Our ballet students created a magical evening as they presented a Winter Dance Lecture Demonstration and performed "Sun, Moon and Stars" on January 9, 2020.
The beginning of the program was a lecture demonstration. All of the first semester ballet classes demonstrated ballet terms that they have learned and executed them technically at the ballet barre.
The second portion of the program was an interpretation of dance on the theme Sun, Moon and Stars. The dancers wore vibrant colors of yellow to match the sun, royal blue representing the stars in the blue sky, and gray to signify the moon. All of the musical selections were chosen to fluidly express how imagination and choreography interprets dance orbiting through space.
Congratulations to all the ballet students on their poise, solid technique and graceful movements. Thank you to Mrs. Jenne Griffith for excellent choreography, music selections and dance instruction.
St. Angela reminded her company of women, "Thus, from the great need we have of divine aid, we must pray always with mind and heart."
After the recent attack at the home of a Jewish family in Monsey, New York, Cardinal Dolan urged that "all people come together in a spirit of unity to reject such hatred and bigotry wherever it occurs." The increased violence in the Middle East is further reason to affirm our commitment of goodwill toward all. We also want to pray for the people of Australia, that the wildfires will cease and that there will be no further destruction and loss of life.
As a sign of our unity with those of all faiths, our Campus Minister, Sr. Pat Schifini, prepared an ecumenical prayer service. We gathered on January 7, 2020 in the Ursuline Province Center Chapel to pray for peace. We were pleased that Jess Lorden, Executive Director of Congregation Kol Ami, was able to join us.
We sang songs of peace and lit the Christ candle to remind us that Jesus is our Light who guides our feet in the way of peace. Our formal prayers included a Jewish and an Islamic prayer for peace as well as the Universal Prayer for Peace and words from Pope Francis.
In a simple and beautiful candle lighting ritual, we lit candles for peace, courage, hope and peace makers. We know that we were joined in spirit by many in our Ursuline community who are also praying for peace. We offer a download of our Prayer Service HERE.
Basketball history was made on December 21, 2019 as the Koalas defeated Albertus Magnus 63-58 and Coach Beth Wooters ‘80 earned her 600th career victory at The Ursuline School!
The historic win was achieved in the opening round of the Slam Dunk Tournament at the Westchester County Center. Sonia Citron had 26 points and 15 rebounds, Alexa Mustafaj scored 16 points, Meghan Casey contributed 11 points, and Fiona Mills had 5 points and 7 rebounds.
The Journal News reported that “Ursuline played with purpose and gave coach Beth Wooters a milestone win.” Coach Wooters said, “Getting it here, I mean, what better venue is there. And to get it playing a team like Albertus, that is the exciting thing. We really had to work to get it. I was hoping the girls didn’t know about it, but they did. It just means a lot to do it here with our friends and supporters.” More Journal News reporting is HERE.
We congratulate Coach Beth Wooters and all the players who contributed to this accomplishment over four decades!
And the basketball success continued after the 600th win. The Koalas played with intensity all weekend and won the tournament, beating Hastings 83-45 in the championship game.
Our 2019 Christmas Concert on December 18, 2019 opened with the induction of 25 new members into our chapter of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. 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.
The enthusiastic Middle School Choir opened the concert in the Tully Family Auditorium - Gymnasium with four challenging pieces which they sang in four different languages: English, French, Italian and a Nigerian carol titled Betelehemu that included a rhythmic chant against a lovely melody.
The wonderful Junior Choir enchanted the audience, especially with the contemporary arrangement of The Christmas Song. The Honors Choir, as strong and melodious as always, performed a modern setting of the traditional chant Ubi Caritas; the girls sang in four-part harmony and the effect of the lush harmonies was quite breathtaking. They then sang in six different parts in the spiritual I'm Gonna Sing til the Spirit Moves in My Heart, a big challenge that came together very well.
Our instrumental groups wowed the audience with gorgeous arrangements of traditional carols as well as surprising new musical selections. The Wind Ensemble played Scenes From An Ocean Voyage in a minor key; the percussionists evoked the sea, shark and whale very persuasively. Their rendition of Away In A Manger was unexpectedly and enjoyably played calypso style!
