Friday, January 12, 2018

Favretti Receives Sobol Award

In Scarsdale Jan. 23, Maggie Favretti '85 will receive the Thomas Sobol Award for Community Service
Scarsdale High School teacher and community leader Maggie Favretti '85 will receive Scarsdale's Thomas Sobol Award for Service to the Community at a luncheon in Scarsdale Jan. 23.  The award is sponsored by the Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service and honors the late superintendent of schools in Scarsdale. 

Mary Lou McClure, CFO and Custodian of Taxes for the Village of Scarsdale, is a co-recipient of the award.

Favretti, an art history major at Yale and long-time instructor in social studies and world history, coordinates the community garden at Scarsdale, a popular site for Yale Day of Service, and has supervised many school clubs and activities, including a new student group devoted to understanding and helping in the global refugee crisis. Her leadership in the garden, which helps distribute over 1,000 pounds of food annually to food banks in the region, was recognized by the White House.

"Maggie has connected with countless students, family and community members not only because of her dedication to the school and to education in general, but also because of her belief that we each have the capacity to improve the world around us....," Thomas Hagerman, Scarsdale's current schools superintendent, said in Scarsdale10583. 

In Aug., 2017, Favretti received the Sousa Mendes Foundation award for her work organizing student tu support refugees.

Sobol, for whom the award is named, was superintendent for 16 years before becoming New York State Commissioner of Education from 1987-95.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Price to Speak at Jay Heritage Center

Hugh Price '66 Law will be one of three speakers featured at the Jay Heritage Center in Rye, Jan. 15, at an event organized by the American Women of African Heritage.

Hugh Price '66 Law, Yale Law Graduate, New Rochelle resident and a former President and CEO of the National Urban League, will be one of three featured authors who will speak at Jay Estate in Rye, Jan. 15 (2-5 pm), as part of the celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday. Price will be joined by authors Brenda Ross and Tiffany D. Jackson. 

This year he published his memoir This African-American Life, which recounts his years growing up in Washington, D.C., his days at Yale Law School and working in the New Haven community, and programs he pursued while at the Urban League. 

The Annual Literary Tea, held at the Jay Heritage Center for the fourth straight year, is sponsored by the American Women of African Heritage.

Price has been affiliated with the Yale Center for International and Area Studies. In Westchester, he served on the board and was a Chairman at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville.  He headed the National Urban League from 1994-2003. During his time there, he established the Institute for Opportunity and Equality. He is also the author of Mobilizing the Community, Getting Your Child the Best Education, and Achievement Matters.

While at Yale Law School, he was executive director of the Black Coalition of New Haven, which was instrumental in providing legal services to low-income families.  Before becoming CEO at the Urban League, Price held posts at the New York Times (editorial board) and the Rockefeller Foundation.

At the National Urban League, he focused on education, youth development, and economic empowerment in African-American communities. He also launched the Campaign for African American Achievement program.

A graduate also of Amherst College, Price has taught at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy at Princeton.

Speaker Brenda Ross is the author of Bibsy, a love story that captures small-town, African-American life.  Tiffany D. Jackson wrote the novel Allegedly, selected by many reviewers as one of the best young-adult novels of 2017.  Her novel Monday's Not Coming will be published in June.

Suzanne Clary '83 is president of the board of trustees at the Jay Heritage Center. The Center hosted Yale history professor Joanne Freeman as part of the YWAA speaker series in Dec., 2015.

For more about tickets ($65/person) for the Martin Luther King Day event, contact or  Or call the Center at 914-698-9275.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

YWAA Highlights, 2017

In Ardsley in November, the Westchester debate competition featured a Yale-Princeton square-off and six high schools competing in later rounds. (YWAA photos)
YWAA Highlights, 2017

The year 2017 at YWAA included the traditional, the historical, the usual, something theatrical, something academic, and even something for Westchester alumni who want to know about eclectic, game-changing American restaurants. 

Alumni contributed, served, organized, worked, interviewed, and were honored. Some ventured back to campus for alumni activities, meetings, and assemblies. They slipped back to tailgate at a football game, witness the recent success of Yale basketball, or sample yet again "world's best" New Haven pizza all across town. 

Students returned to Westchester to debate, recruit, or simply rest from the non-stop flurry of college activity, Yale style.  A quartet of baseball teammates from Westchester helped lead the Yale squad to an Ivy championship. And Westchester students won prestigious awards.

From the arts to community service, from the sciences to athletic feats, shall we dare acknowledge it was just another eventful year among Yale students and alumni, including those with ties to Westchester?

In February, the Yale a cappella group Red Hot & Blue joined a group from Princeton to perform a concert at the Osborne in Rye.  The Yale singers celebrated a 40th anniversary and toured France and Puerto Rico in 2017.  YWAA board member Bill Nightingale '53 organized the event.

Also in February, the unique Yale tradition of celebrating the doldrums of mid-winter with Yale-organized dinners and drink-ups, Feb Club Emeritus, continued with Yale gatherings around the world. There is no purpose behind Feb Club except to convene Yale alumni at any site on the globe and celebrate Yale ties--on any day in February. The tradition endures.  Krista Madsen '95 organized the Westchester Feb Club in Sleepy Hollow.

In March, Yale-Greenwich invited Westchester alumni to hear Yale president Peter Salovey '86 Ph.D. speak about current Yale topics. With the planned opening of two new residential colleges and new facilities at the School of Music and the renaming of Calhoun College to Hopper College, Salovey and Connecticut-Westchester alumni had much to discuss during the evening.

The two new colleges, Franklin and Pauli Murray, opened in the fall and helped push the center of gravity on campus from Bass Library to the edge of Science Hill. 

In 2016, Yale's men's basketball ignited March Madness in the NCAA tourney with a shocking win over Baylor and a near earth-shaking upset of Duke. In March, 2017, the team earned a spot in the inaugural Ivy League tournament in Philadelphia. In front of a crowd of Yale supporters who drove down from the Tri-State area, it lost to Princeton in the finals and didn't get an invite to the tournament. Regarded a success, the Ivy tourney returns to Penn's campus in Mar., 2018.

May highlights another Yale-alumni tradition, a time where Yale alumni galvanize each other to  champion community service:  Yale Day of Service.  YWAA and Yale alumni sponsored three volunteer events in the Westchester region. Yale-Westchester Day of Service, for the past several years, has revolved around the eager leadership of Maggie Favretti '85 and Susan Kaminsky '86.  Favretti once again coordinated the activities at the Scarsdale community garden.  Kaminsky organized volunteers at the Briarcliff Manor SCPA. 

Yale history professor Paul Friedman was the featured speaker at the YWAA speaker series, where a Yale faculty member is invited to speak to alumni and guests about a current social or political topic or about recent academic research and interests. Friedman spoke at the Scarsdale Library in March, but he didn't lecture about his specialty in medieval history.  

He had just published a well-received book about the 10 restaurants that have the greatest impact on American dining.  Not the 10 best, he reminded his Scarsdale audience, but the 10 most influential.  The book, Ten Restaurants That Changed America, included such restaurants as Howard Johnson's, Sylvia's in Harlem, The Four Seasons, and Delmonico's in Manhattan.  YWAA board treasurer Rich Fabbro '76 organized the event.

In April, YWAA, along with the Westchester Alumni Schools Committee, hosted the annual reception for newly admitted Yale-Westchester students in Bronxville.  This year was unusual, because in the Class of 2021, Yale admitted its largest first-year class ever. The traditional 1,350 newcomers to New Haven has risen to a count of 1,600-plus.

At the reception, the new admits meet current Yale students and an admissions director, share stories about the hectic process to gain admission, and discuss why they might choose Yale over, say, that other school near Boston. Westchester ASC director William Primps '71 led the event.

Under the guidance of Peter Santhanam '85 Ph.D., YWAA again sponsored the Yale Book Awards, which highlights the achievements of Westchester high school students.  Winners of the award receive the book The Yale Book of Quotations (Fred Shapiro, Law Faculty, editor). They were selected by their respective high schools, typically for accomplishments in academics and community service. In 2017, YWAA presented 51 awards.

On athletic fields, Westchester's greatest presence is in baseball. Four Westchester players were significant contributors to the Yale team's blazing success in 2017.  The Bulldogs, thanks in part to pitching, hitting, fielding and captaining from the Westchester quartet, won the Ivy League championship and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament. 

Pound Ridge's Richard Slenker '17 captained the team and pounded out doubles and singles routinely for four years (accumulating over 185 total hits and hitting .330.). Tim DeGraw '19, a speedy wide receiver during his football days at Rye High School, was swift on the base paths at Yale and just as fleet in roaming the outfield. He batted over .300 and stole more than a dozen bases.  Kumar Nambiar '19 of Mamaroneck and Griffen Dey '19, also of Pound Ridge, were stalwarts on the mound.

Maggie Favretti '85, who spearheads efforts at the Scarsdale community garden, was honored this summer for other activities she helps lead at Scarsdale High School.  The Sousa Mendes Foundation, based in New York, cited Favretti for encouraging students at the school to start an organization, Students for Refugees, a group that supports refugee efforts around the world and informs Westchester students and residents about the plight of refugees, particularly those from Syria.  The group started in 2015 and has launched chapters at other area high schools.

YWAA returned to Boscobel in August. On the docket was a play not written by Shakespeare, but still performed by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Yale alumni, family, guests and friends saw Richard Nelson's The General from America, an account of Benedict Arnold's defection to the British army--which occurred in historyi not far from the Boscobel tent setting.

YWAA's Sunday outing at Boscobel traditionally includes the pre-performance lecture from Yale professor Murray Biggs, who rallies Yale alumni and guests with bits of history, lots of insight, and bundles of energy about the performance they will see.  Biggs specializes in Shakespeare drama  and still stirred the Yale group on the history of Benedict Arnold on the Hudson. Rich Fabbro '76 coordinated the outing this year.

When the first days of November arrive, when the leaves are whisking in the wind, and when darkness arrives too early, it's debate time at YWAA. Yale and selected Ivy teams compete and are followed by the annual contest among six high schools. The YWAA Debate Competition in Nov., about to enter its third decade, featured a showdown this Nov., 2017, between Yale and Princeton.

Ardsley High School, proving it could attract a crowd of students, parents, and alumni on a fall Friday evening, hosted the event again.  The Yale debate duo bounced back from a Princeton defeat in 2016 to win this year.  High school teams followed and tackled topics such as free speech, immigration laws, and voting requirements.  Blind Brook, which hosted the competition in 2013, was the high school winner this year.

Dana Sands '83 and Bill Nightingale '53 were instrumental in organizing the event--along with Princeton's Westchester group. Prizes and scholarships are funded in part from YWAA's William Nightingale Debate Fund.

The Game was back in New Haven in 2017.  Two years ago, The Game--Harvard vs. Yale in football--turned into a Harvard rout, although annals will record it as the first game where the Yale Bowl had to turn temporary lights on (in the second half).  Last year in Boston, thousands of Yale fans swarmed the artificial turf at Harvard Stadium to celebrate Yale's first win over the Cantabs in 10 years. In 2017, it was Yale's Game, not much in doubt after the first quarter.  This year, with rain threatening and the sun never bothering to show up, thousands of Yale fans swarmed the Yale Bowl's torn-up, ragged turf to celebrate a 24-3 win.

