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Harvard Graduate School of Education professor Dr. Chris Dede will give a talk on “Redesigning Schooling for Success in College and in Life,” November 6 from 7-8 p.m. in the Rye Middle School Multipurpose Room. Professor Dede will discuss how to prepare students to compete in a global, knowledge-based, innovation-centered economy.

There will be time for questions and answers at the end of the talk. The event is free and all are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information on Dr. Dede, including his research, visit https://www.gse.harvard.edu/faculty/christopher-dede.

By Janice Llanes Fabry

Rye Neck High School is presenting the hilarious “Noises Off” at the Performing Arts Center October 26 and 27 at 7:30. The Rye Neck Theater Department, headed by Scott Harris, has never rested on its laurels and this year is no different. Not only does the fall play feature a talented cast and crew of students, but a two-story revolving set might come close to stealing the show.

The 1982 Broadway classic farce by Michael Frayn is about a hapless company of actors attempting to stage a British play. The audience gets a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes during a performance. As a result, Harris explained, the play doesn’t work unless there’s a two-story set with both front and backstage points of view.

“The audience gets to watch actors getting ready to go on stage to perform the play within the play. They get an insider’s view of the magic of theater,” said the director, who hired a set designer to construct the two floors, complete with a fulcrum for spinning. The students played a big part in assembling all the parts.

“As always, our fall play is almost completely homegrown. Students run nearly all aspects of the production,” said Harris. “There’s been a flurry of activity at rehearsals every night since early September, as students have been learning lines, assembling costumes and props, making signs, and basically putting the whole thing together.”

He introduced “Noises Off” to his acting classes last spring.  The title comes from the theatrical stage cue that indicates sounds coming from offstage. The play was also made into a screamingly funny feature film in 1992 with a star-studded cast that included Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, John Ritter, and Marilu Henner.

“We laugh all the time during rehearsals as the students practice the timing, the pratfalls, and the slapstick,” Harris remarked. “It’s a very challenging piece because the timing between the action and the dialogue is very specific.”

The school’s fall play has become as much a staple of Rye Neck theater as their elaborate spring musical, albeit on a much smaller scale. All 11 actors have meaty roles and all 40 crew members are integral to the show.

As Harris noted, “For those students who love theater but may not have the singing chops for the spring musical, this is a great option. Because it’s a smaller group, each student has a special connection and feels ownership in the play. It fills them up with joy.”

Tickets are available at the door, general admission. Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for students/children.

At Christ's Church Nursery School’s Fall Fair October 21, family and fun were in the air. Over 400 people came out for community and to ensure that many tiny fingers had a chance to “Touch a Truck” and hop on board.

Photos courtesy of Christ’s Church Nursery School

All the Light You Can Clearly See

One hundred-fifty members of the Rye High School class of 2018 were inducted into the chapter of the National Honor Society at a candle-lighting ceremony at the Performing Arts Center on October 11. To be eligible for membership, students must maintain a cumulative average of 90 or greater and perform a minimum of 75 hours of volunteer service.

The Rye High faculty nominated students, who they believe embody the ideals that the Society celebrates: Jared Olbrys for scholarship, Mary (Maggie) Devlin for leadership, Alexander Mayo-Smith for service, and Chase Bekkerus for character. Those students then chose classmates they believe represent those same qualities: Nora Woodruff for scholarship, Emma Smith for leadership, Elena (Lainie) Agosta for service, and Peter Chabot for character.

At the ceremony, the students lit candles to represent each of these qualities, and all joined in repeating the pledge of induction.

Once inducted, National Honor Society members continue their volunteer service. Last year’s graduating class logged 1,300 tutoring hours, and this year's class has pledged to match that number.

Candle of Service students Alexander Mayo-Smith and Lainie Agosta

Candle of Character students Chase Bekkerus and Peter Chabot

Candle of Leadership students Maggie Devlin and Emma Smith

Candle of Scholarship students Jared Olbrys and Nora Woodruff

Fire Safety and Prevention Week is always one of busiest for the Rye Fire Department. But members always find time to visit Rye’s preschools and elementary schools to teach the very youngest citizens what to do in case of a fire.

On October 11, students at Little House Day Care were given the opportunity to visit the Fire House.

By Bob Zahm

Each year New York State conducts standardized testing in English (English Language Arts) and Math at all public elementary and middle schools. Third through eighth graders take the tests over two days in the spring, and the results are generally made available in August. The tests are intended to provide information to parents and the public about how effectively our schools are instructing New York students.

There is good news to report for the Rye City School District. The 2017 standardized test rankings have significantly improved for English, with the District moving from 12th to 6th place in Westchester County. In Math, the District rose from 15th to 11th place.

 

Outside of Rye City, the top five Westchester Districts are virtually the same as last year. The top four districts in ELA and Math mastery are unchanged – Bronxville, Chappaqua, Scarsdale, and Edgemont. Irvington earned the 5th slot in ELA mastery, and Katonah Lewisboro (replacing Briarcliff) the slot in Math.

Like the top five Westchester School Districts, Rye has also improved its absolute rate of student mastery as seen in both the ELA and Math test results. Rye City’s performance of 69.9% in English means that approximately 30% of students are not mastering the curriculum. Similarly, roughly 27% of Rye City students are not mastering the Math curriculum.

 

In comparison to overall New York State performance, Rye City and Westchester County continue to do well, with local students passing the ELA and Math exams at a much higher rate than across the State and County.

  NYS Average Westchester Average Rye City
ELA 38.8% 54.5% 69.9%
Math 40.2% 58.9% 72.8%

Rye City Elementary School performance continues to vary significantly across grades within schools, as well as within grades across schools. The only discernable pattern is at Midland, where two years of top performance has taken place starting with third grade in 2014 moving up to fifth grade in 2017. Absent a detailed look at the instruction provided and materials used, it is unclear if this success was due to teaching methods or is the function of a group of highly performing students.

The Rye City School District plans to provide their assessment of the test results and associated actions at the October 24 School Board meeting.

The District is pleased with the direction the most recent test results have taken. However, there are some doubts about the usefulness of the tests as a vehicle for assessing actual student mastery and identifying areas for improvement. The doubt is linked to the quality of individual test questions as well as the degree of coverage of the curriculum provided by the tests.

The District’s strategy for improving student mastery in English and Math has two primary components. First, enhance teacher and administrator professional development through focused training plus coaching. Second, ensure that students are strong readers and writers – critical skills for both the English and Math tests.

  • Tom McDermott and Peter Jovanovich