The excellent Orchestra treated the audience to a beautiful, flowing performance of French Christmas Carols. Then, soloist Lily Desiderio played the opening notes of All Is Calm on her cello, leading the Symphony Orchestra in a beautiful performance of that piece. Flutist Magdalena DiGiorno played exquisitely to close out the performance. They certainly earned their standing ovation.
Congratulations to the Performing Arts Department for preparing such a joyous evening of music! Thank you to our Performing Arts faculty: Mrs. Rosemary Kennedy-Clarizio, Dr. Laurie Adamo, and Mr. Mark Collins.
The first Saturday in December holds a special place on The Ursuline School calendar. That is the day we host the Emily Clemente Memorial Speech and Debate Tournament. The tournament is named in honor of Emily Clemente, an Ursuline student and beloved member of the Ursuline speech and debate team more than 30 years ago. Tragically, Emily Clemente died in a car accident while still a student at Ursuline, but her memory lives on every year at Ursuline on the first Saturday in December.
This year was no different, as Ursuline hosted 125 participants from 15 schools plus coaches and judges on December 7, 2019. We were joined by former Ursuline faculty and forensics supporters Mr. Ken DeLuca and Mr. Mark Lipitz. In addition, it was an honor that one of the judges was Preet Bharara, former United States Attorney General for the Southern District of New York, pictured here with Principal Rosemary Beirne and members of our team. Ursuline teacher Mr. Paul Grisanti joined long-time Ursuline Forensics Club faculty moderator Mr. Chris Bratt as they welcomed everyone and handled the logistics.
We congratulate all student participants and recognize their hours of practice with coaches as well as students’ willingness to receive pages of critiques from the judges. These young people learn to organize their thoughts concisely when they have a 10-minute limit for a speech. Other times, they memorize poetry or prose, thereby honing their ability to speak without reading notes. Confidence builds as they deliver a dramatic or humorous interpretation of a play, or speak extemporaneously on an assigned newsworthy topic.
Ursuline’s Forensics Club is a competitive speech and debate activity, a member of the New York Catholic Forensic League (NYCFL), New York State Forensic League (NYSFL), and the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA). We offer various categories for different levels of ability, from beginner to expert. In the coming months the speech and debate team will be competing in several more local tournaments. We also compete at college tournaments if student interest and commitment merit it. And we're always looking for new members!
We are grateful and proud that Ursuline has once more received a grant from The H.W. Wilson Foundation. This new grant, in the amount of $50,000, is to provide furnishings for the Innovation Hub, a makerspace currently under construction. It is impossible to overstate our appreciation for the Foundation's support and for the impact that their generosity has on Ursuline students. A rendering of the Innovation Hub is shown here.
As of December 12, 2019, the Innovation Campaign is moving full speed ahead on both the construction and fundraising fronts. The steel beams were installed just before Thanksgiving and now steel decking is being mounted. Over $6 million of the $8.5 million goal has been raised thanks to gifts and pledges of all sizes. We invite you to read more details and see photos on our Innovation Campaign website www.tusinnovationcampaign.org.
The Ursuline School Drama Club proudly presented their fall drama, The Woman Who Came to Dinner on November 22 and 23, 2019. This comedy, based on the 1939 play The Man Who Came to Dinner, centers on a brash radio personality who is a rude house guest and tries to thwart a romance between her assistant and a local reporter, all while actresses visit from around the world.
The audience enjoyed the fine acting of the whole cast. Taryn Comizio gave a forceful performance as Sheri Whiteside, the illustrious and opinionated radio personality. Alexis Pinto was sassy yet passionate as the faithful assistant Maggie Cutler. Alexa McRedmond shined as the glamorous actress Lorraine Sheldon and her lovely solo was a highlight. Courtney McAloon was delightful as Banjo.
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 three-act comedy is a classic and heavy with dialogue. The thespians clearly had worked hard to embrace the language and references to the 1930s culture. Each line was delivered with intent. Congratulations to the cast under the direction of Edie Anne Reidy and the stage crew. Kudos also to the set designers and costume designers. Photos here are by Chris Pope of Pope Photography.
On November 13, 2019 we celebrated with five seniors and their families as these student-athletes from the Class of 2020 committed to play their sport in college.
Camryn DiCostanzo will play lacrosse at Iona College.
Grace Prince will row at Loyola Maryland.
