Spotlight on

Cathie Bischoff, 

Who Sees Value in Full STEAM Ahead

By Mitch Silver


There’s been a lot of talk about — and emphasis on — the importance of STEM in today’s high school curriculum. The mastery of STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, is being looked to nationally as way to keep America at the forefront of innovation in the years to come.


For decades, though, most math and science departments might as well have had a sign on their doors reading, “Girls Need Not Apply.” Cathie Bischoff, a biologist and longtime head of the Science Department at Rye Country Day School, is leading an effort to change all that.


Bischoff and Rye Country Day have added an A (for Arts) to STEM. “Music, dance, and the visual arts shouldn’t be over there while science and math are over here. If the sound of wind instruments can teach our students about wave mechanics, let’s do it.” She added, “The world no longer exists in silos. Interdisciplinary understanding is vital for today’s students to be successful in the 21st century. 


Another passion of Bischoff’s is promoting diversity in the STEAM fields in terms of race, gender, and socio-economics. “Having majored in science and taken computer science classes back in late 80s and 90s, I know all too well why it is so hard for female students to pursue science, given the attitudes of some people. I remember one teacher in college asking if I was only pursuing an MRS. degree.”


She continued, “While we are starting to see changes in biomedical science, we have a long way toward equity in the science and engineering fields as a whole. I have worked with our Women in Science Club to create a program for middle school girls. Our lower school STEM Fest has its focus on changing young girls attitudes about science.  

“Role models are key to encouraging students. ‘Hidden Figures’ was one of my favorite books. I saw the movie three times, including taking my own 11-year-old daughters on opening weekend. The story of these brilliant women whose work has been vital to rocket science and NASA is so inspirational to many young students...girls of color in particular.” 


Bischoff grew up a country girl in Saugerties, New York. “My childhood gave me a deep appreciation for nature and the environment. On my own, I would study frogs by collecting, counting, and observing their development from egg to adults. Then, in college, I studied both animal behavior — the breeding behavior in Eastern Kingbirds — and the genetics of trout. And now I want to bring that curiosity about the way the world works to my students. William Butler Yeats wrote, ‘Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.’ It is that fire that I find in teaching so satisfying as I try to help ignite it for my students.”


As a department chair, Bischoff looks for a passion for the subject matter and dynamic teaching in the classroom from the members of the Science Department. “When I see that spark in a teacher, I try to nurture its spread by way of new ideas and excitement to other members of the school and department organically.” 


One of her greatest joys is when former students come back and tell her they are pursuing a career in science.  

“Working at a private school like Rye Country Day has allowed me to teach a range of ages. And I get to have my older students work with and teach younger kids within classes and during special events such as our STEM Fest.”

She paused, and then added, “Now that I think of it, we should call it our STEAM Fest.”




On June 22, Rye Neck High School held its 122nd Commencement. After the 127 members of the Class of 2017 proceeded to the tune of Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance, Dr. Scott Mosenthal, welcomed a big and enthusiastic crowd of family and friends.

The Valedictorian was Fraser Shaw, class president. Emily Crook was the Salutatorian. Both students were recipients of several departmental awards as well.

After keynote speaker Isabel Richardson, a 2007 Rye Neck grad, shared her experiences over the last decade, Patty Nashelsky, president of the Board of Education, had the pleasure of presenting the diplomas.

