By Janice Llanes Fabry


The Rye Neck High School mock trial team is going on to the quarterfinals on March 23 at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains, after besting Clarkstown North High School 61-57 on March 16. They’ll be going up against Blind Brook in what will be the number one match up.


“We have a smart, dedicated team and the students are giving their heart and soul,” said coach Marcella Scalise. “It has been an eye-opening experience for them that gives them a different perspective of the legal system and behind the scenes insight.”


Rye Neck High School is competing against 23 other high schools in the County. A collaboration between the State Department of Education and the State Bar, the annual program is part of a larger state competition held in May. This year’s case is Robin Berkman v. County of Dover, a civil case involving a lawsuit by Berkman for malicious prosecution. He spent two years in prison, wrongfully convicted of second-degree robbery and first-degree attempted murder.


The mock trial teams alternate, arguing for either the plaintiff or the defense at each trial. Students represent lawyers, witnesses, and legal researchers. Their performance in the courtroom is judged by lawyers from the Westchester County Bar Association, who determine which school makes the most convincing argument. Point values are assigned to various categories, including opening and closing statements, as well as direct and cross-examinations. 


The 20 Rye Neck High School freshmen, sophomores, and juniors participating in the afterschool program have been preparing intensely since December. “We pick apart the case, establish a timeline, figure out the undisputed facts on both sides, and then assign students different roles,” said Scalise.


Assisting the team are local lawyers and Rye Neck parents Jonathan Michaels, Theodore Liebmann, Federal Court Judge Lisa Margaret Smith, and Scalise’s own mother, Deborah Scalise.


The coach not only grew up in a household where both parents were attorneys, but she also worked in their offices and in the Federal Court of the Southern District of New York. Hence, when she was hired at Rye Neck High School as the freshman Global History teacher this year, she welcomed coaching the Mock Trial team. 


“I had some experience and thought this would be a fantastic opportunity for me and for the students,” she said. “It is a perfect fit.”


On the team’s first go-round against Horace Greeley High, Rye Neck won. Although they lost to Blind Brook High School in their second mock trial, their previous high score guaranteed them a place in the third competition against Clarkstown North. Now they’re preparing to go up against Blind Brook again, this time on the plaintiff side.


“I want to take them as far as I can in one of the toughest, most competitive counties,” said Scalise. “We’re a pretty young team, so we have time to grow, develop, and work on our skills.”

By Annette McLoughlin

Stories about achievement and the underlying values required to overcome obstacles got top billing at Rye Middle School’s recent annual expo, “The Challenge of Excellence.”

The day began with uplifting talks from two inspiring keynote speakers: Emmy Award-winning NBC sportscaster Jimmy Roberts and former NY Giant Patrick Morrison.

After the general presentations, students were released to a day of breakout sessions. They were able to choose from a long and impressive list of professionals, athletes, and artists including: Rye police officers, RMS teachers, an FBI agent (also a RHS graduate,) a Broadway actor, a Broadway director, an artist, a nutritionist, a yoga instructor, a World Cup and Olympic soccer player, and an Academy Award-winning animator and director.

Guest speakers described how they were able to overcome personal hurdles and achieve success through resilience, perseverance, and integrity. They emphasized the importance of empathy and gratitude when looking for fulfillment and happiness, and they encouraged students to think about ways they can be inclusive and community-oriented.

Rye High School stuck to tradition with their recent sold-out production of “Fiddler on the Roof” under Tom Snowden’s fine direction. The musical, based on Sholem Aleichem tales of poor Jewish families living in settlements in pre-revolutionary Russia, is rich in strong-minded characters and memorable music (“Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset”). Over 80 students were involved in the lively production.


Photos by Anne and Joel Darelius

Osborn School celebrates its diverse international student body every year in a colorful and educational event, Around the World at Osborn. This year’s special day highlighted 15 countries and was enjoyed by 623 students.

The children and many of their parents brought the school community closer to the traditions, celebrations, geography, clothing, currency, language, music, and games of their home countries. And all that traveling without leaving the campus.

— Annette McLoughlin

Talented teens brought a variety of musical and theatrical acts to Rye Country Day School’s Dunn Performing Arts Center stage March 11. The occasion was The Rye City Lions Club fourth annual “Rye’s Got Talent.”

The Master of Ceremonies was Noam Ben Yakir, Rye High class of 2013. Curently a student at Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College, he is the Stage Manager of the Westchester Sandbox Theater.

The esteemed panel of judges was comprised of Meg Rodriguez (Rye Arts Center Executive Director), Bernard Tamosaitis (cellist and member of Canta Libra chamber ensemble), and Stanislav Kotyza (opera singer, construction company owner and co-founder of the nonprofit Harmony Foundation).

And best yet, proceeds from the event were donated to Guiding Eyes and Vacation Camp for the Blind.

Photos by Anja Porto

#7507 Rye Lions Club President Chris Shoemaker welcomed a big crowd.

#7606 Katie Rogers and Elizabeth Riccio performing an original dance composition to the tune of “Try Everything” from the film “Zootopia.”

#7517 Lauren Salamon sang Adele’s “Turning Tables”

#7549 Daniel Pellegrini with a number from the Broadway hit, “Dear Evan Hansen”

#7645 Violinist Alex Marino performed <5th Air Varie on a Theme by Karl Weigl, Opus 89, No. 5>

#7521 Male members of Rye High’s a cappella group, Rhythm on Rye

#7768 The Rhythm on Rye girls

#7671 Charlotte Burchetta performed Carrie Underwood’s “All American Girl.”

#7672 Hannah and Jonathan Lloyd performing a cello medley from the “Star Wars” soundtrack.

#7821 Pianist Hikari Tomizawa being congratulated after winning one of the competitions.