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Recognizing NCAA-Bound Athletes

Recognizing NCAA-Bound Athletes Photo

Eleven members of Briarcliff High School’s Class of 2017 were celebrated at the school’s seventh annual NCAA Press Conference on May 18.

School counselor Dr. Nathan Heltzel welcomed the athletes, their coaches and their families to the event before introducing each athlete individually and spoke about his or her achievements and collegiate plans.

“We are very proud of these young men and women,” said Dr. Heltzel. “They really exemplify the highest moral and ethical standards that we could expect of them at Briarcliff High School.”

The athletes recognized at the ceremony include:
•    Jake Brown – men’s baseball at Kenyon College
•    Kylie Elwood – women’s rowing at Fordham University
•    Hanna Feuer – women’s cross country and track & field at Kenyon College
•    Ryan Gallagher – men’s cross country and track & field at Providence College
•    Sophie Gelard – women’s cross country and track & field at Binghamton University
•    Jake Hardy – men’s baseball at Skidmore College
•    Loren Haukova – women’s tennis at Boston College
•    Lucas Hoffner – men’s lacrosse at Clark University
•    Keaton McCann – men’s lacrosse at Union College
•    Jordan Ricciardi – women’s lacrosse at the University of Richmond
•    Jack Zimmerman – men’s track and field at Pennsylvania State University

Tennis standout Loren Haukova thanked her high school coach, Don Hamlin, for a memorable four years.

“Mr. Hamlin brightened everyone’s mood, where it was in school or on the court,” she said.

Zimmerman, who will leave BHS with school records in shot put, discus, weight throw and hammer throw, as well as a state title in shot put, is looking forward to joining the renowned Division I program at Penn State.

“I’m excited for the future,” he said. “Penn State is a good fit for me. I wanted to go to a school where I could get a good education and be at the highest level of track.”

Ricciardi is still making an impact with the Briarcliff Bears lacrosse team before graduation. Athletic Director Christos Drosopoulos noted that she scored her 100th career goal on May 17.

“They are accustomed to recognizing opportunity when it is before them and seizing it,” Dr. Heltzel said of the athletes. “They have that will to win that life is going to demand of you when you walk out of Briarcliff High School and we know you are ready and capable.”

Middle School Play - The Sound of Music

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens!

In just two weeks, Briarcliff Middle School will present Getting to Know… The Sound of Music. The shortened version, tailored for a middle school age group, of the soaring Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is filled with classic songs such as “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” and “Edelweiss.” The show is a joyful celebration of the power of music and the importance of freedom of expression. It will be one of YOUR favorite things!

Tickets are available NOW through June 2 at 12:00 pm at Performances will be Friday and Saturday June 2 and 3 at 7:00 pm and Sunday June 4 at 2:30 pm. All tickets are $10.


Senior Recognized for Excellence in Chemistry

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Senior Lauren Burnette has been honored by the Westchester Chemical Society for Outstanding Scholastic Performance in High School Chemistry. She received the award at the Society's annual awards symposium on May 2.

Burnette excelled in both honors and AP chemistry, and also served as co-president of the high school Chemistry Club. She will be attending the University of Pittsburgh in the fall with chemistry as a possible major.

Burnette is pictured with chemistry teacher Dr. Robert Saar.

Award Ceremony Live Streaming Video

Click here to view the video

Briarcliff MS is Alive with The Sound of Music

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Students from Briarcliff Middle School are preparing for a lively performance of “Getting to Know…The Sound of Music.” The famous Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is available in a shortened, hour-long version tailored for a middle school age group. However, one aspect of the story could not be changed without losing the essence of the drama – the shadow of the Nazi occupation of Austria in 1938 – and that fact resulted in critical conversations with the student cast that have resonated beyond the rehearsal room.

“Although ‘The Sound of Music’ is one of the most beloved, family-oriented musicals in history, many students wanted to know how we would represent the occupation in the play,” said director Ian Driver. “ We had to discuss ways to present the antagonists in the play in a manner that is appropriate in a middle school environment.”

The students asked to have a conversation with Principal Susan Howard, who asked them to share their thoughts on appropriate representation of all the characters in the play.

“It was an incredibly impressive and rewarding afternoon,” said Driver, “and very revealing of the empathy and maturity of the middle school students involved in the production.”

