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Osborn fifth-grade elves displaying some of the many gifts collected through the school’s Holiday Angels program. The presents will be on their merry way to the Carver Center in Port Chester, which will then deliver them to 200 children who’ve been very good.

Among the elves are, front row: Ilona Salters and Cecilia Hoogstra; back row: Alex Gordon, Brayden Goodman, and Juliet Rotondo.  

Photo by Sarah Derman

 

By Janice Llanes Fabry

Rye Neck High School junior Jazzy Cores is playing the female lead in Disney’s blockbuster “Newsies” at Archbishop Stepinac High School. The all-boy Catholic school in White Plains was one of five high schools in the country, and the only one in New York, chosen to stage a pilot production of the musical before it is released to general licensing. 

Girls from surrounding schools were invited to fill the female roles, which is where Cores comes in. “I saw an audition notice on Facebook and immediately started preparing. I watched ‘Newsies’ videos, asked my voice coach for help, and drank a lot of tea.”

Cores’ coach of four years, Gigi Keeffe-Schwartzman, an award-winning singer, prominent voice teacher, and vocal health coach, assisted with lyrics and capturing a song’s emotion. Subsequently, the talented young performer aced her first audition at Stepinac by singing a piece from “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” in which she had played the title role at the Rye Neck Middle School’s production a few years ago. She also tapped her way into the heart of the theater director with a jazzy sequence at the unexpected dance audition the same day.

Two days later, Cores received a call back notice that she was one of six actors returning for a second audition. A week later, she found out she had landed the role.

“It was very surreal. I opened the email from Stepinac with my friends after school and I was so happy, I was practically in tears,” she remarked. “The role of Katherine Plumber is a dream role of mine. The character’s songs are upbeat and funny and I love her because she’s determined to be a reporter in a day and age when women weren’t given those opportunities.”

Cores, herself, is as tenacious and plucky as the character she will play. Not only did she sing and dance around the house as a child, her father called her Jazzy, a nickname for Jasmine, which turned out to be a pretty catchy stage name.

She caught the acting bug early on when her parents took her to kid-friendly Broadway musicals for her birthday every year. During intermission at a production of “Peter Pan” at the Westchester Broadway Dinner Theater, an audition notice in the playbill caught her eye. At age 9, she tried out and was cast in “Big River” with Lighthouse Youth Theatre, and has been on stage ever since.

She won a National Youth Theatre Award for her portrayal of Mille. She played the sassy Serena doing the “bend and snap” in Rye Neck High School’s production of “Legally Blonde,” and the hopeful and resolute Cinderella in the school’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” last year. Cores also won “Rye’s Got Talent” contest in 2015 for singing “Little Mermaid’s” “Part of Your World.”

<“Newsies” will be performed at Stepinac’s Major Bowes Auditorium on December 1, 2, 8, and 9 at 7:30, and December 9 and 10 at 2. Tickets are $22 for adults, $18 for seniors and children. For more information, visit stepinac.org or call 946-4800.>

 

Rye Neck junior Jazzy Cores

 

It is truly the most wonderful time of the year. Everyone knows which religious service they’ll be attending and where they’ll be the first night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve. Families are planning gatherings and feasts, pulling out old recipes and placing their orders for Yule logs, gingerbread houses, country hams, oysters, salmon tartar, sparkling wines, and chocolate anythings.

Meanwhile, everyone is trying to find that special something for that certain someone.

If you’re in the mood for a Blue Christmas, you’ll find a lot of ways to accessorize it — furry, quilted, or otherwise — at Clutch. And picture Christmas morning with mother and child cuddling in Roller Rabbit pajamas.

He will brighten up if he finds a Breitling Hurricane wristwatch in his stocking. Either of the Woodrow brothers will be happy to model one. While you’re there, any woman would take a shine to the Mikimoto hombre South Sea pearl necklace and bracelet, or the diamonds by the yard collection from Roberto Coin.