Alexa Quirolo will play basketball at Saint Anselm College.
Kathryn Posner will swim at Franklin & Marshall.
Alice Hodge will play golf for Florida State.
Each of these student-athletes has worked hard and persevered at their sport. They also are dedicated students in engineering, advanced drawing and painting, computer graphic design, and environmental science. Some of them are members of the National Honor Society and one serves as a Student Ambassador. Congratulations to these young women and their families!
Ursuline’s second annual Model United Nations Conference, TUSMUNC II, on November 16, 2019 was another absolute success! Sixty delegates from Ursuline, Fieldston School and Maplewood Middle School debated issues around the theme “Out of the Ashes: Reconstruction after Conflict.” Delegates assumed the roles of diplomats representing countries and engaged in debate using the rules of parliamentary procedure. They prepared for the conference by writing position papers. Then, in teams they drafted resolutions and presented them in a public forum. The Ursuline middle school team, JMUN, is pictured here.
The four committees at TUSMUNC II represented fictional universes and historical situations: Ad Hoc NYC, Ragnarok – A World Aflame, Crisis in Burkina Faso - 1987, and America After the Revolution. The middle school delegates passed directives and carried motions. The NYC Committee faced a crisis when the power went out at the Empire State Building, and they elected a new mayor. The Burkina Faso 1987 Committee created a national constitution. At the Ragnarok Committee, delegates advised survivors of the apocalypse how to build a new civilization. The America After the Revolution delegates debated whether to repay debts to France.
A new, fifth group, was called Press Corps. These delegates had the chance to be journalists; they reported news from other committees while advancing their own news company.
Undersecretary General Lorelei Wolf ‘20 offered an enthusiastic welcome to delegates. She remarked on the dedication and passion of the high school Ursuline Model U.N. (“MUN”) team members who planned and ran this conference. She said, “We all decided that MUN means more to us than just meetings every Thursday and a conference here and there. It means more to us than just debating politics for the day and then going home to forget about them. To us, MUN is a way to engage as a global citizen, to exercise your creative energy and create exciting possibilities, whether it be through your interpretation of a delegation or by your choice of committee to run. Our enthusiasm truly knows no bounds. I can honestly say that I don’t know any other group of people who would spend hours helping one another research and think up solutions to, say, the crisis in Burkina Faso, for instance. But that is exactly what we do, and I am inspired daily by the commitment I see my friends pour into this club.” The high school MUN leadership team is pictured here: the Secretariat, Crisis Team, and Committee Chairs.
Lorelei introduced the keynote speaker, Alexandria Sedlak, Ursuline Class of 2014. Alex is “an Ursuline alum who not only participated in MUN for all four years of her high school career but who dedicated her life after high school to pursue the ideals fostered by her global awareness.
She attended Fordham University and helped found the college’s own Model UN club and host their first conferences (which we attended and loved!). Honing her interests, she studied public health and policies at Columbia University, and went on to law school at Hofstra University, pursuing a career in health law and human rights law. During the summer of 2018, Alex interned at the United Nations.” Alex charged the delegates to embrace the moment and realize that, as future advocates, they do have the potential to change the world. Alex is pictured here with Principal Rosemary Beirne.
Joining for the morning was Magdalen Gaynor ‘71 representing the Louise Este Bruce Foundation who has generously funded Ursuline’s Model United Nations Middle School Conference program.
Each Model U.N. conference chooses a specific charity as a fundraising focus. At TUSMUNC II, the amazing young people donated $339 to the charity Tunnels to Towers.
Learn more about this middle school conference at https://www.tusmunc.org/
Dedicated practice and perseverance paid off for six of our high school music students who were chosen to perform at the 2019 Westchester County Area All-State Music Festival Concert on November 7, 2019 at the SUNY Purchase Performing Arts Center.
Each of these fine musicians had the opportunity to perform demanding works under the direction of outstanding conductors and propel their musicianship to another level. They also had the chance to meet and bond with other music students from around the county.
Lily Desiderio, on violin, and Santina Madden, on cello, performed with the String Orchestra under the direction of Joanne Erwin, Professor Emerita of Music Education at the Oberlin Conservatory and currently Adjunct Professor of Cello at Rowan University.