Off the fields and in Yale labs and classrooms, Westchester students shined and earned nationally and international acclaim. David Shimer '18, a Yale Daily News editor in chief and Chappaqua native, was one of three Yale seniors to earn a Marshall scholarship. He will study history at Oxford.  Scarsdale's Lauren Singer '21 was honored by WebMD, the medical information website, for her years of work in autism. 

The lineup in 2018 will include the familiar (Yale Day of Service, a speaker invited from Yale, Boscobel, and debate), and it might yield a variation of a familiar theme or something new and different--more honors, new community-service sites, new events, and a new class of Westchester students bound for Yale.

Happy holidays!

(Click Highlights to review summaries from 2013-16.)

Yale baseball won an Ivy League championship--thanks in part to invaluable contributions from a quartet of Westchester teammates (Yale Athletics photos)
In Scarsdale, Yale professor Paul Friedman shared insights for how he picked the 10 restaurants that changed America (YWAA photos)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Scarsdale's Singer Named WebMD Hero

For her research and leadership in autism, Lauren Singer '21 has been selected as a 2017 Health Hero (WebMD photo)

Lauren Singer '21, a first-year student at Yale and resident of Scarsdale, was named by the health-information website WebMD as one of three "Health Heroes" of 2017. She was selected for her work in autism, including projects, programs and research since middle school. 

A graduate of Scarsdale High School, Singer was inspired by her sister Jodie, who has autism.  From her sophomore days in high school, Singer has spent summers assisting in autism research at Mount Sinai in New York City. 

At Yale, she is studying perceptive cognitive science and philosophy. At Scarsdale High School, she was named a 2017 Regeneron Science Talent semifinalist (formerly sponsored by Intel), based on her autism research.  She also received a U.S. Congressional Award Bronze Medal for related research. 

WebMD has presented its Heroes Awards for the past 11 years and honors those who have contributed to improve health care and wellness in communities and who have researched or made notable progress in certain health challenges.  Singer is one of three recipients selected by a team of WebMD editors from candidates around the country.  

WebMD will donate $25,000 to a health-care program selected by Singer. (Singer selected the Child Mind Institute.) She and the other two winners will be celebrated at an event in Jan., 2018, in New York City.  

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Chappaqua's Shimer Earns Marshall

David Shimer '18, a Horace Greeley graduate, will study in the U.K., along with Yale Marshall winners Erika Green '18 and Amanda Royka '18 (Yale photos)

David Shimer '18, a 2014 graduate of Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, was awarded a Marshall Scholarship in early December to study at Oxford next year.  He will be joined by two other Yale seniors, Erika Green '18 and Amanda Royka '18.

Next spring, from Yale, Shimer will earn both B.A. and M.A. degrees in history. While at Yale, he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News, interned in Berlin with the New York Times last summer and worked in the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign on the debate-preparation and policy teams. He has also been elected to Phi Beta Kappa and earned a Truman Scholarship.

At Greeley, Shimer was class valedictorian, captain of the debate team, and editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.  At Oxford, he will study international relations.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Game Becomes Yale's Game

Yale had little difficulty in securing its 24-3 victory over Harvard in the 2017 Game. (YWAA photos)

Clouds hovered over the Yale Bowl all day. The day was gray, chilly.  Rain threatened for much of the afternoon, until drops poured over the crowd in the late afternoon.  As gloomy as the setting appeared, it turned out to be Yale's day.

For the second year in a row (the start of a long streak?), in front of a Bowl crowd of 51,424, Yale stopped Harvard and won the 134th edition of The Game at the Yale Bowl.  For the second year in a row, thousands of Yale students, young alumni, maybe a few elderly alumni, fans, followers, parents and siblings counted down the clock to zero and sprinted onto the Bowl's torn, ripped-up, late-fall turf to celebrate. They leaped, pranced, sang, and hugged each other. This could grow into a beloved habit, a decade-long tradition.

Yale, in fact, on the field trounced Harvard, 24-3. Thanks to a defense that twice smothered a confused Harvard backfield and recovered two fumbles in Harvard territory, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-3 in the second quarter.  And The Game was hardly in doubt after that.

Fans didn't get to see a close, nail-biting, nip-and-tuck skirmish.  And they didn't get to see the outstanding first-year running back Zane Dudek '21 scamper for long runs down the sideline. There was minimal drama, beyond Yale Coach Tony Reno finding moments with minutes to go to permit everybody to enter the game. This was still Yale's day.

Yale calls this "Team 145," a squad that features large numbers from football hotbeds in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.  (Team 145 includes no participants from Westchester.  Is Westchester no longer a favorite recruiting ground for Ivy talent?)  Dudek, who scored a late touchdown, hails from Pennsylvania.  JP Shohfi '20, a receiver, who snagged an end-zone fade pass for a touchdown in the second quarter, is from California. 

Quarterback Kurt Rawlings '20, who tossed the perfect arc of a pass to Shohfi, is from Maryland. Malcolm Dixon '20, who scooped up a Harvard fumble and raced 19 yards for a score, is from California.

In the stands for the first time, Yale students had to push each other to make cheering space for residents from two new colleges:  Pauli Murray and Franklin Colleges.  At the Yale-Harvard game, Yale students sit in residential-college sections and raise their college flags.  For the first time, flags were raised for Murray and Franklin. 

On the field at halftime, the Yale Band celebrates the colleges, and band members run around on the field waving college banners.  For the first time, 14 banners (including those from Murray and Franklin), not 12, were waved amidst the band's formations.