Photos by Pedro Garcia

The Rye Neck High School Class of 2017

Alyson Miller Abbatantono Adrian Henry Dawkins
Samantha Calderon Figueroa Kyle Fox
Reed Ernest Peterson
Adrian David Aguilar Ian R. Gabriele Jaycie K. Pillig
Gabriel Ajram Luis Galeano Demi LaAn Pirrone
Robert Norman Alter Peter Gallagher Matthew Ponticiello
Marco Andreoli Lizbeth Garcia Alexsander Preldakaj
Benjamin Abraham Banker Daniel Garofalo Samantha Madeline Pulcino
Jesse M. Barreto Jessica Giordano Michael Raymond Quartararo
Philip Thomas Beebe Aliya Glattstein Cole Redding
Oliver Sam Beecham Amoré Santese Gordon Kevin Reimers
Jack Bharucha Hunter Judd Greenhill Brian Reyes
Lisa Jane Bianco McNeil Guzzetta Jose Reynoso
Maria Bianco   Franklin D. Rios
Julia Blondel Jillian B. Hurlbut Neffin Sanchez
Haley Bruno Helena Elizabeth Jones Steven Saputo
Gabriela Cajas Claire Elizabeth Julian Fraser Shaw
  Hana Kawano Henry Shiffer
Jacqueline Capossela Alexander Kebbe Christina Anne Shin
Gabriela R. Carducci Timothy Kelley Sharleen Simo
Jack Carducci Noah Klur Carly Rose Sonenclar
Luigi Carolini Pierre Klur Bruna Souto
Nicolas Carucci Matthew Wynne Lawhon Logan Richard Spencer
Russell Thomas Caster Madeline Sue Leeds Emma Port Stainkamp
Christian Cefaloni Kol Arthur Xavier Lewis Justin T. Sturgis
Nicole Lee Chmelecki Kathryn Lia Loffredo Benjamin S. Styler
Mary Rose Cintron Jacquilyn C. Longbucco Camryn Eliza Sullivan
Alison Cohen Alissa Luceno Kaitlene Liv Tan
Benjamin Colantonio Gabriella Maffei Luisa Tito
Matthew Collado Giovanni Gustavo Maffei Nicolas Toutoungis
Jahliv Cornelius Kelly Maitland Jack Robert Van Buren
Grace Cozine Viktoriya M. Manolova Ogla Yanira Vasquez
Emily Crook Nicole Adelina Manzella Amberly A. Velasquez
Pedro Augusto Cueto Bria Rose McClain Elizabeth M. Violi
Alex Dean DeLitta Davidson Sonny Mede Victoria A. Violi
Anthony Michael DeRose Isaak Meier Henri Wang
Cristina Michelle DeRose Nadia Naeem Taleeya J. Ward
Nicholas John D'Errico Owen Riley Nashelsky Molly Lucas Weiner
Erin Rose Drace Alexandra Mendes Oaks Ellie Williams
Agustin Duarte Kiara Veronica O'Day Rachel Marie Wurzburger
Emma Dufault Andrew R. O'Hanlon Amber G. Yang
Mia Dunn Cosimo Panetta Jr. Nikolas Alexander Yergo
Jack Anthony Michael Evans Corey Alexander Parker Catherine Yoo
Jake Fagen Maxwell Pasquina Gabriel Zangiacomi
Cristal Finkenberg    



College Choices

Adelphi University

American University

Boston College

Brown University

Bucknell University

Carnegie Mellon University

Chestnut Hill College

Columbia University

Connecticut College

Cornish College of the Arts

CUNY Baruch College

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Lincoln Technical Institute

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Miami University, Oxford

New York University

North Carolina State University

Northeastern University

Pace University

Pennsylvania State University

Quinnipiac University

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rutgers University

Skidmore College

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern Westchester BOCES - Adult Education

St. Thomas Aquinas College

SUNY Albany

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SUNY Broome Community College

SUNY College of Technology at Canton

SUNY Delhi

SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

SUNY Geneseo

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University of California, Santa Barbara

University of Colorado

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The University of Iowa

University of Maryland

University of Miami

University of Michigan

University of New Haven

University of Pennsylvania

University of Rhode Island

University of Southern California

The University of Tampa

University of Toronto

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Westchester Community College


As much as children look forward to going back to school, parents look forward to the “Heard in Rye” Conversations in Parenting workshops.

The speaker series kicks off Monday, September 18 at 7:30 in the Rye High School Performing Arts Center with psychologist Christopher Willard, a Harvard Medical School faculty member. Willard will explore how mindfulness practices can bring more attention, openness, and wisdom to time with your children. He’ll share ideas for strengthening family relationships, increasing everyone’s well-being.