Alongside the famous songs, like ‘So Long, Farewell,” “Do-Re-Mi” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” the audience will be able to read student responses to the history in the story and hear explanations on staging that will, as a result of group decision-making, refrain from any use of historic imagery that might cause offense.

Seventh grader Giovanni Culotta, who will play the role of Rolf Gruber, said, “We are surely aware of the fact that we are portraying Nazi characters and do not want to offend anyone with our performance. But aside from that, I hope everyone can enjoy all of the other fun aspects of ‘The Sound of Music.’”

“The show is really about the freedom that comes through free expression and specifically music,” said Driver, and accompanying the serious discussion is a tremendous amount of enjoyment and fun.

After all, the school corridors are reverberating with the Sound of Music.

“Getting to Know…The Sound of Music” has music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, with a book written by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, and is suggested by “The Trapp Family Singers” by Maria Augusta Trapp. At Briarcliff Middle School, the production is directed and produced by Ian Driver, with musical direction by Regina Leon, technical direction by Jim Britt, choreography by Davyd H. Suber, Jr. and costume design by Karen Altabef.  The parent producer is Betty Ng-Beckler.

The performances will take place in the Middle School Little Theatre at Briarcliff Middle School on June 2 and 3 at 7 p.m. and June 4 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now through Friday, June 2 at noon. All tickets are $10 online at For questions about tickets, contact

Softball Team Raises Awareness about Pediatric Cancer

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Briarcliff High School’s softball team has dedicated two games during the spring season to raising awareness about pediatric cancer.

The team partnered with non-profit Go4theGoal, an organization dedicated to helping kids with cancer achieve their goals.

During games versus neighboring schools Westlake and Pleasantville, both teams donned gold shoelaces in honor of the cause. Proceeds from the shoelace costs were donated to Go4theGoal.

Guest Conductor Emphasizes Interpretation of Music

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The Briarcliff High School band was treated to two concert workshops with guest conductor and clinician, Curt Ebersole, in April.

“Ebersole led the ensemble in a workshop designed to build awareness of the intricacies of band performance and share his interpretative ideas for two pieces the band is preparing to perform at their spring concert,” said BHS band director Marc Tartell.

The rehearsal began with the piece “In Flight” by Sam Hazo. Ebersole coached the ensemble by helping students become aware of similar parts played by different instruments and which layers of sound were most important in the musical score. He also urged them to listen to great artists play their instruments to better understand the characteristic sound they need to strive for in their own playing. 

The second piece the band explored was Anthony O’Toole’s “Longing,” inspired by the writing of British poet Matthew Arnold. After discussing the main idea of the poem and how music reflects the human condition, Ebersole conducted key passages.

During the rehearsal, he paused and asked students, “Why do you think I interpreted the music this way?” At one point, Ebersole asked if they thought it would be a good idea if the closing sounds of the music, wind chimes, started earlier than originally written in the score.

When the band members expressed their agreement that it was a good idea, Ebersole took out his cell phone and asked, “Why don’t we call Mr. O’Toole, the composer, and find out what he thinks?”  

Much to everyone’s surprise, O’Toole, who lives in California, answered the call and Ebersole shared the conversation on speakerphone with the band.
“It was a great moment of surprise that reinforced the idea that performing music is an interpretative art that is much more involved than just reading musical symbols on a page of music,” said Tartell.

Budget Vote and Board Election Results

The results of the Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District’s annual budget vote and Board of Education election are as follows:

2017-18 Budget Vote
Yes: 256
No: 63

The budget passes.

Board of Education Trustee Election
Jennifer Rosen: 268

Mrs. Rosen is re-elected for a three-year term, beginning July 1, 2017.

Renowned Quartet Works with HS Musicians

Renowned Quartet Works with HS Musicians Photo
Briarcliff High School’s orchestra members were treated to a special workshop with the Argus Quartet on March 28.

The quartet, which is currently in residency at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, has performed in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Laguna Beach Live!, the Hear Now Music Festival and the Birdfoot Festival.

The quartet performed for BHS students during the visit and provided a master class for the orchestra, thanks to a grant provided by the Briarcliff Friends of the Arts.

Showcasing Student Art

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Artwork in a variety of mediums and from a range of students was proudly showcased during the high school’s annual Art Salon, held at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club on April 20.

The evening featured high school string student-musicians, who performed while guests viewed the art. Those in attendance were also treated to remarks from guest artist Christopher Manning, as well as the recognition of National Art Society seniors and new members.

