By Melanie Cane


On February 10, Garnets’ senior captain Katie Popp passed the 1,500-point milestone. She scored 29 points, leading the Garnets to a 55-36 victory over East Ramapo. Less than 24 hours later, Popp broke the all-time Rye High Girls’ Basketball scoring record, in a nail-biting 49-45 win over Red Hook at home. 


Popp’s 1,539-point total pushes her past Kate Beswick, who ended her Rye High career with 1,537 points in 2001. 


In the first quarter of the Red Hook game, Rye dominated possession, rebounds, and shooting opportunities. But they had a little trouble converting their shots and ended the quarter with an 11-8 lead.


Teaghan Flaherty stole the ball from the Raiders in the opening play of the second quarter, but missed the lay-up. The Garnets pulled down her rebound, but missed the next three shots. The Raiders scored on their next three possessions, taking a 17-11 lead. Popp missed four consecutive shots until she drew a foul on a drive inside and made both foul shots. 


On their next possession, the Garnets made some beautiful passes around the key before Red Hook stole the ball and scored on a fast break. Popp answered with a drive down the middle and a left-handed hook. On the next play, Ellie Dailey stole the ball and drew a foul on the fast break. Rye had another turnover before the end of the half, and the Raiders jumped out to a 24-18 lead.


Rye had a couple of turnovers at the beginning of the second half before Hannah Mullaly scored twice from inside and Popp hit a jump shot to come within two of the Raiders. Kate Robbins hit a three-pointer on the inbound, and Red Hook responded with another. Popp tied the game on a beautiful hand off from Dailey under the basket and Robbins followed up with another three-pointer to regain the lead. A few seconds later, the Raiders hit a three-pointer to tie. With two minutes to go in the quarter, Popp drove down the center and hit a twisting shot from directly under the basket. She repeated that play a minute later. Rye had a 38-33 lead going into the fourth quarter.


Red Hook regained the lead 43-41 halfway through. With less than three minutes to go, Popp tied it at 45. 


Both teams missed several shots until Popp grabbed a defensive rebound, beat three defenders to the basket on a fast break, and hit a layup. She repeated this superhuman maneuver one more time before Rye ran down the clock for the win. Popp’s last four points tied and then bested the all-time scoring record. Unaware of her accomplishment at the time, to those watching it appeared as though some magical force propelled her to achieve the feat. 


While admitting she was thrilled with the accomplishment, Popp said she was even happier that she contributed to the team’s victory. “Breaking the record was not on my mind at all. I was pretty tired, but I wanted us to win. Something kicked in at the end of the game and gave me a boost of energy. The whole team picked it up in the second half, becoming more aggressive and focused.”


Fellow senior co-captain Kate Robbins said the team was a little sluggish against Red Hook because they had played the night before. “We played back-to-back Friday and Saturday games three weeks in a row, and the Saturday games were all a bit tough. We knew early in the game we needed to step it up defensively because we were struggling offensively. We focused on boxing out to get the rebounds and marking players closely.” She thinks the team gained more confidence as the season progressed and started winning more consistently. “We came a long way after losing our first four games!” said Robbins


The Garnets’ 11-9 record earned them home court advantage in the first playoff game, February 18. 




Teaghan Flaherty, at right, with the shot


The Garnets after the victory over Red Hook


By Janice Llanes Fabry


Rye Neck High School recently collaborated with the Community Resource Center in Mamaroneck to determine the role that accessibility to transportation plays in the lives of Hispanic/Latino immigrants. Through an enterprising elective, Action Research for Community Change, students work directly with various organizations to devise a research framework that will meet their needs. 


“The course is a big adjustment from going to a more typical class, taking notes, and doing homework,” offered senior Matt Lawhon. “Action Research draws a lot more on creative ability and abstract reasoning. There are a lot more directions you can go in because you’re dealing with unanticipated complexities. It’s more representative of what you see in the real world.”


For this particular collaboration, Lawhon and a think tank made up of fellow students initially met with the Community Resource Center’s former Executive Director, Milan Bhatt. They discussed examining just how pivotal transportation accessibility is in the overall well being of new and undocumented immigrants. The students had the task of designing and conducting a study to provide the center’s staff with data on how immigrants use transportation to get to work, health care, and healthy food.  


Enrichment Coordinator and Action Research instructor, Dr. Valerie Feit explained that because of the nature of the course, its syllabus is constantly evolving. It is contingent upon a community organization’s specific requirements. In the past, the students have tackled senior care and food insecurity. 


This time around for the Community Resource Center, Lawhon and his peers pored through immigrant and transportation studies, reviewed national and local demographics, and then developed an anonymous survey to be completed by those who utilize the Center. 


According to Feit, the unbiased research painted a portrait of a fragile community that struggles with job and income insecurity in an environment where transportation to work, health care, and supermarkets is a constant challenge. 


Among the most startling findings was the fact that over half of the immigrants do not have a car to get to the closest supermarket three miles away. They either walk or rely on bicycles or public transportation. Moreover, almost a third end up to driving without a license to get to a job or a medical appointment. 


“One of the lasting impressions I had was just how important transportation is to a population in this area even though there’s a high degree of affluence and almost everyone has a car,” said Lawhon. “It’s an interesting idea that high school students can do the kind of research that can have a positive impact on people’s lives.”