By Robin Jovanovich

It was crunch week when we visited Resurrection Grammar School for a “refresher course” on what they’ve been up to of late.

The upcoming school play was on the mind of Sr. Anne Massell, Principal. “One of our parents is a builder who owns the oldest house in Port Chester, and she helped students build the set,” said Sister Massell, who has led the school for five years.

As a school dedicated to family, responsibility, and charity, we weren’t surprised to discover that Sister Massell was co-directing the play.

At Resurrection, everyone pitches in.

Starting in preschool, Resurrection students are taught that there is a world beyond the school walls, and that many of the people who live outside those walls need food, care, and affection.

Preschoolers bring in food for Caritas, the soup kitchen and food pantry in Port Chester. Eighth graders, in one month, collected 400 pounds of perishables for the center.

Three Montessori classes make baskets for special needs patients of the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center in White Plains. First graders write letters to veterans.

“We gave second and third graders the option of helping make placemats for a holiday meal we were serving at POTS, or go out for recess,” related Sr. Massell, “and they all chose to help.”

Second graders recently pulled together toiletries for a Shower program at POTS, the Bronx-based nonprofit organization, of which Resurrection is an active participant.

“As much as we’re helping them, they’re helping us,” said Sister Massell. “It’s a give and take on both parts.”

Eighth graders bring back great stories from Midnight Run, according to longtime parent/volunteer Karen O’Hara. “At first, the children are a little hesitant around the homeless population we serve, but by the last stop, they are conversing and comforting.”

At Resurrection, every grade knows about Midnight Run. “It’s a badge of honor,” said O’Hara. The students make soup and sandwiches, with their parents, beforehand.

What every Resurrection student receives from the start is “the building blocks to become good citizens. By middle school, they have the initiative and are taking the lead,” said Sr. Massell.


Resurrection fifth graders holding a bake sale

Eighth graders putting together donations for a Midnight Run

Loading a car up for a food delivery to Caritas

Senior Snapshot

By Annette McLoughlin

As we get ready to start the school year, I thought it might be fun to put together a lifestyle snapshot of our seniors: their social media preferences, fall plans, and what they’re most looking forward to next year. I proposed the idea to my daughter and a few of her friends (all seniors) at our kitchen counter the other night and, within 24 hours, I had seven pie charts from a survey they posted on their class of 2018 Facebook page. The sample size is not huge, but respectable, as roughly a third of the class participated. I really loved the interest, industry, and work ethic my statisticians/researchers showed in getting this done quickly and efficiently. I sense a great future in consulting for them.

The Rye High School class of 2018’s summer binge-watching (emphasis on summer, as it will <surely> subside with the start of school) they go for drama. Like the rest of us, “Game of Thrones” is topping their list, followed by the emergency room drama of “Grey’s Anatomy” (can we hope for some career inspiration here?) and Riverdale, which is the modern-day version of “Archie” (as in Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead!) I was surprised that “Friends” and “The Office” were missing from this list, as they are also often the background noise in my house.

<<Favorite Show to Binge-Watch>> (74 responses)

“Game of Thrones” 35.1%

“Grey’s Anatomy” 28.4%

“Riverdale” 18.9%

“Shameless” 17.6%

The most interesting thing about their music streaming app choices to me is the total absence of Pandora, which leads the audio streaming industry in the U.S. If these numbers reflect general teenage music-listening trends, it’s not good news for Pandora.