This being the Ivy League, the band did something Ivy League.  It paid tribute to departing Harvard president Drew Faust by playing in her honor a special composition by Yale music director Thomas Duffy.  The piece featured the notes D, G, and F, representing her initials. A band emcee explained the musical motive on the public-address system.

The same band, of course, at the end of the third quarter, provided the soundtrack to the enduring Yale tradition at The Game--the Saybrook (or Pierson, many years ago) strip, where dozens of students cast aside clothing to celebrate (a) the Yale-Harvard game, (b) Yale being a Yale, (c) a football tradition that dates back to the 1970's, and (d) youthful freedom to perform gestures in public (and on national television). Officials hurried over to the section to observe whether any students would go too far. (Unlike last year, students weren't escorted out of the stadium.) 

Back on the field, this Game meant Yale wins the Ivy League championship outright for the first time since 1980.  Team 145 finished the season at 9-1, one of the best years ever.

In the 1980 Game in Harvard Stadium, Yale beat Harvard, 14-0, and, yes, back then, Yale band members ran in random directions waving residential-college flags, Harvard students taunted and teased their Yale counterparts, a dozen or so Yale students stripped in the third quarter, and a few thousand Yale followers dashed onto the wet, cold, trampled turf when the clock wound down.  

Traditions at Yale don't die. They go on and on, or they resurface, reappear, and thrive.

AYA's Alumni Village with free hot dogs, cider, clam chowder and pop corn for Yale alumni is now part of The Game tradition (YWAA photos)

Gray skies and threatening rain didn't damper Yale students and alumni spirits (YWAA photos)

By mid-second quarter, over 51,000 fans had found their way into the Bowl, as Yale took a 14-3 lead (YWAA photos)

Yale will add another Ivy Champ banner for the 2018 season (YWAA photos)

Harvard scored first in The Game, and then its offense disappeared for the afternoon (YWAA photos)

The Yale Band played a tribute to the outgoing Harvard president and, of course, taunted Harvard during its halftime show. (YWAA photos)
As sure as it's November on the calendar, if Yale wins, its following will race onto and storm the field if the Bulldogs win (YWAA photos)

The flag-waving parade on the field at halftime now includes banners from the new Murray and Franklin colleges. (YWAA photos)
Yale beat Harvard for only the third time since 2000. (YWAA photos)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Yale, Princeton Compete in Debate

Yale was able to recapture the debate crown from Princeton, a 2016 winner. (YWAA photos--Munguia, Mattison)
The annual Westchester Debate Competition, showcasing teams from Yale and Princeton, returned to Ardsley High School, Nov. 3. For a second straight year, area students, teachers, debate coaches, families, and alumni gathered eagerly, as teams took the stage to address political and social issues in the way of formal debate.

Yale won the college competition (the 21st annual event), seizing the collegiate crown after Princeton's win last year.  Blind Brook High School, a 2013 host for the competition, was named the winner of the high school competition, which included five other squads.

Dana Sands '83 and Bill Nightingale '53 acted as a Co-Chairs for the event and were joined by Princeton's Westchester alumni president Martin Sklar in organizing the debate program and a pre-competition dinner for competing students.

The format followed the conventional Westchester program, where Yale and Princeton debaters determined a topic before the competition began, sparred back and forth (point, counter-part, more statements and more rebuttals), and waited for judges (local officials) to announce a winner. 

High school teams, coached by the college students, followed and addressed such issues about whether the U.S. has an obligation to enforce immigration laws, whether colleges have an obligation to protect campuses from hate speech, and whether American citizens who opt not to vote should be fined.

Participating high schools included Byram Hills vs. Fox Lane, Ardsley vs. Blind Brook, and Rye Neck vs. Yonkers.  High school winners (from Blind Brook) received scholarships, funded in part from the William Nightingale '53 Debate Fund. 

Byram Hills hosted the event in 2015. Hackley School hosted in 2014.

(Participants and debate rosters will follow.)

Ardsley High School again hosted the Westchester Debate Competition, Nov. 3, 2017
Winners from Blind Brook High School joined the judges after the high school competition.  All participates gathered at the stage for a final photo. (YWAA photos--Munguia, Mattison)

Debate students from Yale, Princeton and six high schools met each other at a dinner in the Ardsley school library. (YWAA photos)

Debate Co-Chair Bill Nightingale '53 (top, R) greeted guests at Ardsley and thanked the school and other organizers. (YWAA photos)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Yale-Princeton Debate, Nov. 3 in Ardsley

Westchester Debate continues for the 21st year in Ardsley, Nov. 3 (YWAA photos)
When college and high school debate squads spar on stage this year, what will be the topics around which they craft shrewd arguments?

With a U.S. presidential election last year's news, there still won't be a shortage of political issues and subjects to address before a typical audience of hundreds of students, parents, and debate enthusiasts:  Climate change, health care, tax policy, nuclear warheads, sustainable-energy initiatives, divisive politics, or perhaps national-anthem gestures at football games. 

The 21st annual Yale Westchester Debate Competition returns to Ardsley High School, Friday, Nov. 3,  2017. Once again, the Yale Debate Team will start the night at 7 pm with a showdown against Princeton, last year's winner at Ardsley. Scarsdale's Michael Bogarty '19 debated for Yale in 2016.  Yale won the competition in 2014 and 2015.  Brown triumphed in 2013, when it joined Yale and Princeton as a competing squad.

The college debaters this year will be followed by six Westchester high-school teams. The collegians will also help coach the high-school students on their topics and arguments before they debate. If tradition rules, the topics among the high-schoolers won't be any less controversial or complicated. In 2016, judges pronounced Horace Greeley High School as the winner.

The annual Debate is sponsored in part by YWAA's William Nightingale Fund, which honors YWAA board member Bill Nightingale '53.  Nightingale returns as event co-Chair and emcee. 