Barbour jackets have a long lineage but most of them are boxy not foxy. Not so the new Helsby model with the faux fur-trimmed hood and quilted lining. Head to Parkers — and soon — if you want to wrap yourself up in one this winter. For the girls, nothing beats a Better Sweater in oasis blue or craft pink from Patagonia.

For stylish days and nights, Angela’s is the standard bearer. In a gray Fabiana Filippi sweater and slacks outfit, along with a felt hat with fox pompons from Lola in Paris, she’ll turn heads everywhere. If she was born to be wild, she’ll be the leader of the pack in a patent leather and faux fur biker jacket from Shrimps.

Great Stuff lives up to its name. They stock just what you need for every occasion. While it’s a super sweater spot, it was an off-the-shoulder black velvet evening dress from Ulla Johnson that garnered our attention. A Herno fur-trimmed jacket will spice up a country girl’s look. Put the finishing touch on any outfit with a Faliero Sortie scarf and a navy bucket bag from Go Dash Dot.

For a multitude of whims, think Lola. Their offerings are as splendid as their windows.

Royal Jewels has a number of striking one-of-a-kind pieces designed by the talented Mr. Givelekian. In addition to those, we took a sparkle to the selection single diamonds on white, rose, or yellow gold chains. They work as a solo or many-layered look.

There’s no place like home for the holidays and we’re blessed to have two home design shops in town. This time of year, Nest stocks a host of trimmings — from ornaments to colorful table dressings. And they have the perfect tray for the skiing crowd. The Open House is the place to find that mostess hostess gift.

With book in hand, you can never go wrong. If Arcade Booksellers doesn’t have one of those “100 Best” of the year on the shelf, depend on Patrick Corcoran to get it the following day. Among his top picks for grownups are: Ron Chernow’s “Grant” biography, Lee Child’s latest Reacher thriller, “The Midnight Line”, and John Banville’s “Mrs. Osmond”, which follows where Henry James left off in “The Portrait of a Lady. The youngest of readers will take to Patrick McDonell’s “The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way)”, a romp through the animal world, and Liniers’ “GOOD NIGHT, PLANET”, in which a stuffed animal takes a leap into the unknown.

For real-life animals, who are more doers than readers, All Paws has toys and chews aplenty to make sure your pup is asleep when Santa arrives..

Vintage never goes out of style, and the place to find it is Joan’s Antiques & Jewelry. At the top of our list is a pair of Van Cleef & Arpels diamond drop earrings. Everything in her cases sparkles.

We find uncommon treasures every time we venture into York Antiques. When we asked owner Frank Rotondo about the pair of striking blue ceramic ginger jars — from Rembrandt’s blue period! — we settled down for a long winter’s chat about their provenance. We also admired some fine period furniture, Oriental rugs, bar sets, and a great variety of costume jewelry.

A book in hand, you can win a girl

 

By Andrea Alban-Davies

Have you spent time in your child’s classroom recently? If so, you most likely recognized, instantly, how little has changed since you were a kid, or even since your parents were kids. Sure, the desks are no longer organized in neat little rows, but are, instead, arranged into small groups. And, yes, there are small nods to how radically our world has changed, with a white board replacing the blackboard, and computers and tablets lining the back wall. The pedagogy, however, remains largely unchanged.  

The teacher is the source of information, and the methodology of imparting that knowledge is principally through direct instruction: the teacher talks, the students listen. The teacher asks questions and students endeavor to produce the answer(s) that the teacher is looking for. Worksheets and textbooks (with their broad, but shallow, coverage of content) are still alive and well, both in the classroom and the homework folder. Students are asked to listen, memorize, repeat, and retain. Perhaps the only meaningful difference for this generation is how frequently they are tested and assessed. This can all either feel comfortably familiar and reassuring... or somewhat alarming given what is needed to succeed in the world we live in today versus the industrial world that public school has been preparing children for over the last century and a half.  