Rebecca Zhu, on clarinet, performed with the Symphony Orchestra, directed by Mina Kim, conductor of the SUNY Purchase Symphony Orchestra and a piano faculty member at the SUNY Purchase Music Conservatory.
Lola Milazzo, soprano, and Gabrielle Adams, alto, participated in the Mixed Chorus directed by Dr. John Warren, Professor of Music at Syracuse University.
Ciara Carolan, soprano, sang as part of the Treble Chorus, directed by Dr. Doreen Fryling, music educator at South Side High School in Rockville Centre, NY, and Hofstra University.
These music students were selected on the basis of their spring 2019 New York State School Music Association ("NYSSMA") auditions, specifically the challenging Level Six repertoire.
Wykagyl Country Club was once again the setting of the annual President’s Dinner on November 7, 2019. President Eileen Davidson welcomed the opportunity to thank alumnae, parents and friends who each gave $2,500 or more to the 2018-19 Annual Fund or to the Innovation Campaign, or to both!
Eileen Davidson pointed out to the assembled donors, “Your philanthropy means that this year, for the 6th year in a row, the Annual Fund totaled over a million dollars, and our Innovation Campaign is at nearly $6 million! I know that each of you has a choice in your philanthropic commitments. On behalf of all Ursuline students, teachers, staff, and administrators, I thank you whole-heartedly for your philanthropy. Together we bring the Ursuline mission to life. Together we “build up the community, value it, and treasure it,” as St. Angela exhorted us to do.
Our work is not done. But what we’ve accomplished together has already made a difference, both in the lives of countless students and in the exciting progress of our building campaign.”
The success to date of the Innovation Campaign was center stage as students shared their gratitude and how each space will impact them personally. For our computer scientists, the Innovation Hub will create a start-up like environment where creativity and collaboration will abound, while drama enthusiasts envision the space being used to create props and set pieces for theatrical productions. The High-Tech Media Conference Center infrastructure will allow our accomplished Model United Nations teams to properly prepare and provide them with a competitive edge. And the possibilities will be endless in the Christina Jun Murphy ‘22 Student Commons.
Donors enjoyed the chance to sign a steel beam from our construction site. And their curiosity about construction progress was rewarded with a behind-the-fences look at our construction progress, via video, led by our very own President and “General Contractor” Eileen Davidson!
Special thanks to our Ambassador Ensemble under the direction of Ursuline music instructor Mark Collins. They presented a special Ursuline performance of baroque music composed by Ursuline Sister Isabella Leonarda (ca. 1640) and arranged by Mr. Collins.
We thank all our donors for their investment in Ursuline! And we thank Chris Pope of Pope Photography for the excellent photos.
The Tully Family Auditorium-Gymnasium was buzzing with anticipation on November 5, 2019 as we welcomed Delia Owens, New York Times best-selling author of Where the Crawdads Sing. Dr. Owens shared insights into her writing process with the assembly of students, faculty, and a number of alumnae, current parents, trustees and friends.
Delia Owens received a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of Georgia and earned a PhD in Animal Behavior from the University of California, Davis. Dr. Owens is the co-author of three nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in Africa where she lived for 23 years. Her extensive research into the behavior of lions, elephants and baboons caused her to be impressed with how similar human behavior is to that of these mammals. Specifically, these animals exhibited group behavior that reinforced the importance of being part of a group.
In her remarks to our school assembly, Dr. Owens shared that after her research, she felt that people would be interested in a fiction story that explored how a young girl would be affected if she had to grow up alone. Dr. Owens also wanted to include a murder mystery that posed the question: Why did they behave the way they did?
Two Ursuline seniors had the honor of posing questions to Dr. Owens on behalf of the high school students who had all read this book as one of their summer reading assignments. Kyla Golding '20 and Violet Lee Cadet '20 asked Dr. Owens about her writing inspirations and her author's style, which blends lyrical writing with a compelling story. After this talk, many in the assembly wanted to re-read the poems included in the book to discover the clues to the murder!
The Visiting Author Series at Ursuline was initiated 10 years ago by President Eileen Davidson. We were delighted to host Dr. Owens, and glad that she generously signed stacks of books and took time to be interviewed by our Unison school journalists.
Thank you to Chris Pope of Pope Photography for the excellent photos here.