Attendees also enjoyed a screening of student-made films during the evening festivities, which may be viewed here.

Gowda, Xie Earn Medals at I-SWEEEP

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Briarcliff High School students Kaveri Gowda and Lin Xie represented the district at the International Sustainability World Energy, Engineering and Environment Science fair in Houston, Texas, from May 3-8.

The two presented alongside more than 4,000 students from 70-plus nations during the annual I-SWEEEP competition. Gowda earned a gold medal for her work in the field of environmental science, while Xie took home a bronze medal in the environmental science sub-category of Medicine and Health.


Todd Brings ‘The Jungle Book’ to the Stage

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The Pushkin Players of Todd Elementary School are gearing up for their annual spring production.

This year, the talented group of fifth-grade actors will present Disney’s “The Jungle Book KIDS” on May 12 at 7 p.m. and May 13 at 2 p.m. at Todd.

Cooking up the Perfect Story

Cooking up the Perfect Story Photo

Todd Elementary School’s second- and third-graders are at the perfect age to start their writing careers, according to children’s fiction author Kate Klise, who visited the school recently.

She herself started her writing “career” at a young age, first creating a book for her sister. Despite the fact that it wasn’t a well-received present, she did not give up.

Instead, Klise said she persisted by writing and rewriting, while another one of her sisters, who still illustrates her books, also makes many drafts of her pictures.

“You have to do things a lot of times,” Klise shared. “Take your age and divide it by two. That’s my rule – the older you are, the more drafts you have to do.”

Klise told students that the three ingredients she mixes up for a perfect book are: “one character, one problem and one adventure.”

She invited students to help create stories using these ingredients, which led to stories featuring brazen robbers, silly haircuts and life lessons learned.

Klise read her book “Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth,” to conclude her visit with the students.

Todd’s author visits are made possible through the support of the PTA.

U.S. News & World Report Awards Gold to BHS

Briarcliff High School has once again been recognized in U.S. News & World Report’s Best High Schools rankings.

“The Briarcliff High School community is proud to be recognized for earning a Gold Badge and ranked as one of Best High Schools from U.S. News and World Report,” said Principal Debora French. “We are extremely fortunate to have the support of a community which places high standards and value on building an educational school environment directed toward meeting the needs of all students.”

BHS was ranked as a top high school in both the state and nation, earning the gold badge based on student performances on state tests and college readiness.

“The collective belief is that students learn best in a caring environment, in which they feel safe, supported, challenged, and accepted. Our students strive to excel in all facets of high school life to become responsible, and contributing citizens,” said French.

Todd Takes a Journey with Sound

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Artist Darius Kauffman took Todd Elementary School students on a musical journey during a recent visit.

“You are going to be taken to places all around the world,” said Principal Nadine McDermott. “You can use your imagination and visualize.”

Thanks to the PTA Multicultural Awareness Committee, students were introduced to unique instruments from around the world and practiced a meditation during which they connected their thoughts with the music they heard.

“It’s important that the kids are aware of the variety of cultures that are around us and that are represented within our community,” said Maria Molnar, a committee co-chair.

Following the musical journeys, students shared what they envisioned with the guests and learned about the instruments showcased, including an Apache drum, deer foot rattle, loon flute and Aztec wind whistle, to name a few.

Shaulson Receives Youth Philanthropy Award

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Briarcliff High School senior Drew Shaulson’s passion for helping others was recognized at the 1st annual Red Shoe Awards to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley on April 20.

Shaulson received the Youth Philanthropy award for his work with the charity he founded, Discover Your Hero. Instead of focusing on monetary donations, Shaulson’s organization works to connect people. After volunteering at the Ossining Food Pantry and working as a “big buddy” to a child with Tourette’s Syndrome, he was inspired to create opportunities for others to make a difference in each other’s lives on a personal level.

The organization works with “Heroes in Need” who share their specific needs, such as health care or items that can improve someone’s quality of life. In return, “Heroes In-Deed” may offer aid.

Shaulson will attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in the fall.

Yearbook Club Offers Unique Opportunities

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Briarcliff Middle School students involved with the Yearbook Club are practicing skills ranging from photography to layout.

Club advisor Stephen Cook said photographing events can give incoming sixth-grade students a taste of the wealth of experiences offered at the middle school.