Ardsley High School, after filling its auditorium last year with home-school fans, teachers, and students, as well as area Yale and Princeton alumni, was invited to host again. The competition in recent years has been hosted by high schools from Byram Hills, Rye Brook, Hackley, and the Masters School.

Yale alumni, family, friends and those interested in hearing the younger generation think out loud about some of the toughest issues of the times are invited.  There is no charge or fee.

Debaters from Yale, Princeton and Brown compete during the 2014 Westchester competition at Hackley School. (YWAA photos)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fall, 2017: Campus Scenes

(Michael Morand)
Yale Beinecke staffer Michael Morand captured these early-fall images on Yale's campus.  This is the time of year when sunny, leafy afternoons, which within the next month will become hints of darkness, form the backdrop of many student activities. 

This fall, the area around the Yale Bowl is bustling and busy. Intramurals are in full swing and the football team is faring better than expected. Near campus, returnees have discovered new New Haven eateries and shops.  Midterms are on the horizon. The Black Student Alliance at Yale celebrated a 50th anniversary.

There is a bubble of excitement about the two new residential colleges (Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin), where residents have held formal openings, designed college seals and determined their respective colors and mascots. 

There is a new Yale College dean (Marvin Chun) and even recurring debate among some about the virtue and value of the residential-college system--a debate some alumni say that occurs about, oh, every other year or so. 

In the fall, Yale really feels like Yale.

Monday, September 11, 2017

And Then There Were 14

Yale's campus just got bigger:  The new residential colleges, Murray and Franklin, opened this fall, as Yale welcomed the largest first-year class in its history. (Yale and Yale Daily News photos)
For over a half-century, the lives of Yale undergraduates revolved around 12 residential colleges:  "My randomly assigned residential college is better than your randomly assigned college," so the saying goes these days, unless the student chooses to transfer (which, they say, doesn't happen as frequently as years before). 

Some of the 12 colleges were informally paired, if only because they were rivals in intramurals, because they shared boundaries or because their residents could see each other through fourth-floor windows:  Silliman and Timothy Dwight; Morse and Stiles; Branford and Saybrook, and Davenport and Pierson, e.g.

But then in 2017, change came.

First, Calhoun College, after protests, deliberation, surveys and advanced analysis, formally changed its name to Hopper College, a tribute to Rear Admiral Grace Hopper '34 Ph.d.

Second, the new school year introduced two new colleges, housed in brand-new, Gothic-impression buildings adjacent to Science Hill in Yale neighborhoods that many undergraduates through the decades hardly frequented.  Now there are 14--the first time Yale has added colleges since Morse and Stiles opened in 1961.

The two new colleges, named for Pauli Murray '65 S.J.D. and Benjamin Franklin, opened their doors to both new and old Yale students in late August, 2017.  And all of a sudden, the center of gravity of undergraduate life might have been pulled away from Cross Campus and has eased its way toward Prospect Street.

The new 2016-17 school year also marks the largest first-year class in Yale history with over 1,600 students (including 28 from Westchester)--a number that approaches the class sizes at peer schools like Harvard, Penn and Stanford. 

In the short term, visitors and prospective students will likely swarm toward Murray (on the north side) and Franklin (on the south side) colleges to see the new buildings, court yards, dining halls, libraries, theater spaces, and kitchenettes--modern features with a classic, Yale touch.  Some alumni, young and old, might quietly wish they could restart their bright college years in these polished new surroundings.

Monday, August 21, 2017

West Point and Arnold at Boscobel

After the traditional Murray Biggs lecture, YWAA alumni and guests watched The General from America under the tent at Boscobel. (HSVF, YWAA photos)
YWAA returned to Boscobel in Garrison, Aug. 20, in its annual outing with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.  The line-up was familiar.  YWAA invited Westchester alumni, families and friends for a Sunday affair that included a glowing performance under the tent along the Hudson River shoreline, a pre-performance lecture from Yale drama professor Murray Biggs, and a picnic on Boscobel's lush, scenic grounds.

Shakespeare, however, wasn't on the docket this year.  HVSF's 2017 summer schedule squeezed in a performance of The General from America, Richard Nelson's account of Benedict Arnold's defection to the British Army during the Revolutionary War. Penny Metropulos, affiliated with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, directed the play.

For more than 15 summers, Biggs has launched the day with an exuberant lecture about the evening's performance.  The Shakespeare expert this year detoured beyond Shakespeare and provided insights on how the audience should observe a performance about a notorious traitor.  The play, written in the 21st century, features a central character, a general in the U.S. Army, who spends much of the show agonizing over criminal charges from the U.S. side and rationalizing a decision to defect--until he finally crosses over.

Benedict Arnold (played by Chris Thorn, who has otherwise performed in many Shakespeare productions Off-Broadway) limps across the Boscobel stage, fusses with his sister, and barks at his wife.

He debates George Washington (played by long-time HSVF actor Kurt Rhoads) and arranges a meeting at West Point with British Major John Andre--with the hills and greenery of the real West Point looming in the background.

The hushed, dark background of the real Hudson River becomes the setting for the 18th-century fateful meeting between Andre and Arnold--despite the occasional commuter train roaring faintly every 20 minutes or so.

Earlier that day, Biggs lectured to over 40 YWAA guests, refreshing them on the old history lesson and hinting at Davis' humanized portrayal of Arnold. 

