monologue, character and play, and then perform the monologue. The cast shared inquiry discussions to synthesize all of the thinking that students had done about this classic writing. Yet another example of the chance to think critically and deeply about complex issues and an author's craft. The cast discussions also prepared the actors for more interpretative portrayals of their characters.
All the actors delivered the challenging lines with understanding, nuance and grace. Amanda Moss (as Shakespeare/Helena), Claire Queenan (in the role of Jane), and Alexandra Sayegh (as Mistress Ford/Hermia) were excellent on stage and provided leadership to the rest of the cast during the rehearsal process. Taryn Comizio embodied her characters with vivid facial expressions and body language. Violet Lee Cadet was heartfelt as Lady Macbeth. Courtney McAloon was compelling as the comic fairy Puck. Ava Pallotta was marvelous as Cleopatra. Congratulations to cast and crew on an exceptional Shakespeare production! And special thanks to alumnae Kaitlin Laureano '14 and Olivia Iannotti'14 who displayed Ursuline drama spirit by coming home and assisting our production.
TUSMUNC I, Ursuline’s first Junior Model United Nations Conference that took place on November 17, 2018, was an absolute success. Eighty delegates debated issues in 4 Committees: Roman Senate, Security Council, The Lorax, Captain America:Civil War representing fictional universes as well as real world examples of division and reconciliation. Thank you to The Louise Este Bruce Foundation for their sponsorship of this inaugural Middle School Conference at Ursuline.
At the Opening Ceremonies, guest speaker Ken DeLuca shared his experiences as a lawyer in Afghanistan. He told of learning how to respect other cultures and values in order to reconcile differences between peoples. His words underscored the message that junior Stella Banino gave in her welcome address as Secretary General of TUSMUNC I. Ken is pictured above with the Secretariat and the Committee leaders.
Stella spoke of the vital importance of listening as a leadership trait. She said, “The theme of this year’s conference is Division and Reconciliation. As Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” As you go forward and debate today, keep that in mind: as important as it is to speak up and fight for what you believe in, it is possibly more important to be open to the ideas and opinions of others. . . Leadership isn’t about accomplishing some great feat with the help of loyal followers. It’s about listening to those around you and giving them the wings they need to soar. . . These committees span a wide range of times and places, all have been wracked by the kind of division we see in the world around us, and none of these conflicts have been adequately resolved. Therefore, it is up to you to fight for peace with a firm resolve, to affect the kind of change that this world needs, and to take action to heal this divided global community. This is your responsibility; good luck, delegates.”
The delegates took that message to heart as they spent the rest of the day in committee sessions, listening and following parliamentary procedure. Afternoon action at TUSMUNC I included numerous new solutions as well as challenges posed by the Crisis Committees.
The Security Council Committee voted to give aid to North Korea in order to stop riots. The Roman Senate Committee was cheered by the plebs upon the dissolution of the Senate. Captain America Committee was told that in another country people were being harmed but the government was not allowing the Avengers to help. The Lorax Committee agreed to establish effective trade and stabilize environmental protections. The delegates are commended for how they worked together. They learned a lot to go forward as active world citizens!
One way that Ursuline offers students a global perspective is by organizing exchanges with our sister schools around the world. In November 2018, we were delighted to welcome 10 students and two chaperones from Lycee Sainte Ursule in Paris, France.
The French group spent 10 days with our host families as they experienced The Ursuline School and New York City. Students balanced attending a number of classes with local sightseeing. Toward the end of their visit, the students from Sainte Ursule gave a very informative and lively presentation to the whole student body. They shared video clips of their campus and of Paris, short interviews with several of their teachers and their description of A Day in the Life of a Sainte Ursule student! The student assembly especially enjoyed the popular songs in French.
A lifetime of memories and friendships were formed! We look forward to the next chapter of this exchange, our visit to Paris. And in December 2018 we welcome students and faculty from our sister school in Australia!