“They go to sporting events, theme days in school, field trips, holiday parties, class presentations, etc.,” he said. “Plus, when they see photos they took in the book itself, it’s exciting for them – they can see the proof of their contributions.”

Filling a yearbook with photos is a challenge in itself, Cook noted. “You find that you can never have enough pictures to choose from,” he said. “It requires 10 times as many pictures than you actually use.”

As the school year begins to wind down, club members are in the throes of editing and finishing up the layouts of the yearbook’s pages.

“I think the school will be very impressed with their efforts and enjoy the final product,” said Cook.

HS Students Inspired at MoMA

HS Students Inspired at MoMA Photo

High school students enrolled in college-level art classes drew inspiration from artwork on display at the Museum of Modern Art during a recent field trip.

“We had a great day at the Museum of Modern Art,” said K-12 visual arts coordinator Roxanne Ritacco. “We viewed a fantastic exhibition of 60s art, the permanent collection of modern art and the architecture and design [exhibit].”

Students drew comparisons between the work they observed and their current projects in painting and design.

A Taste of High School Music

A Taste of High School Music Photo

Todd Elementary School’s fifth-grade band and orchestra members were treated to a special performance featuring some of the high school’s musicians.

The March 31 visit marked the National Association for Music Education’s Music in Our Schools Month and gave the soon-to-be middle school students a preview of what music education in the middle and high school is like.

“This was a way for the Todd students to hear what they can possibly sound like if they stick with their chosen instrument through high school,” said middle and high school orchestra director Michael Fraioli.

Todd students were impressed with the high school musicians and were eager to ask them questions about their instruments, how often they practice and their favorite songs to perform.

Taking Inspiration from Hispanic Artists

Taking Inspiration from Hispanic Artists Photo

Eighth-grade students studied the styles of three well-known Hispanic artists – Salvador Dali, Frida Khalo and Pablo Picasso – as part of an interdisciplinary Spanish/art unit before creating their own self-portraits.

“Students worked in groups to learn about the artist's life and times,” said art teacher Jessica Dubin. “They looked at and recorded observations about paintings by each artist. They shared their research with one another via a web-based presentation device called ‘Sway.’”

Following the group research, students began drawing a self-portrait, beginning with a focus on proportion and facial features. As the portraits progressed from pencil drawings to painted pieces, students prepared to study each other’s work during a gallery walk.

During the walk, students observed and noted styles used by their peers, including which artists they were inspired by. They were evaluated on their Sway presentation, group discussion, sketch, painting design, painting craftsmanship, self-reflection and gallery walk.

Young Scientists Shine at WESEF

Young Scientists Shine at WESEF Photo
Young Scientists Shine at WESEF

Briarcliff High School’s science research students boasted a strong showing at the annual Westchester Science & Engineering Fair, held at Sleepy Hollow High School.

Briarcliff students were among the more than 550 participants who presented to 300 plus judges throughout the day.

Science research teachers Melissa Carnahan, Kim Dyer, Michael Inglis and Annemarie O’Brien offered their congratulations to the day’s award-winners, including the following students who received special awards:
American Meteorological Society Award: Kaveri Gowda
American Psychological Association Award: Kieran Roth
Association for Women Geoscientists Award: Kaveri Gowda
Stockholm Junior Water Prize: Kaveri Goda
Walter Kass Memorial Award: Maria Capasso
Yale Science & Engineering Association Award: Farhannah Mohideen

Special congratulations to the following best in category award winners:

1st Place in Behavioral Science: Ava Goldwyn
2nd Place in Cellular and Molecular Biology: Jacqueline Contento, Samantha Manimala
3rd Place in Behavioral Science: Grace Boyar, Georgia Minkoff
3rd Place in Environmental Science: Kaveri Gowda
3rd Place in Medicine and Health: Lauren Ballini
3rd Place in Microbiology: Lin Xie
4th Place in Animal Sciences: Lindsay Shapiro
4th Place in Astronomy and Physics: Benjamin Shi
4th Place in Cellular and Molecular Biology: Lucas Benson
4th Place in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics: Aidan Bohan
4th Place in Environmental Science: Joseph Raphael
4th Place in Medicine and Health: Hannah Gelfand, Edison Ho
4th Place in Microbiology: Steven Orientale

“The science research team and Briarcliff High School community are so proud of our students and their achievements,” the science research teachers said in a joint statement.

Pictured from left to right: Science research teacher Kimberly Dyer, Kaveri Gowda, science research teacher Michael Inglis, Joseph Raphael, Jacqueline Contento and science research teachers Melissa Carnahan and Annmarie O'Brien.

Destination Imagination Team Headed to States

Destination Imagination Team Headed to States Photo

The middle school’s Destination Imagination team impressed judges at the NYDI Eastern Regional Tournament on March 18 and earned a trip to the state competition.

“We received second place honors and won the Renaissance Award for excellence in engineering,” said club advisor Jodi Shearer. “We are going on to the state challenge in Binghamton in April.”

Students were challenged to design a structure that could hold a significant amount of weight.

“The structure judge met with us afterward and said ours was one of the strongest designs he has ever seen,” said Shearer, noting that it held 95 pounds before time ran out. “The kids are psyched for states now.”

Gowda Earns Bronze at JSHS

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Briarcliff High School student Kaveri Gowda has received recognition at the Upstate New York Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, held in Albany.

“This competition brings all of eastern and western New York science research students into state competition,” said science research teacher Melissa Carnahan. “Kaveri was one of five winners in the third place category of the state competition. We are very proud of her.”

The JSHS competition brings together approximately 800 elite science research competitors from around the state. Gowda’s third place finish came in the poster competition. Her classmates Jackie Contento and Joe Raphael also made an appearance at JSHS, participating in the PowerPoint competition.

Prolific Author Visits Todd

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Author of 90 books for children and teenagers, Gordon Korman has been a writer since he was very young.

Korman visited Todd Elementary School’s fourth- and fifth-grade students on March 24 to speak about his long writing career and offer some inspiration for budding writers in Briarcliff.

Korman wrote his first novel as a seventh-grade student, “This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall,” which was published by Scholastic by the time he reached high school.

“You never know where the next idea is going to come from,” he said. “You’re a better writer when you write about what you love.”

For example, Korman noted that his “Swindle” series came out of his love for old films and movie plots that feature exciting action such as robberies, prison breaks and fugitives. He translated this passion to books about boys whose valuable baseball card is swindled away from them.

He also pulls from real life to shape his books. Said Korman, “My teenage son is the inspiration for the main character in ‘Slacker.’”

Korman’s next book, “Restart,” will hit bookshelves in May. He gave Todd students a sneak preview and told them the plot involves a bully who falls off his roof and gets total amnesia.

Students participated in a poster-design contest leading up to Korman’s visit. Gordon Beckler, Emilio Abud Chalita and Toby Young were selected by the author as the winners, earning gift certificates to the Village Bookstore in Pleasantville and iTunes.

Todd’s author visits are generously supported by the PTA.

HS Artists Earn Scholastic Recognition

Five high school students have earned regional awards in the 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Congratulations to:

Farhaanah Mohideen

•    Gold Key (Painting) for “Portuguese Road”
•    Silver Key (Painting) for “lake scene”
•    Honorable Mention (Drawing and Illustration) for “fright”

Devon Litchfield
•    Silver Key (Drawing and Illustration) for “The Attic”
•    Honorable Mention (Drawing and Illustration) for “Helen”
•    Honorable Mention (Drawing and Illustration) for “Industrial Revolution”
•    Honorable Mention (Painting) for “Deep in Thought”
•    Honorable Mention (Painting) for “Takeout”

Julia Orientale
•    Silver Key (Printmaking) for “Back in Time”

John Gross
•    Honorable Mention (Design) for “Mondrian’s Puzzle”

Hannah Siesel
•    Honorable Mention (Drawing and Illustration) for “Stranger”

Students Share Passion for STEM

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Small groups of students shared their enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the Lower Hudson Valley’s first regional STEM Festival for middle schoolers at Blind Brook Middle/High School on March 18.

The STEMfest was a noncompetitive gathering of students who are passionate about STEM that challenged them to build, invent, research or code and present their work in a supportive environment.

Seventh-graders Kabir Gowda, Neel Menon and Ben Young worked on creating a hologram using three-dimensional objects for STEMfest.

“It looks really cool and the science behind it is interesting,” Menon said.

Other students who participated in the event included Annika Bruinings, Theo Racz, Coby Rinke, Kornel Smith and Daniel Sugrue.

“STEMfest was great,” said science teacher Jodi Shearer. “The kids all had wonderful experiences.”

Saturday, May 27, 2017