Rich Fabbro '76 and Dan Leonard '77 helped organize the day's events, carrying on a YWAA tradition led for many years by Merrell Clark '57 and Bruce Jennings '71.
YWAA's Sunday at Boscobel always includes a picnic on the grounds and moments to absorb the Hudson River scenery. (YWAA photos)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Foundation Will Honor Favretti

New York's Sousa Mendes Foundation will honor Maggie Favretti '85 (above) for organizing Westchester students to support international refugees.
Maggie Favretti '85, a history teacher at Scarsdale High School and leader of the school's community garden, will be honored by the Sousa Mendes Foundation for spearheading efforts in Westchester County to organize students to support refugees.

Founded in 2010, the Mendes Foundation honors Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a diplomat from Portugal, who when stationed in France in World War II assisted in providing visas for thousands of refugees fleeing the Nazi regime. He did so against the wishes of the Portuguese government.     Favretti will receive the honor at a scheduled program later this year at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.

For the past several years, Favretti has also coordinated the Yale Day of Service program in Scarsdale, where Yale alumni and friends prepare the garden on the school's grounds for spring planting. The community garden produces over 1,500 pounds of food (from about 7,500 sq. ft. of garden space), the bulk of which is supplied to area food shelters.

Favretti has also been recognized by the White House for her gardening programs, including assisting other communities in the area in starting their own gardens.

The Mendes Foundation is citing her for encouraging students at Scarsdale High School to start an organization, Students for Refugees, to support refugees and inform Westchester residents about the plight of refugees around the world, including those from Syria.

She and Scarsdale students were inspired to launch the organization when they visited Germany on a school cultural trip in 2015. On the trip, they met with refugees and resettlement organizations and decided to organize when they returned to Scarsdale.

Over time, the Scarsdale group expanded the initiative to other Westchester schools.  Today, there are at least 10 Students for Refugees (SFR) chapters at Westchester high schools. They convene to learn more about refugee families and assist in local and international efforts to resettle refugees into other countries, including the U.S.

The Scarsdale chapter held a forum in April to discuss why refugees flee and how they resettle in foreign countries. It hosted a Westchester schools conference in May. The Scarsdale and other school chapters have arranged to work with other Westchester and Connecticut settlement organizations, including the Westchester Refugee Task Force.

Other current projects have included a fund-raising effort for Syrian refugees and public events to educate the community about refugees.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

YWAA at Boscobel, Aug. 20

Yale drama expert Murray Biggs returns to lecture to the YWAA group before the Boscobel performance The General From America, Aug. 20.
YWAA, including Yale alumni, family and friends, will return to Boscobel in Garrison for its annual outing of drama on the shores of the Hudson in Garrison, Sunday Aug. 20.

This year, there is a another kind of twist.  Shakespeare, whose plays at Boscobel are offered with twists, turns, innovation, edge, and creativity, won't be the headliner performance.  At the Yale gathering, which includes the pre-performance lecture and picnic, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival will perform The General From America, Richard Nelson's portrayal of Benedict Arnold. 

Murray Biggs, the Yale expert in Shakespeare, will still join the day and provide insights at his annual lecture before the evening stage lights turn on.  He will speak to the YWAA group and highlight for guests' benefit what they should look for and remind them why they will be entertained and perhaps inspired.

Biggs' lecture starts at 3:45 pm at the Hastings Center in Garrison. The Yale group will have an on-your-own picnic on the sensational Hudson shoreline at 6 pm. The play will begin at 7:30 pm. 

The production will be special, if only because the Boscobel setting and Hudson River background are the actual historical settings of the show's plot.  Benedict Arnold, as most know, fought for the American Army during the Revolutionary War and became a commander at West Point. In 1780, he fled to the British side and became an officer of the British Army--just a short distance from the big white tent at Boscobel that will feature a 2017 performance about him.

The play is directed by Penny Metropulous, who told the HVSF, "I'm always interested in anything that makes me study harder, and it seems like a good time to brush up on American history."

Metropulous, who has worked with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for over 20 seasons, has directed Shakespeare plays including Henry IV, The Comedy of Errors and As You Like It. She has also directed productions in Chicago, Denver, Portland and Berkeley, Calif. 

Biggs has been a YWAA fixture at Boscobel for years and attracts a popular following, who enjoy his pointing out plot directions and character flaws in the way they don't recall from their days in a Yale English course years ago.

In recent years, YWAA on the Hudson during summer has watched All's Well That Ends Well, MacBeth, Othello, The Winter's Tale, Hamlet, and Love's Labour Lost.

YWAA treasurer Rich Fabbro '76 is organizing the day's activities. Ticket details will follow.

Bruce Jennings '71, former YWAA president, joins Murray Biggs after a pre-performance lecture at the Hastings Center (above).

Before the performance, YWAA guests and friends will have a chance to lounge on the grounds for a picnic and absorb the summer surroundings along the Hudson River.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sitting Atop the Ivy League

Pound Ridge's Griffen Dey '19 (top) gets the celebration started after Yale defeated Penn to win the Ivy League baseball championship (Yale Athletics photos)
Capping one of its best Ivy campaigns in its history, Yale baseball swept two games from Penn, May 16, to capture the Ivy League title and earn an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs, now 30-16, beat the Quakers in a double-header at home in a best-of-three series that determined the Ivy champion.

When the final out was secured in the second game, Yale Westchester players joined other teammates to celebrate in a pile-up on the mound.

In the first game, with Yale shutting out its opponent, 5-0, Rye's Tim DeGraw '19 had a sacrifice fly and scored a run and Pound Ridge's duo Griffin Dey '19 and Richard Slenker '17 had base hits.

In the second game, DeGraw had one of his best collegiate games with three hits (including a double and home run), four RBI, and two runs scored.  Slenker, likely playing in his last  game at Yale Field as a senior, had two hits. Dey scored a run and pitched the final inning.

Yale won't know its NCAA-tournament foe until pairings are announced May 29.  The Bulldogs return to the tournament for the first time in 24 years. As a four-year starter and this year's captain, who is on pace to graduate from Yale next week, Slenker is finishing his Yale career with a batting average of .330 with over 185 hits.

Day of Service, 2017

A faithful group of Yale volunteers continued the tradition of spending Yale Day of Service, May 13, at the SPCA of Westchester in Briarcliff Manor (YWAA photos)
It might be hard to keep an accurate count.  Yale Day of Service and YWAA returned to the SPCA of Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, May 13, for the--who's counting--seventh year in a row, as one of the primary volunteer sites in Westchester.

All across the country and in some parts of the world, Yale alumni celebrated community service by spending a day volunteering in may ways with much Yale flavor and adorned in Yale t-shirts, caps and jackets.

In Briarcliff Manor, YWAA board member Susan Kaminsky '86 coordinated the group of volunteers. Once again, they spent an afternoon (this time a cloudy, rainy affair) helping out at the animal shelter. The shelter's primary goal is to rescue animals and put them in caring homes.

The Yale group, including alumni, families and friends, spent Day of Service cleaning the shelter, making dog treats, and organizing the supply room. The Yale group makes a difference not just one day, but year after year after year.

Yale Day of Service plans activities for one day in May.  But one Westchester site, the Scarsdale community garden under the guidance of Maggie Favretti '85, will host Yale volunteers, Saturday, May 20, also a long-running Day of Service event.

Above, Jennie and Emma Nolon (top, L) assist at the shelter. Carole Johannsen (top, R) cuddles with a kitten.  Heather Hewett shows off an extra-large SPCA t-shirt, and Sonali, Mira and Ritika Arora prepare dog treats. (YWAA photos)

Above, Brook Butterworth (top, L) assists in the office. Day of Service volunteers included Beatrice and Camille Korschun and Maxine and GG Zaretsky (top, M) and Kate and Emily Kasoff (R). Ben Browning and Carole Johannsen (bottom, L) were also at the site May 13. (YWAA photos)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Westchester's Diamond Quartet

Tim DeGraw '19 and Richard Slenker '17 (above) have helped Yale to the top of the Ivy League in baseball this spring.  They are two of four Westchester athletes on the team (Yale Athletics photos)
The worst of winter has eased its way out of 2017 and spring-like days have begun to tease New England--signs that Yale baseball can take a prominent stage on its old diamond in West Haven.  With annual road trips to the South (to the states of New Mexico, Virginia and South Carolina this year) out of the way, the team is already in the last chapter of the season. Sporting a 16-13 record, it has the best conference record in the Ivy League (7-1) and heads to Harvard for a three-game series this weekend.

Yale is a contender for the Ivy title, and outstanding contributions from a quartet of Westchester athletes are one reason. The foursome were on the squad last year, but three of them were first-year players, happy to gain playing time while learning the ways of Ivy athletics with Ivy academic burdens. 

In 2017, the freshmen are mainstay sophomores, playing (and pitching) regularly, bashing home rooms, smacking lead-off singles, banging out doubles and complementing the steady, consistent play of their senior teammate, Richard Slenker '17, a former Westchester-Putnam player of the year who is capping off his own productive career as the Yale captain. 

The sophomores are Rye's Tim DeGraw '19, a fleet outfielder with speed, who starred in football at Rye High School; Griffen Dey '19, a first-baseman and pitcher from Pound Ridge who has already hit seven home runs in 2017, and Mamaroneck's Kumar Nambiar '19, lefty relief pitcher who led his high school team to a state championship.

Few Yale teams in recent years have had as many Westchester representatives as baseball the past several years. Consider that a coincidence, but attribute that also to outstanding coaching and competition at high schools in the county, despite the perennial disadvantages of weather in March and April in the New York area. (The high school season doesn't bloom until mid-April when the school calendar starts to wind down. And many games are postponed because of all forms of inclement weather.)

The Westchester quartet also played in prep programs that have impressive records in grooming collegians. Nambiar's Mamaroneck can boast of alums who have played in college World Series and for big-league teams.  Dey has seven teammates from his Kennedy Catholic squad who are now playing in college. DeGraw has two teammates from Rye playing in the Ivy League.

This spring in support of Yale's bid for an Ivy championship, DeGraw is hitting .308 with 14 stolen bases and already has 13 multi-hit games. Pound Ridge's Slenker, who has accumulated a pile of League and team awards as a virtual mainstay in the Yale infield for four years, has a career batting average of .326. He will likely wind up his time at Yale with over 175 career hits and 100 career RBI's.

Nambiar earned a relief save in the Bulldogs' recent 6-3 win against Columbia. Dey started the season on a torrid long-ball pace with three home runs in the first four games.  As a pitcher, he earned wins over Cornell and Columbia.

After returning from Harvard, the Bulldogs will finish the season in late April with three-game series against Dartmouth and Brown. The Ivy League baseball championship follows.

(L-R) Pound Ridge's Richard Slenker '17, Rye's Tim DeGraw '19, Mamaroneck's Kumar Nambiar '19, and Pound Ridge's Griffen Dey '19. Below, Slenker, DeGraw and Dey show their batting forms in Ivy games against Columbia and Penn.  (Yale Athletics Photos)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Yale Book Awards, 2017

This spring, YWAA will continue a tradition of recognizing top high-school students in Westchester with its annual book awards (YWAA photos).
This year between April and June, YWAA will present Yale Book Awards to 51 juniors at Westchester high schools. A Westchester annual tradition, the book awards recognize top students at these schools for "outstanding personal character and intellectual promise."

Once again, the award this year includes The Yale Book of Quotations, edited by Yale Law School's Fred Shapiro, a tote bag and book plate with the student's name. YWAA board member Peter Santhanam '85 Ph.D. administers the program.  YWAA board members and other alumni distribute books to the schools.  At some schools, Westchester alums will present the awards at an honors assembly and highlight the accomplishments of winners.

