' A great place to learn."                                         February 2011, Vol. 1: Issue 1

Eighty-three Receive

 AP Scholar Status

Eighty-three Byram Hills High School students are among the top 18 percent of students worldwide who performed well enough in the college-level Advanced Placement exams to earn the designation of Advanced Placement Scholar.


The College Board's AP program offers students the opportunity to take challenging courses while still in high school and to receive college credit, advanced placement, or both for successful performance on the AP exams.


Six students received the highest level possible and were named National AP Scholars for receiving an average of at least 4 on all AP exams taken and a grade 4 or higher on eight or more. 


While most of the students graduated last year, 27 are currently seniors and have a chance for further recognition next year. They are Alexander Martino (Scholar with Distinction); Talia Bloom, Alana Deutsch, Kristin Hasselgren, Madelyn Klugman, Jeffrey March, Nicole Pollack and David Taitz (Scholar with Honor); Sarah Berger, Connor Berlin, Kyle Berman, Conor Boland, Joanna Chang, Ariana Croll, Max Deutsch, Harris Goodison, Rachel Kaplan, Jessica Katz, Katherine LaMantia, Jordan Nick, Gilbert Rosenstein, Lucia Saidenberg, Sarah Schur, Alison Schwartz, Zander Weiss, Caroline Yu, and Chloe Zung (AP Scholar).


Byram Hills High School offers 17 AP courses including Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, Computer Science, English Literature, English Language, Physics, Spanish, Studio Art, French, Statistics, European History, World History, US History and Human Geography.


Coman Hill Students Get Physical


Coman Hill students spent two weeks enjoying Fitness Monopoly in their physical education classes earlier this school year, where they participated in 30 different stations incorporating strength, endurance, balance, and agility.


Interdisciplinary skills such as math and reading are used and the students also strengthen their social skills in working with partners.


"The students look forward to this every year," says physical education teacher Jessica Woolf.


A toss of oversized die and a math calculation determined which station students would visit. "I liked spinning plates best," said Liam Bruskewicz.


With station names like spining spinach and stretching strawberry, Fitness Monopoly includes a nutrition element highlighting fruits and vegetables, and one station requires students to sort models of food into nutrition categories.

Coma Hill fitness


Coman Hill second graders try stilts during a physical education unit called Fitness Monopoly.


For more photos click here. 

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Finding Harmony at Wampus


Who knew that a seemingly simple instrument like the xylophone could offer such rich music lessons exploring pitch, patterns, melody, texture and harmony? Probably Wampus fifth graders, who spent a unit in the fall discovering all that glockenspiels, wooden xylophones and metalophones have to offer.


"Xylophones are a tremendously helpful tool for music because they help make pitch and melody tangible for the students," says Wampus music teacher Emily Traycheff. "They allow students to experience pitch in a concrete way and to make auditory and visual connections between pitch relationships." 


Ms. Traycheff says that upcoming lessons will include transposing pieces of music from C, the key in which her students have been working, to other keys. "Students will have to learn to manipulate some of the bars of the instrument to play different scales; this is a very clear way to experience what happens when there is a change of key." 


In the future, they will progress from playing everything in unison and begin to play orchestrations for songs.  "This will be good reinforcement of the skills they are learning in their chorus, orchestra, or band ensembles," Ms. Traycheff says.  


For more photos click here.


High School Students Read!

For one period on a crisp fall day, Byram Hills High School teachers joined principals, district administrators and virtually every student in the school to focus on literature.
HS Reading Seminar

District superintendent, Dr. Jackie Taylor, and World Language chairperson, Melissa Stahl, were among several administrators to lead discussions during the high school's Reading Seminar. 

In a time-honored tradition, students chose one book from a suggested-summer-reading list of more than 40 and had the opportunity to discuss the book in a school-wide seminar.


"The objective is for students to view reading as a community/communal activity," says Duane Smith, who chairs the English department. "We like that the seminars often have teachers outside the English department at the helm," Mr. Smith says. "It sends a really strong, albeit implicit, message about the value of reading." Students chose from titles as diverse as Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw" and Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" to Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" and the Harry Potter series.


Seminars ranged from scholarly discussions of books such as "The Help," set in the 1960s south, which deals with the issues of race and women's rights, to a Jeopardy!-style game format for Harry Potter devotees. Library media specialist Letty Nardone  divided participants into the four Hogwarts school house groups of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin to compete on Harry Potter trivia.


Crittenden Uses Socratic Method to Build Community

H. C. Crittenden Middle School students participated in the first of four school-wide Socratic seminars of the year earlier this year, examining a concept that, at some point in everyone's life, has resonance: exclusion.


The students watched a video of a teenager's personal experience and read some short texts that generated group discussion. "It's powerful to just let students talk," says Crittenden enrichment teacher Dawn Rosen. "The beauty of the Socratic method is that there's no end and there's no wrong answer. It can be very empowering for a student because it's a safe environment where they can feel comfortable about opening up."

The students are gathered in groups of about 15 across all three grade levels and each seminar is facilitated by a teacher who encourages participants to engage in an open discussion. Ms. Rosen says the seminars allow students to examine some important big ideas. Past seminars have included service, sustainability, conformity, and courage to care.



Seventh grade math teacher Jill Berner facilitates a Socratic Seminar.


"It's very powerful," says Principal Dr. Evan Powderly of the Socratic Method, which Crittenden has used for several years.  "To have 700 students having the same experience at the

same time helps them understand that they are all in one community, and it helps students begin to understand what it means to be a Byram Hills student." 


Adds Ms. Rosen: "At the end of the day it's the students saying 'this is what's important for me."


The next Socratic seminar is scheduled for this month and will be followed by two more later in the year. They will address attempts to bring the concept of "Rights and Responsibilities" from a personal level, to a community, national and global level.

Our Mission
In an environment of mutual respect, the Byram Hills School District and its community will provide students with the means, the knowledge, and the opportunity to excel in order to become productive and responsible citizens of the 21st century.
Byram Hills School District Board of Education: Mr. Brett Summers, President; Dr. Ann Tedesco, Vice President;
 Dr. Leslie Blum (Cziner); Dr. Alban Burke; Ms. Robin Glat; Ms. Joyce Meiklejohn; Mr. Ira Schulman

Dr. Jacquelyn Taylor, Superintendent
   Classroom Connection is published by Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES