Paralympic Skier Gives Lesson in Resilience

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Chris Waddell was a competitive skier at Middlebury College when an accident on the slopes left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Decades later, Waddell has done the impossible. In addition to winning 12 Paralympic medals over four games, he became the first paraplegic to reach the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro unassisted in 2009.

Thanks to the efforts of the Katonah Elementary School PTO, Waddell gave an inspiring presentation at KES, bringing to life the school’s word of the month – “resilience.”

He encouraged students to think about the “name tags” they wear – “student,” “athlete,” etc. – and repeated his mantra, “It’s not what happens to you. It’s what you do with what happens to you.”

“Sometimes,” said Waddell, “these name tags come with limitations.”

Despite being labeled a paraplegic, Waddell has been recognized by the Dalai Lama and numerous publications, and was even named one of People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful” in 1998, a decade after his accident. He continues to travel around the world as a motivational speaker.

Waddell gave each student a card to thoughtfully fill out with their own name tags and expectations for themselves each day.

“It’s not what happens to you,” students echoed at the end of Waddell’s presentation. “It’s what you do with what happens to you.”

New Addition at JJHS Slows Traffic, Increases Safety

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One of the first actions new John Jay High School Principal Jessica Godin took this year was to install two speed bumps on the campus.

“The speed bumps were in the works for several years,” she explained. “We identified a safety concern with cars driving too fast through the front circle.”

With the help of Director of Facilities Paul Christensen and his team, optimal spots for the speed bumps were identified near the entrance and exit to the school grounds.

The campus has a posted speed limit of 15 miles per hour, and the speed bumps, installed at the end of September, are already making a difference.

“We have received a lot of compliments from staff and parents already,” said Assistant Principal Antonio Ramos. “It has been all positive feedback from people who appreciate that the speed bumps were installed.”

Added Godin, “This has created a safer environment for our students, parents and staff members.”

Football Goes Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

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John Jay High School’s football team isn’t afraid to rock pink. The team has been wearing “John Jay Football Tackles Breast Cancer” shirts during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, sporting the team motto “As One” on the back.

“We thought it would be a good idea to get shirts to bring awareness to this terrible disease,” explained head coach James Clark. “Many of them do unfortunately have to deal with the reality of breast cancer at some point in their lives.”

Lynn Lee, whose son Ryan Lee is a captain and quarterback for the team, helped coordinate the team’s effort, along with a fundraiser during this month’s home game vs. Beacon High School.

“The Booster Club partnered with the football team for the event, donating 20 percent of the gate that night,” said Lee. “The Boosters also sold pink rally towels to our fans, with proceeds going to the cause.” As a result, the team raised $300 for Susan G. Komen.

“Our boys really respect this event,” said Lee. “If you come to a game in October, you can see that they all wear pink in support – towels, socks, armbands, etc.” The effort has been fully embraced by the team, Coach Clark said, with the players proudly wearing their pink shirts and accessories.

This Friday, the team will continue to wear pink at its final home game of the regular season (also Senior Day) vs. Yorktown High School at 7 p.m.

“Besides the towels that we will sell again, we will also have a donation jar at the merchandise table,” said Lee. “Any monetary donation above $10 gets a free Breast Cancer Awareness hat while supplies last.”

Introducing a Real-World Learning Experience for Seniors

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A chance to dream. A chance to explore. A chance to do something new and exciting as they take their first steps into adulthood.

New this year, John Jay High School seniors will have the option to apply for the Senior Independent Experience, an opportunity to take learning off-campus at the end of their high school career.

The Senior Independent Experience has been imagined from the ground up by school administrators, faculty members and consultants, along with input from a staff, student and parent site-based committee. School officials have also reached out to area high schools that offer similar programs to soon-to-be graduates.

Students who apply for and are accepted into this year’s program can opt to spend a significant amount of time in the last 4-6 weeks of school off-campus pursuing an internship-like opportunity at a business or organization of his or her choice, gaining real-world professional experience; or complete a capstone project on- campus. The Senior Independent Experience will work with a pass/fail result, to be decided by a teacher that has the program worked into the curriculum (Humanities Research, Modern American Culture, Studies in Environmental Science or English 21-12), or an alternate staff advisor who will guide the student throughout the process.

According to school counselor Lucy Liberatore, who along with English teacher Marguerite Hefferon is building the program, several area businesses and organizations have already expressed interest in offering opportunities to John Jay students this spring, including Northern Westchester Hospital and the Katonah Museum of Art. Students will be encouraged to take personal initiative to discover, build and execute their individual experiences, taking responsibility for their own learning, beginning shortly after midterms in January.

While the Senior Independent Experience is a new initiative, Liberatore and Hefferon are already receiving positive feedback from students, parents and business owners about its potential.

Katonah-Lewisboro School District Board of Education Seeks Committee Members

Candidate Submissions for the Lewisboro Elementary School Utilization Committee due October 24. 

The Board of Education of the Katonah-Lewisboro School District is inviting community members to serve on the Lewisboro Elementary School Utilization Committee.  Those interested in participating must send a letter of interest and resume to the District Clerk by Friday, October 24, 2014.

The role and purpose of the Lewisboro Elementary School Utilization Committee is to investigate financial, legal, zoning and infrastructure possibilities/limitations associated with the potential leasing of Lewisboro Elementary School.  The Committee will develop a plan for the LES facility which serves both the financial and social interests of the community and will pursue and secure potential tenants.  

The Committee will meet monthly during the day (Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.) and will ultimately make recommendations to the Board of Education for action.  

Community members interested in participating in any of the above committees must submit a letter of interest and resume by Friday, October 24, 2014 to District Clerk Kimberly A. Monzon, kmonzon@klschools.org or by mail to Ms. Monzon, Katonah-Lewisboro Union Free School District, P.O. Box 387, Katonah, New York 10536.

JJMS PTO Presents 'It's Not Too Early to Start a Conversation'" Oct. 28

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Sun Shines Down on KES Walk to School Day

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Katonah Elementary School students traveled by bike, scooter and on foot to get to school on Oct. 8 in recognition of International Walk to School Day.

KES Assistant Principal Terence Costin said rain had been in the forecast, but the skies miraculously opened up in time for KES students to safely travel to school on foot, along with schoolchildren across the globe who also took part in the annual tradition.

“Thank you for joining millions of kids across the world for International Walk to School Day,” Costin said to students.

KES is the sole school in the district that participates in Safe Routes to School, an initiative that dates several years back.

“We have a neighborhood school that lends itself well to walking and riding,” Costin said.

In 2010, the district invited a consultant to the school to examine the walkability of the area. With the help of town leadership, striping and sidewalks were soon being added to the neighborhood to make it a safer place for walkers and bikers.

“We are very fortunate to be part of a community that has the vision and resources to help us,” Costin said. “The town has been extremely responsive.”

In addition to live music at the plaza, students received pencils, stickers and snacks before heading inside to school for the day. Also making a special appearance was school mascot Buddy the Bulldog, who danced with, hugged and posed for photos with students and their families.

The PTO, which helped coordinate the day’s efforts, continues to promote safe walking and bike-riding habits through literature on its website and correspondence with KES families.

 

Meadow Pond Students Enjoy Fall Bounty

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Meadow Pond Elementary School students spent one of the first days of fall out in the garden harvesting vegetables for the school’s annual Soup Day.

The outdoor experience offered students a hands-on lesson on how their food is made as they took an active role in its cultivation and preparation.  

“The Garden Club plants the seeds in the spring,” said Keli Mazzoni, a Meadow Pond third-grade teacher. “Each class then plants those seedlings or directly sows seeds in the garden.”

Volunteers help maintain the garden over the summer, and many pitch in to help prepare the vegetables.

“Each class harvests something from the garden and prepares it for soup,” Mazzoni explained, “whether it be peeling the carrots, cutting the butternut squash or tearing Swiss chard.”

After careful preparation, the soup is cooked all day before being reheated in time for Soup Day.

“It was so delicious,” Mazzoni said of this year’s final product. “Many kids came back for seconds and thirds!”

John Jay Valedictorian: HS Years a ‘Life-Shaping’ Experience

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Ryan Monasch remembers stepping through the doors of John Jay High School for the first time, everything new and unfamiliar.

“Now I can call JJHS, with everything it has brought me, a second home,” said the Class of 2015’s valedictorian. “My time at JJHS has certainly been a life-shaping experience. Not only have I been able to have an amazing educational experience here, but I have also built social connections that I know will last for the rest of my life.”

Monasch said he is honored to be class valedictorian among a group of particularly intelligent and hardworking peers, and called the title “gratifying.”

As he begins to think about college, Monasch notes several JJHS courses helped shape his passion for math and science, including his Algebra 2, Pre-calculus and Chemistry honors classes. And while he plans to pursue a biological sciences-related major in college, he truly enjoyed his time in Jason Mahlke’s AP Literature class as a junior.

“I've usually enjoyed my math and science classes more than my humanities classes, but this class was extremely unique due to the group of people in the class, the subject material chosen, and the way it was taught,” he said. “The combination of these factors provided me with not only an educational, but an enjoyable, experience that I looked forward to every day and helped me to gain the most of a humanities class. While I may favor math and science in my future endeavors, this class reminds me of how I still have an enjoyment for the humanities, and I will work to keep this part of my life active as well.”

Monasch has also kept busy outside of the classroom. He serves as the executive project manager for the John Jay for Wounded Warriors Club, is a member of the Science Olympiad, is a three-year varsity soccer player, is pursuing the rank of Eagle Scout and volunteers as a peer group leader. He also continues to attend post-confirmation classes and assists teachers at his temple, serves as a student representative in Campus Congress and plays recreational basketball in the winter. But his favorite pastime?

“I love to just play with my 6-year-old little brother,” he shared.

Looking toward the post-high school years, “I am excited for all of the future challenges that lie ahead of me, but it will be equally sad to depart from a place and the people who have helped me grow so much,” Monasch said.

From the Nurses of KLSD Regarding the Enterovirus

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