<<Favorite Place to Listen to Music>> (81 responses)

Spotify 67.9%

SoundCloud 25.9%

YouTube 6.2%

Their go-to apps do not include the mother of all social media, Facebook. What I found interesting is the fact that (according to a statistic-compiling website called Facebook use among 13- to 24-year-olds is ranked second after Snapchat and slightly higher than Instagram. However – this is the interesting part — when surveying only those in their teens, Facebook completely disappears from their top preferences, and their list mimics ours. #timesarechanging #theyarenotus #whatwillthefuturebring

<<Favorite App>> (82 responses)

Snapchat 57.3 %

Instagram 37.8 %

Twitter 4.9%

They don’t really do a lot of consistent purchasing yet, so of course, their top favorite sites are bound to be entertainment (though again, no Facebook.) That the RHS site for checking grades popped up was interesting. Let’s hope that the 4% starts to take up a lot more share from the binge-watching sites around mid-September. I’m fairly confident that there’s an inverse relationship between those media site numbers and our senior’s GPA’s.

<<Favorite Website>> (82 responses)

Netflix 74.4%

YouTube 19.5%

RHS Parent Portal 4%

Hulu 2.1 %

Local flavor; something my researchers wanted to know was, who was eating where. Jerry’s cutlets top the charts. Impressive is the fact that Hand Rolled Bagels was favored by almost a quarter of those surveyed, despite the time commitment required to get behind an everything with chive; between the parking challenges and the lines that often spill out the door, this stop can easily cost you 30 minutes.

<<Favorite Place to Eat in Rye>> (82 responses)

Jerry’s 61%

Hand Rolled Bagels 22%

Dock Deli 9.7%

Cornerstone 7.3%

Also of great interest to my eager, home-brewed staff is the anticipation for senior year traditions. They cannot wait to flaunt their Garnet pride this fall during Spirit Week and the pep rally. Go Garnets!

<<Favorite Rye High Traditions>> (78 responses)

Spirit Week 37.2%

Pep Rally 26.9%

St. Patrick’s Day 26.9%

Halloween 9%

That classic of American high school traditions, football, easily steals the show for the beginning of the school year. If we had asked about which game they were specifically looking forward to the most, I have a hunch I know the answer. Again, Go Garnets!

<<What are you most looking forward to this fall?>> (81 responses)

Football Games 66.7%

Halloween 16%

Thanksgiving 13.6%

Apple Picking 3.7%

That concludes our little study. I would love to give credit to my staff by name, but my gut sense (honed over the past several years of parenting teenagers) says that that would prefer to remain nameless. You know who you are and I thank you.

By Janice Llanes Fabry

Rye Neck High School senior Claire Julian won the National Gold Medal at the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards at Carnegie Hall on June 8. Julian was one of 700 students honored that evening and one of only 55 fiction writers nationwide to earn the gold medal.

“I didn’t recognize the gravity of the award until the ceremony,” admitted Julian, who won for her short story, “A Gentler Touch”. She continued, “I wrote the story spontaneously and it was really personal, so the award is validating and very meaningful to me.”

The ceremony was quite an extravaganza. Special guest speakers included author and comedian Amy Schumer, actresses Ellie Kemper and Allison Williams, social media host Hunter March, and a past award winner, Paul Chan, who encouraged this year’s recipients to be themselves.

Rye Neck English Department Chair Melinda Merkel said, “It was a stunning night that lets talents like Claire know she’s not alone in undertaking such creative endeavors, and her efforts are not going unnoticed.”

The Scholastic Awards, produced by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, celebrate creative students across America. This year, the Alliance received 330,000 submissions of original art and writing in grades 7-12.

In good company, Claire’s notable predecessors who have won the Scholastic Awards include Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Stephen King, and Lena Dunham.

“The award is a tribute to who Claire is as a writer. She is intrinsically self-motivated,” said English teacher Mary Lanza. “She uses her writing as a creative outlet for her emotions, and there is a maturity to her imagery and complex characters.”

Quite the Renaissance young woman, Julian, who is currently working on a book of poems and short stories, is also an accomplished musician. She sings, plays the bass and drums, and is the guitarist for a band called No Reception. An avid songwriter, she was accepted into the University of Miami’s Creative American Music program and their highly selective MADE minor (Music, Artistry, Development, and Entrepreneurship).


Claire Julian