Rye Neck High School senior Matthew Lawhon





Sara and Francesca Brizio have qualified for the Junior Olympics and will compete in Kansas City, Mo., February 17-20. The Brizio sisters have been fencing for seven years. Sara got the bug after her parents brought her to an exhibition at New Amsterdam Fencing Academy North, in Port Chester. “Ever since, I have loved the sport,” said the 16-year-old. “I had tried other sports, but none of them really felt right.” Her younger sister Francesca, 13, was hooked, too. 


“I love the mental aspect of fencing,” said Sara. “You need to understand the person you’re fencing because your results don’t only depend on your performance. Even if you are extremely quick, you can still lose because the other fencer out-smarted you.” Both teens began their fencing careers, and still train, at NAFA North. “Because it is smaller than many clubs, you can really make strong bonds and feel like you’re part of the whole team and grow together,” said Francesca.  


“We’re so proud of Sara and Francesca and our two other Junior Olympic qualifiers,” said John Gonzalez, NAFA North club owner and coach and a former champion fencer himself. 


Sara says her strategy for success at the Junior Olympics is to “get the right training in beforehand to perfect her timing and skills, and during the tournament to have a positive attitude and dig deep to keep fighting when she feels tired or defeated.” Francesca’s strategy is to “have a good mindset and use familiar tactics to keep control of her bouts.”  


Both Brizio girls will compete in foil in the U17 and the U20 categories.


By Janice Llanes Fabry


Rye Neck High School presents “Legally Blonde” at the Performing Arts Center March 2-4 at 7. After three months of rehearsals, a cast of 40 students and a crew of 71 are ready to bring the house down with the sassy, effervescent musical that follows the metamorphosis of a young woman who defies all expectations. 


“It’s a fun play for everyone, with a good message and lots of dancing,” said Director Scott Harris. “The main character learns she is worth so much more and can achieve a great deal with her intelligence and self-confidence. It’s very empowering for girls.” 


It was that positive message that convinced Harris to select “Legally Blonde” when the students approached him with the idea last year. The director also saw the value in the musical’s sharp humor and big dance ensemble numbers.


“This musical gives students the opportunity to be on stage at the same time and to feel more ownership of the show,” noted Harris, who is working with Choreographer Jesse Pellegrino, Music Director Mark Galinovsky, and Costume Designer/teacher Karen Fontecchio. “It offers much more of a communal experience and it has dynamic leads and strong characters.”


The musical, which opened on Broadway in 2007, is based on the highly popular 2001 PG-13 film that put Reese Witherspoon on the map as the resourceful, pink- clad Delta Nu sorority president Elle Woods. Although the movie came out the year many of the students were born, most have seen it and are very excited.


Senior Rachel Wurzburger, who is playing Elle, remembers watching it on TV with her older sisters. “At first, Elle is completely unaware, but then she realizes she is able to push boundaries she thought she never could,” she observed. “I think it’s such a good lesson and a great part to play.”


Among the other leads are Justin Sturgis as Emmett, Mariko Sugaya as Brooke, Hunter Greenhill as Professor Callahan, Joshua Goldin-McCarthy as Warner, Erin Drace as Vivienne, and Bria McClain as Paulette.


Stage Manager Jillian Hurlbut, who has led the crew all four years, said, “I feel privileged. And the experience here made me realize that I want to pursue theater or film in college,” said the University of Wisconsin-bound senior. 


Additional crewmembers include Assistant Stage Managers Margaret Kohler and Matt Ponticiello, Technical Director Ian Gabriele, and Assistant Technical Director Michael Quartararo.


Harris, who teaches acting and musical and technical theater classes, a freshman public speaking class, and now an eighth-grade theater class as well, makes sure all the students have a full theatrical experience. This year, he has even rented an impressive set that is a slightly scaled-down version of the one utilized on Broadway.


“I’m not looking to do a high school musical, but rather a professional-level show that stars high school students,” said Harris. “They’re getting an elevated experience and it really helps that Rye Neck supports theater.”


<For tickets, visit> 



Director Scott Harris with Rye Neck High’s “Legally Blonde” cast


Peter Kwauk, who is majoring in Mathematics at Fairfield University, earned a 3.95 GPA for the fall semester and was named to the Dean’s List.




Trevor Patrick Crawford received Deans List Honors for the fall semester from Fairfield University, where he is in the Dolan School of Business. He is a member of the Rye High School class of 2014.





Rye Country Day School 10th graders, Helena Zimmerman and Max Mindich were named semifinalists in the Diamond Challenge, a unique competition that enables high school students to learn about entrepreneurship while putting their ideas into action. The young duo founded, a social venture concept aimed at helping their peer group give back meaningfully in a way that factors in the demands and challenges they face in their daily lives.  


They will travel to the University of Delaware April 6 to make their pitch in this year’s semifinal round. Top teams will win awards from a prize pool of $100,000.   



Claire Julian, a senior at Rye Neck High School, won in three categories of the 2017 regional Hudson-to-Housatonic Scholastic Writing Awards — Short Story, Poetry, and Personal Essays.


Through the help of her English and Writing teachers, Melinda Merkel and Mary Lanza, Claire submitted several pieces for consideration for which she received One Gold Key, Two Silver Keys, and Three Honorable Mentions.  

Gold Keys are awarded to the most accomplished works and are automatically forwarded for consideration for national Scholastic Awards.