To be sure, none of this is particularly new; warning bells have been sounding for decades on the need to change our traditional public school education system. But sometimes even those who listen to the research and understand the urgent need for change can get so bogged down in the ‘how’, that they end up throwing up their hands and settling for small tweaks around the margins (after all, the system that seems to be working ok for now), leaving the core unchanged. That is why it was such a true privilege to have Chris Dede, Harvard Professor of Education, come speak publicly (at the invitation of the Rye City School District) about how large-scale formal education can be — and, in fact, is being — transformed in schools around the country through the use of digital technologies. He has spent an entire career contemplating questions surrounding how to keep our classrooms relevant, and how to prepare today’s students for the workplace of the future.

Currently, his journey finds him working with colleagues on technology-based solutions that foster immersive learning, complex causal reasoning, and teamwork, among many other things, and that are in use today in a diverse group of schools. (Incidentally, he and his colleagues make many of these resources available for free.)

Professor Dede began his talk by outlining the limits of our current model. He used the metaphor of teaching a student to operate a “player piano” to describe the current state of public education. It’s just fine, as long as the world demands that someone turn a crank and predictable, replicable music comes out. The problem arises, however, when we’re living in a world that increasingly needs people to play in what Professor Dede called the “jazz combo”. Those of us in the audience didn’t need to know much about music to understand what he was saying: learning how to operate a player piano will not afford you the skills and flexibility to play in tomorrow’s jazz combo.

He proposed a new kind of classroom. One where the teacher is a facilitator (not a lecturer), the student is a symbolic analyst (not a clerk), learning is about thinking skills (not information transfer), cognition is about process (not warehousing information), the unit is a team (not an individual), assessment is authentic/portfolio-based over time (not a multiple choice test), and the questions are asked and answered primarily by the students (not the teacher). He was talking about preparing our students for an innovation-based economy, where the key regarding knowledge isn’t about how much you can store, but rather how you use the knowledge, dissect it, put it back together, make inferences from it, and, most importantly, use it to formulate the next important question, which often may not have an answer — yet.

He then showed us in more detail the real digital technology solutions that he is collaborating on for use by students as early as third grade. They are so exciting not only for the incredible multi-faceted learning opportunities they afford, but also because they are accessible to every district and its teachers that are willing to invest time and thought into addressing the new challenges their students will face when they leave their classrooms.

While digital technologies are not the solution to all of the problems we face, in large schools like ours they could be a bridge to the kind of classroom that Professor Dede champions, both when they are <and aren’t > in use. Best of all? They don’t require us to tear down the entire system that we’ve built — a system with many strengths, including a rock-solid community, strong social cohesion, and a deep commitment to intellectual values — but, instead, allow us to build upon our strengths to find the best way forward for our students.  

Sure, we’ll probably need to rely on experts during the transition, and surely there will be painful bumps (and perhaps dips in some traditional metrics) along the way, but if the product is creative, collaborative, flexible, inquisitive, self-starting, accepting, communicative, innovative, engaged, and happy graduates — citizens ready to tackle the challenges of the 21st century — isn’t it worth it?

 

Actress, award-winning author, and education advocate Sonia Manzano will give a talk at The Harvey School on Sunday, December 10 at 4. Best known as Maria on “Sesame Street”, Manzano has inspired and delighted children and families for over 30 years. She broke ground as one of the first Hispanic characters on national television, was in the original cast of “Godspell”, and is the author of several books, including a memoir, “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx”, a young adult novel, “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano”, and a children’s book, “No Dogs Allowed”.

After sharing her humorous and substantive experiences, the master storyteller will stay for a Q&A and book signing afterwards.

General admission is $35 for adults. Seating is limited. For tickets, go to www.harveyschool.org/harveypresents or call 232-3161, ext. 161.

 

The College Board’s National Hispanic Recognition Program identifies academically outstanding Hispanic/Latino students based on their PSAT’s, which they took during their junior year. Approximately 5,300 students nationwide were named National Hispanic Program Scholars. All seven of Rye High’s National Hispanic students were honored as Scholars based on their high school GPA.

Pictured with Superintendent Dr. Eric Byrne and Principal Patricia Taylor are, from left: Rebecca Daniels, Shoshana Daniels, Ariel Daniels, Gabriel Mazuera, Pablo Mazuera, and Dylan Urbanczyk. Not pictured: Andrew Gomez