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Midland School’s fifth graders enchanted all who were lucky enough to see their magical rendition of “Shrek the Musical.” The show was the result of months of hard work not only by a fairy tale cast, but also by teachers, staff, and parents. Not a real ogre in the bunch.

— Annette McLoughlin

Sam Mihara, a national speaker on mass imprisonment and a lecturer at UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Harvard University, was asked to visit School of the Holy Child February 22 to participate in the school’s IDEA initiative. The initiative promotes inclusion, diversity, equity, advocacy, and social justice through ongoing community conversations and interactive workshops.

Monique Gordon-Anefal, director of the IDEA Committee, explained that Mr. Mihara was invited to share his experiences with the community in keeping with this year’s theme: “Love thy neighbor, welcome the stranger.”

Mihara began his presentation with a quote from former President George W. Bush: “A great nation does not hide its history.” During his illuminating remarks, he talked about his time as a prisoner at the Heart Mountain Japanese Prison Camp in Powell, Wyoming, during World War II. Forced into the prison camp along with his family when he was 9, Mihara offered harrowing details about his time in the camp, and connected his experience to contemporary debates in the United States about civil rights. About 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned, half of whom were American citizens, he noted.

He stressed the importance of studying American history so as not to repeat our mistake, and concluded with the sentiment: “Never Forget, Never Again.”

Mrs. Gordon-Anefal, Christian Theology and World Religions teacher, said students found Mr. Mihara’s presentation “inspirational and informative” and while they were surprised and saddened by his story, they were optimistic that the United States can “grow and learn from our past mistakes.”

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Sam Mihara speaking at Holy Child last month

On one of the darkest days of the year, Rye Presbyterian Nursery School welcomed Light Table Exploration Day. When the children arrived at school, the upstairs and downstairs hallways were lined with light tables and the overhead lights were turned off. Classes from all age levels were welcome to discover and engage in light play throughout the day. 

The teachers set out an array of materials for the children to explore — translucent blocks, beads, and shapes, ribbons, loose parts, markers and colored pencils for sketching, watercolor palettes, and small animals and insects for little fingers.  

The glow of a light table adds a new element to play, as materials look different with light beneath them. The appealing and calming quality of light promotes focus and attention and young children can remain engaged in play for long periods of time because of light’s attraction.  

Photos courtesy of Margaret Sculti

The Community Resource Center of Mamaroneck has a long history of collaborating with Rye Neck High School students, said Co-Executive Director Gail Vidales. “I think that bridging the Center with the School District gives students insight into the challenges that the clients we serve face, as well as an appreciation for the need for advocacy. It also offers students the opportunity to give back to the community in such a concrete way.”

“It was important to us to determine the challenges the local community has with transportation. The survey the students drafted was a huge help,” noted Vidales who, along with Co-Executive Director Jirandy Martinez, presented the results to the municipality of Mamaroneck.

The survey yielded the following statistics:

* 52.3% of immigrants surveyed must either walk, bike, or take public transit to get to the nearest supermarket, located more than three miles from the Community Resource Center on Center Street, the vicinity where most of the respondents live.

* 28% of this population drives without a license to get to work, health care, or a supermarket.

* 14.8% have obtained a driver’s license out-of-state.

* $40 is the average per person amount spent weekly on public transportation.

The Community Resource Center’s long-term goal is to support Green Light NY, an initiative that would ensure equal access to driver’s licenses for all residents of New York State, regardless of immigration status. It is already implemented in Connecticut and Vermont.

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.”

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Rye Neck High School senior Matthew Lawhon

Standing up for the rights of bugs the world over was the theme of Osborn School’s annual kindergarten musical, “Goin’ Buggy.” The children took their roles as ants, bees, ladybugs, caterpillars, and fireflies very seriously, singing their hearts out and delighting audiences.

  • Annette McLoughlin