Each school selects a Yale Book Award recipient based on criteria provided by YWAA. The program is not associated with Yale admissions, although many recipients in past years choose to apply to Yale and some have attended.  For some students, the award introduces them to Yale. YWAA's long-time goal has been to recognize exceptional achievement in Westchester schools.

Participating schools cover the full cross-section of public and private schools in Westchester from Yorktown to Yonkers, from Tarrytown to Port Chester.  Lincoln High School in Yonkers, for example, will be a new participant in 2016. 

The program is supported by YWAA and alumni donations.

Click YBA for more about the awards in past years.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Freedman Explains His Top Ten

In Scarsdale, Mar. 30, Yale professor Paul Freedman, author of "Ten Restaurants That Changed America," described how he came up with his list. (YWAA photos)
 Yale history professor Paul Freedman's new book, Ten Restaurants That Changed America, has spawned lively discussion among food circles around the country.  What restaurants made the list? What restaurants didn't?  How did he select the top ten? What were the criteria? And how does a history professor in New Haven, an expert in medieval studies, carve out time to write about the history of eating habits in this country over the past century and a half?

Freedman, a guest lecturer at the Scarsdale Library, Mar. 30, as part of the YWAA speaker series, explained his favorite hobby to an audience of about 100 Yale alumni, friends and Westchester residents.  The book, he reminded all, "is not about the best restaurants," but about those that had the most influence on where Americans eat out, why they choose to do so, and what they eat when they venture beyond home dining. 

His list includes familiar names (Delmonico's in Downtown Manhattan, the recently closed Four Season in Midtown, Antoine's in New Orleans, and Sylvia's in Harlem).  It contains puzzling selections, until Freedman explained carefully (in his book and in Scarsdale) why they must be included:  Schrafft's of New York lore, national chain Howard Johnson's, and Mama Leone's, the lone Italian restaurant on his list. 

Critics have praised the book and applauded his diligence and research. He approached culinary history in the manner of, yes, a medieval historian by studying archives, examining tattered menus, roaming the country, interviewing food experts, and analyzing original sources. Freedman presents a story of Americans deciding at some point in history to indulge in eating by simply going outside the home. 

Freedman observes the "amalgam" of ethnic cuisines, thanks to immigrants from all global corners or thanks to African-Americans migrating to the North and bringing southern recipes and tastes with them (Sylvia's, e.g.).  The panoply of ethnic cuisines in America, he showed, has been around longer than we know. In Scarsdale, he showed a New Yorker cover from 1938 with a cartoon drawing of several ethnic-restaurant settings (Chinese, Middle East, Italian, French, etc.).

He said Delmonico's, where menus in the mid-19th century included Maryland turtles as a high-end offering, was likely America's first restaurant that was a "gastronomical destination." It was America's first high-end French restaurant without being a real French restaurant.  Howard Johnson's, he said, makes the list because it's the first restaurant where the menu and cuisine were the same at every Ho-Jo site. Howard Johnson's offered Americans familiarity and consistency. 

Freedman described New York's Schrafft's as a destination for "respectable New York women," who would often order a rich banana split after sampling a light green salad, where his grandmother frequented, but his own mother avoided.  With Schrafft's, he discussed the possibility of women having unique eating preferences or the likelihood that women of long ago chose foods differently when not accompanied by men. 

He highlighted the cozy, low-back seating arrangements at the Four Seasons, a purposeful design to ensure faithful (and famous) followers could see and be seen. 

Freedman's list is about history and influence and not a forecast of trends and fads. No restaurant in the book was founded after the 1970's.  Mama Leone's has closed.  The Four Seasons will reappear in varying (and uncertain?) incarnations. Schrafft's disappeared in the Reagan era, and Howard Johnson's is but a tiny shell of its once expansive self. 

His Scarsdale audience rushed to follow his presentation with questions or their own observations about food history, habits and trends.  

Freedman noted his list resulted in no Mexican or Japanese restaurants.  There were also no steak or barbecue places.  He said the French Laundry in Napa Valley might have been no. 11 or 12 on the list, if he were permitted to extend the list.  

Audience members asked why the 21 Club in Midtown and Windows of the World in the old World Trade Center were not considered (for influence, if not cuisine).  He said "21 was mostly about atmosphere and networking," where the Four Seasons had already established a foothold. The 21 Club, he added, was the among first to get away with selling a very expensive hamburger. Windows of the World, he remembered, was a "style pioneer with good wine."  

Others asked his impressions about commonplace eateries in hospitals, airports and museums.  (He suggested a museum restaurant in Chicago was a favorite.) Others solicited his views of favorite New York deli haunts, such as Carnegie Deli and Katz's Deli.  "Katz's is celebrated," Freedman said, "like Strand Bookstore (in Greenwich Village), the last book store standing."

Someone asked why certain restaurant types have never gained popularity in the U.S. Hungarian restaurants and food, he replied, have an "undeserved image of heaviness."  Philippine restaurants have been "a hard sell," while Indian restaurants thrive, but are frequently run by immigrants from Bangladesh. 

Freedman, identifying a Yale tie at a mostly Yale event, noted Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame (and included in his top 10) sent her daughter to Yale and helped revolutionize how Yale Dining cultivates ingredients and prepares food in the residential colleges.  

And Danny Meyer, best known these days for igniting the hamburger sensation that is Shake Shack, also a Yale parent, wrote the introduction to the book. 
In Scarsdale, audience members wanted to know about restaurants that didn't make the list, about current trends in eating, and about why certain cuisines are more popular than others. (YWAA photos)